Generous nation Featured

11:56am EDT August 26, 2003
According to a report by Giving USA, Americans gave more than $200 billion dollars to charity last year. Of that amount, approximately $9 billion came from corporate contributions, which represents about 1.3 percent of corporate pretax profits.

To put that in perspective, more than 2 billion people around the world live on less than a dollar a day. It should not come as a surprise that more than 90 percent of aid to the rest of the world comes from America.

We are very generous as a nation on an individual and corporate basis. This prompted me to think of some questions about giving. What makes people give? How do they decide who they will give to? How do we decide how much we'll give? What will we give?

Here are some thoughts.

* What makes people give?

People give based on a sense of duty for their fellow man. They tithe based on religious beliefs of Judeo-Christian principles. People give based on the overflow of their wealth because of their gratefulness. They want to give something back.

As the demand for help increases, so does the giving.

* How do people decide where they will give?

A person or organization might have a specific need. Or an organization might have the same political, religious or social agenda. People give based on a personal relationship experience, or where they feel like they can make a difference.

* How much do we give?

Affordability is an obvious issue. People might give to meet a specific need. Our gut feeling may tell us to give a certain amount. Religious beliefs might dictate a certain percentage.

* What will we give?

Money can be used to buy supplies such as food or medicine. Time can be given to help build a house or bring someone a meal. Talent can be donated to help a person or organization achieve goals.

We need the continued assistance of the community's business leaders and corporations to provide advice, personal involvement and financial commitment. As the world's wealthiest nation, it is our responsibility to continue to share that wealth with others.

As we help people throughout the world, don't forget those close to you like your family, friends and members of your community. These are people that you can help and see an immediate result.

Think about your giving -- both as an individual and as a corporate leader -- and the reasons behind it. You might be surprised by the answers.