Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Exchange rates

Randy Cohen, "The Ethicist" discussed an issue in last Sunday's column that made me wonder about the philanthropic impact of a declining dollar.

Cohen's column dealt with the financial disparities among siblings, some of whom lived in the US, others in Israel, who were all contributing to the costs of caring for their elderly, Israel-based father. As the dollar declined in value against the shekel, the question arose as to whether or not the US-based siblings should increase their contributions?

Exchange rates are generally the stuff of arbitragers and traders - perhaps the banking industry's services in private philanthropy have something particularly useful to offer in these situations?

How are US foundations and donors adjusting their international giving to account for the declining value of the dollar? Their behavior is no doubt related to how giving behaviors track with economic trends or expectations in general. Data on this is just out from GivingUSA and is discussed in a series of columns in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Bloggers are asking, too - see discussions here on here. Other contexts in which to ponder the role of exchange rates - how do they relate to online international giving and diaspora remittances.

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