Wall Street’s New Tight-Fistedness Affecting Charities

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Not pictured: A charity.Photo: iStockphoto

The big Wall Street banks might have seen their profits bounce back, but they're not giving to charities in quite the same way they did before the financial crisis, reports DealBook. Charities are struggling as a result. Partially, banks are increasingly worried about a double-dip recession, making them guard profits more closely. But also, there are some gaping holes where there used to be donors. Lehman Brothers, for instance, gave $39 million to charity in 2007. And while some Wall Street firms are actually giving more — Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, for instance — they want more credit for their do-gooding; they're creating their own branded philanthropic organizations, rather than giving to existing outside charities or nonprofits at the same rate, leaving those groups in a tough spot. However, they're also offering barter currency, essentially, in the form of their human capital.


Rather than bankroll expensive projects, some financial firms are offering their employees’ billable time, reflecting a broader corporate trend. Nonprofits are receiving a flood of so-called in-kind contributions, including volunteers to counsel first-time home buyers.

While that's certainly preferable to not helping out at all, it's doubtful that those billable hours are coming in lieu of for-profit work, of course. Charity begins (and ends?) at home, some of those working overtime might be inclined to note.

Charities Struggle With Smaller Wall Street Donations [DealBook/NYT]