The Gift of the US

June 12, 2009


A well-respected report was published today that stated the following:

Charitable giving in the United States declined for the first time since 1987, reports the Giving USA Foundation, though total giving again broke the $300 billion mark.

I have a lot to say about this as someone who (a) works in philanthropy as a profession, and (b) is a conservative politically.

First let me say this. No other country on the planet gives this kind of money. NO ONE. We are, without a doubt, the most philanthropic and generous country in the world. The media and certain political party members would like you to believe otherwise. I’m here to tell you the United States of America is outstanding.

Let me break this down even farther for you.

Of the $300 billion that was given, 75% of that was donated by INDIVIDUALS. Folks like you and I. Are there the enormous billion dollar gift commitments jammed in there somewhere? Yes. And thank G-d. But the majority of those gifts came from “regular folks”. Who get up and go to work every morning and still, at the end of the day, after all their expenses are taken care, their taxes are paid, decided to give part of their hard-earned income to an organization of their choice that would help those that can’t help themselves.

Philanthropic dollars provide, without a doubt, the margin of excellence in research, social services, arts and education. They are the dollars that launch a lab or clinical trials that might one day cure a disease. They are the dollars that brings arts education to students whose school district is so mired in political bullshit thanks to political agendas they’ve forgotten how to educated well-rounded, high-performing students. They are the dollars that put a roof over someone’s head. They are the dollars that provide a dying child one final wish.

None of this could be done by state or federal or corporate dollars alone. It takes impassioned individual donors who are committed to make a difference – whether they want the credit for it or not.

So, Mr. President, I submit to you the following – as it has already started to happen.

Your interest in redistributing wealth in a socialistic manner will fail not only those that have the means to support themselves, but more critically, fail those that do not have the means. You will, undoubtedly, kill capitalism and philanthropy in one fell swoop.

Those “haves” that you and your party so earnestly are pursuing – they are the ones who are truly taking care of the “have nots”. The government has failed them time after time, program after program. I’ve seen it first-hand. But the people of this country? They serve this national honorably – they serve it with dollars NOT taxed and already allocated for failed programs. They give more because they believe in a cause. Because they can make a difference. Because they can model the way.

If you raise taxes and take away the benefits of home ownership (at any level), if you add taxes and cap salaries – you take away people’s ability to give. You will fail those that you claim to want to help. It will be on YOUR shoulders, not the party across the aisle.

$300 billion is a lot of money. It is more than any stimulus money (in one fiscal year) you have passed or proposed. It is the life blood of so many non-profit missions.

Be really sure before you start screwing around with those that affect it. It will cost you an election.

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One Response to “The Gift of the US”

  1. Knighton Says:

    Well said. Totally agree.