Living Outside the "Worry Zone"

Marjory Hamann

The economy has been very unpredictable the past year and a half—and when the economy is on a roller coaster, we all go along for the ride. In this climate, even people whose jobs are secure are tightening their belts, uncertain about the future.

When belt-tightening includes cutting back on donations, it has a serious impact on the grassroots organizations we care about.

So how do we figure out what we can do when the economy is unpredictable? The way we answer that question will impact our communities for years to come.

Just before the stock market fell in 2008, MRG received a large gift that allowed us to increase our annual grantmaking by $100,000. Those grants were critical to community-based groups at a time when other foundations had less money to give.

When we made that decision, our board created two scenarios—one with high (but reasonable) estimates of what could happen to our donations and investments in the years ahead, and one with low estimates. As long as we stay “within the rails” of our high and low estimates, we know we can maintain our current level of activity for 8-12 years.

The value of this kind of financial planning is that we don’t have to question our plans every time the stock market goes up or down. Instead, we watch the trends over time, and if we start to “cross over” the rails we adjust our plans.

Like you, we are feeling the uncertainty of the economy. But so far, thanks to your support, MRG is staying within the rails. By committing to a higher level of funding—and sticking with it—the grassroots organizations we support are able to continue pressing for changes. Your donations to MRG help make that possible.

Now is the time to support groups that are creating community-based responses to the challenges we face. 

Now is the time for each of us to stretch our giving beyond the “worry zone” and commit to a level that will provide financial security for our communities.

I hope you’ll join us in backing social change organizations in Oregon through this unpredictable time. When we look back 10 years from now I want us all to be able to say, “That’s when things got hard, and we stepped up. That’s when we made a difference.”

Photo from http://static.open.salon.com/files/roller_coaster1249662567.jpg