Americans are known for their generosity. From the earliest days of the republic, charitable giving was an integral part of American culture. That impulse to join together and contribute to the well-being of society is alive and well today. Over 95% of all U.S. households give to charity. In 2013 Americans gave $335 billion, close to an all-time high.
This week on WEALTHTRACK we take a look at how the world of charitable giving is changing. Two heads of leading philanthropies, Jed Bernstein of Lincoln Center and Jack Lund of the YMCA of Greater New York discuss how organizations are adapting to new societal needs and donor demands.
WEALTHTRACK Episode #1132; Originally Broadcast on January 30, 2015
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Lund & Bernstein: Changing Charity
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CEO, YMCA of Greater New York
President, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
We are taking a break from the markets this week and focusing on another investment that 95% of American households make every year, charitable gifts.
Americans are known for their generosity. From the earliest days of the Republic, charitable giving was an integral part of American culture. The French political philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about this phenomenon in his classic book, Democracy in America:
Americans group together to hold fetes, found seminaries, build inns, construct churches, distribute books, dispatch missionaries to the antipodes. They establish hospitals, prisons, schools by the same method. Finally, if they wish to highlight a truth or develop an opinion by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association.
That impulse to join together and contribute to the well-being of society is alive and well today. Americans gave $335 billion to charity in 2013, close to an all-time high. 72% of that or $241 billion came from individuals. 95.4% of households gave an average annual contribution of nearly $3,000.
As in the past, the majority of charitable dollars went to religion, 31%, followed by 16% to education and 12% to human services.
In 2013 the biggest increase in giving was in education, which saw donations jump 8.9%.
This week’s WEALTHTRACK guests are on the frontlines of the American desire to give and serve their communities. Each runs a leading philanthropic organization, based in New York City and is adapting to the needs of their large and diverse communities, as well as the changing interests and demands of donors.
Jed Bernstein is President of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, a position he assumed in January of 2014 after a career as a Tony Award winning Broadway producer, head of The Broadway League and an advertising executive.
Lincoln Center is the world’s largest performing arts center. It presents more than 3,000 events and educational activities a year, spanning all the performing arts from symphony to opera to theater, to dance, film and arts education.
Jack Lund has been the CEO and President of the YMCA of Greater New York for more than a decade. It is the country’s oldest and largest Y and New York City’s largest private youth serving organization. Lund has spent his entire career at the Y in numerous leadership roles all over the country and internationally.
Under his leadership the YMCA of Greater New York has expanded to serve 520,000 people annually, including 250,000 kids in 24 branches all over the city. The Y has taken a leadership role in after school programs, fighting childhood obesity, developing teen leaders and reaching and guiding disconnected youth. I experienced these programs first hand as a board member under Lund’s leadership for 9 years.
I asked Bernstein and Lund to identify the biggest changes they are seeing in philanthropic giving and the difference it is making in their best in class organizations.
We also have EXTRA interviews with both Lund and Bernstein available exclusively online. If you have comments or questions, please connect with us via Facebook or Twitter.
Have a great Super Bowl weekend and make the week ahead a profitable and productive one.
INVEST IN A KID
No Bookshelf titles this week.
BERNSTEIN: FULFILLING LIVES
Invest in arts education in your own community
LUND: BETTER FUTURES
Invest in a kid
- Especially children growing up in poverty
- Pick a great organization, get behind them and stay behind them
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BERNSTEIN: JOB SWITCH
How did Jed Bernstein, former Tony Award winning Broadway producer come to be the President of Lincoln Center, the world’s largest performing arts center? It was a career path that started at an early age.
LUND: CAREER CALLING
Jack Lund, the CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York, the largest and oldest Y in the country has spent his 40 year career at various Ys around the country. He describes how he became a Y lifer.