Posts tagged ‘Martin Luther King Jr. Day’

January 18, 2021

What is Life’s Most Persistent and Urgent Question?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a remarkable, historic civil rights leader whose wisdom and mission remain relevant in the 21st century.

I am writing this post during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, a national holiday in the United States. This occasion reminds me of when I first learned about King. I was a first-grade student when King was murdered on April 4, 1968. Until then, I had never heard of him.

When my elementary school closed for a day of mourning in King’s honor, my mother explained to me who King was, why he was important, and that he had been assassinated. Mom also had to explain to me what the word “assassination” means. Even at six-years-old, I recognized the horrific irony of killing a man who advocated non-violence, and I wept.

In 2015, the kind folks at the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Memphis Chapter invited me to speak at their conference. My hosts were gracious, and they took wonderful care of me. Knowing my interest in King, they even provided me with a ticket to visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel during my extended stay. The site is where King was killed. Stepping into King’s motel room was moving. Touring the Museum was eye-opening, even for someone knowledgeable about the civil rights movement. I encourage you to visit Memphis and the Museum.

As I’ve said, King remains relevant after more than a half-century following his death. Consider this quote from King:

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

It’s a great question. It’s one that those of us working in the nonprofit sector answer every day. It’s one that every person who engages in philanthropy answers with their actions.

If you can respond to King’s question in a meaningful way, you should feel proud. It may not always feel like it, but you are making a difference. You are living a life worth living. As King said:

read more »

January 19, 2018

Charitable Giving Threatened by Drop In Volunteerism

On Monday, the USA celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national day of service. From April 15 to 21, the nation will mark National Volunteer Week. Clearly, Americans value volunteerism.

Unfortunately, the volunteerism rate has been steadily declining for years. This trend has disturbing implications for philanthropy.

In 2003, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 28.8 percent of Americans volunteered. By 2015, that rate had steadily fallen to 24.9 percent. This is a huge problem for the nonprofit sector for a number of reasons:

Volunteers Provide a Valuable Resource. Volunteers do a great deal of work that might not be done otherwise. 62.6 million Americans volunteered 7.8 billion hours. Independent Sector reports that a volunteer hour is worth $24.14, over $180 billion of total estimated value. Sadly, with volunteerism on the decline, charities are forced to provide fewer services or incur greater labor costs.

Volunteers Serve as Ambassadors. In addition to being a valuable labor resource, volunteers are also fantastic ambassadors for an organization. The typical volunteer serves only one or two organizations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. When volunteers share their experiences, they also talk with friends, family, and professional colleagues about your organization and its mission. This could lead to additional volunteer and philanthropic support. With a drop in volunteerism, there are now fewer ambassadors for charities, which will inevitably lead to less future support.

Volunteers are More Likely to Donate. Volunteers are twice as likely as non-volunteers to make a charitable contribution, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Even planned giving is affected by volunteerism. As I’ve reported previously, researcher Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP states in his book, American Charitable Bequest Demographics (1992-2012):

Among those with [estate] planning documents, those who both volunteer and give ($500+) are dramatically more likely to plan a charitable estate gift than those who only volunteer or only give ($500+). Those who only volunteer, plan charitable estate gifts at approximately the same rate as those who only give.”

Those who only volunteer or only donate ($500+) are more than twice as likely to make a legacy gift than those who do neither. [For a free electronic copy of James’ book, subscribe to this blog site in the right-hand column. You’ll receive an email confirmation of your subscription that will contain a link to the book.]

With a decline in volunteerism, we can expect fewer people to make current and planned gifts. This is already happening according to an analysis by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

There are many likely reasons for the decline in volunteerism including:

read more »

%d bloggers like this: