In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, we asked Associates of The Philanthropy Roundtable to tell us how the tragedy had affected their grant making—whether they had changed their procedures or priorities or would be seeking new areas to focus on in the future.
The responses are all over the map, but a few patterns do emerge. Most foundations indicated that they would be sticking with their regular grantees, and any gifts to relief efforts will be on top of normal disbursements. “Equally as important [as supporting the relief efforts] is ensuring that the nonprofit organizations we support are able to continue the critical work they were doing prior to September 11,” explains Tom Collamore of the Philip Morris Companies. But a number of foundations felt compelled to go outside their normal program areas because of the tragedy. As Cary Hemphill of the John M. Olin Foundation says, “As a New York-based foundation, our trustees felt we should go outside our usual mandate and support the relief work.”
A number of foundations are already looking to the larger task of ensuring that such tragedies don’t occur again. David Wills reports that the National Christian Foundation wants to support Christian organizations engaged in evangelization work within the Muslim world. And Eric Flamm of the William & Jane Schloss Family Foundation finds that the tragedy has strengthened his desire to fund human rights groups.
One theme runs like a refrain through these responses: a concern about the faltering economy and how it will affect investment return and grant making. Lila Pfleger says the Lucille S. Thompson Family Foundation has “maintained [its] interest areas but tightened our focus within those areas slightly É due to the overall decline in the stock market.” And Herbert Hezlep of the Hezlep Family Foundation reports that the market uncertainty “has hit us hard.”
What follows represents just a portion of the comments we received; limited space prevents including all the comments you sent, but we appreciate the response.
Walter & Elise Haas Fund
We are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward giving to the relief efforts right now, because of the uncertainty about overall impacts on the nonprofit sector, the already generous outpouring of individual donors, the impact a declining economy has on our philanthropic resources, and the possibility of future tragic events. The two areas of our grant making that may receive additional emphasis as a result of the attacks are our programs on “tolerance and understanding” and civic education.
Michael A. Morris
Morris Family Foundation
The decline in the stock market has seriously affected the ability of this foundation to honor its current grants without seriously affecting corpus. That fact, plus the amount of money being raised in the private sector and the funds being allocated by government, made us decide that this foundation can best serve the public by ensuring that charitable organizations with currently pending grants are able to maintain operations.
National Christian Foundation
We have created a fund that will send checks directly to certain needy families of the victims. Also, being a Christian-based charity, we are setting up a fund that will provide grants to organizations that are working inside Muslim countries. It is our belief that influencing that area of the world with the message of Christ is a critical part of the long-term solution to a more peaceful world.
Samuel H. Kress Foundation
Since we are headquartered in New York City, we have redirected a small portion of our funding to organizations outside of our program areas to assist the many groups in need in the city. The foundation has also contributed $10,000 to the Preservation League of New York State toward a joint fund set up by the World Monuments Fund, the Preservation League, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Municipal Art Society to assist with the repair of historic buildings damaged as a result of the terrorist attacks. We do not foresee changes in our program areas, as an important part of the response to events like September 11 has to be continued support of projects in our program areas.
William & Jane Schloss Family Foundation
Supporting human rights groups has always been a priority for our foundation. Now after September 11, I see funding such groups as even more important. It seems that much of the anger of the Islamic fundamentalists stems from a belief that America acts with impunity abroad. I believe that human rights groups work to soften the impact of government interests.
Poitras Charitable Foundation
From our family foundation, we are making it a point to give even more than we usually do to an expanded list, including the September 11 Fund. While I have appreciated the cautions made by some that the funds headed toward the relief effort might come at the expense of other recipients, I do not believe that will be the case. In fact, I’ve started to become rather annoyed with the self-appointed philanthropic scolds who have attempted to call into question this commendable charitable response.
Smith Richardson Foundation
We will probably give to disaster relief, at a cost to some of our regular grantees.
Alice & Stanley Goldstein Foundation
My first reaction was to do something, fast, but not to trust any ad hoc group. The soundest approach seemed to be a charity I knew, liked, and could trust to direct a gift to the most precise beneficiaries. The result was a gift to the New York City Police Foundation, double my usual grant, for the families of police officers killed on September 11.
Grants outside of normal program areas: three. Amount of money to normal grantees: no changes contemplated. A change in the focus of my grant making? Too early to tell—it depends on current outcomes. But I will be more cautious in the coming months as far as taking on significant new grantees.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
To start, we made a $5 million contribution to organizations identified by the September 11 Fund. For our current grantees in the New York area, we are going to be flexible about reporting requirements and have inquired as to whether they have any additional needs. We are presently funding a small survey of mental health needs in New York City and are exploring whether there are needs in areas such as grief counseling, bolstering the public health system, and combating bioterrorism. We anticipate that some of our longstanding interests, such as helping institutions that serve the uninsured and other vulnerable populations, will be adversely affected by the economic turndown. We’ll spend some time assessing the situation in order to decide what further actions we might take.
