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Sandy Cardin says foundations should stay socially responsible during downturn

The head of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Sandy Cardin, preaches financial and social responsibility through these tough financial times in an Op-Ed for Ha’aretz.

Most philanthropic foundations are invested in conservative stocks and have relatively safe portfolios, he says – because they have learned from past economic turbulence. It is now up to them to keep spending philanthropically as needs increase:

Yet, as frightening and overwhelming as times like these may be, it is important to remember that the non-profit and NGO world has been in similar situations before and has always managed to survive, and even thrive, by adapting to a changed world.

After deep plunges in both 1987 and 2001, U.S. stocks fought their way back to previous levels in less time than many expected. Even if the underlying fundamentals of the current financial crisis are different than what led to the other precipitous declines, the lessons previously learned are still quite helpful.

Then, as now, the key to emerging from the current turbulence bruised but unbroken was to be both socially and fiscally responsible.

For both large and small contributors, social responsibility is a motivating force, one we know remains present even in times of financial stress. It is reassuring to remember in times like these that the small savers and investors upon whom charities rely for the bulk of their support are committed to giving as part of the fabric of their lives, and will continue to contribute to the causes most dear to them. (In 2006, 83 percent of total contributions in the United States came from donations from individuals, including bequests.)

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