By Kristin Majeska
Recently a writer interviewed me for my college´s alumni magazine, the Carleton Voice, “As a Philanthropy Advisor,” she asked, “what makes you optimistic in 2012?” Of course I rattled off things that filled me with hope: giving was up 7.5% in 2011, nonprofits (and their boards!) are increasingly focused on efficiency and collaboration, businesses are becoming more sophisticated forces for good, new tools such as social impact bonds are emerging and an enthusiastic generation of social entrepreneurs are working in the nonprofit, for-profit and hybrid worlds. There was plenty of good news for me to share.
The big surprise came when my magazine arrived in the mailbox and I flipped to the This Will Make You Feel Better feature. Carleton had chosen 12 experts to interview on 12 different topics. I could immediately see how philanthropy was contributing in 11 of the 12 areas! Generous individuals, families, foundations and companies are making a difference everyday in aging, education, music, recycling, health , housing, conservation, politics, publishing (Carleton profiled a nonprofit literary publishing house), and even the internet (think wikipedia!) The 12th area was the stock market… that would have been a stretch…. But thoughtful givers, big, medium and tiny, are having a profound influence on the world and on our communities. That should make us all feel good!