Charitable giving in the U.S. fell 2 percent in 2008 to about $307 billion, but the decline was not as sharp as expected, considering the economic downturn, according to the Giving Institute. The results were part of an annual report on philanthropy that the institute released today.

Charitable giving in the U.S. fell 2 percent in 2008 to about $307 billion, but the decline was not as sharp as expected, considering the economic downturn, according to the Giving Institute. The results were part of an annual report on philanthropy that the institute released today.

The last time the U.S. saw a drop in overall giving was in 1987.

Among the findings:

What should Seattle do to make sure philanthropy here is as effective as possible? The Seattle Foundation came out with its own (very long) report last week that sets out a kind of road map for the region.

The person leading that drive will be named tomorrow when the foundation will announce a new CEO to replace Phyllis Campbell, who left in March to become chairman of JPMorgan Chase’s Pacific Northwest business.

The foundation has identified strategies for a healthy community, from increasing affordable housing to restoring Puget Sound to supporting low-income entrepreneurs.

The report lists specific goals, ways people can help and more than a dozen local organizations working in each category. It also profiles people and organizations doing interesting work.

In real estate, for example, Windermere ‘s CoHo Team donates one-third of their commissions to support community development and affordable housing.

In South Seattle, the Got Green project and the Moontown Foundation are organizing young people of color to help weatherize low-income homes in the city.

In a forum at City Club, Crosscut publisher David Brewster seemed to put his finger on the pulse of Seattle philanthropy when he suggested that adding some “entrepreneurial garage culture” to non-profits could release their creativity.

Blending “Seattle’s entrepreneurial genius and its humanitarian civic-mindedness creates an interesting chemical reaction,” he said.