'Other charities' feeling the pinch
By Brooks Jackson
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for victims of the September 11 attacks. But with people in the United States opening their hearts and checkbooks as never before, representatives of many charities are expressing concerns about the future.
Some benevolent organizations are worried that donors who give to September 11 victims will cut back giving elsewhere, that sagging stock prices will dry up the endowments that allow foundations to give, and that attacks hit the economy so hard that people and corporations will have less to give.
"We'll see more dollars go to the relief efforts that perhaps might have gone to other organizations. We're most concerned about organizations that rely heavily on corporate donations," said Kristina Carlson, president of Fundraisinginfo.com.
For instance, American Airlines, its business devastated by the attacks, announced that it will not make cash donations to charity next year.
Non-profit groups working with infants and small children could really feel the pinch.
"We've been told by some national foundations that may be cutting their giving by up to 60 percent by next year, and particularly for areas that effect young children," said Matthew Melmed, executive director of Zero to Three.
"The needs of babies and toddlers and young children in general are slowly being edged off the radar screen," he said.
Charities helping the poor have been affected as well. In Atlanta, for example, one food bank had 300,000 pounds less food last month than it did in September 2000.
In times like these, history teaches that Americans do dig deep. The year after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, charitable giving surged 46 percent, according to one study. The year after the Oklahoma City bombing, total giving in 1996 was up nearly 12 percent.
But symphonies, museums, education groups and environmental groups all worry their support may decline.
"For a lot of organizations, particularly those that aren't directly related to the relief effort, there's a tremendous amount of concern about what the impact will be on them," said Peter Shiras, senior vice president of the Independent Sector.
Adding to the concern, the attacks came just as non-profits were gearing up their year-end fund drives, their peak season. So until those donations and pledges are counted, the "other charities" will be holding their breath.
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