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Topic Surviving Economic Downturns

This topic area is focused on helping nonprofit organizations share resources for dealing with a poor economical climate, and is a topical response to the unprecedented economic decline identified in early 2009.


see also:

Economic Stimulus

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act




In economics, the term recession describes the reduction of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) for at least two quarters.[1][2] The usual dictionary definition is "a period of reduced economic activity", a business cycle contraction.[3][4]

The United States-based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines economic recession as: "a significant decline in [the] economic activity spread across the country, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP growth, real personal income, employment (non-farm payrolls), industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales."[5] The NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee is generally seen as the authority for dating US recessions. Almost universally, academic economists, policy makers, and businesses defer to the determination by the NBER for the precise dating of a recession's onset and end.

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recession 3/17/09

+resources and best practices

see American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for information regarding the Obama administration's economic stimulus package

Nonprofit Association of Oregon (Formerly TACS) Resources for Staying Strong "Following is a list of information and resources to help your organization face emerging challenges. Over the next few months we will be working on different programs and services that are responsive to current nonprofit needs." Feb 2009 : http://www.tacs.org/news/feb09/resources_for_staying_strong


from Nonprofit Association of Oregon (Formerly TACS): http://www.tacs.org/news/feb09/resources_for_staying_strong

Other Community Resources

10 Strategies for Success During Times of Economic Uncertainty. The The Collins Foundation put together this list of the top 10 strategies they recommend to keep your organization well positioned for success with fundraising during this time of economic stress.

The Network for Good Learning Center. Visit the learning center to find a variety of articles and tips on fundraising and communication, including Six Ways to Survive the Economic Storm By Katya Anderson.

Economic Toolkit. The Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) compiled this collection of online resources for arts organizations working through a challenging economy.

Managing in Tough Times. This resource center is home to a collection of informative articles published by The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit support organization. Find 7 steps for Managing in Tough Times, and links to other helpful articles and books.

Nonprofit Economic Vitality Center. The National Council of Nonprofits’ online resource center is chock full of articles designed to help nonprofits and our allies better understand the current situation.

Opportunities in Lean Times. The Fieldstone Alliance offers advice that you can act on quickly, and tailor to suit your organization's situation. Find information on cutting costs, identifying emergency funding sources, and more.

A Guide to Navigating the Financial Crisis. The Nonprofit Finance Fund offers FAQs and insight to help your nonprofit assess risk and maintain its financial health in this
challenging climate.

Useful Reports, Surveys, and Other Research

The National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) is producing an ongoing series of Special Reports regarding the intersection between the nonprofit sector and our nation's economic recovery. The first two reports are an analysis of the new 407-page economic stimulus legislation, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

Report 1: Grant opportunities in the new federal economic stimulus legislation

Report 2: Grant application and information relative to the new federal economic stimulus legislation

Nonprofit Fundraising Trends 2009 is a survey and report authored by Kevin Johnson of Retriever Development Counsel in collaboration with NAO and key local funders and development professionals.

Giving in Oregon, survey update. This update to the Oregon Community Foundation's 2007-2008 survey confirms an increase in the demand for nonprofit services.

Economic Challenges and the Impact on Giving. View results from a recent survey conducted by the Collins Group. The good news: results show that donors continue to give—despite the economy.

The Listening Post Project. The John Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies developed this multi-year project to better understand how nonprofits are responding to crucial challenges and inform more effective public policy. View their recent News and Project Findings.


New Foundation Center Map Guides Nonprofits to Stimulus Dollars and Other Resources

May 5, 2009. The Foundation Center has collected an extensive array of resources on how nonprofits may be able to access stimulus package funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Center's new MapShot: Best ARRA Funding Resources by State provides a state-by-state display of funding opportunities and other pertinent information.



Nonprofit social media guru Beth Kanter has compiled a resource list of nonprofit use of social media in an economic downturn:




More resources:


The Chronicle of Philanthropy has compiled recent stories, live discussions, and statistics about how charities deal with turbulent times:




Nonprofit 911

Nonprofits coming together to redefine how nonprofits operate in the new economic reality


From Mal Warwick's Newsletter:
Fundraising in Tough Times: A No-Nonsense Guide to Surviving in a Challenging Economy


Robert F. Sharpe Jr. has examined the effect of the Great Depression on giving, and has made some observations and predictions about the current economic crisis and its effect on charitable donations.

Access his reports on charitable giving in uncertain times here:

Read his recent memo that summarizes additional findings on research on depression giving and implications for today here:





An Oregonian's Guide to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Congressman Earl Blumenaeur's office is offering this publication on his website, which describes it as "a guide for how to take advantage of the provisions in the Recovery and Reinvestment Act." It includes federal grant opportunities.




Oregon ARRA Information:


accountable government recovery spending: http://accountablerecovery.net/

transparent government: http://openthegovernment.org/

citizen investigatory journalism: http://www.propublica.org


Economy Forces Two Big Foundations to Make Staff Reductions By Ian Wilhelm, July 17, 2009. The Chronicle of Philanthropy http://philanthropy.com/news/updates/8905/two-wealthy-foundations-make-changes-in-staff


What do we know about recovery of giving after recessions/depressions?

October 27, 2009 Meyer Memorial Trust



Economic Crisis Resource Center
a list of learning opportunities, tips, tactics, and strategies to help you navigate through the economic downturn from the Meyer Foundation in Washington DC




And Now for Something Different About Nonprofits and The Economy

Strategies for Nonprofits Approaching a Downturn

January 1st, 2009



  • RACC's Online Economic Toolkit: This online toolkit includes a collection of useful information and helpful resources for arts organizations that are working through a very challenging economy. http://www.racc.org/resources/economictoolkit.php

see related articles on wikipedia:

Causes of recessions

Effects of recessions