I just returned from a week in Europe – talking to people about their philanthropy in the midst of the worst market free-fall in 70 years. What’s going on is unprecedented, and being in London the day that the other shoe dropped – RBS lost 39% and one of Iceland’s bank’s had to be nationalized – was surreal.
So how could the trip have been a success? The thing is, philanthropy really is about relationships and about making long-term change in the world. These problems have existed for decades, and the solutions will be decades in the making. This is not about transactions, not about a single gift or a single project or investment.
So yes, people will take longer to decide to give, and most won’t be giving this year. But now is the time to invest more, not less, in relationships for the long-term.
(Also, here’s a thought: what’s going to happen to the tens of thousands of people who were in finance and have lost their jobs or their bonuses? Will we see an influx of highly-skilled people into the nonprofit sector? And if so, what can we do to make the most of this opportunity?)