American Philanthropy: The Generosity of a Nation and the Power in Gifting
With such a heavy focus on negativity and disheartening news in the public and media, it can be hard to recognize just how much goodness and positivity is actually still going on. The reality is that there’s tons of goodness out there, even today!
As we enter a brand new year, it’s time to refocus our efforts on the positives, to place greater emphasis on what’s good in the country and in the world, and bring that good news to the forefront! With a better emphasis on positivity and optimism, we’re sure to ring in this new year with a greater appreciation for what’s going on that is good, positive, and instills more hope than fear.
Most people don’t even realize that the United States is actually a long-standing leader in philanthropic giving. In fact, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) revealed through their World Giving Index that over the past decade, the United States stands as the most generous country in the world.
This is based on three methods of giving: helping a stranger, donating money, or volunteering one’s time. And for more than ten years, people in the United States have ranked higher than any other nation for giving in one or more of these three ways. The generosity of the American people is there, so why do we never get to hear about these or focus on such stories?
Well, perhaps we have to try a little harder and find a new perspective to find just these very stories!
Generosity, Kindness, Support During the Pandemic
As challenging and difficult as the pandemic has been for people across the globe, there were actually hundreds of powerful, empowering, and positive stories that emerged regarding the good deeds of some in support of others. How do we miss these stories? Why do we not seem to remember them as much as the sad and heartbreaking ones?
As much as we read stories about the 1% and the hoarding of wealth, did you know that nearly 90% of affluent Americans gave to charitable causes during 2020? Specifically, a study through the 2021 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy revealed that 2020 saw an increase in support for local needs within communities as well as more unrestricted gifting to nonprofit organizations. During a period when everyone was struggling, those who could afford it reached out to help and support their local communities.
In fact, this is expected to continue, as tax increases for the extremely wealthy are expected to lead to a possible increase in charitable giving for greater tax benefits.
Everyday Heroes and Givers
What’s even more powerful to hear is that it wasn’t just the rich, wealthy, and affluent who found ways to spread generosity and give to others. Across the nation, people everywhere have searched for and found ways to give back to their local communities or humanity at large.
The CAF study specified three methods by which American philanthropy gives most: volunteering time, donating money, or helping a stranger. So let’s take a look at each:
Surge in Volunteering
Data from LinkedIn during the 2020 year revealed members experiencing a huge spike in volunteer work, which is common during times of crisis, and the pandemic crisis proved no different. From the American Red Cross to the Boy Scouts of America to Habitat for Humanity – nonprofits experienced a huge influx of volunteers, nearly doubling their numbers from 2017. These volunteers were everyday Americans giving what they could to their communities and those in need.
Increase in Donations
Even comparing 2020 to 2021, we see more Americans on the trend of gifting as the economy recovers and as we work our way back to a prosperous and fulfilling life. Giving Tuesday is a global movement focused on gifting, giving, and generosity. Every year, Giving Tuesday focuses on encouraging people to give what they can to those in need, be it time, talents, money, or more.
Just on Giving Tuesday alone, November 30th, 2021, the organization estimated an increase in adults participating in the United States to be near 6% compared to 2020. Their data also showed that by 6% more Americans giving, there was nearly $2.7 billion in giving for 2021 just for November 30th. This is an increase of 9% from 2020 and a 37% increase from 2019’s Giving Tuesday.
Helping a Stranger
Although it’s not as easy to track in terms of volunteering or financial donations, one of the biggest influxes in American generosity and philanthropy comes in the form of helping a stranger. We can’t really quantify or measure these acts as we can with volunteering and donations, but the stories are often more powerful.
From stories about small businesses providing food to struggling families in New York, to families taking in strangers during the 2020 snowstorm in Texas, to magazine and resource donations to struggling schools, to people helping drive neighbors to vaccination sites – these small acts of kindness are everywhere!
Giving in 2022
These stories and statistics are so important to keep in mind as we start this new 2022 year afresh. We remember we’re the nation of philanthropy and the nation of giving, and that is what keeps us a united nation. Whether you’re able to volunteer your time to help others or a specific cause, or you’re able to donate money, food, or resources to those in need, or you find an opportunity to help out a stranger with an act of kindness.
As you look to focus on the positives in 2022 and keep your own optimism and hope alive for this new year, consider a magazine subscription for yourself or as a gift to help bring the focus back to the stories that inspire good!