Philanthropy’s Role in an Era of Budget Cuts

Philanthropy’s Role in an Era of Budget Cuts

February 3rd, 2011

By Andrew Canada


Budget cuts, tuition increases, reduction in services offered, staff furloughs and reductions in force seem like common titles to news articles these days.

The changes that have taken place in our economy the past few years have drastically altered the way all organizations make budget and staffing decisions. What role will philanthropy play in how these key decisions are made?

Many organizations are hoping donors will help make up the deficits their budgets are facing, and so are increasing the goals placed on their fundraising staffs.

However, are they making strategic decisions and providing fundraisers with the resources needed to reach these new expectations?

In a recent article for the New York Times, Lisa Foderara talks about the decisions many public universities are making in her article “Amid Cuts, Public Colleges Step-Up Appeals to Alumni.”  She discusses how schools are looking for ways engage their alumni and encourage their support to help relieve their budget shortfalls.

Organizations have to make strategic and sometimes difficult decisions. It is not an easy or popular decision for a President to hire more development staff when they are either cutting or not hiring new faculty members.

But in order to meet the new goals, this is what many institutions are doing. Without proper staffing and resources, development staffs cannot reach the ever increasing needs of their organizations.

It would be wonderful if there was enough private support to make up the shortfalls facing organizations today, but this does not happen overnight.

It takes time and hard work to engage potential donors with your organization. Your mission and case for support has to be sharply focused and you have to prove your organization is a solid investment. Donors are taking longer to make major philanthropic decisions and they are viewing their gift as an investment in the future of not only your organization but also their community. 

Investing more in your development staff can be a strategic investment, but don’t look at it as a quick fix for today’s budget woes.

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