M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
Top Left: WESTAF; Top Right: Union Gospel Mission Seattle; Bottom: Forest Stewardship Council

“philanthropy. (noun): goodwill to fellow members of the human race 

especially : active effort to promote human welfare” 

Merriam-Webster Dictionary 

This week, I was excited to have the opportunity to join fellow leaders in the philanthropic space and take part in a discussion on The Future of Philanthropy, hosted by the Portland Business Journal. The seismic shifts of the last few years continue to catalyze change across sectors and throughout the Pacific Northwest region. These changes can be seen in the new or improved funding and service models that are emerging, the ever-evolving changes to how we work, the new ways we need to work and learn, the shifts in how different generations approach work, the new possibilities we are exploring with revolutionary technology like AI, and the new issues the social sector is working to solve. Taken all together, they present the opportunity and, in some cases, completely reshape the way we live and work.

Clearly, philanthropy and funders have a role to play in helping our communities and region adapt to these changes so that all individuals have an opportunity to thrive. When we talk about the power and impact of philanthropy, it’s often framed in terms of traditional foundations and funders who make large financial investments in organizations serving the common good. But as we think about philanthropy today and philanthropy in the future, I think it’s important to consider the practice on a much larger scale. 

The reality is, Philanthropy is for everyone. 

Consider this year’s giving data reported by Giving USA. In 2022, charitable giving in the United States reached nearly $500 billion. Of that $500 billion, more than 73% came from individuals while about 6% came from corporate partners. While funders can see unique attention because we have the opportunity to make larger single contributions to a given organization or project, it is giving from the community that truly drives the important work of those serving the common good in the nonprofit sector on a daily basis.  

And this is a good thing because it reflects a healthy, diversified ecosystem of financial support for those on the front lines of need. When we all commit to contributing where we can to the organizations and missions that speak to us directly, we create a connected web of support that helps lift and serve all those working for the common good. I truly appreciated the robust conversation I was able to have with my colleagues this week about the future of different aspects of philanthropy and grantmaking. I also believe the “future of philanthropy” is right here. It’s all of us. It’s our communities and the spirit of generosity that thrives in the Pacific Northwest. 

As we enter the season of thanksgiving, it is a wonderful opportunity for us all to consider how we can be generous and engage in philanthropy – be that through financial contributions, donating our time, opening our doors, sharing our wisdom, or sharing other resources with those in need. At the Trust, we encourage you to: “Give often. Give creatively. Give generously.” 

No matter how you choose to practice philanthropy this holiday season and throughout the year, we thank you for your commitment to serve the common good! 

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