Donors and fundraisers often use charity and philanthropy to describe their gifts. There is a distinction between the two terms. Charity describes an emotional or spiritual response to suffering that provides immediate results. Philanthropy on the other hand, addresses root causes of suffering and provides longer term solutions.
Charity can provide quick and cost effective results (e.g. serving a meal made with donated food). Philanthropy requires longer term strategic solutions that are often expensive on a per capita calculation. Because of these differences, Philanthropy and Charity attract different types of donors.
United Way of the Cape Fear Area (UWCFA) began as a charitable organization almost 80 years ago. UWCFA made a strategic shift in 2005 with the change to a Community Impact model. UWCFA now strives to find a healthy balance between charity and philanthropy. Our organization often refers to this as a balance between proactive and reactive programming.
UWCFA finds this balance in Community Impact investments. For example, if UWCFA provides funding for rental assistance, our partners link that charitable action to “life skills” programs to help the family avoid ending up in the same situation the following month. Other programs begin with addressing the root cause (e.g. employability, literacy, etc.…) and subsequently, connect their clients with other more charitable services during their program stay.
Our community has come a long way during my tenure at UWCFA. Partnerships between nonprofits, churches, government and for profits have changed many lives, but we most likely always need a safety net of charitable services. Disasters, for example, can quickly disrupt the balance of programming. After Florence, our community had to react in a charitable way. However, during the Long Term Recovery process, there are many phases that require a philanthropic approach (e.g. mitigation efforts).
Neither approach is better than the other. UWCFA depends on both the combination of smaller charitable gifts across the entire community, as well as more strategic leadership gifts which are intended to address the root causes. We thank our community for your generous support and pride ourselves on helping to make both charity and philanthropy work for your community, company, or church.
Tommy Taylor, born in Mansfield, Ohio, achieved his Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Guilford College, and most recently achieved his Masters in Public Administration from UNCW in 2019. Tommy’s career started as a Crisis and College Counselor at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia. After 4 years, Tommy moved to his favorite vacation spot, Wilmington, North Carolina, and started his new career as the Regional Development Manager for Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. Six years later, after tripling food distribution and doubling revenues, he accepted the Vice President of Community Impact position at the United Way of the Cape Fear Area. Now serving as the CEO, Tommy is thankful to be able to see the good side of the world that many people do not get a chance to experience and to be able to be part of the solutions to our community's deepest problems.
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