Princeton Prof. Peter Singer was quoted in a December 7 New York Times article, “Making a Difference in This Season of Giving,” that made the case that we all need to step up our giving levels in order to make a dent in the issues that confront us.
Those who follow Peter Singer’s arguments are not surprised to hear his pitch for Americans to give in the developing world where the needs are huge and a dollar goes a long way.
But the Community Foundation is a strong advocate for giving where you live. Here’s why:
While it may be cheap to buy a well in Kenya, when you invest locally you help better the community you live in. In addition to providing much needed support, you are also investing in the intangibles that make communities wonderful, among them here in central NJ, the chance to learn, play, work, and solve problems with people from different backgrounds and life circumstances.
Investing in our local nonprofits is investing in local small business. The region’s nonprofits employ people, they buy goods and services, and they contribute in many ways. It may not seem as cheap or as easy as buying a well in Africa but investing in your own community brings many rewards, for those in need and also for you, for the local economy and for everyone you know and many you don’t. Even if those in need are not in your immediate neighborhood, we are all part of a larger community and we impact each other. The smart, professional, talented people who work in our nonprofit sector do so because they (and we) believe deeply in this place we call home.
Bringing clean water to communities in the developing world is important, its impact is critical to life itself. But so is solving big local problems like domestic violence or crumbling schools or disengaged voters. These are hard issues all worth fighting for and worth our collective investment. Working locally requires us to use face-to-face skills – cooperation, trust, collaboration, selflessness, empathy.
At the Community Foundation we spend our lives finding and encouraging the best, most impactful work being done in the area. Through Greater Mercer Grants and the Fund for Women and Girls we support the organizations that build a better quality of life for those in need, make our communities stronger and more connected, and bring forward the issues that impact all of us.
Being generous at home shows commitment to your community, encourages your neighbors, builds a stronger local economy, increases civic pride, and teaches our children what’s important. Writing a check to a far-off place will help solve some global problems, but it won’t allow you to look in the face of those you are helping and give very personal thanks for whatever the blessings of your life are.