Charitable Swedes defy credit crunch

Charitable Swedes defy credit crunch
Swedish charities are predicting a record year for fundraising despite the ongoing financial crisis. Private donations have continued to increase despite credit crunch concerns, according to a report in Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The previous record year for Swedish charities was in 2005 when Swedes opened up their wallets to give in aid of victims of the Asian tsunami. Charitable donations amounted to 5.3 billion kronor ($662mn) that year and that record is set to be tested in 2008, according to the Swedish Fundraising Council (Frii).

“There has been a lot of talk about decline in the fundraising sector since the financial crisis began last autumn, but among our members there are not many that have noticed a decline regarding private donors – on the contrary,” said the council’s secretary-general Erik Zachrison to DN.

There are reports coming in from the sector however indicating that many companies have cut back on their giving as the recession bites.

“Companies that have been quite generous before gave nothing this year,” said Hans Marklund at a Skellefteå homeless shelter to Sveriges Radio.

This picture is mixed however and Anna Ryott at Unicef told DN that the charity had not noticed any fall in funds from companies while confirmed the picture that private donors are becoming more generous. Ryott theorized that in times of crisis there is greater willingness to get involved and help out.

The Church of Sweden is also confident that it can benefit from the troubled economic climate.

“In worrying times more people go to church,” said a confident Marcus Carlsson of the church’s fundraising organ.

According to Swedish Fundraising Council statistics the predicted record year of 2008 is part of a longer trend with many of the major charities reporting large increases in donations in 2007.

Cancerfonden led the field in 2007 with a 14 percent increase to 410 million kronor, followed by Swedish Save the Children (Rädda Barnen), up 3 percent to 320 million kronor and the Swedish Red Cross (Röda Korset) up 2 percent to 282 million kronor. The WWF reported the largest increase, up 38 percent to 157 million kronor.

“It is very heartening and shows the Swedish people’s incredible generosity and willingness to help out,” Erik Zachrisson said in March 2008 when the figures were published.