Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to Phase Out Giving Programs, Report Says

Fannie Mae and the Freddie Mac Foundation, which significantly reduced their giving after the housing and stock markets crashed in 2008-09, may phase out their charitable giving altogether over the next few years, the Washington Post reports.

According to The Future We Need (38 pages, PDF), a report from George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis, Fannie and Freddie have distributed a total of some $100 million over the past four years to five hundred nonprofits in the D.C. region working to address a wide range of social problems. But since cutting back on their charitable giving, the two government-sponsored entities have focused much of their philanthropy on supporting organizations that address housing challenges in the region. Experts say it is unlikely their giving will ever return to pre-crash levels.

Indeed, the Freddie Mac Foundation recently announced that it plans to spend down its assets over the next four years. And while Fannie Mae has not yet announced any changes to its corporate giving policies, the report, which was commissioned by 8 Neighbors, a consortium of local organizations, argues that federal officials are likely to "curb if not eliminate its [funding for nonprofits]." Recently, the agency announced that it will discontinue its homeless walkathon on the National Mall after this year's event on November 19.

Many local nonprofits expressed concern over the potential loss of contributions from the two GSEs, especially at a time when the unemployment rate in the national capital region is 10.9 percent, food banks in the region have seen a 35 percent increase in demand, and the number of children living in poverty has spiked. To help address the situation, Fannie and Freddie have organized an online fundraising event, Give to the Max Day, on November 9, to attract new donors and raise at least $3 million in support for local nonprofits.

"[The reduction in giving] would be hard enough in any situation, but in times of the most sweeping economic downturn in generations, it will be tough," Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington executive director Chuck Bean told the Post. "It is going to hurt, and at some point we're going to need to stop wringing our hands and figure out what we're going to do. There are some corporations thriving at this time, and this is really their moment to shine. Maybe there's an opportunity for a corporation that recently moved its headquarters to the region to step up."

Patricia Sullivan. "Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae Donations Disappearing, Study Predicts." Washington Post 10/02/2011.