Scott Cooper Miami: America the Great Democracy and the Great Philanthropist
Do you think its a coincidence that one of the world’s greatest democracies, most entrepreneurial, and most religious nation is also the world’s most philanthropic nation? There is a reason we call it America the Great, says Scott Cooper Miami.
Americans donate like no other people. Whether you look at total contributions, per capita giving, size of gifts, or types of giving. And as our wealth increases, so does our generosity.
So Let’s Discuss…
Two authors for England’s Economist magazine just wrote a book about America’s differences from the rest of the world, and is. After noting that we give far larger proportions of our income to charity, they write, “Crucially, Americans much like to give their money away themselves, rather than let their government do it … . Nor, Rose adds, are the French in their astonishment: “A new German study reports that on a per capita basis, American taxpayers contribute to charity nearly twice as much as their German counterparts and that about six times as many Americans as Germans do volunteer work.” In short, American philanthropy is extraordinary by any world standard, and the reason is that America herself is exceptional. He and others have recognized that America isn’t merely an outgrowth of European civilization but a unique entity born of the desire for liberty and economic opportunity, the ideals today, that refugees to flock .
America is deeply rooted in traditions of entrepreneurship, personal freedom, and institutions that protect individual rights. We encourage decentralization in business, military, and government in order to allow the freedom to individuals and respect the individual. We’re also an optimistic people, convinced that a difference can be made by people in all spheres of life and believing in progress and possibility. Religiosity is embedded in our life and within most Americans, which makes this land significantly more religious than its industrialized counterparts. Collectively, Americans hold an overwhelming belief in God, with 90 percent affirming God’s existence. We believe that these distinctive qualities-freedom, religiosity, entrepreneurship, and generosity-are mutually reinforcing in America, and that the unusual combination explains why philanthropy is possibly the most exceptional thing about this unique land.
Religiosity and individualism, naturally intertwined, create the basis of American exceptionalism. The first Americans left the Old World to escape religious persecution and to seek opportunity. The New World developed a new means of life that would be profoundly spiritual and also fiercely individualistic, with an unprecedented dedication to entrepreneurship. America offered the opportunity. In this way, entrepreneurship and American religion began a deviation. As the country has modernized, unlike the experience of industrialized countries, American has stayed strong. For instance, asked whether they believed in God, 92 percent said yes. Another set of polls found 57 to 65 percent say religion is very important in their lives, with an additional 23 to 27 percent say it’s fairly important. Large proportions of Americans appear to practice their faith. Lately, about two-thirds have claimed membership in a church or synagogue. About 40 percent have said they attended a church or synagogue in the previous week; about 60 percent have said they prayed one or more times a day, with a additional 20 percent saying they prayed once or more a week.
America has developed a civic culture that successfully integrates principles while keeping institutions and government. Our religiosity doesn’t supercede choice our individualism strengthens and ensures the practice of faith. Though we are firmly committed to the principle that we shouldn’t establish a state religion. Our government isn’t free from faith and God-either in language or ritual. Our currency invokes God’s name, and our Declaration of Independence insists that our unalienable rights are gifts of our “Creator.” Because it’s a moral mandate from God Freedom, in other words, is to be secured by our civic structures. The legitimacy of our secular institutions builds upon a connection to our traditions. In American political theory, sovereignty rests, of course, with all the people. But implicitly, and often explicitly, the ultimate sovereignty has been credited to God… . The will of the people is not the criterion of wrong and right. A criterion is in terms of which this may can be judged. The President’s responsibility extends to the criterion. In sum, the Constitution and the President draw their moral authority from an affirmation of a religious moral order that binds all people, whether or not some Americans reject the idea of an Almighty.
Philanthropy-a Tangible Expression of America the Great
A respect for achievement lies at the heart of American philanthropy. It allows for wealth to be accumulated without excessive criticism and feeling. While at the same time putting a moral obligation on the shoulders of the wealthy to reinvest in their society. This American approach to riches is deeply ingrained in our culture. Even people who do not consider themselves “spiritual” have absorbed these values. A number of Americans have been blessed with an ability to produce wealth. All Americans are blessed that most of those wealth-creators believe they have a duty to return. John D. Rockefeller agreed, “The good Lord gave me the cash, and how can I withhold it?” In other words, both the creation of wealth and its usage are moral endeavors governed by ethical rules-much like the civil religious structures which ultimately govern our political order.
