The Council on Foundations estimates that foundation assets dropped by 30-45 per cent in 2008, resulting in a loss of $280 billion of philanthropic resources. The response of Council members to the recession has varied. Some private foundations are increasing their payout in 2009 beyond the required minimum 5 per cent of philanthropic assets, even though those assets have declined. Others are reducing grants across the board or limiting 2009 funding mainly to current grantees.
At the same time, the loss of jobs, homes and economic security is driving up the demand for services provided by non-profits. COF President and CEO Steve Gunderson and Board Chair Ralph Smith of the Annie E Casey Foundation called on the Council’s 2,100 members to reach out to non-profits that are bearing the brunt of shrinking philanthropic resources, and to play an active and visible role with diverse stakeholders in their communities and regions to craft commonsense solutions to address the economic realities.
To assist its members to weather the economic turbulence, the Council has created two new tools. Economic Xchange is a new online platform for the exchange of information, ideas and tactics about the economic crisis and its impact on philanthropy. It also lists relevant articles, blogs, research and events. The Council has also launched a bi-monthly, interactive, online resource called Thought>Action>Impact: An e-Journal of Philanthropic Ideas with commentaries from public, private and non-profit sector leaders. The first issue was devoted to the economy.
The second issue focuses on the new Administration of President Barack Obama. The Council has met with senior officials of the Obama transition team and is fully engaged with the new Administration as a partner in addressing the current economic challenges.