On the eve of the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City, former president Bill Clinton expressed concern that the economic slowdown could undermine major charitable investments around the world just when that help is needed most, the Washington Post reports.
Clinton called on businesses, foundations, and others to increase their giving to combat climate change, alleviate poverty, and expand access to education and health care in the developing world, adding that philanthropy "is even more important over the next two or three years than it would otherwise have been." Given the recent turmoil in U.S. and global markets, what concerns him most, said Clinton, is that "the availability of capital...to do things that otherwise make good sense" will be reduced.
As it has before, CGI will bring together hundreds of corporate chiefs, heads of state, humanitarians, and celebrities, each of whom must "commit" at least $20,000 to a charitable cause or objective. More than two hundred such commitments are expected be announced this week, including significant programs in the areas of energy and the environment, said conference CEO Robert Harrison, a former partner at Goldman Sachs.
According to Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. financial crisis will affect not only the economies of countries that American philanthropists are working to assist but also the capacity of major donor governments such as Great Britain's. "Philanthropy's value is quite significant at these moments," Rodin said, "not because we can replace the aid dollars that governments give, but because philanthropy tends to be more risk-taking, more innovative."