In the united states, that obligation is religious-a obligation to God or greater being-and a fundamental tenet of our Judeo-Christian beliefs. The responsibility is also civic: a responsibility to the community, a norm of being a good citizen. These beliefs are embedded in a wealthy Judeo-Christian tradition of giving. Jewish law put forward the need to tithe and look after those in need, particularly if one can help them become self-reliant. Was considered righteousness. These tenets became established in Christian thought too, and took new life in American civic culture. They’ve prospered in a free and open society, beneficiaries of protection from religious persecution and a great success story of American meritocracy. They have reacted as one might expect to a society that has been so nurturing by giving back at levels that far exceed the 6 million (2.5 percent) of the American population that Jews compose. When people ask why the Jewish people in the united states are such fantastic philanthropists, the solution is simple. While building on Jewish customs of giving, they have wholeheartedly embraced American values. They have become Americans that were exceptional. While the great majority of gifts in America are to religious institutions, particularly to local churches, synagogues, or mosques, our study indicates that “mega-giving”-that is, gifts over $10 million-is disproportionately secular. The common strain, however, is that in both regions of giving Americans are extraordinarily generous.
Individual Option. Individuals, and the groups they form willingly, have a moral duty to contribute to and enhance society. Charity is a choice, and where and how one gives are up to each individual, but that one should give is deeply ingrained in our culture. By contrast, the numerous interviews with the wealthy we’ve conducted abroad reveal that most Europeans don’t feel a similar obligation to give. European philanthropists truly do not understand why they ought to give at the level of generosity that’s thought appropriate by American standards. 1 foreign philanthropist asked us, “Why should I give a lot of money? This is not the responsibility of a private citizen.” As built with the support of institutions and American ideals, Americans, on the other hand, see their success. Giving something back becomes an commitment to help others as one was assisted. True, some Americans may triumph rather than return, where they came from but most philanthropists never forget. Most grew up poor or working class and do not abandon the memories of their parents and grandparents. Instead of saying, “I made it ; tough luck for you,” the huge majority of American philanthropists have told me that this great country helped “make me what I am,” and “I wish to help this terrific community assist others.” American exceptionalism is encouraged, not by blood or aristocracy, but by achievement, good will, and thankfulness.
An quality that is essentialis your belief that an individual can make a difference. Americans possess hope and unsinkable optimism. They spend as much time and money attempting to make America a better place because they have a strong sense of a better future. Progress and improvement are part of the American. One must believe not just in the individual’s ability but also that the future is ours to mold. This is the essence of energy.
Scott Cooper Miami and the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Americans embrace capitalism and entrepreneurialism and reward success. We hold dear the idea of promoting opportunity, bettering loved ones and one’s self. The dream of prosperity through achievement was made to be shared by all. For both donors and recipients, the flexibility of American philanthropy and the strong belief in individual ability has opened a vast new range of previously unthinkable possibilities for making a difference. Countless Americans have seized upon this chance to create tens of thousands of nonprofit organizations which are the charitable expressions of American entrepreneurialism and, in their own teeming amounts, a stark example of exceptional charitable entrepreneurship. Bill and Melinda Gates, for instance, have led the drive to initiatives and fund research focused on epidemics. Additionally, the Gates Foundation has given another $124 million to other global health issues. The idea of such a large, complex enterprise being led by the private philanthropic sector with minimum aid from the government is virtually unthinkable in other countries. Our interviews with European philanthropists confirmed that the standard of giving for philanthropists in Europe is lower than in america. One of Germany’s leading philanthropists, with a net worth of over 300 million Euros (about 360 million U.S. dollars), told us that he gives the initiative he holds most dear an yearly contribution of 10,000 Euros (about 12,000 U.S. dollars). While no kind of individual generosity should be minimized, in America this philanthropist would not be seen as either generous or prominent.
In Europe, government is responsible for the support that, in America is left to philanthropists and the public sector. European philanthropists often see nothing wrong with the notion that helping folks should be almost solely the responsibility of government. Whereas most Americans strongly endorse the role of private donations in caring for the needy. Numerous European philanthropists, when asked about the way their American counterparts address human needs, protested: “But that is the function of the government.” In America, our philanthropic system is thoroughly entwined with our commitment to democracy. Additionally, with our beliefs in limits on government on the other. We understand the need for authorities to take the lead in which defense, the judicial system, and basic governance are concerned. But when she conducted a series of interviews with philanthropists as Francie Ostrower discovered the following. American donors do not think that means they have no responsibility toward their fellow citizens:
It would be tough to discover a set of topics that elicit comments and uniform as those regarding government and philanthropy. For instance, donors emphatically rejected a hypothetical proposal which would eliminate the tax incentive for giving, and have government use the increased revenue to support the types of welfare and cultural activities that have benefited from philanthropy. Virtually everybody (90.4 percent) expressed resistance, including such comments as, “I’d absolutely hate that,” “that would be dreadful,” “I think it would be miserable,” and “that’s socialism.”
These donors aren’t opposed to helping the destitute; they just don’t think that providing this type of help is entirely the government’s responsibility, and they do not believe government is very effective. According to Scott Cooper Miami, “Between the red tape and all the rest of it … it only goes through too many people, a lot of committees, too many-too many everything! When it does, it’s not too amazing. I am against it.” The belief in the value of decentralization, and this American skepticism about big, centralized government, is borne out in our giving. Following the attacks of September 11, Americans didn’t await the government to begin providing victims with aid. Individual Americans donated “a record $1.4 billion to 240 separate terror associated nonprofits. In just ten weeks, 60 percent of American adults contributed something, no matter income,” Newsweek reported. New groups such as the September 11th Foundation were quickly established and existing ones like the Red Cross set up funds. Disaster relief was not seen by Americans as solely the task of the government. They acted on it and felt a personal responsibility to assist the victims. After Madrid was attacked, nothing comparable occurred in Spain.
