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In this season of giving, we tend to think about non-profit causes more. How have the charities fared in this economic downturn? Well, the results are a little staggering. There were 23% LESS charities operating in 2008, then there were in the years before. Almost 1/4 of them have gone, largely because the donations have fallen off so much.

I’ve posted here and at my BusinessToInvestment.com blog about some of the impact our economic downturn has had on developing nations (it’s devastating to them). Now here’s another casualities – non profits.

So the economic downturn has hurt. What will the increased taxes mean? That will actually be a good thing for non profits. That’s especially true if the estate tax raises again. When it comes to estate planning, you have two choices: 1 – You decide where your money goes. 2 – The government decides where your money goes. With the huge estate tax exemption, less people have left legacies for charities and that has hurt.

In the past 5 years, I’ve been involved in a lot of charities myself. The biggest time and money commitment for us has been to the orphanage in Juarez that David came from (Casa de la Nueva Vida). Our commitment remained the same, but still they were hard hit by much reduced donations.

With the disappearance of the director (and suspected foul play), the Casa has shut down and the children have scattered to other, less desirable orphanages. One teenager who had been adopted at an older age like David was there when the raids occurred a few months back. He protested that he was just visiting and was an American. But it didn’t matter, he was picked up as well. The first night he stopped an assault on one of the boys from the old orphanage. The next day he was able to escape from the new orphanage. He stayed at a house of someone he had known from school years earlier until he could reach his parents in the US to come rescue him.

I don’t know what happened to the children, but I am concerned for them.

That’s the reality of what happens in other countries as funds dry up. The people who can least afford it, the people really on the edge, end up in much harder times than we can imagine.

The one positive I see in all the tax law changes coming our way is that it might kick lose more money for worthwhile causes. If you’re feeling the pinch personally, you’re not alone. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your own positive mental attitude is to help someone else. They’ve never needed it more.

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