After that weekend we saw a lot of people standing in line for meals for the first time, and we still do. Remember, every Wall Street job creates two or three other jobs: drivers, drycleaners, all sorts of domestic help and caretakers. Not only is unemployment in the city now at an all-time high, thousands of people have had hours cut or wages reduced.
I was actually flying back from London on the 15th, and the minute I landed, my senior team and I brainstormed about how to stretch our resources. We were going into an unknown period of fundraising and would have to deliver more food than ever. We had to ask, what was our exposure to the fallout from that weekend? Who were our big corporate funders, and what had we budgeted to receive from them? We pulled the fall newsletter, which was ready to go. We rewrote the cover story to reflect the surge in demand that we anticipated. We had to be as visible as possible with the message that New Yorkers had to support City Harvest -- if not now, then when?
The meltdown came at the beginning of the peak fundraising season for charities. From October through January, we raise about 40% of our budget. But we actually raised more money than we had anticipated. Individual New Yorkers stepped up to fill the gap created by corporations...and that has been very reassuring.
NEXT: Jim Chanos