Many institutions in other advanced countries are almost exclusively government funded. This includes hospitals and schools. In America they belong to the private sector. Health in America receives only 41 percent of its revenues from the government, compared to 80 percent in France, 91 percent in the Netherlands, 94 percent in Germany, and 81 percent in Belgium. Americans donate over $13.5 billion compared to below $2.5 billion in France and under $275 million in the Netherlands (0 percent of health-sector earnings comes from philanthropic dollars in Germany). Rather than disperse and tax, Americans prefer to reach and give. We don’t deny the government any role in education, health, or care for the elderly, but we are unwilling to turn these areas over wholesale to the public sector. Our democratic intentions reflect the majority’s will to handle as many of society’s needs as possible through our generosity, while recognizing the right role of government.
We can analyze the American difference in philanthropy through a number of lenses. Such as how much Americans give away compared to our vast system of nonprofits, etc. We can learn from the philanthropists themselves about American exceptionalism in philanthropy. We have interviewed hundreds of major philanthropists throughout america. Their words tell a vivid story. Philanthropists will frequently say that they owe their prosperity. They never dismiss the role of hard work, dedication, and entrepreneurial ability. But they also know that many people work as hard as they do, take risks, and have good ideas. Business people who are philanthropists realize that they were in the “right place at the ideal time.” Others call it providence or fate though some would call it luck. Most Americans see in their life paths an intersection of individualism and faith. They believe in a power and in both one’s own abilities beyond the person. As a result, most philanthropists are both humble and proud, and grateful for their economic well-being.
The support and opportunity found in American society play a key role in wealth-creation and explain why philanthropists often say, “I wish to give something back.” American exceptionalism embodies the desire to nurture the society which provides us all a chance. Almost all people who make it in American society realize the religion they practiced did not close off opportunities and that the class of their arrival did not hold them back. Additionally it is common to hear philanthropists say they “want to make a difference.” Help an institution fulfill its mission, they wish to enhance the quality of life, or fundamentally change a individual, a group, or even society as a whole. Embedded in the desire to create a difference is the belief that one person can make a difference. What the philanthropist does matters. The spirit that drives entrepreneurialism-the expansive awareness of possibility-characterizes many philanthropists’ beliefs.
Democracy teaches that any citizen can become every individual vote matters and a leader in the selection of our leaders. And just as actions and human choice matter in our political system, so they do also in our philanthropy. Any individual can make a difference through existing institutions and programs. Alternatively, they can create a new program or institution if a requirement is seen. The actual world in is, of course, imperfect. Choice means that. Our research demonstrates that a majority of students attend public institutions. These individuals go to universities which already enjoy huge endowments. Some areas of need might be under-funded by philanthropists. This is because there is not a fit between the donor choice and social needs. According to Scott Cooper of Miami, cynics are wrong to contend that people just give to get recognition-to have their name to make themselves look good or feel. Misguided explanations of American giving include business reasons etc. Maybe these motivations apply to more people and to some people the majority of the time some of the time. But these are not the reasons people give of the time. Most importantly, critics charge tax incentives but tax incentives are long pre-dated by our philanthropic tradition. Those incentives did not create our impulses. Rather, we made the tax incentives to support our commitment. Daniel Rose agrees. “Gifts are deductible because Americans contribute and because our government, which regards the charitable world as its partner, wants to encourage private charitable giving.”! By way of instance, by that point, Harvard already enjoyed a multi million-dollar endowment.
Why is America the great philanthropist? It’s all about American Exceptionalism
The system of American philanthropists are unlike any in the world, says Scott Cooper Miami. Here, giving is a civic obligation, embedded in a set of values grounded in a Judeo-Christian culture. American philanthropy includes ten of a network of organizations dedicated to the improvement of life and millions of contributors. Philanthropy touches every aspect of our lives – education, health, the environment and public affairs. In the spirit of American exceptionalism, we believe that the system, as good as it is, can always do better. How do philanthropists make sure that their contributions are used? Furthermore, how can we avoid funding duplicative jobs? Additionally, how can we ensure that society’s demands and philanthropists’ options of donations fit together? Lastly, how do Americans support government efforts to offer security in times of threat?
We also want to be the best philanthropists as Americans try to be better citizens, entrepreneurs, and parents. We demand from ourselves that we be exceptional philanthropists: creative, educated, deliberate, thoughtful, and powerful. Fortunately, with the soul of democracy and liberty, we expect that tomorrow’s giving can transcend even yesterday’s exceptional good works.