In America, no one is required to give to charity. Nowhere in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence or the Internal Revenue Code does it require citizens to donate their money to charity. Yet, the United States has an extraordinary tradition of charitable giving going back over 200 years.

Philanthropy—voluntary giving for the common good—is so important to America because it is voluntary. When someone makes a charitable contribution, they feel good not only because they are helping to improve society, but also because they want to give. Philanthropy is people helping people because it is the right thing to do, not because of some requirement. And charitable giving benefits everyone, because at some point in time, everyone has been affected by a charity and its services.

America is a land of choices, and people can commit their time or spend their money in countless ways. But for volunteers and donors, philanthropy is not just a consumer choice. It is a statement about themselves and what they want their society to look like. When Americans make the choice to give, our nation becomes better—our world becomes better. As a society, we become more united. We become a community.

The charitable sector provides us a critical path to connect with one another. Through giving and volunteering, we become closer. We find understanding in helping each other. By sharing our experiences and coming together, we promote tolerance and virtue.

While it’s easy to make a contribution and raise funds when the economy is good, the philanthropic community is most important when times are not so great. More than ever, it is critical that the community of philanthropy works as one—to encourage giving and volunteering, and to assure the public that charities are worthy of their support.

Perspective for Fundraisers and Charities
Fundraisers are stewards of the public trust and stewards of the public’s charitable contributions. They not only have a responsibility to their organization to raise money, but they also have an obligation to the public to ensure that the money contributed is used in an appropriate fashion. It is this dual responsibility that mandates the highest ethical conduct for practitioners of the fundraising profession. Here are some tips for fundraisers and charities who are trying to navigate these uncertain economic times.

Wise Giving Tips
Donors can help ensure that their charitable gift will be used ethically and effectively by following some easy and common-sense tips
and guidelines.

Reprinted with permission from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.