Don’t waste your power: where you give and volunteer matters

Individual are the most powerful force for charity

Use your power wisely

  • People, individuals, like you and me, all across the U.S. are the most powerful force for charity — providing more than 80% of the donated dollars.
  • In 2020, individuals as a group were again by far the top givers in the U.S. β€” directly giving (including bequests) $366 billion (or 78%) of the total. Individuals were also responsible for a significant portion of the foundation giving (through family foundations and donor-advised funds).
  • Almost 50% of households across the United States donate to charities, hoping to create a better world (from Lilly Family School of Philanthropy).
  • Typically, more than 60 million Americans volunteer for local and national organizations each year, giving more than 3 billion hours of their time (from nonprofitssource.com). The value of that service is greater than $85 billion (at $28.54 per hour, from independentsector.org).

Charities vary greatly

While many charities do strong work with the moneys entrusted to them, others lack focus or management and produce little impact.

Who monitors charities?

Private businesses and their activities, finances and impact are monitored by customers and investors.

This is not the case with charities. Although most charities must register with the IRS and file annual information returns on Form 990, the IRS is not set up to monitor charities. It’s up to donors and volunteers to do the monitoring, to find and support strong charities doing solid work, and to avoid ineffective charities.

Focusing on strong charities makes a difference

By wisely directing donated dollars and volunteer hours to top-notch charities, individual donors and volunteers boost the impact of their individual giving, raise the bar for all charities and enhance the public good.

Together, when each of us uses our power wisely to support top-notch charities, we will have even greater impact.