Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm
I'm Shirley Griffith. This week on our program, our subject is charitable
giving in the United States.
SOUND: "This is the most wonderful thing in the
whole world to do." "It's awesome." "Walking for my
mom." "I certainly hope we find a cure. This is so worth it."
"I'm walking for a lot of people so I feel like I have to keep going…"
Those were comments from people who took part in the
Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk held in Washington, D.C., last month. People walked
thirty-two kilometers a day for three days to increase public awareness and
raise money to fight breast cancer.
thousand people registered for this year's walk. Each walker had to donate at
least two thousand three hundred dollars. Walkers may donate their own money or
raise money from friends and family members or fund-raising events.
say two hundred forty people raised between three and five thousand dollars;
fifty raised between five and ten thousand. The top individual raised almost
twenty-five thousand dollars. And the largest amount for a team was almost one
hundred fifty thousand.
all, organizers say the three-day walk raised more than five million dollars.
That was down from last year, when more than three thousand walkers raised almost
seven and a half million dollars.
Eighty-five percent of the donations from the walk go
to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a charity organization. It supports breast
cancer research as well as community health programs. Fifteen percent of the
money goes to the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. The fund
supports education, research, treatment and prevention efforts.
Cancer 3-Day Walks are held in fifteen cities across the country each year.
Jenn MacDonald of Blacksburg, Virginia, has taken part in walks in San Diego,
California, and Washington.
JENN MacDONALD: "You train, you raise money. So
you walk twenty miles your first day, you sleep in a tent, you wake up -- I got
to do this again? Yep, got to do it again. And then you do twenty-plus miles
the next day, you sleep in a tent, you gotta wake up and you got to do it
"And people who have breast cancer, they have to
do it every single day, the chemotherapy treatment, all the things they have to
prepare themselves to do. It's that third day that really pushes people to
their humanness, to that level of I-don't-want-to-do-this-anymore. And I think
it pushes them to that point where getting rid of breast cancer will help those
cancer patients go—"I don't have to do this anymore."
Charity groups use walks, runs and other sporting
events to raise money for a number of diseases. But philanthropy in America
also supports many other causes -- everything from the arts to animal shelters
to summer camps for children. The word "philanthropy" comes from
Latin and Greek terms for a love of people.
million charities and foundations are recognized as tax-exempt organizations by
the Internal Revenue Service. The I.R.S. is the federal tax agency. Tax-exempt
means donors can claim their donations on their tax returns and possibly reduce
the amount they owe the government.
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
produces a yearly report called "Giving USA." The latest report
estimated charitable giving in the United States last year at more than three
hundred seven billion dollars. It was the second year in a row that the amount
was above three hundred billion.
the recession took a bite out of charitable giving. Last year's total was down
almost six percent from two thousand seven after considering the effects of
inflation. It was the first inflation-adjusted decrease in giving since
nineteen eighty-seven. And it was the biggest drop since the group began
publishing annual reports in nineteen fifty-six.
businesses and foundations are responsible for more than ninety percent of all
provided an estimated seventy-five percent last year. Americans gave about two
hundred thirty billion dollars to charities. That was a six percent drop from
two thousand seven after adjusting for inflation.
gave an estimated five percent of all charitable donations. They donated more
than fourteen billion dollars to charities last year, a decrease of eight
And foundations were responsible for thirteen percent
of all giving last year. The "Giving USA" report says giving by
foundations fell about one percent to forty-one billion dollars.
which kinds of charities receive donations?
report shows that just over one-third of charitable donations last year went to
religious organizations. Thirteen percent went to education and seven percent
went to health-related charities. Other areas include arts and culture,
international affairs and the environment.
report says two-thirds of public charities receiving donations experienced
reductions last year. But the Center on Philanthropy also says research shows
that giving does not shrink as much as the economy in a recession.
in hard times -- and some might say especially in hard times -- people still
show concern about others. In fact, donations increased for some kinds of
charities, including religious organizations, last year after adjusting for
many charities are not expecting an increase in donations anytime soon.
Chronicle of Philanthropy just reported the findings of its latest survey of
the nation's four hundred biggest charities. Half of the groups expect giving
to drop this year by more than nine percent. And the charities are thinking
they will raise only one or two percent more in two thousand ten than they did
of the charities that answered the survey said the recession had forced them to
dismiss workers or cut other spending.
government defines charities as nonprofit organizations that serve the public
by providing educational, religious or scientific activities. These
organizations also aid the public welfare by working to improve peoples' health
or economic condition.
Charities commonly raise money by mail,
over the phone or on the Internet. Christmastime is a major time for charity
appeals. The Salvation Army has one of
the best known campaigns in the United States. Workers stand outside stores,
ringing a bell and collecting money in a red metal kettle from shoppers passing
not all groups that appeal for money are honest. And even honest charities may
not use the money in ways that some donors would like. Experts say people
should find out how much a charity spends on itself. Some leaders of charitable
organizations are highly paid. But groups say they have to compete with the
business world for top executives.
are some organizations in the United States that act as watchdogs, rating the
financial health of charities. They study records and advise the public about
how groups use their donations. They also develop spending guidelines for
Navigator is one of these organizations. This
eight-year-old nonprofit group is supported by foundations, companies and
individuals. The Web site offers free rating information on more than five
thousand charities. It also has advice for donors.
example, read copies of a group's financial records and be careful of groups
with names that sound like well-known charities. Charity Navigator says smart
givers generally do not respond to the first organization that appeals for
help. They take time to do research.
Navigator says the most efficient charities spend at least seventy-five percent
of their budget on their programs and services. They spend less than
twenty-five percent on fund raising and administrative costs.
watchdog group is the BBB Wise Giving Alliance; BBB is the Better Business
Bureau. The Wise Giving Alliance suggests that at least sixty-five percent of
spending by a charity should go to program activities. And still another group,
the American Institute of Philanthropy, considers at least sixty percent to be
an acceptable amount for program activities.
Finally, here is one piece of advice that all the
experts can agree on: Any charity that is unwilling or unable to share its
financial records is a charity not worth giving to.
program was written by Nancy Steinbach and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Shirley
And I'm Steve Ember. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of
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