An observation about recent changes in charitable giving

I live in Manhattan and am obviously on the progressive/left end of the political spectrum often found among blue state residents. In that context I’ve run into a phenomenon about current charitable giving that doesn’t surprise exactly, but the scope is greater than I thought.

Cultural institutions constantly contact those who subscribe to their concerts, have an annual membership, or have otherwise shown an interest. When I’m asked, I simply say that all of my charitable giving is currently going to effective environmental organizations that are working to protect our water, air, and food plus those who are attempting to protect our civil rights and democratic institutions. That’s it. I’m not giving anything to many of my traditional donees.

What I’ve found interesting is that I’m not alone. The last three charitable callers heard that and immediately responded that their contributions have dropped precipitously for exactly the reasons that I gave them. As a group, cultural institutions — at least in this area — are (anecdotally) tightening their belts as they realize that their traditional donors are not giving even token amounts for music, art, and the like. It’s all going to organizations that protect either the environment or our country’s political future.

I have no idea if this is a totally regional reaction to the past two years, but I am heartened. Talk is great — and certainly we’re all doing a lot of that — but activism and money is essential. Bravo to y’all out there.

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