When ‘The Street’ Sneezes, We All Catch a Cold

The news has been filled for months with stories on the current financial climate and how fundraising efforts might be effected. Certainly in the past week, there is no shortage of opinion. Everyone is weighing in; and with good concern. The fall of major financial firms including Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch will ultimately effect every organization – no two ways about it. Most philanthropy experts say we all should be concerned, but not panicked, about the current climate.

According to Sharon Bond, spokeswoman for Giving USA – a non-profit organization that conducts philanthropy research, “giving does follow the economy as a general rule.” But, “people do keep giving.”

Bond added that “philanthropic donations have increased every year for the past 40 years, except for 1987, when there was a change in tax exemptions.”

Statistically, when the economy is in recession, giving falls about 1.1 percent. During a slow down, giving decreases by .5 percent. Non-recession years generally see a 4.3 percent increase.

Giving USA suggests that organizations assume a more direct approach when fundraising during a recession.

“Make sure you have a good case for asking” Bond adds. “Advocate for the organization’s vision and purpose.”

As for those of us in the Jewish world, we have the added problem of the upcoming Chagim. Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, cited the timing just two weeks before Rosh HaShanah as a specific problem for Jewish charities.

“So much of their energy goes into raising funds after the High Holidays are over and before the end of the year. So the timing is just terrible.”

You can read more about what Mark says, along with some New York area specific comments, in this story from the New Jersey Jewish Standard, Financial crisis hits home.

Though on the other side of the fence, if you happen to be a Bronfman, I guess you can take a more laid-back attitude; from this mornings Haaretz:

Never mind the markets, Bronfman is more interested in Limmud

Matthew Bronfman is not only confident that Israel’s financial markets are not endangered by the recent worldwide financial turmoil, he is so calm about it that this week, he is allowing himself to devote much of his attention to entirely nonfinancial endeavors. While many of his colleagues are busy panicking, Bronfman is concentrating on the first local Limmud Conference for Jews from the former Soviet Union, which will take place on September 25 and 26 in Ashkelon.

Lastly, with a few suggestions of how you can be proactive, check out our own post, Troubled Times, listing 10 Ways to Market in an Economic Storm.