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South Asian philanthropy and the stimulus bill

February 19, 2009
(c/o New York Times)

(c/o New York Times)

Two interesting posts on the SAALT blog discuss the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or President Obama’s stimulus package, on South Asians.

Priya unpacks the impact of the economic crisis on professional workers – or H-1B visa holders – who are laid off and left without immigration status here in the U.S.  She notes that the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) that is a part of the stimulus sets limits on the hiring of H-1B workers, perhaps to the ultimate detriment of our economy, if Thomas Friedman is to be believed.

And Nina of CAPACD talks about some of the provisions in the Recovery Act that will directly benefit South Asians – such as increased funding for the 2010 census and tax benefits for workers and for education.

The Wall Street Journal has some dire predictions about charitable contributions sinking due to the stimulus – particularly its limits on executive compensation and bonuses.  Adding these limits to an already-hurting economy makes many nonprofits (especially in and around NY) fear that their donors are going to be incapable of giving what they have in years past, or will be simply afraid to extend themselves amidst such uncertainty.

As Priya notes, many of the South Asians affected by layoffs may be professional workers – engineers, finance analysts, accountants and others – who are here on H-1B visas.  I wonder how much they contribute charitably and whether the layoffs of these more professional classes (South Asian or not) will affect nonprofits who rely on their donations.  Even among South Asians who have green cards or who are citizens, feeling financially insecure is probably one of the top challenges for our community when it comes to engaging in philanthropy.  With such great need out there right now, do you think the economic climate will help or hurt giving among South Asians?

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