The new edition of “Giving USA” suggests that the recession has made a much deeper mark on American philanthropy than even some experts realized.
And while the annual report says giving by the wealthy is picking up, at least in some parts of the country, that doesn’t mean many of the ambitious capital campaigns now getting under way will fare well.
“They are more ready to launch than donors are to give,” says Bruce Flessner, a Minneapolis fundraising consultant who regularly interviews affluent donors in advance of big fundraising drives by his nonprofit clients. Even for wealthy people, he says, “the pain is pretty fresh in their mind,” given the severity of the downturn.
Mr. Flessner may be right, as my colleague, Maria Di Mento, noted in a post Tuesday about the sluggish recovery of multimillion-dollar gifts.
To be sure, some wealthy donors may have been more likely to make contributions of $1-million or more anonymously during the recession, but the data still suggest a sharp decline in giving by affluent donors that continues to depress American philanthropy.