Friday, May 09, 2008


This month Fast Company magazine published a chart showing the origins of the $295 billion Americans gave to charity in 2006. Sources given included Giving USA Foundation and Charities Aid Association.

A dilemma often noted in Durham is the demise of corporate or business philanthropy, further exaggerated by the decision of many corporations based here to give what they do donate based on where commuter employees live, rather than to their hometown.

But the Fast Company chart reveals that only 4.3% of charitable giving in 2006 came from corporations, compared to 75.6% from individuals. I suspect the rest came from smaller businesses. Other interesting details were that only 32.8% went to religious organizations and that 65% came from households making less than $100,000 a year.

The chart uses the term America, but I assume they really mean the United States of America, not Canada or Mexico (or Latin America), because it notes 1.7% of GDP goes to charity here, #1 in the world, followed by Britain at 0.73%.

Philanthropy has changed everywhere. So the next time someone says, “let the private sector pay for it,” keep in mind who we’re really talking about.

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