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RGK Center Director Peter Frumkin On Giving During Time of Economic Downturn

AUSTIN, Texas-- June 23, 2009-- LBJ School Professor  Peter Frumkin, Director of the RGK Center for Philanthropy on Community Service, has been lending his expertise to stories focusing on the changing nature of giving during the current economic crisis.

On May 20, Frumkin spoke the the New York Times in an article titled "Smart Giving in a Troubled Climate," and explained the two theories from which donors operate during times of financial downturn - direct service to individuals and change through advocacy and public education.

"In tough times," said Frumkin, "people tend to gravitate toward direct service because they want something concrete from their giving."

On June 12, Frumkin expanded on how the changing nature of giving can affect various non-profit organizations and charities in an article published by the New Jersey Jewish Standard titled "Major Changes Ahead at Major Jewish Charity."

“It’s a huge generational problem,” said Frumkin. “The old-time donors would give unconditionally to the federations and trust the professional managers to make the decision about the highest and best use of philanthropic funds."

"Younger donors," he continued, “want a higher level of engagement. They also want a sense that they are doing more than just writing checks.”

Frumkin went on to say that although he was specifically talking about major national Jewish charities, the same issues confront secular charities.

Frumkin continued with this theme when he spoke to the Austin American Statesman on June 21 for an article titled "Judging a non-profit? It's not always the money."

In this article, Frumkin asserts that the largest measure used to judge charities and non-profits - the ratio of overhead versus program costs - is a misleading and broken system because non-profits work hard to shift costs away from the administrative category, because so many donors look at administrative over-head as negative.

"It's horrible, horrible," said Frumkin. "There's a lot of gaming going on so nonprofits can make themselves look good."

Frumkin says instead of judging nonprofits solely on their administrative costs, people should visit charities, talk to people who know about the group or ask for financial documents.

"You can't study that on the Internet," Frumkin said. "You need to get out there."


The Austin American Statesman - Judging a non-profit? It's not always about the money - June 21, 2009

The New Jersey Jewish Standard - Major Changes Ahead at Major Jewish Charity - June 21, 2009

The Austin American Statesman -Non-Profit groups might find 6,300 a crowd, study says - May 26, 2009

Philanthropy News Digest - As Recession Drags On, Individual Donors Make Tough Decisions - May 26, 2009

The New York Times - Smart Giving in a Troubled Climate - May 20, 2009