S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.0211.giving.htm

Report: South needs to be smarter about giving
By Andy Brack, Publisher

FEB. 11, 2007 -- Southerners are a generous people who give more to good causes than folks in any other region of the country. But according to a new report, this Southern giving mostly is charity - giving to relieve immediate distress - as opposed to philanthropy, which is financial support of good causes that invest in solutions for bigger problems.

The difference is highlighted in Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan, explains Ferrel Guillory of the University of North Carolina. In the story, thugs attacked a man, robbed him and left him to die by a road. Two men, including a priest, saw him, but scurried away. Then came a Samaritan, whose people had a general antipathy for Jews like the hurt man. But the Samaritan stopped and helped. He even took the injured man to an inn to recover and paid the innkeeper for expenses.

"The Good Samaritan is a wonderful guy," said Guillory, one of the authors of the State of the South 2007 report on using philanthropy to help attack persistent Southern challenges. "But who is policing the road? Sooner or later, you've got to get into who is policing the road and that is what philanthropy is about."

The South, which has grown by more than 20 million people since 1980 into an economic powerhouse of 74 million people, is ready to be smarter about how it invests in society, the report says.

"We are full of Samaritans in the South, but now we've got an opportunity because we are a more affluent society," Guillory said. "So we can afford to begin to aggregate our money through foundations and non-profits to do the research and find the projects that will go deeper into helping society."

In the five years starting in 1998, the percentage of Southerners who filed tax returns showing gross incomes of $200,000 or more grew 8.5 percent. In 2003, some 521,000 Southerners filed returns at that level, the report said. But while the South has more wealthy people, there still are a large number of Southerners who live on the edge. Some 40 percent of people in the South earn less than $31,000 a year - - an amount to qualify them as poor or part of the "working poor."

Targeted, smart investment by foundations and nonprofits into projects that look at longer-term solutions can really help the region deal with lingering problems like poverty, lower educational attainment, health issues and more.


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Two South Carolina examples showcase the benefits of this so-called "strategic philanthropy:"

Palmetto Institute. The report mentions South Carolina's Darla Moore, whose donations helped to create the Palmetto Institute which seeks to increase per capita income for South Carolina families. "Palmetto-sponsored research has prodded South Carolina to revise its economic development strategies and make important reforms in technical education," the report said.

Riley Institute. In the Upstate, Furman University's Riley Institute last year received a $600,000 grant from the Hewlett Foundation to study the state's public education system. Recommendations are expected in the coming months that may revolutionize the way the state provides and thinks about education.

This year's State of the South report recognizes the powerful engine of change that philanthropy can provide. It showcases how non-governmental organizations can be flexible and creative to promote change.

The report is a call to action for non-governmental entities to think bigger and with longer-term goals. It suggests that Southern foundations and non-profits concentrate on transformative strategies that improve education, increase the region's competitiveness, attack continuing poverty, reduce inequities and make the region's people healthier.

"There are limits to what government and private markets can do," Guillory noted. "We're stronger as a region. We're not the beat upon, isolated, out-of-synch region we used to be. Now it's time for us to be stepping up."

You can read the full report by MDC Inc. at www.mdcinc.com. You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of S.C. Statehouse Report, at brack@statehousereport.com.

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