Philanthropy around the world
November 6th, 2006Each culture has its unique expression of philanthropy. The philanthropic traditions of the United States are touted as exemplary wherever I go - and they are! We are very generous in our giving and in our volunteering. I'm still reeling from the news about a woman in Los Angeles who passed away and left the bulk of her estate - $200 million - to the California Community Foundation. What a wonderful gift leaving her community with resources to continue her philanthropy into the future forever!
Certainly the U.S. model is worthy of replication around the globe - to a point. While I was in Italy to speak at the conference celebrating the 15th of the Cariplo Foundation two weeks ago, I had a robust conversation with a foundation leader from Belgium who was frustrated by the fact that when there is an exchange of people from the U.S. visiting our colleagues in Europe, the assumption is that we are the ones "teaching" not learning.
I couldn't agree with him more. I have had the honor of learning from my Italian colleagues about philanthropy in their country and their growth is amazing. Fifteen community foundations now are in existence in the Lombardy region where none existed in 1999! But more importantly is the Italian tradition of helping their families and extended families. The love that is expressed for family is heartening and is not only seen when times are tough, but in everyday living. When I was in Lucca in the Tuscany region 18 months ago on vacation, young people - teenagers - were walking arm in arm with their grandparents sharing the news of the day and just being together.
Philanthropy - we all have so much to learn from all cultures!