Using Merchant Services to Fund Important Causes

                              Quite simply….we believe in helping others by giving back.





The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving,  sometimes referred to as  “Giving Tuesday,” marks the informal start of the charitable season, when many people make a particular point of donating to charity. Two-thirds of American households give some money to charitable causes each year, and 63 million adults give of their time to charities as unpaid volunteers. If you’re in either camp (they overlap significantly), you probably subscribe to the notion that charity blesses those who give as well as those who get.

                          And an old Chinese proverb offers such advice:

If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.

If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody else.

     Researchers have found notable correlations between charitable giving and happiness. The 2001 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, a major source of information on civic activity, indicates that people who donate to charity were 43 percent more likely to say they are “very happy” than non-givers, while non-givers are more than three times as likely to say they were “not happy at all.”

     America’s philanthropic culture has amazed foreign observers for generations. In the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville famously marveled at Americans’ “innumerable multitude” of charitable endeavors: “The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries,” he wrote. Eighteen decades later, the German-born British journalist Matt Frei expressed similar astonishment: “Americans give to schools, hospitals, libraries, galleries, and the poor like no other country in the world,” he noted with awe on BBC. “Americans, wealthy and not so wealthy, are giving their dollars away by the lorry load.”

     Clearly there are better and worse ways to donate one’s money and time; and clearly those who help the poor, sick, and hungry should be praised and emulated.

     Some believe and we agree that Karl Zinsmeister, editor of the Almanac of American Philanthropy, makes a better argument. We note this because he persuasively refutes the idea that only generosity aimed directly at the poor should count as philanthropic. That attitude, he writes in the lyrical introduction to the almanac’s 2017 edition, “is astoundingly narrow and short-sighted.”

     For starters, he notes, direct aid is only one way to help the poor. He cites the example of George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak photography company, who donated tens of millions of dollars to higher education, transforming the University of Rochester and MIT into top-tier research institutions and sustaining Tuskegee, Hampton, and other historically black colleges for decades. In so doing, he contributed to the knowledge, prosperity, and advancement of tens of thousands of individuals across the social spectrum — and through them and their achievements, arguably to the welfare of millions of human beings.


     At SDPS, we believe American philanthropy comes in more varieties, supports more ventures, and has done more good than most industrious teams of researchers could ever fully tally. Yes, some charities are of dubious worth. Taken as a whole, private giving in America has been one of history’s greatest engines of progress, kindness, and uplift.


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