Last month, Giving USA published its annual report on philanthropy in the United States using data gathered in 2019. The report showed that donations topped $449 billion, a new record for giving in this country, and that the largest portion came from individuals and families supporting their favorite charitable causes be they religion, education, health care, public benefit, the environment, or arts and culture. The data was compiled and analyzed pre-COVID19 and undoubtedly, when the next report is issued in June of 2021, the statistics will reflect the fact that our economy is currently in recession thus many family incomes are being stretched just to cover food and rent let alone charitable donations. Nevertheless, the report demonstrates that philanthropy and the nonprofit organizations it supports is a major enterprise in the United States comprising approximately 2% of GDP, and that our nation's eleemosynary organizations are an essential sector of our economy.
Alaska nonprofits have ably and efficiently served our communities since territorial days. A quick survey of our universities, hospitals and health providers, museums, churches, arts organizations and public benefit agencies shows that they provide services that are essential to our way of life. Our economy is also strengthened by these organizations in that they are a major source of jobs.
Not surprisingly, many of our local nonprofits are busy finding ways to continue serving the public despite COVID-19 and we, in turn, should support them as we can. Churches have discovered virtual platforms to stay in touch with their parishioners and maintain their spiritual and charitable missions; schools and universities are working hard to provide quality educational opportunities despite great constraints; arts and cultural organizations are finding safe yet innovative ways to stay in touch with their audiences.
Mission-forward organizations are critical to maintaining the quality of life we Alaskans so cherish while helping strengthen our economy. It’s important for us to continue our support of them during these trying times: We will all be better for it.
Albert J. Alvarez
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