A recent survey indicates that even while Americans have experienced decline in household income, they continue to be generous in giving and volunteering. The survey, called "Giving and Volunteering in the United States," released by Independent Sector, found that 72 percent of American households reported contributions and 51 percent of Americans did volunteer work in 1991. The average household contribution decreased from $978 in 1989 to $899 in 1991; however, average hours volunteered per week increas ed slightly from 4 to 4.2.

"People won't stop giving but will give less in a recession," says Virginia Hodgkinson, vice president for research with Independent Sector, a nonprofit coalition with national interest and impact in philanthropy and voluntary action. Yet, people who are traditionally generous - giving as much as 5 percent of their income - continue to remain steady, she explains in a phone interview. "I'm continually surprised - considering these times - that the percentage that gives generously is still there," she add s.

Other findings include:

* Fifty-eight percent of 18-to 24-year-olds contributed - a four percent increase over the last two years.

* In 1991, 64 percent of African-American families contributed, up from 61 percent in 1989. In 1991 their percentage of income given was 2.7, up from 2.1 in 1989.

* Nearly 75 percent say charitable organizations play a major role in making communities better places to live.

* Nearly 94 million adults volunteered a total of 20.5 billion hours in 1991, labor that had an estimated dollar value of $176 billion.

* Membership in religious organizations has a direct relationship to the proportion of the population that contributes and volunteers.

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