Philanthropy began in the US very early in the nation’s history. But it was not until the 20th century that charitable giving, as we know it today began to be shaped—and to grow by leaps and bounds. One way to chart the growth of US philanthropy is to follow the trajectory of private foundations: The first private foundation was created in the early 1900s, but by 1950 there were 2,000 of them nationwide—a number that jumped to around 100,796 in 2015.
But foundations are only one piece of the philanthropic picture. There are many other ways to give and to organize your giving, ranging from writing an individual check to creating a charitable trust or naming a charity as a beneficiary of your will. Whatever the method, individual US citizens give generously to charity each year—almost $316 billion in contributions in 2012.
That money is much needed: There are over a million nonprofit charitable organizations in the US, of all sizes, established for a wide range of purposes. They support broad goals, such as education, protecting the environment, and battling diseases such as cancer. But they are also important on a small, community-based scale, for example, helping the homeless or building a new room for the public library.
For many people, helping others through philanthropy is a vital component of a rewarding life. A meaningful existence, in this context, may include giving back to the community, improving the lives of those in need, contributing to scientific research, or supporting cultural institutions or the arts. This commitment to charitable giving and philanthropic involvement can take many forms, and it can work in several different ways—but the important common denominator is making a difference.
A charity is a nonprofit organization that devotes all its resources to its own charitable activities—most commonly education, promotion of health, relief of poverty or distress, or religious purposes. None of its income may be for the personal benefit of any member or trustee of the organization. Charities are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, and can receive tax-deductible gifts.
None of its income may be for the personal benefit of any member or trustee of the organization. Charities are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, and can receive tax-deductible gifts. In addition to the emotional or spiritual benefits of philanthropy, charitable giving can also be an important part of estate planning and help you to create a balanced financial plan. This press release contains content from Light Bulb Press with permission.