Numbers, Neighborhoods, Cats and Dogs
My daughter Moira and I said goodbye to our beloved kitty, Chet, on July 5. He was a big, cuddly orange cat, my first “child” that was taken in almost 20 years ago in Rhode Island. He had been my daughter’s faithful companion for her entire 13-year life.
Chet was not my only furry friend. We also have a dog, Maude, that Moira and I adopted from the Kentucky Humane Society after we moved to Louisville. [Note to my KHS friends: my “beagle” Maude turned out to be more of a German shepherd-like animal. But we still love all 55 pounds of her!]
Not long ago I had lunch with representatives from the KHS, and I learned more in that hour than I ever imagined. They have over 14,000 donors who support their $5 million budget. Their goal: to place every health dog and cat into a loving, permanent home. Our pets are like family to us, so I intend to go back and learn more about what they do.
There are so many important causes and wonderful organizations in our community, it begs the question: “Who is contributing the money they need to operate?” You might think big corporations or foundations are the driving force of philanthropy. The correct answer? Individual people, ordinary folks like you and me.
Of course, charitable giving took a bit of a hit the past few years. Giving has not recovered completely since a steep dip in 2008. But are Americans still incredibly generous? The answer is a hearty YES.
According to the most recent Giving USA report, individual donors (through lifetime gifts and bequests) contributed 81% of the $298.4 billion that were donated in 2011. That’s $242.2 billion! That means foundations and corporations accounted for about 19% of total giving, or $56.22 billion. Still a significant number, but the real impact lies in the hands of generous individuals.
Religious organizations continue to garner the greatest share of donations, followed by educational institutions and human services. These three areas have been the top recipients for several years running.
Predictable patterns can happen in any situation, whether it’s your morning routine, sales cycles in your business, or even charitable giving in the U.S. That can be a good thing! But there’s also value in breaking a pattern and trying something new.
I recently ventured out of my comfort zone when I moved from the Highlands to Crescent Hill. How is it than you can live in one neighborhood in Louisville, move to another, and feel like you have moved to the other side of the world?
New neighbors, new restaurants, new shops … the train! Someone said I’ll likely shop for groceries at “dirty Kroger.” (What the heck does that mean?) And did I mention that we moved during the recent brutal heat wave? I feel like I am in a different city.
The move has reminded me of how nice it is to walk among familiar landmarks and really know where you are. But I’m also excited to explore my new surroundings and find my way around. While I’m a bit overwhelmed by all the new and unfamiliar, I can still walk to a Carmichael’s Bookstore and easily find a local coffee shop!
All this change got me thinking about the way we give to charity. We stick to what we already know, don’t we? We stay in our comfort zone and don’t always consider something new. I look forward to learning more about my new neighbors Crescent Hill United Ministries, St. Joseph Children’s Home and the Kentucky School for the Blind. If you’ve been giving mainly to the “same ol’ same ol’,” why don’t you consider exploring some new charitable territory?
So thank you my fellow Americans for your generosity, keep it coming... thank you Louisville for showing me a different side of you after three years... and thank you Chet and Maude and the humane societies that brought them to us. Life changes when we open our hearts to something new.