Charities should not assume they will lose their biggest
supporters in the current financial turmoil, says academic
Beth Breeze of the newly established Centre for Philanthropy,
Humanitarianism and Social Justice at the University of
In an 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
Their capacity to give is therefore not affected by factors
such as the rising costs of food, fuel and mortgage payments.
Beth Breeze also argues that philanthropy is "essentially
a social relationship between givers and receivers"
and not an economic transaction, as many charities would
assume. As she points out, "research into the motivations
of elite givers has repeatedly demonstrated 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 also stated that whatever the shape of the global economy
ahead, charities can take steps to shore up their voluntary
income from major donors.
"For example, 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."
In conclusion, Beth Breeze remains convinced that "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."