First, MKCREATIVE wishes you a happy Independence Day. We hope you are enjoying a day of grilling and a night of fireworks – all with family and friends. We also ask you towho have suffered injuries, lost dear friends, and endured multiple deployments in our multi-front ‘war on terror.’ They will not be enjoying the grilling and fireworks, but (whatever you think politically about these wars) they are helping ensure that you and I can.
But on this most American of holidays, we note an uptick in one of Americans’ greatest characteristics: philanthropic generosity. The Giving USA Foundation recently reported both a reappraisal of how the organization tallies up charitable giving and a slight improvement in giving in 2010. This uptick is all the more noteworthy, given the ongoing malaise that grips our economy.
The reported to The New York Times a total of $290.89 billion in 2010, a rise from $284.85 billion in 2009. The unsurprising question is whether this two-percent rise is the beginning of a trend, and perhaps a leading indicator of an improving economy. Or is this amount the ‘new normal’ after a freakishly generous 2007 (when $326.57 billion was given)?
According to the Times story, Rob Mitchell of the American Cancer Society Foundation expects the swell in donations in 2010 and the first few months of 2011 to taper off notably come the fall: “Although giving rose 8.3 percent through April, it most likely would start slowing and begin to decline in October, November and December, typically the strongest fund-raising season. ‘We’re looking at 2011 as the tale of two halves, with the first half of the year being quite strong and declining giving in the second half.'”
The American Red Cross is not on pace to meet its donations of 2010, mostly driven by support to recover from the Haitian earthquake, but its leadership expects to hold its own and see notable growth through this upcoming winter and 2012. “We’re expecting fund-raising revenue to be up at least 5 percent year over year in fiscal 2012,” Neal Litvack [Chief Development Office at the Red Cross] said. “It’s bold, but we’ve gotten some great television coverage this spring” — of Red Cross work to address tornado- and flood-related disasters — “and are using some new technologies internally that should help us make that goal.”
Generosity to the less fortunate has been a great American tradition since its foundation. Part of the American ideal (not always achieved) is that we are all in this great experiment together, so we want to help each other when difficulties arise. Charitable giving of money is just one way – albeit the easiest one to track – we give.
Have a joyous Independence Day, mindful of your fellow countrymen and women who might not be enjoying the same comforts and little freedoms you and I might have.