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Philanthropy can survive the recession, says expert 22/10/08

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 Kent.

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 income'.

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."




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