Back in 1954, the Great Neck Community Fund, got off the ground with $1000 in hand, $3000 in loans, and a small army of volunteers who made approximately 12,000 house to house calls in that first year raising $100,000. Based on that standard and factoring in the consumer price index, between then and now, the fund should raise $600,000. But the yearly contributions have stubbornly hovered between $300,000 and $400,000 in spite of concentrated efforts on the part of dedicated volunteers to boost the numbers.
In a 1999 summary of a national survey conducted by the Independent Sector, a coalition of not-for-profits, charitable trusts and foundations, that provides analyses and technical assistance for philanthropies, it was reported that 70 percent of American households make charitable contributions at an average rate of 2 percent of their income. Religious organizations received the largest share of total contributions, 60 percent, and the largest average contribution, $1,002. Human services was the next largest category receiving 9 percent of total contributions, and an average contribution of $250.
According to the Independent Sector survey, there is a strong link between volunteering time and contributing money to charity. An individual's inclination to give is increased if the person's parents were charitable givers and there was a correlation between voting and giving as well, signifying a pattern of civic mindedness that is consistent.
"Giving to GNCF, contributes to the health and welfare of the total community," says GNCF executive director Michael Larkin. "Last year, we received total numbers of individuals from Great Neck who were served by our member agencies and the number was over 13,000. Now, there may be some overlap of the same person being served by two different agencies, but the goal is to offer people the help that they need."
Seventy-six percent of the people surveyed by the Independent Sector said that they believed that charitable institutions played a major role in making their communities better places to live.
Just imagine our community without CLASP, the Senior Center, the Visiting Nurses Association, and COPAY, just to name a few. With one check, people can make a broad contribution to the vitality and care of the adults and children of Great Neck and North New Hyde Park.
The other significant finding related to giving and volunteering was that 89 percent of people who volunteered for organizations were personally asked. If everyone who gives to GNCF would just ask one other person who doesn't contribute to give this year, we might even exceed our goal. We also have many events, like the 5-mile and 5k run coming up on Nov. 16, that are fun and exciting, and we need many volunteers to help. Again, if you've helped in the past, just ask a friend to join us. There's nothing like the personal touch.
For more information about the work of GNCF, call 482-8101.