Philanthropy is too often defined as wealthy people or companies giving large sums of money to a worthy cause. That is not the case in North Carolina where people are redefining philanthropy and illustrating the power of individuals. Gifts from foundations combined with corporate contributions only represent 15% of private dollars given to charitable causes. That means 85% of support provided in communities is from individuals giving of their time, talent and treasure. That's why NCGives, a statewide nonprofit based in Raleigh, is kicking off a campaign on National Philanthropy Day (Thursday, November 16, 2006) to demystify the definition of a philanthropist by collecting and sharing stories which celebrate, connect and inspire giving.
Throughout the 'Season of Giving,' NCGives will collect philanthropic stories about 'everyday people' from across North Carolina who are making a difference. These stories will be available to the media, nonprofits and the community-at-large. Each month, a new philanthropist will be featured at www.ncgives.org. Stories may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCGives connects givers for good through stories and conferences held around the state. In October, three conferences were held across the state to bring together givers to share their stories, network, connect and inspire each other. On October 6-8 the Community Investment Network held a conference in Raleigh; on October 21 the Youth Leadership Initiative held its summit in Greensboro; and on October 30 the North Carolina Network of Women Givers Conference was held in Asheville.
The Community Investment Network conference is an annual gathering in which individuals, families, neighborhood associations, community groups, civic groups, foundations, and giving circles can come together to discuss various strategies for investing time, talent and treasure to build communities. The theme of the conference this year was "The Debt and The Reckoning: What Do We Owe Each Other?"
"We live in a time where collective giving and social networking for social change is on the decline. We envision a gathering that provides hope and renews the spirits of individuals, groups and organizations seeking to make a difference," said Darryl Lester, conference organizer and founder of Hindsight Communications.
The Youth Leadership Summit brought together youth from six different counties to take part in training workshops for youth grant-makers on fundraising strategies, community assessment methods, and techniques used to effectively facilitate organizational meetings.
"The purpose was to bring them together to meet their peers. They haven't done that before," said Eric Rowles, event organizer. "As one of them told me, 'It was amazing -- I didn't realize that there were so many of us across the state who are deciding what to do with the money in our communities.'"
The North Carolina Network of Women Givers conference provided women with an opportunity to celebrate and learn from the philanthropic successes of other women across the state. The network demonstrates the strength and power of women to effect change.
"Today is not only about learning from each other, it's a celebration of women who are striving to create healthy, sustainable communities because when women are supported, good families are supported and thus strong communities are built," said Donna Chavis, executive director of NCGives.
NCGives was publicly launched in March 2006 with a statewide conference that celebrated cultures of giving. NCGives links with a group of Founding Partners to grow giving among communities of color, women and young people in the state. NCGives celebrates, connects, inspires and grows traditions of giving by sharing stories, models and tools. For more information about NCGives, go to www.ncgives.org.