Commenting on the effects of the current recession , a stockbroker friend of mine said that stocks losing their value causes philanthropic giving to lessen dramatically. “When it takes giving twice as many shares this year to make the same monetary contribution that you made last year, there is a good chance the giver is not going to want to do that.”
The big problem is that with unemployment hitting a disastrous ten percent, the need for assistance becomes greater at a time when giving drops dramatically.
Fortunately, though, the situation in the Columbus area, while problematic, is not as bad as it could be. Last year, after a meeting with 100 CEOs about what their companies could be expected to contribute in this down economy, United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley lowered its goal from the previous year by $400 thousand. Scott Ferguson, president and CEO of UWCV told me that a lot of people stepped up to the plate and increased their giving to help make up the difference, and that generosity has caused the goal of $6.45 million goal to be exceeded by $200 thousand. It will be interesting to see what the 100 CEOs have to say this year when that meeting is held.
While UWCV depends mainly on corporate giving, which relies on the contributions of individual employees, individual members of the Tocqueville Society increased their contributions. The Tocqueville Society is made up of people who contribute $10 thousand or more. The UWCV was recognized nationally for having the highest percentage of members, in an area of 300,000 to 500,000 people, increasing their giving.
It’s thanks to Columbus area philanthropists who joined in partnership with the city government that we have the world-class RiverCenter with its three state-of-the-art theaters, and the River Walk, and the Columbus Civic Center. It’s thanks to philanthropists that the Springer Opera House, Georgia’s State Theater, a historic gem, was beautifully restored and renovated. These things have made our city quite attractive.
Now, we have to make sure that our citizens can afford to go to those theaters. With the build up at Fort Benning, that situation should be improving soon.