Why did it catch my attention? I've been looking for a source that would shed some light on how much money is donated by philanthropists these days. It reminded me of an unsettling conversation I was recently pulled into.
The conversation was about how the democrats would "spread the wealth" and how bad rich people are because they avoid taxes -- getting richer while the poor get more poor. (Or, poorer if that's actually a word.) The group of middle-aged people seemed to be harboring great disdain for anyone who is wealthy. Now, I'm not wealthy by today's standards -- I'm comfortable, but not what one might consider wealthy. I do my share of giving to the poor and volunteering for charitable organizations. But these were supposedly my friends and the conversation riled me to the point of retort.
"If there weren't rich people," I fired back, "There would be no Salvation Army! There would be no Goodwill stores, no habitat houses, no soup kitchens or others. You could also kiss goodbye to Public Radio and Public TV, not to mention most art galleries, and museums. Your public schools would suck, and universities and colleges would be useless shells."
My reply was met with yet more anger. That wasn't good enough. They still seemed to think the woes of society, the homeless and jobless, are caused by rich people. I retorted again...
"What about the jobless??? Who will they turn to, looking for a job? Poor people?"
That's why yesterday's NPR story gave me a boost. So now we know, at least for 2008, more money was donated to charities than Obama's stimulus plan. Next time I'm in a group of so-called social conscience do-gooders, I can send them to this article:
Amid Recession, Nonprofits Feel The Pain
This article by Wendy Kaufman gave resources tracking what Americans would lose if there was no philanthropy. Wendy writes:
Americans gave $300 billion to charity last year. While it's a big number, it's less than Americans gave the year before. Charitable contributions are expected to be down for the next few years.
300 billion of anything is a lot; a whole lot. I was also pleased to pickup a second reference which is now bookmarked in my browser: The Chronicle of Philanthropy. This is the newspaper of the nonprofit world and a wealth of statistics and background information about the enterprise of philanthropy. Which is a good enterprise to say the least.
Sure, there are certainly bad rich people. But hey, without them the world would certainly be in a far worse condition than it is now. And for those who think the government or the current administration is the cure for rich people consider this: I once heard a 'rich' person complain that
We saw how well big government handled that one. No, don't knock rich people. Encourage them all you can.
Thanks for reading.
National Public Radio: www.npr.org
National Public Radio article: Amid Recession, Nonprofits Feel The Pain
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Nearly 30% of Nonprofit Leaders Took a Pay Cut This Year