Given the magnitude of the current economic crisis, how can philanthropy play a constructive role without raising unrealistic expectations? What could it mean for philanthropy to step up and take on the challenges posed by these circumstances? In an open letter to Council members and philanthropic leaders, Council President and CEO Steve Gunderson and Council Board Chair Ralph Smith put forward some suggestions to the field:
* Reach out to the nonprofit sector, especially to currently supported organizations, leaders, and networks, and find creative ways to assist them in weathering this storm.
* Help communities determine the extent of the challenges they face and craft sensible solutions. Philanthropy’s convening role can help build the “big tent” under which stakeholders can gather to create shared understanding and solutions.
* Pay special attention to situations where economic restructuring, mergers, and consolidations could result in the loss of philanthropic resources.
The Council will partner with organizations to share promising practices, assemble a toolkit to assist with stakeholder convenings, and produce talking points to make the case for preserving philanthropic commitments during takeovers and consolidations. “From our point of view,” note Gunderson and Smith, “this is an important way to step up and take on one of the biggest challenges of our time.”
Resources on Philanthropy and the Economic Crisis:
“The Global Financial Crisis and Philanthropy: Altering Course in a Perfect Storm,” The Atlantic Philanthropies
“Strategies for Foundations to Save Resources,” The Financial Times
“Past Economic Downturns and the Outlook for Foundation Giving,” a report by the Foundation Center
“Foundations Support Families Hit by Economic Downturn,” results of a survey by the Council on Foundations
Andy's take-aways from the discussion:
1. The economic crisis is far from over;
2. Institutional and individual donors are likely to retrench their giving; and
3. The proverbial “rainy day” is here – and donations will mean more than ever to those in need.
- Andy Ho
Photo courtesy of: James Jordan