Three close friends lost their hospitality jobs today.

Another temporarily closed his restaurants.

Maybe the planes are still coming, but do we want them to come?

We cancelled our Spring Break plans on Molokai after receiving this email:

We are asking any of our customers that have the means to postpone or cancel their upcoming visit to Molokai, to take precautionary measures and do so. Molokai healthcare is very limited, as we have one emergency room and very few private clinics.

Also our local infrastructure is not the greatest should there be a localized outbreak. If you should want to cancel your reservation, we are waiving all cancellation fees through the duration of March.

We appreciate your support and I am saddened to announce this request, however the health and well-being of our community is at the forefront.

All of these are signs that our economy is fracturing before us. It is in moments like this that those who can must rise.

Philanthropy has a critical role to play in times of recession. It is important to remember that the funds held in trust by philanthropic institutions are public funds, diverted from government coffers with a commitment to funding charitable organizations who are themselves tax-exempt.

A helping hand. In these difficult times, it is more important than ever for those that have to give more to those who have little. Flickr: Cohen Van der Velde

No one “owns” a nonprofit, including nonprofit, tax-exempt foundations. If those tax deferred dollars were held by the state or federal government, how would those institutions be better poised to stimulate our economy and provide communities with a better safety net?

During this uncertain time, our philanthropic community must move towards granting out and spending down. Every foundation in this state has the ability to spend beyond their 5% requirement (5% is the IRS minimum annual mandate, but it is largely perceived as a “maximum” in the industry; 90% of family foundations only give 5% annually).

By doing so we will help keep our economy running. This is not just by helping ALICE report populations, but all sectors. Middle-class families employing non-profit professionals need jobs and job security too.

Don’t Conserve The Wealth

When these families have jobs, they can support small businesses, take from our local restaurants like Town or Kokohead Cafe. We can hire recently unemployed friends for side work.

Through emergency grant-making, foundation dollars can help shore up public health clinics and educational programs. We can help fund the work of farmers who can grow us food for those empty shelves.

Philanthropy touches every sector and every corner of our community and this is not the time for conserving this wealth.

Beyond grant-making, now is the time to check in with our vast community network of grantees and ask how we can help.

Philanthropy touches every sector and every corner of our community.

How might the delivery of their mission-critical services be threatened?

Do they have the resources needed to keep their staff and constituents safe?

Is telework a possibility for them, or what equipment/support would they need to make that happen?

These are some of the ways that we, as a community of funders, can step up.

It can’t be said enough that “we’re all in this together,” but so too must we remember that not all of us are in it the same.

With an attunement to our privilege and the moral community obligation upon which philanthropy is founded, we can all step into our kuleana, and those who can give more, must.

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