robertcollierPhilanthropy’s Mixed Response to the Economic Crisis

By: Robert S. Collier In: 2010 Annual Conference

27 Apr 2010

Did philanthropy do its part in response to the economic crisis?

The verdict is still out—the crisis is far from over.

But the Foundation Center reports that $443 million in grants and program-related investments directly related to the crisis have been tracked in the last two years. That’s not bad for a sector that has “not been built for speed,” according to panelists of Monday’s town hall session “Did Philanthropy Do Its Part in Response to the Economic Crisis?” On the other hand, 60 percent of foundations reduced their payouts. How can we defend that?

So here are a few takeaways from the Council on Foundations’ annual conference town hall:

  • Things will not return to “the way they were” before the crisis.
  • Foundations are thinking differently—with more attention to mergers, back-room operations, entrepreneurship, and technology.
  • We also are, however, thinking too narrowly—we should be leveraging our collective strengths to advocate with Congress for a safety net for those most in need.
  • The Foundation Center’s maps are a fabulous resource—check them out! They are great examples of foundations responding. Community foundations ROCK!

Stay tuned. This question of whether philanthropy is doing its part in this crisis is not going away—and our nimbleness and responsiveness will continue to be tested.

Robert S. Collier is president and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations.

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