With tightened liquidity and a declining stock market, high inflation and a subsequent rise in the cost of food and other consumables, people can’t help but talk about the impacts a continued economic slowdown will have in Vietnam. As many worry about how the slowdown will affect jobs, businesses and personal lifestyles, nonprofit organizations are dealing with the possibility that donors may have less money to disperse this year.
In its October 2008 newsletter, the Atlantic Philanthropies – a significant donor to nonprofit organizations in Vietnam, reported that “[its grant making will] probably be somewhat more conservative, for the coming period…” Globally, most nonprofits that depend on company and individual contributions are preparing for a decline in contributions.
It is a chilling possibility, particularly in an environment when the demand for programs providing health, welfare, and social services is growing and the need for funds to support those programs is rising.
So, what are donors in Vietnam thinking at this moment?
Chanh Truong, Country Director for Cargill Vietnam, does not envision any change in its corporate philanthropy. Instead, he said, “[the company’s corporate citizenship program] will continue as in previous years. We will continue to match the funds raised for this program and we will continue our plan to build more schools and distribute scholarships to poor students.”
Henry Lam, Managing Director of Vinausteel Ltd., explained that his company’s spending on charitable activities, “will continue because it does not impact the bottom line.” Henry added, “the benefits of these programs – strengthening community relations and motivating our staff, certainly make up for any associated costs.”
Representatives from three other corporate philanthropists – Boeing, GANNON Vietnam and AmCham United Way echoed these sentiments by affirming their commitment to philanthropic activities in Vietnam. “We expect to do more philanthropic activities in Vietnam,” said Herb Cochran, Executive Director of AmCham Vietnam. Similarly, Walter Blocker, CEO for GANNON, said, “We expect to give more in 2009 and remain active in community pursuits,” Walter advised that it is important for companies to not only give money but also time and resources, “Writing a check is important but getting involved on a community board or NGO committee is even more valuable.”
The above comments present an optimistic outlook; however, it is likely that other companies are scrutinizing their expenses, looking for areas to cut back. For those companies, Walter offers an attractive alternative – when money is limited, companies can still contribute time and resources to provide needed support to nonprofit organizations. Such support may even be more important in times of financial decline. As uncertain as times may be, we can all do something to ensure that those least well off do not bear the brunt of the costs of an economic downturn.