I apologize for the limited blog posts over the last week. As most of you know, my firm provides wealth management services for philanthropists. The turmoil in the financial markets over the last week has been our primary focus as we help our clients navigate this storm. Regulatory guidelines prevent me from commenting on our investment performance, but I’m happy to report that our clients are all sticking with us and we’ve been bringing in some new clients who aren’t so happy with their existing wealth managers.
I spent part of last week in New York meeting with philanthropy reporters at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. I also attended a party for the launch of the New York offices of The Philanthropy Workshop The Institute for Philanthropy (of which The Philanthropy Workshop is a program). The question that was posed to me over and over was, “what will all this mean for charitable giving?” It seems to me that New York charities will face some real problems. We’re not just talking about a rough economy, we’re seeing the collapse of extremely wealthy institutions that have been headquartered in NY for a long time. Washington DC will definitely feel the impact of any changes in the charitable giving at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
But for most of America, I don’t see any reason that charitable giving will be impacted anymore than it always is when the economy sours and the stock market goes down. We are witnessing an economic slow down and a decline in stock prices that (at least to date) is no worse than the cyclical busts that hit developed economies every 5-10 years. What’s actually amazing to me is how American charitable giving actually tends to hold up even in the face of bad times. Charitable giving rarely declines.
However, all that is just theory if you’re a nonprofit with a history of gifts from the financial service industry. It will be interesting to see how the Robin Hood Foundation does with its next big fundraising event.