A Generous Country Indeed
Amidst all the tragic news bombarding us these days, I’d like to share a story I return to again and again when I need my hope and confidence restored. Granted, this is from a fundraiser’s perspective, but I think it is broadly comforting to know that Americans are some of the most generous people in the world. The U.S. has been one of the top charitable countries for many years. As a nation we simply take care of each other, and we take care of our world.
And while we have all heard about huge gifts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, or the Pew Charitable Trust, which certainly add to this tremendous reputation we have, it is comforting to know that in large part our nation’s generosity stems from people like you. According to the Philanthropy Roundtable, individual donations make up more than 73 percent of the nation’s charitable giving, and it is the far smaller percentage that comes from foundations, trusts, and corporations. It is even more compelling that the largest percentage of individual gifts is actually donated by those with the smallest income.
Yes, while they do not give the largest gifts, households with lower incomes give the most gifts. More than seven percent of households that make below $25,000 contribute to charitable organizations. Compare this to households that annually make between $100 and $200 thousand annually: less than three percent of them make charitable donations. It is also interesting that while lower income households’ gifts are smaller in size, they are not that much smaller considering income. Gifts from the lower incomes average over $1,000 annually; for the higher income household, average giving is $4,000.
America is also generous with its time. Nearly 25 percent of all Americans report that they volunteered time to a charitable organization during 2015 with an average of 139 hours worked annually. Considering that a donated hour was valued at $23.56 in 2015, this makes an overall gift of nearly $200 billion. We know that here at Sedona Public Library much of our workload is accomplished by a tremendous group of approximately 130 active volunteers.
More than 70 percent of charities have some sort of revenue stream that they rely upon for covering costs. Whether it is hospitals and colleges that charge user fees, museums and shows that charge admissions, or the many nonprofits that have taken on a retail model, there are those, like Sedona Public Library, that have minimal income from revenue. Thus, we are in large part reliant upon grants and contracts from city and county governments, and from individual donations.
Overall, from all sources, the U.S. donated $1.5 trillion in 2015, close to 10% of the US economy. Charitable Americans support 5 to 10 nonprofits each year, and the median household gives, on average, $2200 a year.
Finally, it is not just that we Americans are altruistic. According to a recent article in the New York Times, we give because it makes us feel better about ourselves. So, not only are we kind to others, but to self. And this makes me, as a citizen, a donor, and a fundraiser, feel hopeful, confident, and happy.
Sedona Public Library, a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization, is truly grateful for all the support we receive from our volunteers, donors, partners, and patrons. Your tax-deductible donations are always welcome: they will make us feel good, and they’ll make you feel good, too!
Please consider a charitable gift to your public library and send your check or money order for Sedona Public Library to 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336 or give online at http://www.sedonalibrary.org/donate.html
Sedona Public Library
Column for September 29, 2017
Written by Anne Marie Mackler, Development Director
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