Is it just the July weather?

Is it just the July weather?

July 31st, 2009

by Kris Kindelsperger

Perhaps just returning from a week at the beach has my mind clouded with good feelings, but my conversations with clients and professional colleagues these past few weeks have also left me feeling cautiously optimistic about fundraising as we move into the critical second half of the year.

From much of the work we have done over the past year, fundraising has been impacted by at least two equally important forces, one primarily economic and one primarily psychological. The realities of the economy hit many philanthropists right in the solar plexus. Clearly many lost a significant portion of the assets from which they made their gifts.

As important though, was the psychology of what was happening. Normally confident entrepreneurs threw up their hands in feasibility study interviews this spring saying, “who knows what will happen?” The most charitable heads of family foundations were truly scared about the asset base of their endowments. Well compensated business men and women were genuinely questioning the wisdom of making gifts at a time they were freezing salaries and laying off workers.

Many believe that the fundamentals of the economy have still not changed significantly and that we are in for a long and slow recovery. But what does seem to have changed is a bit of the psychology of donors. Many seem to now believe that further decline is not as likely, and the recent upturn in the stock market has helped some recover at least a portion of their asset base.

My sense is that many who pulled their heads into their shells like the proverbial turtle, are beginning to peak out and look at the world around them in a more optimistic way. Will this impact philanthropy? Perhaps a little time off in July will help all of us gain a bit more clarity about our giving priorities for the fall.

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