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Sign of the Times

September 03, 2009

(The following letter was sent to Jacksonville City Council vice president Jack Webb on July 22. The letter was signed by eighteen Florida philanthropies, including the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Community Foundation in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation, and United Way of Northeast Florida....)

Dear Councilman Webb:

According to published reports, if the mayor's proposed budget is not passed, nonprofit-related programs and entities in Jacksonville will experience cuts amounting to $15 million.

Many in Jacksonville believe that private funders will contribute money to make up for these cuts.

This is a myth.

The reality is this:

Jacksonville's major private funders have lost, on average, 25% of their assets during the recession. To make up for the $15 million in budget cuts, these funders would have to increase their grantmaking 27% over pre-recession levels. That is not realistic.

Moreover, individual giving dropped 6.3% during 2008 (Giving USA) and there are no signs it is rebounding.

In addition, a recent survey conducted by the Conference Board indicates that 45% of businesses surveyed have already reduced their 2009 corporate giving budgets and an additional 16% were considering cuts in their 2009 philanthropy budgets as well.

There simply is no safety net of private funding available to replace government dollars for these nonprofit programs and entities.


-- Mitch Nauffts

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