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Economic downturn = philanthropic downturn?

November 24, 2008

Last week, I returned from maternity leave to a huge stack of mail, including my subscription to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. As you can imagine, the dismal state of the economy looms large in the Chronicle since the downturn is affecting the nonprofit job market, philanthropy, and fundraising.

As Asian American Giving points out, some Asian American charities may be among those hit the hardest. What role can South Asians play to minimize the damage in our communities? If you work for a nonprofit, are you seeing a decline in donations?

Rosetta Thurman’s done some great writing about the effects of the economy over at Perspectives on the Pipeline. She recommends in one post that philanthropists focus on impact rather than decrease their giving. And in another post, she highlights the type of leadership provided by Generation Y folks during the tough times ahead. Rosetta mentions that she thinks it’s bad form for nonprofits to hold all-out galas or put out splashy annual reports – do you agree?  Doesn’t that fly in the face of the ‘chocolate samosa’ parties highlighted in my previous post?

The Foundation Center has some interesting research here about how foundation grantmaking did not really decrease during previous recessions – with some foundations taking from their endowment principal in order to honor existing pledges. Unfortunately, the article predicts that the market could cause a decline in foundation giving in 2009, although if history is our guide perhaps things won’t be that bad. (Or perhaps that’s wishful thinking since I’m a grantwriter…)

How’s the economic downturn affecting you? Are you going to scale back your charitable giving this year? Are you changing your giving priorities?

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