Whether they’re loaves of bread, a gift-wrapped toy or a check, donations to Maine charitable organizations this holiday season are likely to hold steady or increase slightly from last year’s goals, multiple charities have said.

Both the United Way of Greater Portland and the Salvation Army, with their ubiquitous bell-ringers, have set fundraising targets higher than last year’s.

That means more toys under the Christmas tree and food on the table for families in need.

“We actually upped the goal this year by $40,000,” said Maj. John Lock, of the Salvation Army in Portland, which hopes to raise $180,000 by Christmas Eve. “We knew that was quite a stretch, but our needs are just that much to continue the services.”

As many as 1,000 families in the Portland area will depend on the Salvation Army to provide toys and food baskets, Lock said, about the same number that have applied for help in each of the last few years.

Statewide, kettle donations brought in $694,000 in 2014. This year, the Salvation Army hopes to bring that figure to $735,000.

The United Way of Greater Portland, which does not run holiday-specific programs but uses the holiday season as a fundraising opportunity, also upped its target amount, aiming for $7.6 million, which is $300,000 more than what they collected last year, said Liz Cotter Schlax, the group’s president and CEO.

The goal is based on the state of the economy and estimates of what donors are capable of giving, she said.

“Our goal is based on an assessment of both opportunities and challenges in the community,” Cotter Schlax said. “So unfortunately, we’re not able to directly tie it to the need, because … as we’ve seen, despite the economic recovery, the needs of our community are still growing.”

The Maine Community Foundation, meanwhile, saw its biggest monthly haul from donors in October, when the group distributed more than $4 million, twice the regular monthly rate of disbursements, said Laura Young, the organization’s vice president of philanthropy.

Through the end of November this year, the agency distributed $32.8 million, up from $24.2 million in the same 11-month period last year.

“We project that 2015 will be a record-breaking year for grants to nonprofits and scholarships distributed from the Maine Community Foundation,” Young said in a statement.

Meanwhile at the Press Herald Toy Fund, 2015 is shaping up to be the first year that donations will reach their pre-recession levels, said Kathleen Meade, the toy fund’s administrator.

This year, the fund is on track to pull in $200,000 to $250,000, which is used to buy mountains of toys for needy families in York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Knox counties. Last year, she said, the fund drew only $120,000.

“Some of our older donors who grew up with the fund and are aging; their children are donating,” Meade said. “So it’s been a good year so far.”

This year, the toy fund will allow about 5,000 children to get gifts, she said.

Other organizations, meanwhile, use the holiday giving season to drum up support that must last the entire year.

Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn serves the entire state, distributing food to other hunger organizations around Maine, helping a growing number of households get nutritious food.

The USDA surveys tens of thousands of people around the nation annually to determine rates of hunger. Maine has the highest rate of food insecurity — defined as the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods — among the six New England states, with an average 16.2 percent of Mainers — or roughly 215,000 people — experiencing low or very low food security.

Clara Whitney, spokesperson for Good Shepherd, said the organization distributed 5.4 million pounds of food from Oct. 1 to Dec. 4. To do it, they count on a roughly $35 million annual budget, about $7 million of which is raised in cash from donors, with very little support from the state or the federal government.

“It’s the holidays, and everyone is thinking about giving back; but in a few months, it won’t be on people’s minds,” Whitney said. “These are the months when we raise the most funds, and those funds are required to carry us through the entire fiscal year.”

Maine consistently ranks near the bottom in terms of the percentage of income given to charities. In 2012, the state was 48th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with about 2.1 percent of income going to charities, according to a study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Mainers earning $25,000 or less a year donated the highest percentage of their income (5.2 percent), while state residents earning between $100,000 and $200,000 annually donated he lowest percentage of their incomes (1.8 percent), according to the study.

One reason that Maine consistently ranks so low in giving-per-dollar-earned is the state’s relatively low church attendance, the study said.

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