“Coming Together in Tough Times” (Save the Date: Dec. 15)

– SAVE THE DATE: Dec. 15, 9 am to 11 am –

Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington Grantmakers

According to our recent survey of members, grantmaker assets are declining. This should surprise no one. Fortunately, many grantmakers will continue to give in the same amounts, some will decrease their giving only slightly, and many plan to shift towards providing more general operating support. But overall, funders are very concerned about 2009 and even more concerned about 2010. The fragile social profit community is becoming even more fragile.

Meanwhile, community needs are rising. Local service organizations are wondering how to meet the increased demand when they already see their resources dwindling. Many rely on the continued charitable giving of our region’s top two corporate givers, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. While we believe that their giving is likely to continue, the amounts and areas of focus are still unknown.

Change often waits until something just has to give.

What does it all mean? That we will have to do more with less. Grantmakers will have to be even more strategic, effective and efficient. Efficiency will involve looking beyond the walls of our own organizations and understanding that this downturn, like any other difficulty our region ever faces, is a shared problem.

So that’s what we’re doing. The coalition* that formed to work to preserve Fannie’s and Freddie’s charitable giving for the region has now grown to include the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region and has broadened its focus. We are preparing to lead an assessment in our respective communities of the impact of a changed fiscal reality. The discussion begins with a summit on Dec. 15. We know it’s a busy time of the year, but we have to start the conversation. Then, within our respective communities, we will hold small group discussions that will evolve into larger group explorations and finally into a plan of action.

Many of these conversations are overdue, but change often waits until something just has to give. Sometimes turmoil is an opportunity—a catalyst for new insights, new strategies, and better ways of doing business. I hope to see you on the 15th.

* The original coalition of membership-umbrella organizations included the Board of Trade, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, the Council of Governments, Leadership Greater Washington, the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, the United Way of the National Capital Area, and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

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