Fundraising and Volunteerism in the Current Recession
Officially the United States entered a recession in December, 2007. The Federal Reserve estimated that the wealth of American families plunged nearly 18% in 2008, erasing $11 trillion in housing and stock market value and marking the biggest loss in a half century. Although there has been some recovery in the stock market and the recession has been declared over, unemployment is still high and the housing market is still down. How long these recession conditions will last is unclear, but a full recovery will take time. There were recent signs of a modest jobs recovery. According to Labor Department figures, 13.1 million people were unemployed in December 2011, accounting for an 8.5 percent unemployment rate - its lowest level in nearly three years. However, the number of long term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 5. 6 million and accounted for 42.5 percent of the total unemployed, not far below the record high of 45.5 percent in March 2011. Although the recession officially ended in June, 2009, many predict job recovery will remain slow.
Predictions and actual impacts of this economic downturn continue to evolve. In addition to vanished net worth on paper, some companies, non profits and government offices have instituted hiring freezes, furloughs, are not filling vacancies, and have reduced work hours. A January 2009 survey found that more than a quarter of companies had imposed salary freezes or cuts. Almost everyone has acquaintances and/or family members who are being impacted. Cutbacks and stiff competition for jobs have added to re-employment uncertainty. Some continue to lose their homes through mortgage defaults, while others are having trouble paying their mortgage or rent.
While the impacts on families and individuals vary, the prevailing economic uncertainties are resulting in a general shift towards frugality and delay of financial commitments. This is impacting consumer spending, tourism, philanthropic giving and volunteerism patterns. While 2008 spending and charitable giving was buffered by earnings and revenues in a relatively strong economy in 2007, that buffer evaporated.
Along with every institution in America, those working in support of national parks are trying to interpret economic and giving indicators, adapt to current economic realities, assess best strategies and opportunities to stay on target and get through this recession.
This overview offers indicators, trends and strategies for coping with and surviving these current economic conditions. The following links summarize current economic trends based on contributions and volunteerism for individuals, corporations and foundations. The survival strategies provide suggestions on how to maximize the longevity of your organization(s) during the current economic conditions.