Perhaps rainy days and Mondays can get us down, but so can recent economic news. And we have had a fair amount of that in the last few days. For example, the last jobs report before the midterm elections shows a notable reduction in public-sector jobs (mostly caused by the ending of the last of the Census 2010 jobs and the firings/redundancies made by state and local governments) with a slight uptick (ca.64,000) of private-sector jobs. An uptick is an uptick, but the drain of long term unemployment has made most Americans somewhere between hankering and obsessed with changing the political makeup of Congress in a few weeks time. Long term unemployment – after the credit and banking meltdown, after the housing bubble popping – has also sorely curtailed our abilities to support our charities and not-for-profits, as recent reports demonstrate.
Coincidental to the report from the Department of Labor, The has presented a white paper on philanthropic organizations and their economic vitals for the fiscal year. The report, entitled “One Recession, Two Americas Those Who Lost Ground Slightly Outnumber Those Who Held Their Own,” concerns how the statistical sampling has fared over the last year, which lies somewhere between stagnant and slightly worse.
For a narrow majority of Americans (55%), the Great Recession brought a mix of hardships, usually in combination: a spell of unemployment, missed mortgage or rent payments, shrinking paychecks and shattered household budgets, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project. But for the other 45% of the country, the recession was largely free of such difficulties.
It’s not surprising that some people were harder hit by the recession than others, or that people who, for example, suffered a spell of unemployment also had trouble making their rent or mortgage payments. What is striking, however, is the fact that the groups are roughly the same size yet the differences between them are so great.
Indeed, though the statistics are not necessarily surprising (those without college degrees have fared much worse in unemployment figures; Hispanics are disproportionately represented among those who ‘lost ground,’ etc.), the spread between success and failure makes for some chilling reading. For example, “When asked to compare their household financial situation now with what it was before the recession, those who Lost Ground were more than twice as likely than those who Held their Own to say their families are worse off now (63% vs. 28%).” The perceptions of struggle have amplified the disassociation many have felt, even as economists claim we have been out of a recession for almost a year now. The evident bifurcation of people’s economic status and their perceptions of that status might also support the alarmist conclusion of Arianna Huffington’s latest book, “Third World America.”
And as we have reported over the last few months in various guises, the Recession has caught up to the fund raising efforts of organizations that had fared a bit better than they expected in 2008-2009. Those 55% who report having lost ground are not being helped by the pre-recession philanthropy of the other 45%.
But let us end the Monday with a mark of hope: For some guidance and conversation about how to reverse these trends, the ‘Chronicle of Philanthropy‘ will be hosting a webinar entitled “Raising Money Through Social Media – Real Stories from Real Charities.” It will be on 28 October from 2:00pm to 3:30 Eastern Time. A roundtable of five proven fundraisers and new-media advisors will present their materials and respond to questions from the audience. Registration can be done here, and the webinar will surely provide insights on how to do a bit better than survive as a philanthropic or mission-based organization.