Merry Christmas Eve

I hope you’ll keep the important things in mind today and tomorrow. I know I’m looking forward to the small things about Christmas.

For those of you who received a little extra something from either work or gifts, I leave you with this excerpt from an article on the state of charitable giving.  Read it all the way to the end, as the last number may surprise you.

Charitable organizations are feeling the effects of the economic downturn, too. A recent news story entitled “Giving season struggles to earn its name” lamented that this year’s charitable giving total is unlikely to top last year’s total of $306 billion. It will be only the second time in 40 years that charitable giving failed to grow from one year to the next.Certainly, that’s bad news for organizations that depend on private contributions, particularly given that the poor economy will increase demand for many charitable services. Yet there is a very “glass half-full” way of looking at the statistics: Americans’ ongoing willingness to give, even as their household wealth shrinks by trillions of dollars, is testimony to the true generosity of our citizens.

Americans stand out in the world for their commitment to private charity. Americans don’t lead the pack just in terms of total dollars donated but also when giving is measured as a percentage of gross domestic product. In 2005, private giving in the United States was 1.67 percent of GDP, more than twice the next most charitable country, the United Kingdom, which gave away just 0.73 percent of its GDP.

A recent report released by the Philanthropic Collaborative shows that Americans’ commitment to charitable giving is more than a sign of compassion. It’s also an important investment in the country’s well-being. The report measures the impact of private and community foundation giving, and it suggests that the grants made by these organizations produce very large economic returns. The authors estimate that each dollar of grants provided by the foundations generates $8.58 of economic benefit.