$600 billion is a lot of money and a lot of questions surround the Buffett-Gates Giving Pledge. Will only large nonprofits receive these funds, or will smaller nonprofits have access as well? Should these billionaires be donating their wealth to charity or investing in the private sector to help the American economy get back on track? What does this mean for the rest of the giving community? Should we stop giving or should we give less and let the billionaires pick up the slack?
The answer to that last question is no. Regardless of what the billionaires of the USA decide to do, they account for only a small portion of charitable giving in America. According to a Fortune blog post by Carol J. Loomis, senior editor-at-large, Americans donate a whopping $300 billion each year. Also according to Loomis, roughly $11 billion of that comes from our nation’s billionaires. Therefore, billionaires are responsible for 3.7% of our overall generosity. Our collaborative giving efforts are responsible for the greater impact nonprofits are having all over the world, despite Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that nonprofits can’t change the world.
Investing in our country’s nonprofits–the organized and effective ones specifically–could be the key to helping the economy get back on track with a better focus towards our community than ever before. The nonprofit sector employs 10% of our nation’s workforce, according to Congresswoman McCollum’s Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act (H.R. 5533) recently unveiled, and nonprofits do more than just give food to starving children in poor countries.
Doctors for Global Health use the funds they raise to help promote global health through education and research. Community organizations like the Greater New Orleans Foundation are the first and last line of defense against the BP oil spill for a town or a region, both ecologically and economically. Pencils of Promise provides thousands of kids in developing countries with an education and tools to make an impact in their respective societies. Water 1st International provides clean water to communities in need all over the world.
So, should you give? There is so much need in the world, and you only have so much to spare. The billionaires and millionaires can give so much more. However, there are only so many of them and this is an opportunity for participation at all levels of society. One mightycause by itself isn’t much next to Bill Gates’s fortune, but when added with others, it can be part of something so much bigger than the Giving Pledge.