Focus On Benevolence

"Do all the good you can, all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."

That's the Methodist motto (shortened version) that Hillary Clinton grew up with, and that's the message she and the president are extending Friday, as they address a White House conference on charitable giving.

The Clintons are co-sponsoring the "White House Conference on Philanthropy: Gifts to the Future," along with the National Endowment of the Humanities. Their goal is to ensure that future generations continue the tradition of philanthropy in America.

Together with the founder of America Online, the president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and actor Paul Newman, they'll examine how to help others more effectively in the coming decades.

Several recent economic, demographic and technological advances and trends have made this an important time to focus on charitable giving, such as:

  • Giving has reached a new high, rising more than 10 percent in 1998, the third consecutive year in which giving increased.
  • Dramatic gifts from some of America's wealthiest citizens have drawn new attention to philanthropy and inspired debate about appropriate giving levels.
  • At the same time, there is a growing recognition that as the demographic profile of the United States changes, giving by African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other people of color is essential to the long-term health of the nonprofit sector and the expansion of our collective philanthropic tradition.
  • Just as the strongest economy in a generation has produced unprecedented new wealth, the baby boom generation is poised to inherit $12 trillion from their parents.
  • New technology is creating new avenues for giving, through for-profit and nonprofit Internet sites.
President Clinton will announce that he is creating a new task force to support collaboration between the nonprofit sector and government.

The program will be broadcast via satellite and shown later on public television.

The 10 largest U.S. philanthropies, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy are:

  • 1. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, $18 billion endowment.
  • 2. Lilly Endowment, more than $15 billion.
  • 3. Ford Foundation, $10.7 billion.
  • 4. David and Lucile Packard Foundation, $9.6 billion.
  • 5. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, $7.8 billion.
  • 6. W.K. Kellogg Foundation, $6 billion.
  • 7. Pew Charitable Trusts, $4.7 billion.
  • 8. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, $4.1 billion.
  • 9. Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, $3.7 billion.
  • 10. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, $3.3 billion.