Charity is the key to the holidays. Even the most needy families find the generosity to offer a few dollars to important causes. Whether you earned 30,000 dollars this year or 3 million dollars, it is important to give to community organizations, universities, and research networks to spread the spirit of philanthropy worldwide.
These donations are especially important in December. Gifts to non-profit organizations are tax-deductible and can lead to benefits when you file your return next April. More importantly, these end-of-year contributions often make the difference between a group’s survival and its failure.
Established groups ranging from the American Red Cross to National Public Radio have extensive fundraising operations that generate millions of dollars annually. The oldest universities have endowments that reach into the billions of dollars. The University of Pennsylvania alone raised more than a billion dollars in its most recent capital campaign. These efforts address the most pressing crises of human civilization – disease, abuse, hunger, and poverty. In no case do your dollars fail to save and improve others’ lives.
Several organizations have earned specific emphasis and extended support going forward. Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital (Ethiopia), hErVolution (Canada), the Girl Effect (Mumbai), the Harambee Institute of Science and Technology (Philadelphia), the Court Street School Education Community Center (New Jersey), and the Ivy Learning Center (New Jersey) have dedicated themselves to changing the lives of young people, immigrants, and working families around the world. In each case, few people recognize the needs these organizations address. In each case, there are no seven-figure donors who have committed themselves to ensuring the accomplishment of these missions. These are organizations where everyone can make a difference.
Similarly, higher education programs face budget freezes and enrollment crises that threaten the most priceless academic initiatives. Villanova University’s Center for Multicultural Affairs has transformed the entire institution in the last generation, making it a global leader in inclusive, interdisciplinary research. University of Buffalo’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning holds the keys to successful economic revitalization strategies across the Great Lakes area. Monmouth University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning closes the achievement gap by creating systems of innovation that keep students and faculty energized. The Department of History at Rollins College connects their classrooms with service learning and ethnographic research in ways that maximize digital resource design and preservation. These extraordinary faculty leaders make miracles with budgets of less than 500 USD a month (on average). Our contributions to their work create million dollar opportunities for hundreds of young people every year.
Here, in Norristown, the high school wrestling team, the Elmwood Park Zoo, and Juntos headline a slate of honorees that we will celebrate together this coming weekend. They will make the community a regional leader again.
As we all continue to give, this letter takes a moment to say “thanks.”
Dr. Walter Greason is the keynote speaker for the Norristown Men of Excellence inaugural awards banquet on December 7, 2013, and the author of Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey. His work is available on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).