The latest NY Times special section on giving is, as usual, a "must-read" comprehensive review of the state of the philanthropic and charity universe.

Whatever your field of interest — medical research, alleviating poverty, arts & culture, education, international humanitarian assistance, and much more — and whether you are a donor or a recipient, there’s something in this superb compendium of articles for you. Oddly the one area not covered is the behavior in these troubled times of the small gift donor.

For the best overview, read Stephanie Strom’s article on the impact of the economic downturn on giving. Her report, prepared with assistance from James Freed, gives a surprisingly upbeat picture, given the circumstances. Foundations, with conservative investments and rolling multi-year portfolio values driving grant levels, will not have as much immediate downturn as the major market indices. Super-wealthy individual donors and corporate foundations say they might stretch out their giving a bit, but they don’t talk in terms of major cutbacks.

As noted, however, there are no articles in the compendium on the expected behavior of your basic direct mail or online small gift donor.

For insight into that, at least as proferred by nonprofit fundraisers and their consultants, you’ll need to read The Agitator’s Vital Signs 1 Report, based on our recent canvas of the community and posted last Friday. An updated Vital Signs 2 Report will be posted November 21st. Stay tuned!

Tom

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