More than 200 NYC Nonprofit and Philanthropic Thought Leaders Convene,
Call for New Paradigms and Bold Strategies
to Cope with Challenging Times
Foundation Center, NYRAG, United Way of NYC co-sponsor forum at Citi on the
implications and opportunities of the economic crisis for nonprofits
New York, NY — November 19, 2008. Today, at a roundtable forum, more than 200 thought leaders from nonprofits, foundations, business, academia and government in the New York metro area met to discuss and identify ways to manage and strengthen the nonprofit sector in these challenging times. The forum, entitled The Economic Storm: Challenges and Opportunities—Changing the Paradigm to Meet Community Needs, was convened by the Foundation Center, New York Regional Association of Grantmakers (NYRAG), and United Way of New York City, and hosted by Citi.
Nonprofits are tested during periods of economic hardship, and the roundtable forum examined in depth how—both individually and collectively—they can be prepared to meet the challenges ahead and continue to provide the kind of services that are the backbone of our communities. Other key topics discussed included ways for the sector to achieve greater efficiencies and rethinking the way funders and nonprofits relate to—and do business with—each other.
Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, kicked off the event with a keynote address. Following, Gordon J. Campbell, president and CEO of United Way of New York City, moderated a panel discussion with Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, New York State Secretary of State; Phillip Henderson, president of the Surdna Foundation; Clara Miller, president and CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund; Stephanie Palmer, executive director of the NYC Mission Society; Carolyn Cavicchio, senior research associate for global corporate citizenship, the Conference Board Center for Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability; and Paul C. Light, Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at NYU.
Also offering remarks were Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, City of New York; Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center; Ronna Brown, president of NYRAG; and Natalie Abatemarco, director of North America Community Programs, Citi.
"Many people are looking to foundations to close the gaps caused by the current economic crisis," said the Foundation Center's Smith. "However, the reality is that total foundation giving in 2007 was the equivalent of only 6 percent of the $700 billion or more that our government just spent on the bailout package. Foundations can respond to the needs of the most vulnerable populations for jobs, home ownership, and health care, but their unique ability to provide long-term, flexible funding can help seed ideas that will inspire future government action. The solutions to this crisis are going to require an 'all hands on deck' approach."
"Difficult economic times require our sector—foundations and nonprofits alike—to break out of our silos and come together for creative thinking, open conversation, and strategic collaborations," said NYRAG's Brown. "Our goal for this summit from the start was that it serve as the beginning of that sectorwide dialogue, aimed at reaching solutions that protect and support the communities that we serve."
"When the economy is struggling, the demand on nonprofits is even greater," said United Way's Campbell. "It is critical that the nonprofit sector is ready to provide for those in need. Today, we have taken an important step—nonprofits, government, businesses, foundations and academicians together—to identify ways that we can overcome the many challenges we face and strengthen the sector overall, long after this crisis is behind us."
Given the magnitude of the current economic crisis, finding the way forward requires thought leadership and collaboration among people with a wide range of expertise and experience, said Citi's Abatemarco. "Citi remains committed to local communities. This Summit comes at a critical time and Citi is proud to be able to contribute."
"The Bloomberg administration's commitment to our city's most vulnerable populations and our support for the nonprofit sector remains strong—particularly during these times of economic challenge," said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. "Our focus on innovation, maximization of existing resources and revenues coupled with investment in the workforce, will allow our core social services to continue and the safety net to remain strong."
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