A private philanthropist has come out of the shadows to defend reducing his donations. David Gelbaum has made more than $380 million in donations to groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Sierra Club and others over the past four years. But after a NY Times article came out describing how the loss of his annual donation of $20 million would affect the ACLU, Gelbaum decided to make a statement. In an article in the NY Times
he said that he was willing to come out in order to make the point that his drop in donation had nothing to do with any issues with the ACLU but instead was all about his own financial situation. He said that his investments in alternative, clean energy companies have placed him in "a highly illiquid position" because of the global economic crisis. The circumstances may be different but Gelbaum is just one of many donors, big and small, who have found themselves with less to give as a result of the economy. Many nonprofits have had to shrink their budgets in response to decreased donations.
The Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund of the California Community Foundation had received the bulk of Gelbaum's largess. He gave $246.6 million to the fund which supports nonprofit groups offering assistance to the families of troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and was the sole contributor to the fund. The ACLU received $93.5 million and the Sierra Club $47.7 million over the same four year period. We hope David Gelbaum's financial picture brightens over the next year, we could all use more big givers.