German Marshall Fund of the U.S.
We are reallocating some of our resources into foreign policy projects focused on developing intellectual resources that support international coalitions to combat terrorism. With several longtime partners, we will also be doing special projects on U.S.-European policies related to the Middle East, South Asia, and Central Asia. We will also be funding comparative research and conferences on homeland security issues. Finally, our already-successful immigration policy area will receive additional attention due to the proposals for more restrictive immigrations policies in Europe and, to a lesser degree, the United States.
L. Michael Hajtman
Albert & Ethel Herzstein Foundation
Like everyone else, our directors wanted to do something, but we decided not to send money to New York. So we went back to an old grantee and gave money to a local Islamic center. They used the money for three different things: sponsoring orphans from Afghanistan who had arrived in Houston before September 11; installing a security system for the center, because they had received a lot of threats; and promoting education about Islam. They printed up pamphlets condemning the terrorist attacks and educating people about the real tenets of their faith.
No changes here—I am involved with a home health and hospice care organization that I feel is worthwhile regardless of what else is transpiring, at least so far. I did increase my giving to the Salvation Army, but that will not come at the expense of anything else. I worry that other needs will go unmet—and I worry that if some other tragedy happens, there will be no resources left. Remember “compassion fatigue”?
Robert A. Nalewajek
Nalewajek Family Foundation
On a short-term basis the effect of these attacks on our giving has been great. Due to the drop in the market we have delayed making commitments due to the fiduciary irresponsibility of liquidating equities at distressed levels. Given the already generous response to specific September 11-related needs, we will likely resume our normal funding pattern when the market “returns.”
William E. Simon Foundation
We mostly support faith-based social service programs in the New York area, and these were very hard hit by the attack. So we decided to look to the charities that we were already funding and find ways we could expand those nonprofits so they could support the victims. We’re going to wait until the dust settles and look for disaster-related needs that may emerge in a few months or a few years.
Sharon J. Bell
I have 16 named beneficiaries in the trust documents; so there will be no changes per se in redirecting distributions. Of more direct impact to my trusts is the effect of the stock market slump and the “R” word—the recession that we seem to be trying to wade through. Mr. Greenspan’s cuts to interest rates and the very nervous stock market are seriously affecting the amount of income available for distribution.
Margaret Mathews Fund
Other than small, “participatory” gifts to the Red Cross and some September 11 funds, I have not yet made a significant grant related to the tragedy. I prefer to wait to see where the longer-term needs are. I have not yet reduced any gifts to regular grantees and do not expect to do so. Still, I may slow the payment of several pledges, and may not increase gifts to regular grantees as I might have otherwise. I do expect the events of September to contribute to my developing focus on refugee issues, for the long term.
Herbert Hezlep III
Hezlep Family Foundation
We gave a grant to the Twin Towers Fund equal to 10 percent of our budget. We will meet next month to decide whether to reduce other funding. The stock market has hit us hard.
John M. Olin Foundation
We made a grant to the September 11 Fund. As a New York-based foundation, our trustees felt we should go outside our usual mandate and support the relief work.
Philip Morris Companies
Besides more than $10 million to the disaster relief efforts, we are looking at ways to help our longstanding grantees that have been affected by the attacks and resultant downturn. Emergency grants are being made to agencies including Safe Horizon, City Harvest, and the National Center for Victims of Crime. We’re committed to doing our part in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. Equally as important, however, is ensuring that the nonprofit organizations we support are able to continue the critical work they were doing prior to September 11, especially in our focus areas of hunger relief, domestic violence prevention, and the arts and culture.
We are waiting to see what is going to happen to our local charities, social service agencies, and arts organizations in particular. In Oklahoma City, our local charities were hurt by fund raising falloffs after the 1995 bombing. We think this might also be the case this year due to the large amounts of money flowing into New York.
Schooler Family Foundation
The Schooler Family Foundation has experienced a change in our relationships with fellow grant makers and grantees and applicants since September 11. There’s a heightened sense of the “other” as separate from “self”—gentleness, kindness—a feeling of giving from a grantee, giving more respect, listening. In addition, as a Rotarian, I have begun a conversation with the Rotary Foundation in Evanston, Indiana, as to how our foundation might make a grant for civic, civil society, and leadership purposes to Rotarians in Afghanistan—perhaps, if there is one, the Rotary Club of Kabul.