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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Despite a lingering recession, only 20 percent of Americans plan to reduce charitable giving during the holiday season, according to a survey.
The poll commissioned by the American Red Cross showed that nearly 70 percent of people believe it is more important to donate this year because of the state of the economy.
"People are still giving," said Roger Lowe of the American Red Cross, "but they're giving less."
He added that the recession has meant that it has never been harder to give but that giving has never felt better.
Donations to charitable causes in the United States reached an estimated $307.6 billion in 2008, a two percent drop from $314.1 billion in 2007, according to Giving USA Foundation, a consultancy for non-profits.
The American Red Cross has experienced a drop in fundraising, registering an average 25 percent dip in individual donations this year, according Lowe.
But he added that economic hardship may have increased solidarity despite money being tighter.
"People realize that there are folks in greater need than they are, and they dig deep to give," he explained.
Sixty-two percent of people questioned in the poll said they plan to donate more than $50. More than 80 percent of donors said they favor charities that help the poor, according to the survey.
With less money to donate, "people are going to concentrate their giving to groups they really care about," said Edith Falk of Giving USA.
"Judging by how much they've been spending on holiday shopping," she added, "there may be a spike this year in giving to groups that meet needs in the community."
Sandra Miniutti, of the independent charity evaluator Charity Navigator, described the poll as "encouraging" but said it usually takes between six and 12 months for charitable giving to rebound after a recession.
The poll also showed women are more involved in charity than males. More than 70 percent of women said giving helps to get them into the holiday spirit, compared to 51 percent of men.