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What Role Should Foundations Play During The Recession?

Resource type: News

The Chronicle of Philanthropy |

Original Source

By Ian Wilhelm

During a recent forum on grant making during a bad economy, participants debated whether foundations should focus their giving on social services or instead support advocacy efforts to influence the government.

Two foundation leaders at the meeting at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University encouraged the advocacy route.

According to an anonymous blog writer on the school’s Web site, Ann Beeson, director of U.S. programs for the Open Society Institute, said the economic crisis presented an opportunity to set a new policy agenda.

Gara LaMarche, president of Atlantic Philanthropies, agreed and said that grants today to make changes in public policy could reverse “systematic injustices” in the near future.

Both foundation leaders acknowledged that their organizations are in a somewhat different financial position than other grant makers, which helps them weather the recession.

Open Society and Atlantic are expected to spend all of their money by a future date and shut down, while many foundations are trying to preserve an endowment to allow them to operate indefinitely.

What do you think? What role should foundations play during this economic downturn?