News & Scoops

2009 February 11

Charity Cases

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(NEW YORK) The state of the economy and its effect on the fashion industry is, quite literally, the talk of the town. But what of New York’s philanthropic world? Fundraisers from a bevy of organizations like the Central Park Conservatory, the Humane Society, Lighthouse International, the Salvation Army, and Teach for America (just to name a few) gathered this afternoon in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza to discuss the challenges of fundraising in the current economic climate.

“Many of my colleagues here will be very optimistic and cheerful,” said Naomi Levine, special advisor to the president of the New York University (among other titles). “That is not my personality!” Though she was serious about the problems faced by fundraisers, (“I am a child of the depression,” she said. “I remember what it was, and that’s why I come to you speaking very bluntly”) she was not entirely gloomy. “We can’t panic. Don’t look like me! You have to appear happy.” Karen Brooks Hopkins, another panel speaker and the president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), shared the hopeful sentiment. “I am resilient,” she said. “BAM is resilient--we’re from Brooklyn!”

Jayme Kozyn, a former BAM exec who founded Jayme Kozyn Consulting, gave guests like Lydia Fenet and Eleanor Kennedy advice, and surprised them with her view that the economic downturn may actually be good for fundraising, naming competition, donor loyalty, and volunteerism as valuable assets. “They’re not just donating to your cause,” she said. “They’re investing in the future of your institution.”

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