Every holiday season in America, as Thanksgiving fades and turkey sandwiches give way to Christmas trees and candy canes, Americans unleash an immense flow of charitable donations. For charities, it’s the busiest time of the year: Salvation Army bell ringers man their corners; workplace pledge drives abound.
The urge to give that is awakened around this time is an important one: Philanthropy plays a crucial role in American society, providing funding for a vast array of services. Giving also connects us as a culture: According to a study by the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, nearly two-thirds of all Americans gave to charity in 2008. American charities took in nearly $300 billion in 2010.