Philanthropy leads on urgent issues

By Todd Cohen

Philanthropy is emerging as the leading force in addressing critical problems, and charitable fundraisers increasingly are shaping philanthropy by connecting donors and their diverse resources with social causes.

The growing impact of philanthropy and fundraising was the focus on August 17 of talks by two nonprofit experts at a statewide conference of three North Carolina chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Escalating human poverty and global climate change pose the biggest threats to humanity, fundraising consultant Mal Warwick told more than 550 people at the conference, but fixing those critical problems is not the top priority of government, religious or business institutions.

That is the very purpose of charity, he said, and its effectiveness depends on engaging donors and thinking boldly about solutions.

Tim Burcham, chair-elect of the Association of Fundraising Professionals International, said the charitable sector has become the driving force in policy change, and fundraisers are the engine driving the charitable sector.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960s, Warwick said, he met César Chávez, the advocate for farmworkers and the poor.

“Si, se puede”, Chávez often said, reminding people of their potential to fix problems: Yes, we can.

Tapping that potential is charity’s challenge.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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