We're gripped by an unusually strong bear right now. He's squeezing financial markets viciously. And, it comes as no surprise that charitable giving is suffering. Nonetheless, philanthropy is staying ahead of investment hits. Even with stock market calamity, we're still able to find the occasional heart of gold out there.
Don't get me wrong, the situation's grim for the nonprofit sector. Craig M. Joseph of InQuest International, a full-service philanthropic consultancy, observes that the USA Giving Index – calculated by the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University – is down 35 percent from its 2007 peak. That year, $306 billion in charitable gifts were made. With the steep decline over the past two years, though, a lot of organizations won't get the funding they need.
Of course, it could be worse. If philanthropy followed the Dow, gifts would have fallen more than 40 percent to less than $184 billion – rather than the estimated February 2009 level of $199 billion. With numbers this large, $15 billion may not seem like a lot, but in the hands of an efficient charitable organization, it can change a lot of lives.
For now, the news is "less negative," but there is still a lot of pain that still has to be pushed through the markets, as much of the Wall Street calamity likely has yet to be visited upon consumers. Let's just hope that we still find some room in our wallets to support our favorite charities.