We all have many reasons to be proud to be an American, but one of the top reasons why I’m proud is our proclivity to give to charitable causes even in the worst economic times. CBS News ran a story on their website the other day talking about how Americans are still donating money to nonprofit organizations even as their 401k accounts and discretionary income dollars are dwindling. From the article:
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University says that historically, charitable giving has been recession-proof.
Contributions to American charities have increased during 39 of the past 40 years in today’s dollars, and a change in the tax laws – not the stock market crash – can be blamed for the drop in 1987, said Melissa Brown, associate director of research for the center. Between 69 and 72 percent of people give routinely, she said.
The article goes on to talk about how some nonprofit organizations are cautiously optimistic about the potential donations for this year’s Christmas season. Believe it or not – we may be hearing about all of the horrible things going on in the auto industry and the banking sector, but Americans are prepared to give to charitable causes nonetheless. This will be an interesting phenomenon to watch – will Americans continue to give their scarce dollars to charitable causes even as the biased media runs around talking about the “horrendous” market conditions? I guess we’ll see.
There are only a few places that I donate my scarce dollars. The first place is my national fraternity’s foundation, which is (of course) helped by the fact that I am a Board member for the foundation. I began donating to some other causes like child cancer research and feeding the homeless, but I felt like my meager dollars were lost in a mess of bigger donations from bigger donors.
I’d like to find a small, locally-based nonprofit organization which is really helping to make a change in society – even if the geographic boundary of that “society” is defined as a single township or a single county in New Jersey, etc. I really think that a small nonprofit like that would be the perfect “project” for a donor to take on in terms of giving away money to help a specific cause. Unfortunately, those types of organizations really don’t exist in Monmouth County or my hometown up in Morris County, so there isn’t any opportunity like that – for now.
As we go out and purchase gifts for our loved ones this year, please remember to give a few dollars to a charitable cause if you can.