Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Red, White and Blue: Our Culture of Philanthropy

(Photo Credit)
With the Fourth of July right around the corner, we are taking a moment to reflect on the culture of philanthropy here in the United States. As we open our front doors tomorrow morning to the sounds of parade preparations and music wafting from the bandstand, the sense of community that we feel on a daily basis will suddenly appear in full regalia as a sea of red, white, and blue covers neighborhoods across the country. The many cultures and communities that form the United States are strengthened by our vibrant and thriving nonprofit sector.

Tomorrow, people all across the country will come together to spend time with family and friends, forming one large community, spreading across fifty states, and woven together by a diverse array of experiences. It is this rich array of experiences that serves to strengthen our nonprofit sector, as positive change stems from our ability to come together to find innovative solutions that transcend boundaries. Along with the country as a whole, our thriving nonprofit sector has also evolved and grown over time. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the number of nonprofit organizations has steadily increased, with 32.7% more nonprofits in existence in 2008 than in 1998. As our country grows and changes, nonprofits must continue to evolve to meet the complex and varying needs of each community.

Often, the nonprofit sector is associated with money - donors looking to financially support a cause they are passionate about or nonprofits working to disperse funds to those in need. In 2011, a total of $217 billion was given by individual donors over the course of the year. However, Americans give not only with their money, but also with their time, knowledge and expertise. For example, between September of 2009 and September of 2012, “26.5% of Americans over the age of 16 volunteered through or for an organization”. Volunteers work alongside other members of the nonprofit community to achieve common goals. On Independence Day, people all across the United States also find a common cause around which to celebrate. This sense of community is something that can be carried forward as we strive together to enhance the work of nonprofits in our communities across the United States.

The United States plays host to an extraordinary number of nonprofit organizations, which together form a strong sector that accounted for 5.5% of the GDP in 2012. The United States has long been known as an arena where nonprofits can emerge and thrive. This shared sense of community and a commitment to positive change has the ability to reach across the invisible borders that define countries and play a key role in global civil society. As best practices in the nonprofit sector emerge across the world, it is important that we learn from and collaborate with each other to work towards the common good. 

As the Fourth of July arrives, take the time to reflect on what is important to you and how you can make a difference in your community.

By Brita Midness
Engagement and Marketing Intern

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