Unlike most natural or humanitarian disasters, the impact of the current economic downturn is not bound by time or place and has affected donors as well as those needing their assistance. Despite the loss of philanthropic resources inflicted by this still unfolding crisis, a growing number of grantmakers have expressed their willingness to take exceptional measures to address the new challenges that have arisen. The Foundation Center has tracked and mapped online close to 50 foundations and corporations that have already announced over $100 million in grants and program-related investments for efforts ranging from reducing the number of foreclosures to shoring up food banks and services for the homeless to providing financial counseling.
An examination of the support provided by these initial responders suggests that they are focusing strongly -- but by no means exclusively -- on addressing the impact of the economic crisis in their home communities. Consistent with this observation, community foundations appear to be playing a critical role in responding to the increased need within their geographic areas. Their extensive local knowledge, combined with their willingness to serve as intermediaries for both individual and institutional giving, makes them especially valuable in the current situation. Yet, it is also important to note that a number of these institutional donors, especially corporate funders, have directed their economic crisis-response support nationally.