The Community Chest: A Resource in Philanthropic Giving

Did you know that being philanthropic and helping others is good for your health?  It is true. According to Harvard Health Publications, research shows that people who are dedicated to charity and service, feel better about themselves, are less stressed and feel more at peace with the world.  People are motivated to support charities for many reasons, including altruism, recognition and the overall desire to improve society.

In the United States, most adults believe that giving to others, especially those perceived as less fortunate, is an important part of being a responsible, caring citizen.  Being charitable is learned through several avenues: passed down through families' teaching, by religious or philosophical teaching and by society, in general. Some religions hold being philanthropic as a major tenet of their beliefs.  They instill and emphasize the value "being our brother’s keepers" throughout their teachings.

 

Philanthropy in Schools and Businesses

Schools and businesses have made philanthropic activity, including volunteering and service learning, a growing part of their teachings and code of conduct.  Frequently, schools require that students participate in service learning activities, and sometimes they offer credit for these activities. Many educational institutions, including both local public and private high schools, have undertaken trailblazing work in this field. through their service clubs that do community service activities during and after school.  Students select from a range of volunteer opportunities, such as helping other students, visiting nonprofits in the community, working on civic projects, and others learning how to support their community and be a good citizen. 

Recently, businesses have developed a heightened awareness of the importance of supporting the community.  They have become involved with their communities to enhance their image, to get brand recognition and to establish themselves as preferred places to work.  Research presented in the Public Relations Journal shows being seen as responsible supporters of the community is good for businesses' public images and their reputations. Corporations worldwide have embraced this belief and established Corporate Social Responsibility goals to ensure socially responsible activities are part of their businesses' DNA.

Although the most prominent philanthropists are very wealthy, people of all ages and income levels give charitably.  Sometimes they contribute money and other times, they provide time and personal support. They give to organizations, individuals, family members, and complete strangers.

Examples of charitable behavior abound in the United States and often people strive to grow their philanthropic activities by investing in financial vehicles to ensure all or a portion of their resources will be left to charity.   Fortune Magazine reported scions like Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg serve as great role models for the public through their commitments to donating major portions of their earnings to charitable causes.  Philanthropic behavior is displayed in many ways and generally shaped by the practices of a specific culture. Some group-oriented cultures are committed primarily to helping those in their own culture in times of need, while others spread their philanthropic activities throughout the society at large.  For example, members of certain religious groups actively raise funds to support others of their faith, when they encounter trouble in their lives. Helping their own members is considered an important component of a religion’s sense of community.

 

Charitable Giving in the News

More than ever, the media is filled with messages, through articles and stories, about charitable giving.  The number of nonprofit organizations has increased exponentially in recent years, all seek funding to support their work. The support of charitable activities is widely publicized by print and online media; many institutions incorporate being a charitable, philanthropic person or organization as a major goal.  This is part of the image many groups want to present. For example, breast cancer awareness is a charitable cause making tremendous inroads into all aspects of society. Frequently, pink ribbons are seen in all types of settings, including football games and a large number of retail enterprises.

 

The Community Chest: A Resource

Local residents, with strong philanthropic interests and a commitment to their community, founded The Community Chest.   During a time of great economic need, in the 1930’s, neighbors banded together and pooled their personal resources to help those in need.  No restrictions were made by age, income level, race or ethnicity; people in need received support if needed. Since our founding in 1933, The Chest has reached out continually to the generous people in our community to gather their support for those in need.  Although our community has changed in many ways, as have the social conditions in the world, people's generosity in this area has remained and grown. For 85 years, we have raised funds to award grants to local nonprofits that, in turn, provide services to local residents in need.

The desirability of being philanthropic is widely accepted, but many people are unsure how they can do their part.  The Chest can assist them by becoming a local resource to people of all ages wishing to increase their participation in philanthropic activities.  This will be accomplished by organizing a series of activities for different groups of people related to charitable giving and creating new giving opportunities for those who want to make their contributions in various ways and to different beneficiaries.

In recent years, we evaluated our work and examined how The Chest can remain committed completely to its mission and undertake work to ensure activities match the community's needs and charitable purposes.  With the growth in the number of nonprofit organizations nationally, donors are sometimes unsure about what they can do to support them. The Chest knows these organizations and is well positioned to help donors make informed decisions about where to contribute.  We have also worked with nonprofits, assisting them with collaborating to combine their work and to use resources more prudently.

 

Strategic Plan Provides Direction

The Community Chest's 2016-2017 Strategic Plan has become a guide for the agency through 2019. The Chest will work more closely with individuals, businesses, educational institutions, religious groups, community groups and civic organizations to help them enhance their philanthropic activities.  This will be accomplished by deepening our relationships, partnering with local businesses to spread the word about philanthropy's benefits, teaching classes on philanthropy, creating activities to involve people (especially youngsters) in charitable giving and educating the community overall in the benefits of leading a philanthropic life.  

We welcome our many community partners to join us in spreading the word about The Chest's mission.  Together, we will ensure that the quality of life in our community is the best it can be for all.