Philanthropy and the Fourth of July

This post was originally published on July 4, 2011. Since that time the DonorDreams blog community has more than doubled. So, I thought it would be appropriate to reach back into the archives. Please take a moment on this day of celebration to reflect back on the past and consider how it influences what we do today.

constitutionHappy Fourth of July everyone!

As with most Americans today, I find myself reflecting back on our country’s history. While doing so, I became curious about how the history of philanthropy is woven into America’s story. After a little bit of googling and thinking, it is very obvious that one of very cornerstones on which we’ve built our country is philanthropy and charity. Consider the following facts:

  • In 1628, the Massachusetts Bay Company established the first ever American “board” to manage colonial business.
  • In 1630, John Winthrop preaches to Puritans bound for America that it is the obligation of the rich to care for the poor.
  • In 1638, John Harvard’s planned gift establishes a major American educational institution.
  • Throughout the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin is involved in numerous philanthropic projects including creation of the first circulation library in Philadelphia. He arguably plants the seeds of philanthropy throughout the founding of our country.

The list goes on an on. Click here to see a very interesting chronology of philanthropy in America by our friends at the Arizona Grantmakers Forum.

declaration of independenceThere is also a great white paper published on the website that argues that the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution are underpinned by philanthropic principles.

First, consider that “philanthropy includes voluntary and active efforts to promote human welfare and well-being.” Look no further than the Constitution’s preamble that charges our new country with many things including providing for the “general welfare”.

Click the aforementioned link to read so much more about how philanthropy is woven throughout the American tapestry.

I encourage you to take a moment this Fourth of July to reflect upon philanthropy’s roots in our American democracy and pay tribute to how it has made us the country we are today.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Here is to your health!

 Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Charitable giving was anemic in 2011

It is that time of the year when Giving USA releases its findings on how well (or not so well) the charitable giving sector did in the previous year. After adjusting for inflation, the experts tell us that charitable giving rose less than one percent in 2011, and individual giving did about the same.

You can secure a free copy of executive summary of Giving USA’s report from their online store or by clicking here.

A few observations

  • Nothing has changed. The charitable giving sector has been in a holding pattern for a number of years since the economic crash of 2008. It mirrors the slow sluggish economic recovery numbers. Is anyone surprised? I know that I am not.
  • It could be worse. Charitable giving dropped by dropped by double digits in 2008 and 2009. Complaining about a one percent increase feels wrong when juxtaposed against those historic numbers.
  • Good is still good. Look around your community and you will see three different kinds of non-profit agencies . . .  ones that are struggling, ones that are holding their own, and ones that are have found a way to do well.

The bottom line is very simple for me. Donors have less money (or feel like they have less money) and started prioritizing their charitable giving. Figuring out their priorities and how to remain a priority is as simple as asking them.

Are you a non-profit organization that has either weathered the storm or done fairly well since the 2008-09 economic crash? If so, please scroll down and share why you think that is in the comment section.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847