Reports of philanthropy's demise have been greatly exaggerated by Karen Heller ("Alarming decline in philanthropy," Tuesday). The ebb and flow of philanthropic leadership are not new, and reflect normal life cycles. While the Annenberg Foundation's move to California is certainly a loss for our region, we will continue to benefit from its legacy of many good works.

The other major philanthropies mentioned - Lenfest Foundation, William Penn Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts - continue to make powerful investments in our region. In addition, there are scores of other foundations, businesses, and individuals that every day devote their philanthropic dollars to address vital needs.

While the current economic downturn has had an impact on giving - both institutional and individual - a recent survey of the members of Delaware Valley Grantmakers shows a commitment to reducing operating expenses and maintaining giving levels as much as possible.

Moreover, new fortunes and foundations are being created all the time. Commonwealth Giving, a 2008 report on Pennsylvania philanthropy, revealed that the number of foundations in the state, 1,400 headquartered in our region, increased by 59 percent over a decade, while foundation giving increased 86 percent.

Local philanthropy, even with its more than $1 billion in annual contributions (plus corporate and individual giving), cannot possibly fill all the holes in the social safety net. Yet, in good times and bad, foundations and other committed funders do what they do to foster a better quality of life for their fellow citizens in our region.

Debra Kahn

Executive Director

Delaware Valley Grantmakers