Over the past several months, we’ve heard about people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Ted Turner and others joining America’s Giving Pledge to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. This spotlight on giving is inspiring and wonderful to see, but I say, don’t let the billionaires have all the fun!
We regularly read stories about the super rich or celebrities and their philanthropy, but largely unheard are the stories of local donors – ones who range from the wealthy to the not-so-wealthy. Their interests may vary, but they each share something in common – a passion to improve their communities through philanthropy.
Individual giving still continues to account for the largest percentage of giving to nonprofits and faith-based organizations. And you don’t have to have a billion dollars to be a philanthropist. Just ask the more than 700 individuals and families who have created funds with us at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
With their support, The Community Foundation has been able to respond to significant demands currently placed on so many communities in our Atlanta region. In 2009, the Foundation granted a record $142 million to nonprofits meeting these needs, because our donors stepped up and recognized that the time for philanthropy is now.
The Community Foundation would not be able to provide this type of support to the nonprofits in our region without the commitment of our donors. They come to us with ideas and a passion for giving, and we connect them to those nonprofit and community-based organizations working to improve the lives of our neighbors.
There are more than 700 community foundations in the country each dedicated to making these local connections for our donors. We exist to inspire and grow philanthropy by making it accessible for the individual or family interested in building a personal charitable resource and learning about the community’s needs along the way. Together, community foundations nationwide and their donors administer more than $31 billion in funds – a powerful force for philanthropy.
During this giving season, the needs in our region are great. But along with these needs are also strong, innovative nonprofits ready to make a significant impact. It’s up to you to help make sure they’re able to do so. As we approach our year’s end, I encourage you to remember that it doesn’t take a billion dollars to make a difference, and I challenge you to make it the year that you too, take your own giving pledge.
Alicia Phillip is president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
[An expanded version of this post originally appeared in the Atlanta Business Chronicle]