The media often reports large philanthropic gifts given by the Buffets, Gates Foundation or Zuckerbergs, and it may cause you to think that your donation does not matter. But charitable giving is one of the most powerful thing you can do, no matter the size of your gift. "Philanthropy is quite democratic and always has been -- more people give than vote in the U.S. -- and $20, $10, and $1 gifts do make a cumulative difference," reports Patrick Rooney, associate dean at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
The Giving USA Foundation reported that last year, $373.3 billion was donated in the U.S., comprising 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Religious organizations, education, human services and foundations were the largest beneficiaries of those funds. (The report provides a much more detailed breakdown of giving if you are interested in more detail.) You may think that large foundations or the companies supply all the funds to keep services flowing, but many organizations depend on the generosity of individuals to survive: individuals provided 70% of all charitable giving last year ($264.5 billion.)
As you wind up this year, grab your checkbook and be that individual who makes a difference for an organization. In addition to your regular charities, think about an unusual suspect* to be the recipient of your generosity as well. This podcast by Malcolm Gladwell is a great illustration of how your gift can make a disproportionately large impact to lesser known organizations.
Wishing you much success in 2017 so that your contributions may increase, too!
*Need a great cause to support? My sister's 501(c)3 Alia is doing powerful work in transforming child welfare systems!