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Philanthropy Thrives, Even With Reduced Resources
Source: The New York Times  ·  November 13, 2009  ·  Excerpt

The expectation in America is that people who do well give back to society. For the wealthy, it is one way to stave off charges of being greedy. And in the boom times, being seen as philanthropic seemed a social and political obligation.

But just as the downturn left the wealthy (and the rest of us) reeling from personal portfolio losses, their foundations also suffered investment losses that have affected their capacity to give. The Foundation Center in New York said this month that philanthropic giving in 2009 could fall as much as 13 percent. This has left many charities, particularly small ones, scraping for funds.

That may help explain why philanthropy has not dipped as much as people’s net worth. “I think some donors are in a state of panic, which leaves them frozen in place,” said Melissa Berman, president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers. “But others have a more philosophical temperament and have continued on a steady course.”

This has meant that the wealthy have become more creative with their philanthropic dollars. She noted that aid to large, stable institutions had been cut in favor of smaller organizations that might be struggling to weather the downturn. The big winners have been food charities, she said, while small arts organizations have suffered the most.

Our take
There is no way to overstate how widespread the economic downturn of the late 2000s has been. Individual philanthropists and foundations are evolving, and this process will create opportunities for those who are able to recognize the shift in philosophy.

  • How will my organization be affected by changing practices and attitudes toward charitable giving? What new opportunities or challenges do these changes present?
  • What trends are emerging in the new economy, and how can my organization identify them in the future?

Compass Pointe consultants are here to help you recognize and adapt to changes in your discipline or industry. Contact us now or send us some brief information for a free analysis of your current challenges.


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