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The Generosity Commission Launches: Reimagining and Reigniting America’s Spirit of Generosity

Editor’s Note: The Generosity Commission is a project of The Giving Institute and the Giving USA Foundation and was conceptualized while Jeffrey Byrne, Co-Founder + CEO of Byrne Pelofsky, was serving as Board Chair of the Giving Institute from 2015-2017. Jeffrey had a critical role in the establishment of the Commission and is delighted that it has officially launched.

As a member of the Giving Institute, Byrne Pelofsky is excited to announce the launch of the Generosity Commission, a nonpartisan group of leaders across business, philanthropy and civil society that will address the ways in which generosity is expressed in America, particularly during times of stress, and how it can be strengthened.

During its tenure, the Generosity Commission will explore trends in giving and their impact on community-based organizations; whether generosity-related trends are accelerated or interrupted by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns; examine the ways in which volunteering is being redefined by the spontaneous emergence of mutual aid networks; and study what correlation exists between civic engagement and social “connectedness” on the one hand and societal cohesion and democratic functioning on the other.

The Generosity Commission was born out of a concern about downward trends in middle class “everyday” giving following the Great Recession. Specifically, when it comes to generosity in the U.S.:

  • In 2015, the volunteer rate among Americans reached a 15-year low
  • From 2000 – 2016, 20 million fewer households gave to charity than had previously
  • In 2012, the top 1% of donors gave 43.5% of individual donations, while in 1960, the top 1% of donors gave 18.9% of all donations

The combination of these downward trends in giving and volunteering along with the more than 40-year gap since the last national conversation on generosity with the Filer Commission, led leadership from the Giving Institute and Giving USA Foundation to assemble the Generosity Commission.

A key component of the Generosity Commission is research commissioned to inform concrete, relevant recommendations, actionable policies and specific steps that will engage individuals and organizations across the nation. This work is now underway and will be completed in 2022.

For more information on the Generosity Commission, click here. 

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