Saturday, August 13, 2005
I have been a fund-raising professional for the past 26 years. Having done some amount of fund raising in Steamboat, I appreciated your editorial regarding the onerous condition of "no local fund raising" put upon Horizons by Routt County Commissioners. The commissioners put the condition on Horizons in exchange for allowing the nonprofit a spot on the November ballot for a mill levy to help it with its client waiting list and funding challenges.
This decision is flawed for two reasons. First, philanthropy is entirely donor-driven and not decided by any governmental agency. Furthermore, no organization "owns" its donors or makes their giving decisions for them. In fact, the average American gives to more than 15 nonprofits a year. Secondly, this decision assumes that the giving pie in Routt County, or anywhere, for that matter, is finite, and if Horizons is removed from that pie, it means more donations for the rest of the 200 or so nonprofit organizations here -- very flawed thinking for the above reason and the following.
The publication Giving USA, published by Inde--pendent Sector, the tracking organization that has monitored giving in the United States for several decades, noted that, in 2004, Americans still only give an average of 2 percent of their disposable income to charitable enterprises. In Colorado, it is even less -- only 1.8 percent.
Therefore, while I applaud the commissioners' decision to allow the voters to decide to tax themselves to assist our developmentally disabled friends and neighbors in Routt County, please let Horizons take its case to the philanthropic marketplace. The marketplace will then decide whether Horizons needs or deserves an assist with its charitable donations.