Now More Than Ever, Charitable Gifts Are Needed Submitted by: Flash Media Services
(OPENPRESS) November 17, 2009 -- Fifty-two percent of donors surveyed by the Cygnus Group in 2009 reported that they will continue to give the same or more to charities during this recession. Half of those said they would even be willing to sacrifice to do it. But 17.5 percent said they would give less. The remaining 30 percent said it was too soon to know. The prospect that nearly 50 percent of us are weighing whether it's possible or wise to invest in the nonprofit sector means we are at a pivotal crossroads.
The nonprofit sector includes the people and institutions that bring you safety for neglected children, help for their overwrought parents, shelter for 23,000 homeless Washingtonians, emergency medics, and after school programs, to name just a few. It is also the economic engine that employs 10 percent of the working population. Right now it is facing a moment of truth.
To keep our communities safe, to experience great art, to provide for our kids - what is each of us willing to do? Can we look up from our short-term worries and imagine a future filled with promise – a future we must all come together to create?
We know the news. For the past year our region – along with the rest of the nation – has been struggling with the realities of the economic downturn. Many people are out of work. We've seen the value of our investments and our homes decline. State, county and municipal governments have slashed budgets. Businesses are struggling with lower profits.
It has not taken long for these reversals of fortune to show up in giving trends. According to a study by the Giving USA Foundation, charitable giving across the country fell in 2008 by the largest percentage in five decades. Individuals and institutions made gifts and pledges of $307.65 billion, a decrease of 5.7 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis over the $314 billion given in 2007. About two-thirds of public charities saw donations decrease in 2008. The outlook for next year remains uncertain.
On Nov. 13, 2009, the state of Washington celebrated National Philanthropy Day, a community celebration that honors organizations and individuals for the time, energy and money they donate to nonprofits in our state. Locally, two organizations will be honored - Wells Fargo as Outstanding Corporation, and the Women's Funding Alliance as Outstanding Organization. In 2008, Wells Fargo contributed more than $2.3 million to more than 400 local non-profit organizations throughout Washington state. The Women's Funding Alliance, based in Seattle, advocates for women and girls and supports more than 100 organizations.
In honor of National Philanthropy Day and the efforts of all of those who contribute, we call on individuals in the community to reach a little deeper. All of this year's honorees are emblematic of what is possible when we come together and help each other. Each teaches us how important it is to give and to encourage giving by others. In the midst of all the daily diet of difficult news, we need to tune in to what inspires us and lifts us up so that we can continue to step up.
By Andrea John Smith runs Andrea John-Smith Consulting, which provides fundraising, marketing and strategic business counsel to non-profit organizations. She is also president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – Washington. AFP – Washington works to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs, fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals, and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. For more information, visit www.afpwashington.org.