Americans give more of their hard-earned money to charitable causes than any people on the globe.
According to the Giving Institute, Americans give more than $1 billion a day to charities: a total of $410 billion in 2017.
And very little comes from the ultra-wealthy, big foundations, or large companies looking for good press. According to the Philanthropy Roundtable, in 2014 only 14% came from foundation grants, and just 5% from corporations. The rest, 81%, came from individuals like you.
Per capita, we voluntarily donate about seven times as much as continental Europeans. In Europe people see little reason to give more of their own money when so much is being forcibly taken by taxes and redistributed by the state for “what charity used to do.”
Sadly, government isn’t known for efficiency. And if you don’t like how government is delivering its “charity,” what are you going to do? Give your taxes to the other government?
Charities compete for your limited donations, meaning they must impress upon you not only the righteousness of their mission, but their efficacy in how they go about it.
Charities can do another thing government can’t. They can demand behavioral changes from their recipients. Step Denver, a very worthy, tough-love service for the homeless won’t take government money. Thus, they can say, “If you don’t stay sober, we will kick you out.”
By contrast governmental “charity” is constant and unconditional: “If you don’t stay sober, it doesn’t really matter, we’ll keep giving you stuff.”
The American value of charitable giving is not just important for those receiving the benefits. It’s an important check-and-balance to wasteful, ineffective counterproductive government redistribution.
Unlike government, most charities want to put themselves out of business.
I’d like to offer some of my recommendations of deserving Colorado groups, for their mission and their effectiveness:
It would be self-serving to recommend the Independence Institute, powerhouse for limited government and personal empowerment in Colorado that I run, so I won’t even mention it. (See what I did just there?)
The Leadership Program of the Rockies educates future leaders, policy makers and influencers on the moral foundations of capitalism and how the principles of the American Founding fit today. Run by the indefatigable Shari Williams, with help from former Colorado U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, LPR gives future elected officials principled grounding.
The Colorado Union of Taxpayers ranks state legislators based on their votes on fiscal issues. This comes in very handy around election time to identify politicians who talk a good game on the campaign trail but tax and spend like a drunken sailor in office.
The TABOR Foundation’s mission is to protect our embattled Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. They do so by educating citizens on the importance of voting on tax and debt increases.
Parents Challenge in Colorado Springs was founded by the legendary Steve Schuck and his recently departed, dynamo wife Joyce to give poor parents the ability to send their kids to the school that’s right for them while spurring parents to join the fight for their kids’ education. A gift here would help kids and honor Joyce’s memory as well.
Ace Scholarships provides needy families the funding to escape failing government schools and go to a private school of their choice, just like a family with means can. Steered by the capable Norton Rainey III and a vibrant board of civic leaders, ACE demonstrates the power of choice.
Mountain States Legal Foundation is a public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting property rights in the western states. They are representing me in challenging the City of Boulder’s hateful “assault weapon” ban. Yes. I am a criminal.
A new public-interest law firm already making waves is The Public Trust Institute. They are boldly taking on cases of state and local overreach. Liberty always needs a lawyer.
The Common Sense Institute provides much-needed dynamic modeling of policy proposals, sounding the alarm of fiscally ruinous bills and initiatives, like the recently passed family leave initiative. You. Were. Warned.
I apologize to all the great organizations I didn’t have space for here. Perhaps you can add them in the comment section below.
Keep the tradition of giving alive in Colorado!
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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