The New Philanthropy (Giving Effectively in Challenging Times)

By Lisa Eisen

The Foundation Center, December 3, 2009

The two decades leading up to the near-collapse of the world financial markets in late 2008 was a period of enormous growth in private philanthropy. This was especially true in the Jewish community, which saw the establishment of some nine thousand Jewish family foundations with assets totaling $30 billion. Then everything changed. The recession and the Madoff scandal created a perfect storm that severely damaged the philanthropic community; on average, private foundations are reported to have lost about 30 percent of their assets, and some smaller foundations reduced giving by as much as 60 percent.

Times are tough, and surviving is not a question of simply downsizing and taking cover until the storm abates. Few believe 2010 will be a better year for philanthropy than 2009, and the nonprofit landscape may have changed permanently. Our foundation has used this period of uncertainty to explore how we can be more efficient and effective in our philanthropy. Our answer is rooted in three interwoven strategies, the seeds of which we planted a few years ago but the implementation of which we have accelerated. Together, these strategies allow us to navigate the new environment while still achieving our philanthropic goals.

Topic: Philanthropy and Fundraising, Development, Foundations, Change, Organizational Philosophy, Economy, Fundraising and Philanthropy, Evaluation

Name of Publication: Philanthropy News Digest

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

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Bibliographic Information:
Eisen, Lisa. The New Philanthropy (Giving Effectively in Challenging Times). Philanthropy News Digest. The Foundation Center. 3 December 2009:


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