Editor’s Scratchpad

Friday, May 25, 2001

Milk of human
kindness overflows

Amid the news of war, famine, pestilence and death comes a glimmer of light about which Americans could take a quiet pride -- they gave $203.5 billion to charity last year, more than the gross national products of middle-sized nations such as Sweden or Greece.

The Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University reported that the sum was 6.6 percent higher than that for the previous year despite political and economic uncertainty -- and a gyrating stock market. Foundation grants went up by 19.6 percent and corporate gifts rose 12.1 percent. What really stands out, however, is that individual Americans dug into their own pockets to give $152 billion, or almost 75 percent of the total.

Religious organizations were the primary beneficiaries, receiving nearly $75 billion, continuing a trend that dates back to 1955 when the philathropic center began tracking these donations. Educational institutions were big recipients at $28.2 billion as were those providing health care and research at $18.8 billion. Environmental organizations garnered a modest $6.2 billion while international agencies received $2.7 billion.

Despite all the criticism of America, a good bit of it by Americans themselves, this is a decent record of human kindness.

Richard Halloran

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