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December 2 2015

Tales from #GivingTuesday . . . And Beyond

Patrice J. Lee

 

 

$45 billion Facebook stock and a $500k donation to a Salvation Army kettle remind us of how charitable Americans truly are.

Did you open your purse yesterday on #GivingTuesday? It’s one of the newer days marked for spending during the Christmas shopping season kick-off, except the beneficiaries are people and causes that need help.

Dating back to 2012, #GivingTuesday was born of the idea that after all of the excess in eating and spending of the Thanksgiving weekend, there would be an appetite for giving. Whether out of guilt over how much we spent buying gifts, over purely altruistic motives, or over a combination of reasons, it appears that the “holiday” has caught on ringing up $46 million in charitable donations in 2014 - up 63 percent from a year prior. The average gift was $100.

Some people have qualms with #GivingTuesday though. They say it’s not well timed given that a large share of giving occurs in December anyway and it “clutters people's inboxes with empty fundraising appeals that provide no compelling reason to give.” However, the growing influence of the giving holiday is still a reminder that Americans are generous - extremely generous.

Americans such as a coupe from Minnesota who slipped a check for $500,000 into a Salvation Army kettle last week. They aren’t even looking for credit choosing to remain anonymous as the Star Tribune reports:

The couple said they made the gift in hopes of encouraging others to also stretch their generosity and to honor one of their fathers, who served in the trenches in World War I and was grateful to the Salvation Army “doughnut lassies” who brought soldiers free coffee and doughnuts.

They said they were also inspired by memories from years ago of relying on discarded food from a grocery store to make ends meet.

“You get to a point in life where it’s time to take care of others, the way you were taken care of,” the donors said in a statement issued through the charity.

That was the biggest recorded single kettle donation for the Salvation Army.

The biggest gift is yet to come. One of the world’s wealthiest and youngest people, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that he and his wife would give away 99 percent of their Facebook stock (valued at $45 billion). The Zuck is a new dad and that has given him perspective on what his priorities should be: to make the world a better place for his baby daughter Maxima. His letter to her on Facebook reads:

Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today.

While headlines often focus on what's wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. People are connecting. Technological progress in every field means your life should be dramatically better than ours today.

We will do our part to make this happen, not only because we love you, but also because we have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation.

...

For your generation to live in a better world, there is so much more our generation can do.

Today your mother and I are committing to spend our lives doing our small part to help solve these challenges. I will continue to serve as Facebook's CEO for many, many years to come, but these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work. By starting at a young age, we hope to see compounding benefits throughout our lives.

Not every American will give $500,000 or $45 billion, but we do give.

America is the by far the most generous country in the world - outpacing the United Kingdom by two times. We Americans gave $358.38 billion in 2014, up from 7.1% increase from 2013. Contrary to what you might think, givers aren’t just wealthy donors to their colleges or foundations. Three quarters of the nearly $360 billion given came right out of the wallets of individual Americans.

This sense of generosity is a critical part of our national DNA. Philanthropy and democracy uniquely work hand in hand pushing us to see civil society -not government- as the most effective way to deal with social issues.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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