October 2012

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October 2012

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director


Giving. It has been in the news a lot lately. (If you read Philanthropy Today, as I do, it's in the news every day.) But why do we give?

This really is a uniquely American thing, this donating to a charitable cause. Our tax code is unique in the world since it encourages giving so that people, not government, support charity. When teaching a course in management, a student from abroad had a horribly difficult time with this concept. Why would people be rewarded for giving to charitable causes, she wondered? But then we talked about government funding of endeavors in her country versus this one and she came to understand how arts are not strongly supported by municipal efforts in the United States.

No matter where you come down on the political spectrum, the value of supporting charity has positive benefits for you. It might be the altruistic thoughts of helping others, or the practical thought of the tax benefit of the gift (or both). Giving is something we all should deal with.

I'll never forget the great joy on a friend's face when he attended the fete for people who gave handsomely to our company United Way campaign. Many were shocked to see the carpenter enter the room, he said. He didn't have a religious organization he gave to; he gave to United Way instead. It was unexpected, and he liked that.

We have donors to USITT, all of them generous for giving what they are able. Some are able to give more, and some give lots, just in small increments. It is not the amount of these gifts but the support they signify that matters. (Okay, big gifts matter a little more, I'll admit.) But they all serve the same purpose.

Gifts to USITT allow us to fund awards, grants, and fellowships. Gifts to general operations have a direct impact on dues as those gifts allow us to operate daily. Gifts have allowed USITT to keep dues the same for two years while increasing programming.

Gifts help us memorialize events and people. When a member dies, the Institute often receives checks in memory of that person. Why do we wait for someone to die to make a gift? How will they know we thought so much of them if they are already dead? When we get gifts honoring the living, we get to thank both the giver and the honoree. It is nice. Several friends gave gifts to charities that meant something to them for my recent milestone birthday. I got letters from organizations across the United States, including USITT, letting me know people had celebrated in such a manner.

When was the last time you gave a gift to charity to honor a person? Be it USITT, an arts organization, or a food bank, giving to others to honor someone who has given to you is the ultimate "pass it forward." In a world where most of us have what we need, giving to help others, in any amount, has shown to repay itself over and over again.

I encourage you to take the time and think about the idea of giving to honor someone around you. Too many times we say great things about people once they are dead. Many of us would rather be dead than listen to someone wax nostalgic about the good we've done in their lives. Knowing that someone took time to pay that good forward with a gift to an organization says even more and more loudly.

We are headed to the holiday seasonl. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, winter solstice -- whatever your holiday that comes in the later months of the year, think of giving a gift in honor of someone rather than to that person.

Would I love that gift to be to USITT? Sure! Send those checks and credit card numbers to Syracuse with the name of whoever you are honoring. Just use this form.

But I love even more the idea that we are honoring those who mean something to us--who have given so much to us--by making a difference in others' lives. After all, isn't that what that person did for us?

David Grindle

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail David at david@office.usitt.org.
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