Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The Economist reports on the recent public comments of Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Paul Brest, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, about endowments, grantmaking, and other effects on the non-profit sector areas from the economic downturn. While they both acknowledged serious declines in their foundations' endowments - to levels last seen four or more years ago - they also stated that the foundations will stick to planned levels of giving in 2009. The foundations have, however, begun cutting management and administrative expenses, and, if asset values do not recover soon, their grantmaking will decline in 2010. Even so, the foundations do not expect to shift grantmaking away from funding long-term solutions for the larger problems that they already focus on. Mr. Brest also saw at least one possible silver lining in the current economic crisis - increasing pressure for non-profits to collaborate, share resources, and even merge, thereby reducing what he sees as excessive redundancy in the field. Both he and Mr. Gregorian were not completely confident that even this pressure would be enough to overcome the institutional inertia that prevents such steps, however.