Charity clothing drive 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Asummer of social protests has passed and we are now standing at the precipice
of the season for action. Our elected representatives are exercising their
responsibilities to society through government committees and regulation
legislation. But the public also has an influence on determining a country’s
social agenda, which can be enhanced significantly via true philanthropy and
One example is breast cancer, an issue that was not dealt
with at all until the early 1990s. The “Pink Ribbon” Organization raised public
awareness of the disease, making it a public priority to support the struggle.
Today, it is a “hot” issue in the US and Europe.
Finding a socially
conscious issue for companies and organizations to either volunteer for or
support financially is not only a welcome activity for the recipients, it also
benefits the contributors.
Working toward a common goal creates group
cohesion and encourages personal agendas that can improve any organization,
projecting pride inwards and promoting solidarity among employees by uniting
them in a joint task. Companies that build themselves a positive image also send
an important message to customers.
These are both important goals for any
sort of organization in North America.
Economic philanthropy models must
be built on a foundation of cooperation between the government and companies.
The government relinquishes some portion of taxes through allowances and
benefits, which are then transferred over to social organizations. The
contributing individual or company is able to choose the issues it wishes to
This, essentially, is the central motivation in the modern
world for philanthropy: broadening donor choice and creating a new personal
agenda, which in turn provides the ability for people to effect change and to
personally establish communal agenda.
Many North American companies in
North America already operate in this manner, with the slogan of “giving back to
the community.” One example is McDonald’s, a massive commercial organization
that focuses on a broad-scale charity project in order to receive tax
allowances, redirecting the money towards a cause that is important to the
The company’s “Ronald McDonald House Charities” foundation,
which maintains a network of homes and family rooms for families whose children
are hospitalized for medical care far from home, is an example.
PHILANTHROPIC model that exists in North America is a matching campaign. For
every dollar a customer or employee contributes, the organization matches the
amount or even adds to it. One example is fetal alcohol syndrome, a public
health phenomenon prevalent in western Canada. It is currently being researched
at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC).
double mechanism of matching and tax allowances, the government of Manitoba
promotes research funding on the syndrome and potential treatment and
preventative applications in the community, since in any case it spends $5.3
billion a year to treat fetal alcohol syndrome. This way, it both puts the issue
of drinking during pregnancy onto the public agenda and creates a partnership
for treating its tragic outcomes.
Not only governments and commercial
organizations use philanthropy. Wealthy people are also aware of the central
role it plays in modern society. Many families establish family foundations in
order to instill awareness of their contributions and create a culture of
giving. In this case, the contribution model is to build the fund, receive tax
incentives from the government and, of course, to influence society. In this
way, wealthy people also ensure themselves that future generations in the family
will also be encouraged to donate to the fund.
A culture of personal
contributions is common in Israel, but mostly limited to the very wealthy and
those who respond to broad awareness-raising campaigns. Israel has not yet
cultivated the general outlook that donations can be greatly influential and
create a positive social agenda, not mutually exclusive to individuals feeling
close to a particular issue and thus donating.
The prevailing approach in
Israel is that only the wealthy contribute, despite the fact that even small
donations can have a meaningful effect. In general, it is valuable to contribute
to the community, educating young people to give and influencing public agenda
through action. If it was a given that each person would donate to the various
causes that they deemed important, instead of sporadically donating money in
response to a specific tragedy, we might succeed in creating a culture of giving
that would maintain the goal of improving society.The writer is national
director of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.