Despite Some Optimism, Fear for Future at Jewish Funders’ Gathering
April 15, 2010, Jewish Telegraphic Agency — As more than 200 major funders of Jewish nonprofits gathered here at a hotel known as the Jewel of the Desert, most of the signs of the economic carnage of the past 18 months appeared to be waning.
The funders were here for the annual conference of the Jewish Funders Network, which was held Sunday through Tuesday under perfect weather at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. The meeting was accompanied by a general sense that the financial markets had stabilized and, with them, charitable giving. Many coming off difficult years appeared optimistic.
"We certainly hit a low tide, but I am not gloomy and pessimistic," Evan Schlessinger, the former chairman of Jewish Family & Life, told JTA. "The tide is coming back in, and this has helped us focus."There were other signs at the Biltmore that the darkest of days for nonprofits may be over. According to JFN's polling, 33 percent of participants said they would increase their giving to Jewish causes this year, while 61 percent said they haven't reduced giving to Jewish causes over the past year.
But scratch beneath the surface and there was plenty of concern that more Jewish nonprofits may be at risk of collapse. For some of the major players in the Jewish nonprofit world, last year was disappointing and there is fear that this year could be just as bad — or worse.