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Philanthropy can survive a recession, says Centre for Philanthropy

Charities should not assume they will lose their biggest supporters in the current financial turmoil, according to Beth Breeze of the newly established Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of Kent.
In a recent article for the Charity Market Monitor 2008, she argues that “whilst ordinary people are currently trimming their budgets, the richest individuals donate out of surplus wealth, rather than making sacrifices from their everyday income”. Their capacity to give is therefore not affected by factors such as the rising costs of food, fuel and mortgage payments.
Breeze argues that philanthropy not a simple economic transaction but “essentially a social relationship between givers and receivers”.
At least for ‘elite givers’, she adds that research has shown that “their philanthropic acts are part of a strategy – conscious or otherwise – to find meaning and purpose in their lives while creating and communicating a positive identity to themselves, their loved ones and the wider community”.
She offers advice on what charities can do to shore up their voluntary income from major donors. “Charities that communicate honestly with their richest supporters about the challenges they face due to loss of income from other sources, such as investment returns and government grants, may even increase their income from major donors,” she suggests.
She remains optimistic: “so long as philanthropy helps to bring meaning to donors’ lives, then it should continue and even thrive, regardless of economic downturns, financial woes or loss of jobs in the City”.
The Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Social Justice will be launched on 6 November 2008.