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Skagit Valley Hospital

When Will the Churning Seas Turn Calmer?



Last Wednesday the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed over 10,000 points for the first time in, well, a long time. I had a hard time getting excited about this milestone (Would it really last? Is this THE sign we’ve all been waiting for? Is it time to dance in the streets in the again?), but the air felt lighter and the sun cast a slightly brighter light that day. A year ago, the Dow was under 7,000. Last Wednesday felt good.

What can I say, we are living in an unsteady environment, one that bears a striking resemblance to the Atlantic Ocean I traveled for six weeks aboard a 134-foot brigantine in college. After we got our sea legs, the steady upward-downward motion of the seas began to feel normal. Not safe – there was that water spout that veered dangerously close to our vessel in a Force 9 gale – but normal. After our research voyage, it took longer than you would think for us to adjust to the stability of terra firma.

So how will we know when we’re back on solid ground in the world of philanthropy? Yesterday I received the new Giving USA Spotlight with its title article “Giving Recovery after Economic Depression or Recession”


and it provides some clues and considerations. Researched and written at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University (the same outfit that, in partnership with Giving Institute, researches and publishes the annual Giving USA reports on charitable giving in the USA), the spotlight offers solid perspective on the past and some peeks at what we might expect in the future. The bottom line: once the recession is over, it will likely take at least three years for individual giving to return to pre-recession levels.

So as we see glimmers of hope on the philanthropic horizon, continue to carefully evaluate and plan for any fundraising campaign. Evaluate what’s working and what’s not in your fundraising program. Take the time to tune up your major gifts program or rethink the purpose of your special events. Talk with your supporters about how you are faring on the high seas and how you are planning for the future.

We’d love your comments on how you are making sense of often conflicting economic news and, more importantly, what’s next for you and your organization.


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About the Author

Kate Roosevelt

Kate Roosevelt CFRE

Executive Vice President

Kate’s clients love her non-nonsense, yet flexible manner. She’ll tell it like it is, but will always go the extra mile to ensure her clients realize their goals.


One Response

  1. Mandi Moshay says:

    Thanks for sharing this article, Kate. I’m digging the boating analogies!

    As tired as I think we all are of hearing about the economy, it’s nice to get a perspective from Giving USA that is rooted in concrete historical data. While we anticipate the next three years to be challenging, I am excited to see what innovative strategies nonprofits employ to keep donors engaged until they are able to give again. So far this recession has encouraged a lot of creative thinking within organizations in our community and I hope that trend continues as we make our way toward an economic recovery.


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