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Making It Profitable to Be a Giver

November 11, 1990

As the government at various levels dumps more and more payment for social causes on the private sector, will those "1,000 Points of Light" burn brighter or flicker out?

The article "Is Philanthropy's Clock Ticking Away?" (Oct. 25) says: " . . . the less affluent are more generous than the wealthy." I think I learned this many years ago while serving as personnel officer of a Naval station. Collections for a major charity were handled through my office. The conclusion was that a far higher percentage of sailors contributed, in spite of their very low incomes, than did the officers. Much more recently, in a highly unscientific survey of the daytime residents of many of downtown's street corners, the homeless confirmed that those not wearing a suit were far more likely to help out than those who did.

We have been reminded repeatedly over the past decade of the need to look out for No. 1. If you help out someone else, then you are stripping him of his sense of worth. With rationalizations like these, it becomes very difficult to be a spontaneous giver without thinking of the angles.

Clearly philanthropy can only thrive in this climate if there is profit in it to the giver. Tax incentives must once again be increased. It must be proven to corporate givers that the health of everyone improves the cost of production; that a sound infrastructure reduces wear on vehicles, decreases time of delivery, and reduces stress when all people have access to parks and libraries. Most important of all, if education is vastly improved, the future work force will be able to cope with the heightened demands on it.

FLOYD A. OLIVER

Los Angeles

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