--H. G. Wells
"... no humanly constructed core idea or business endures forever in its original form."
o What needs changing or remaking?
"... no humanly constructed core idea or business endures forever in its original form."
"I try to find the good in every day with what we have been handed although it's sometimes hard to do."
--Rebecca J. Kurzon, M.D.
As the last page of the current calendar is on display, how should we go about assessing the unimaginable year 2020? A period in which a deadly global virus continues attacking vulnerable populations and those who are undisciplined in their social behavior.
Yes, Covid-19 fatigue is setting in with social distancing, wearing a mask in public (often below the nose), and hand-washing practiced less than nine months ago. The weather becomes a factor in some locations forcing individuals inside with less exposure to sunshine and fresh air.
How to assess?
Perhaps with the distance of time, we'll see the past twelve months as an epochal moment when businesses, governments, and educational institutions discovered they aren't in control after all. That a collective arrogance, what Jim Collins calls "a hubris born of success," came up against an uncontrollable force destabilizing our social systems and economic structures.
Essayist Eric Weiner observed, "The pandemic has made a mockery of our grand plans. Graduations, weddings, job prospects--poof, gone, rolling back down the hill like Sisyphus's boulder."
Thankfully there was help when we needed it. Our attention moved away from captains of industry and celebrities to the doctors, nurses, EMT personnel, grocery clerks, truck drivers, and delivery workers that kept society functioning during the early days of the pandemic--and still do.
An undesirable appointment
There are two types of appointments. The first you initiate by calling your doctor or dentist. Or scheduling your car or truck to be serviced. This is a routine of life.
The other is like meeting up with someone or something not previously planned. Think loss of employment or a death in the family.
A paradoxical season
Consider the following:o An economic turnaround is underway. The total U.S. nonfarm payroll rose by 245,000 in November and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent from a record high 14.7 percent in April of this year. However, the pace of improvement in the labor markets has moderated in recent months. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, notable job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, and health care.
It's one thing to die from a disease, an accident, or old age. However, it's another thing to be scared to death. Follow the recommended precautions and pay attention to reliable sources of information about Covid-19.
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one."
In 2019, American individuals, bequests, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $450 billion to a variety of religious and charitable causes. That level of giving ranks among the highest years ever for charitable contributions according to Giving USA.
The 4.2% increase in donations (2.4% adjusted for inflation) over 2018's $431 billion, measured in current dollars, makes the 2019 report the highest dollar total to date.
"In 2019, the growth in total giving was driven by an increase in giving by individuals, which remains by far the biggest source of giving," said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., and the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean, summed it up this way, "We saw solid, broad-based growth in almost all aspects of charitable giving, and especially in giving by individuals due to strong growth in the S&P 500 and personal income."While giving trends vary by donors' income and wealth, since the Great Recession, we have seen giving become more concentrated toward the top end of the income and wealth spectrum," Dr. Osili added.
Where did the money come from?
Where did the money go?
The top five recipients of charitable gifts in 2019--
1. Religion: $128 billion.
2. Education: $64 billion.
3. Human Services: $55 billion.
4. Foundations: $53 billion.
5. Health: $41 billion.
The power of generosity
The 2019 report reflects the practices of generous givers--those who believe in a worthy cause and back it up with their time and contributions.
Research from the University of California, Davis, confirms that generosity begets generosity. That it spreads and transfers even with several degrees of separation. Individuals affected by your generosity will act generously toward others for a significant period of time.
