Philanthropy Roundtable President and CEO Elise Westhoff recently spoke with Amway Co-Chairman Doug DeVos on his “Believe!” podcast. Their conversation centered on the role of philanthropy in civil society, and the Roundtable’s work to promote America’s founding principles, provide pathways to opportunity and build strong communities – even amid a push for more regulations on charitable giving.
“America is the most generous country in the world,” Westhoff said. “This country was built on the idea of private solutions, voluntary action to solve problems. … We’re built on that idea of neighbor helping neighbor. That’s the way we approach things.”
Westhoff highlighted the importance of charitable organizations in meeting local needs and helping people overcome challenges, including in areas such as education and workforce development.
“That’s what really inspires me about philanthropy and about charitable institutions. They can help provide those pathways to opportunity for every person to achieve the American dream,” she said.
Nevertheless, despite record-breaking charitable giving numbers in 2020, Westhoff cited efforts on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures to place additional burdens on nonprofit organizations … and on those who give to causes they believe in.
“This is going to end up hurting people on the ground who are in need, and that’s why we’re concerned about it,” she said. “We want to spark more generosity and encourage more giving, not force people to give on a certain timeline or in a certain way, which ultimately means less money going into charitable causes.”
Despite that, Westhoff reiterated the power of philanthropy in improving lives, especially during times of crisis for the country, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In a time of crisis, you often feel lost,” she said. “[Philanthropy] is a way to actually put that hopelessness into action and make a difference. That’s something that brings joy and happiness to the people who are givers and the people who are receiving. No matter how much money you have … you can find a way to be involved and to help people who are in need.”
To listen to the full episode entitled “Why is charity under attack,” visit “Believe!”