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Sustained Strategic Philanthropy

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For philanthropists seeking to help meet the needs of lower-income Americans falling into poverty, the University of Pennsylvania's Center for High Impact Philanthropy argues that investing now in preventing foreclosures, sustaining primary and preventive health programs and ensuring access to food can prevent enormous costs and suffering later.

Philanthropists can get "the biggest bang for their (charitable) bucks" in the current economic recession by helping with these three basic needs, according to High Impact Philanthropy in the Downturn: Focus on Housing, Health & Hunger. The Center's guide indicates a dollar value on the aid that will, for example, help feed a family ($50 a week), prevent a family from losing its house ($300), or deliver health care to a newly uninsured person ($600). It also estimates how much more it would cost society if such aid were not to materialize now, arguing, for example that billions would be saved by greater investment in community health centers, avoiding more costly hospital- or ER-based care.

The Center's work was informed by direct interviews, site visits, academic research, data from nonprofits, and statistics on the nation's economy. The goal is to provide independent, practical advice. To this end, the guide includes examples of nonprofits working in these three areas, and follows on a preliminary "Action Agenda" the Center had released in April.

With sustained strategic philanthropy, donors seek to address the underlying causes of poverty, and to find sustainable ways of ensuring that each person can reach his or her potential. The Global Philanthropy Forum focuses its agenda on these long term solutions worldwide. In these times of extraordinary need here at home, there is an opportunity to leverage increased government investments. And, the Center would argue that the time to act is now.