The relentless beat of horrific news and constant drone of our perplexing, tiresome presidential election drown out much good news in this country.
Please pause with me now to reflect on three fundamental trends that demonstrate that compassion and benevolence are in fact on the rise, and we have much to be positive about.
1. NEW PHILANTHROPIC RECORDS SET
Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report On Philanthropy, released earlier this week, shows that America is more philanthropic than ever, setting new records for individual, corporate and foundation giving.
In 2015, total gifts of $373.25 billion were up 4.1 percent over 2014 (which had also set a record high). According to Peter Fissinger, president and CEO of Campbell & Company, a national fundraising consulting and executive search firm for nonprofits, “This is 2.1% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a watermark reinforcing Americans’ commitments to organizations that impact both their lives and those of their fellow citizens.”
2. IMPACT INVESTING ON THE RISE
What seemed a novel idea only a few years ago has become an explosion of interest in “impact investing,” aligning more capital than ever with business that do good, as opposed to businesses that only focus on their bottom line. Millennials (our future) are driving this change. They expect mission and meaning in life and work.
According to CNN and Bank of America, an astonishing 93 percent of Millennial Millionaires (individuals between 18 and 35 with over $3 million of investable assets) identify a company’s social and environmental impact as a key factor in their investment decision.
Savvy investment firms have developed funds and other vehicles to capture this trend too. Morgan Stanley was one of the first. Earlier this year, Mesirow Financial launched Mesirow Impact Management.
3. FEMALE LEADERS EFFECT FASTER POSITIVE CHANGE
According to Kiersten Marek of Inside Philanthropy, women’s perspectives on leadership seem to be pivotal to tackling big problems in new and more effective ways. She cites Clara Miller, director and president of Heron Foundation, as a prime example.
Miller fundamentally restructured Heron to better align its endowment with its mission — thereby helping smaller organizations get access to greater funding.
Women are on the rise throughout our economy and in academia. More women than men are registered in colleges and graduate schools. Women under the age of 40 are outstripping their male peers throughout the work force. A woman is likely to be our next president.
Despite complaints about glass-ceiling limitations, it is inevitable that these trends will also produce more women in leadership positions. Perhaps the same characteristics that allow mothers to intuitively and with common sense quickly respond to need also make them better leaders.
The numbers are clear, more than ever: Men and women in our “land of plenty” instinctively want better for others as well as themselves.
The internet allows all to quickly research options. We increasingly choose local, family-owned, organic, green and good values too. We expect greater impact with our charitable dollars and support generously the organizations that deliver this.
Our headlines and politics may still be ugly, but many of the trends of day-to-day life are very hopeful indeed.