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The State of Giving in America & What You Can Do About It

The University of Maryland just issued a report that says less Americans are giving their time, talent, and treasure

We just went through one of the most divisive elections in modern history. It’s not surprising that as our country has fractured along party lines, our social capital, what binds us together as a community, is beginning to wane.

The State of Giving

The University of Maryland just published a pretty grim report about the state of volunteering and giving across the United States. Despite record high volunteer hours and charitable donations, fewer people are choosing to give their time and money to serve their community.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • In 2015, the U.S. national volunteer rate hit a fifteen-year low at 24.9 percent

  • Areas with the highest rates of social capital, experienced the highest decline in volunteer hours

  • Fewer Americans are giving charitably, a ten-percent drop from 2000 to 2014

The Challenge

While the University of Maryland does a good job presenting what the data say about the state of giving-- it doesn't provide the road map for the way forward. The answer lies solely within each of us. One way we come together is by creating more social capital with all the groups that you come into contact with on a daily basis.

What is Social Capital?

We define social capital as deep, authentic relationships with our fellow man. Only through community can the common good be promoted. Community takes place when like-minded people come together to pursue a common cause. It is everyone’s responsibility to pursue opportunities to build social capital. Social capital alone won't solve the problem. The report specifically says that areas with higher rates of social capital saw the biggest decreases. The solution begins and ends with each of us continuing to give of ourselves despite the fact that we have friends and neighbors whose views may differ from ours.

How can you create Social Capital?

  • Does your child’s teacher need help in their classroom?

  • Does your spouse need help in their workplace?

  • Is there an opportunity to volunteer with a small group in your church?

  • Is a community organization asking for help with a project?

  • Is anyone asking for your time, talent, or treasure?

  • How can YOU help?

Building social capital begins and ends with the individual. As that saying goes, “we have to be the change we want to see in the world.” There is no rule or regulation, no commandment, no best practice, or ethical guideline, that will dictate a change that hasn't taken place inside an individual. Every opportunity to serve or give is either a choice to build stronger families, communities, and therefore create more social capital or not.

We are challenging every individual reading this to look for an opportunity to serve their community.

As you move into the holiday season, look for opportunities to build social capital.


Are you ready to start building more social capital in your community and start loving your purpose, living with passion, and leveraging your platform?

Quit wishing for your community to be different and start living for something greater than yourself.

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