Thanksgiving is a wonderful, home-grown holiday. It is a time for family and friends, eating way too much and, most importantly, a time for reflection about all the things we have to be thankful for. I heard someone mention this a few days ago, and it is very true: Thanksgiving is about the only major holiday in America that is not, almost cannot be, commercialized…so much so that retailers just overlook it and start hawking Christmas stuff about 1 minute after Halloween ends!
Instead of just looking at what you are thankful for personally, how about reflecting upon a few things your nonprofit can be thankful for this year? Here are three things if you cannot think of any:
A giving spirit. The citizens of this great land give more to need around the world than all other countries combined. Sure, we are a blessed people…rich by the standards of most other countries. But did you know that as a percentage of GDP, private philanthropy in the US is 1.7%…2 1/2 times the percentage of the next highest countries, Canada, Great Britain and Australia (average 0.7% each). Other wealthy nations barely register on the radar by comparison. Did you know that 3 out of 10 Americans gave to the tsunami relief efforts a few years back? That ordinary citizens donated $1.4 billion to 9/11 charities in the days following the attacks on New York and Washington, DC? That nearly four times that amount has been donated to Katrina relief efforts? Even in these tough economic times, the number of people giving to charity has not decreased, only the amount they can afford to give. That’s something to be thankful for.
The ability to give. Americans are often criticized for their consumption…their addiction to money and stuff. While often a fair critique, there is another side to this that the standard slam misses: our relative wealth provides us the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those in need around the world (see above). Americans work hard, play hard and spend a lot of money. But it is this very competitive nature that produces the one of the highest standards of living in the world…one that provides the opportunity to give to those in need.
Freedom. You have the freedom to pursue a charitable mission…to start a company of sorts that has as its business mission the betterment of somebody or something. Whether your nonprofit’s purpose is education, religion, benevolence or something else, you get to do this. Yes, you have to follow rules set forth by our government. And yes, sometimes these rules seem arbitrary, arcane and impossible to navigate. But in your frustration with all the red tape that entangles you, don’t lose site of the fact that if you really want to start a charity that helps protect armadillos, you can do it. Nobody is stopping you. Just go do it! And be thankful that in a land of over 300 million people, you can be sure than somewhere out there is someone who loves armadillos as much as you do. In the immortal words of Yakov Smirnoff: “What a great country!”
From all of us at The Foundation Group, we wish you and yours a great Thanksgiving.