Jane Wales, Vice President of the Aspen Institute, and Co-chair of the GenerosityCommission.org, discusses their Insight Report on changing giving trends. The report explores the decline in everyday giving and volunteering over the years and its potential impact on society. Jane describes the Commission’s purpose as “A group of 17 leaders from across the social sector, ranging from private sector perspectives to nonprofit leaders. Our goal is to understand the declining trends in giving and volunteering, and how it affects our society and democracy”.
The report emphasizes the importance of understanding generosity in a broader context, beyond just giving to nonprofits, as there is an increase in direct, unmediated giving and volunteering through digital platforms and mutual aid networks. Jane also highlights how social connectedness through giving and volunteering can lead to greater societal resilience and emphasized the need to redefine what an everyday giver and volunteer means, going beyond financial wealth and focusing on community engagement. Amplifying on their findings of a connection between prosocial behavior and civic engagement Jane explains “Our research found that people who engage in prosocial behavior, such as volunteering or serving on a jury, are more likely to register to vote for the first time. This suggests that one act of social connectedness leads to others, and it is essential to encourage civic engagement.”
The Commission aims to stimulate an ongoing national conversation on this topic and encourages people to visit their website for more information and future updates on their research.