More Than Money
Issue #12

Creative Giving

Table of Contents

“Changing Norms: Can Giving be Increased?”

The Philanthropic Initiative in Boston is conducting nationwide research about attempts to stimulate philanthropy in the U.S. Thus far, after initial interviews with community foundations, Regional Associations of Grantrnakers, United Ways and others, they note that few programs seem to have quantifiable documentation of results and even fewer can show definitive success. One of the more visible attempts to increase American's giving has been led by the Independent Sector, a coalition of hundreds of non-profit leaders and grantmakers. In 1985, a task force of Independent Sector spent a year to develop an initiative with mass appeal. Seeking an appropriate goal for the campaign, researchers were surprised to find the only significant precedent was the age-old tithing figure of ten percent. Given the national giving average of 2%, they chose 5% as a more reasonable--and still ambitious--goal.

For the past decade, the 'Give Five" Campaign has been exhorting Americans to give five percent of their income and to volunteer five hours per week, putting its message in the public eye through buttons, print ads, transit posters, and an army of local nonprofits supplied with promotional materials. Nonprofits praise "Give Five" for the campaign's high-quality materials, its broad media exposure, and above all, its attempt to mark a guidepost for giving where there was none before. Yet the numbers on giving and volunteering have edged upwards and downwards in equal increments in the ten years of its operation.

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