The economy is still sluggish, but donations to charitable organizations are slowly increasing.

A new report by the Center on Philanthropy finds contributions to charities rose 3-point-8 percent last over, after declining in 2008 and 2009 - and the trend has continued this year.

Major Vicki Berry, the Associate Commander of the Salvation Army of New Jersey, says "so far donations are almost up to where they were last year, when they rebounded from the recession…we've had some real advantage in the weather - which always plays a part in the kettle giving for the Salvation Army…people have been generous thus far, and we're hoping they'll continue to do so."

She says if people can't help with a monetary donation, "they can volunteer their time -we really depend on volunteers to help us with this kettle effort…groups like the boy scouts or the girl scouts or the honor society from a school- any groups that could help the Salvation Army volunteer maybe 1 to 4 hours at a kettle is just magnificent for us."

Berry points out when it comes to donations, "every little bit helps - for the toys that are bought for needy children…the food baskets that are done for Christmas dinner- we also visit nursing homes and hospitals and distribute gifts to the patients there, people who are forgotten…we also go to prisons and give gifts there - people who are forgotten during Christmas time are remembered by the Salvation Army for sure."

Diane Concannon, a spokeswoman, American Red Cross of Central Jersey, says this year the Red Cross has been dealing with a number of disasters, including storms like hurricane Irene right here in Jersey, and "we've seen a lot of charitable giving throughout the year, but the needs still continue…the need is great and it continues, so we're asking people to hopefully give a gift that means something this year…we do see that people still want to be able to give to charities during the holiday season so we're trying to make that as easy as possible for them…that's why we have our holiday gift campaign - people can go to and they can view symbolic gifts on the holiday gift catalogue - they can give in honor of someone."