Daniel Gross's article has some useful insights:
- Drops in philanthropic giving and recessions have a long history together;
- Charitable giving is a "lagging indicator" of economic well-being (bills get paid first);
- "Swanky" giving and "Salvation Army" giving rise and fall in similar waves
On the other hand (and there is always another hand), unofficial peeks at online giving sites GlobalGiving (on track so far in 2008 to double 2007 giving) and Kiva show that the giving may be moving in other ways, on other sites, in other trend directions.
Over at SocialActions Peter Deitz has done some data compiling on online sites. I continue to think that these sites - and the industry as a whole - need to be RSS feeding, mashingup, or otherwise aggregating and compiling their data in a (somewhat) real-time way so we can truly begin to see "the other hand" of philanthropic trends.