By Ashley Kasprzak, JVA Consulting
Underground and one-on-one generosity typically abounds at this time of year, but due to the recent recession, it seems that this kind of giving has grown even stronger. An anecdote to illustrate my point: A friend of mine from childhood visited yesterday and handed me two fat envelopes. I paused, wondered why the envelopes were fat, and quickly discovered a handful of gift cards from both my friend and her parents. I was so touched that I was speechless and cried. I saw my friend’s parents later that night and expressed my gratitude. They told me that they were inspired because my father had done a good deed for their daughter over 20 years ago. My husband and I were so touched by this surprise gift from my friend, her husband and my friend’s parents. They were all paying it forward because my family has been impacted by the poor economy.
Coincidentally, Denver’s 9News featured a story the same night about good Samaritans going into Kmart stores and paying off the layaway bills of people who had put aside children’s toys as presents. So many good Samaritans have been appearing at one store that a manager even printed a list of gifts that donors could contribute to for easy reference. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, this behavior isn’t limited to Colorado Kmarts, but has been happening across the country.
My own experience and what I’ve been hearing makes me wonder if this is symbolic of a new kind of philanthropy? Are donors engaging in more personalized philanthropy than in the past? How much of this happens? Would individual giving surpass billions if we were able to capture these acts of generosity and combine it with what Giving USA tracks?
What do you think?