USA Today reports that companies across the country are slashing bonuses, severance packages and pay raises. 40% of surveyed companies plan to reduce the amount allotted for raises in 09 and 62% say they will be giving smaller bonuses than last year. The number of companies holding holiday parties is the lowest in reportable history. American Express just canceled its annual year-end bash. Companies that normally avoid any layoffs are now compiling lists of who will be let go. Last Friday Focus on the Family announced they are eliminating 202 jobs, the biggest layoff in their history.
But here’s the unexpected twist. Many charities are seeing an increase in generosity. In Seattle, Boeing Co. employees tripled their cash donations this year to Northwest Harvest, operator of Washington’s largest food bank. And every week, Northwest Harvest spokeswoman Claire Acey says, companies are calling to say their employees have decided to skip their holiday party and buy food for the hungry instead. History shows that the stock market has a relatively small impact on charitable giving. World Vision is predicting that 2008 could actually be a better-than-usual Christmas for the nation’s charitable organizations.
Justin Greeves, VP of Harris Interactive (a giving tracking organization) says that “in a year when people are having trouble meeting basic needs, giving by individuals usually increases.” Companies decide that instead of a lavish party, they’ll help those in need. Families decide that instead of more electronic toys, they’ll group their funds and give a charitable gift to another family in where perhaps there has been a job loss.
It appears that if we have too much, we become greedy and hoarders. If we are struggling ourselves, we seem to be more willing to share what little we do have. Maybe this will be a good year after all.