A top philanthropy executive said Monday she has yet to see any philanthropic fallout from softening of the local economy or the subprime mortgage crisis. But some agencies report lean times.
Lauren Segal, chief executive of United Way of the Greater Twin Cities, said the group is on track to raise about $87.8 million in its 2007 campaign, which should conclude early in 2008. Last year, United Way fell just shy of an $85 million goal.
"We're feeling the challenges, but so far we're having a very good year," Segal said.
Giving is up among corporations donating $1 million or more and individuals who donate at least $10,000, she said.
However, agencies that depend in part on United Way, businesses and individual donors -- such as Catholic Charities, the Emergency FoodShelf Network and Salvation Army -- report that fundraising is lagging while demand for food, shelter, clothing and other support has risen. Those seeking help range from the chronic homeless to folks who can't make mortgage payments.
In the first nine months of 2007, 458 families spent at least one night at Catholic Charities' Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul, more than all of last year. Catholic Charities, which provides services to about 50,000 people annually, expects a record year in demand for its food, shelter and job-counseling programs.
Bill King, president of the Minnesota Council of Foundations, said foundation executives are bracing for increased demand from human service agencies that they fund.
"It's safe to say that foundations and the corporate community are aware of the issues, and there are ... discussions about homelessness, the mortgage crisis and the role of the philanthropic community," he said. "Philanthropy will be part of the solution, and Minnesotans provide $5 billion in charitable giving annually, including $1 billion from foundations.
"But it's small change compared with what the banks and mortgage companies are writing off in bad debt. And if the economy gets worse and there is a shortfall in state funding, as there was a few years ago of $3 billion or $4 billion, and there's sometimes this inclination to say, 'Let the charitable sector take care of that'; that's just not possible."
In 2005, human services grants rose to 25 percent of foundation giving, according to the council's "Giving in Minnesota" report. Minnesota foundation giving rose about 5 percent in 2005 to $1.02 billion. King said foundation giving will rise by up to 5 percent this year over 2006.
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144