October 21, 2010; Source: Business Wire | With so many people trying to predict the future of giving in the United States, maybe someone should start making book in Las Vegas, with the winning proceeds pledged to charity. The latest “prediction”—and relatively good news—comes from The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, which bills itself as the nation’s largest donor-advised program.

A just-completed survey shows that a majority of Americans (55 percent) plan to give at the same level in the fourth quarter of 2010, and some 8 percent will give more because they feel “the need for help is more acute”. The last three months of the year, known in fund-raising circles as the “Giving Season,” is a critical period for many nonprofits. More than one-third (36 percent) said they are giving less this year during that period.

Reasons range from “financial limitations” to an “uncertain tax climate.” Still, even those giving less plan to help out in other ways. The survey found that two-thirds (66 percent) of donors in this group are considering offering other types of assistance instead of cash. Nearly 60 percent say they would give their time and skills, and one-in-five (21 percent) say they are likely to give other assets, such as cars or antiques.

Among other findings is the relatively minor impact tax planning has on charitable giving. Fidelity’s survey shows that only one-third (31 percent) of all donors said receiving a tax deduction was important. That number was slightly higher (42 percent) for households with more than $100,000 in income. Even the likelihood of higher taxes in 2011 is probably not going to change how donors give. Some 88 percent reported say they expect to give at the same level even if there is a tax hike.—Bruce Trachtenberg