Additionally, there's a body of scientific evidence to show that those who are generous often feel grateful as a permanent state of being. People who remain mindfully thankful, rather than choose it as a temporary state of mind, have been proven to engage in healthier behaviors, have a stronger immune system, are more able to relax, and have decreased rates of disease. (Harvard School of Health; Midland Health)
o Giving is increasing because of large gifts from wealthy donors through private foundations and donor-advised funds. Smaller and mid-level donors are slowly disappearing across the broad range of all organizations. That's unfortunate as the loss of middle-class philanthropy would be devastating to smaller charities.
o In recent years the number of donors declined 4.5% and donations under $250 by 4.4% while donations between $250 and $1,000 also dropped. Charitable revenues for donations of at least $1,000 increased by 2.6%. Currently, total charitable giving is around 2% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), about where it was in 1984.
o A person's attendance at a house of worship is the single best indicator of overall charitable generosity. Those who attend worship regularly (two or three times a month, at least) are three to four times more generous than those who attend less frequently, or not at all. (Lake Institute)
o People who stop itemizing won't necessarily stop giving. But at the margins economists expect tax code changes to reduce donations from where they otherwise would be or to change where and how they contribute.
o More than half of charitable organizations in the U.S. are expecting to raise less money in 2020 than they did in 2019, and an equal percentage believe the same for 2021. However, 3 out of 10 human services charities said they expected to raise more funds in 2020 than in 2019. (Association of Fundraising Professionals)
o The challenge confronting all fundraisers during Covid-19 is not being able to meet face-to-face with donors and prospects.
"It's much easier for our frontline people to have a Zoom call with someone they know really well than it is to qualify a new prospect for fundraising purposes," noted Steven Bayer, associate vice president for university development at Duke. Bayer said that keeping in touch with loyal donors and bringing new ones into the fold are the basics that cannot be neglected.
What principles transcend time?
It's important to keep coming back to motivations for giving. Why do people give?
Here are three reasons offered by Clif Christopher, founder, and president of Horizons Stewardship Co.--
1. A belief in the mission. People want to be part of something that changes lives. Nonprofits and churches only have one thing to sell--changed lives. The best way to raise money is to simply do your job--and communicate results.
2. Regard for staff leadership. Ranking high on most donor surveys is the regard the donor has for those who lead the organization. When they have confidence in those individuals to perform, the gifts follow. When they don't, the gifts go elsewhere.
3. Financial stability of the institution. People don't give to sinking ships. They give to ships that are sailing strong and give every indication of reaching their destination. More than ever they are holding nonprofits accountable for wise use of funds and looking for solid performance with the funds already given.
"There is one general rule that is the most important for charitable organizations, nonprofits, and colleges to follow--don't stop fundraising," says Mike Geiger, CEO of AFP. "Those that continue to raise funds--even increase their fundraising--will do the best," Geiger emphasized.
Studies show that stewardship is the best step forward toward receiving the next gift. Don't abandon ethics; and express appreciation for every gift, regardless of the size.
Donors want to hear from the organizations they trust.
Are donors hearing from you?
Sources: Charitable giving and distribution totals for 2019 are from Giving USA. Additional information comes from Candid, Donor Trends, and NonProfits Source.
"Geese in the rear of the formation honk to encourage those up front to up their speed. It is important that honking from behind be seen as encouraging. Otherwise, it is just - well - honking."
--Dr. Robert McNeish
Looking for signs of change?
The American Expedition Forum reminds us that the flight of Canada geese at certain times of the year is a sure sign the seasons have changed.
A flock of wild geese had settled to rest on a pond. One of the flock had been captured by a gardener, who had clipped its wings before releasing it. When the geese started to resume their flight, this one tried frantically, but vainly, to lift itself into the air.The others, observing his struggles, flew about in obvious efforts to encourage him; but it was no use.Thereupon, the entire flock settled back on the pond and waited, even though the urge to go on was strong within them. For several days they waited until the damaged feathers had grown sufficiently to permit the goose to fly.Meanwhile, the unethical gardener, having been converted by the ethical geese, gladly watched as they finally rose together, and all resumed their long flight.
|Russ Bredholt hole-in-one. Number nine, Red Course, par 3, 124 yards. |
Hickory Ridge Golf Course, Galesburg, Michigan.
24 August 2020 (C)
|Execution of Nguyen Van Lem. (C) Eddie Adams|
|Earthrise, Christmas Eve, 1968, Apollo 8 Mission. (C) NASA|