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Give 3

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I was fortunate to be in the room the other day to hear Dr. Una Osili of Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy present key findings from this year’s Giving Report.  Not surprisingly, the big news in nonprofit circles since the report was released was the stunning $410 Billion dollars in total contributions.  That’s billion with a B.  As in brilliant; it’s a lovely reminder of just how generous we can be.

What really caught my attention in Dr. Osili’s remarks, however, is what she had to say about giving as a percent of GDP.  It seems that since at least 1977, philanthropic giving remained about 2% (technically it’s gone from 1.7% to 2.1%, but that’s probably a detail only the serious data lovers would care about, right?)

She shared that in order to move that number to 2.5% of GDP we’d need to be giving an additional $75 billion in charitable donations annually. But she encouraged folks in the room to think about how transformative it would be if we could move the needle to 3%.  She mentioned research that demonstrates that charitable donations not only benefit the recipient, but also benefit the giver.  Certainly charitable donations and the great work that gets done with them strengthen us as a community. 

So here’s my suggestion – let’s start a national campaign to build a social norm to give 3% to the nonprofit sector for its work to help individuals and communities, and feel good in the process.  3% of our GDP, 3% of our earnings, 3% of corporate revenue.

We can call it “Give 3: one for you, one for me, and one for us”.