Bolder Giving was started by Anne and Christopher Ellinger, co-authors of the award-winning book We Gave Away a Fortune and founders of More than Money.
As bold givers themselves, with decades of involvement in donor networks, the Ellingers observed how many of their peers were giving far below their capacity. Believing in the power of role models, in 2005 they began to collect giving stories from the many extraordinary donors they personally knew.
The Ellingers felt that the new millennium was a time of historical crisis and opportunity, when a breakthrough of generosity could help turn global problems around:
If affluent households donated as high a proportion of their assets to charity as do the middle class … donations in the U.S. could increase more than $25 billion a year…. Annual expenditures of $19 billion between now and 2015 could eliminate global starvation and malnutrition.
- NewTithing (2006)
Yet they knew that the average charitable giving in the U.S. had remained steady at 2% to 3% of income for sixty years, despite growing wealth and economic inequality of nearly historic proportions. They saw that that people drawn to give more boldly are often isolated – viewed as oddballs by their peers, and chided by financial professionals as being imprudent. (It’s hard to buck the mainstream consumer culture that lauds people who accumulate more and spend more.) What could help change these barriers?
In May 2007, the Ellingers and their small team launched Bolder Giving. Their goal was to encourage would-be bold givers and to publicly celebrate those who were already giving boldly. Their “50% League” was featured in the Chronicle on Philanthropy, People Magazine, CBS news and more. Three years later… breakthrough! Melinda Gates publicly acknowledged the 50% League stories as an inspiration behind the billionaire’s Giving Pledge (which to date, has unleashed over $170 billion in giving commitments). And out of the blue, the Gates Foundation offered Bolder Giving a three-year matching grant to build the capacity to reach a much wider audience.
With this new wind in their sails, in July 2010 the Ellingers and the Bolder Giving Board hired Jason Franklin to head Bolder Giving. Bolder Giving continues to spread its stories and to encourage donors at all levels – especially those with significant discretionary resources – to figure out “how much is enough” and then step up their charitable commitment.
We believe anyone can be a Bold Giver. And we are confident that among the nearly 8 million millionaires in the U.S., many would love to realize their full giving potential were they given sufficient moral and technical support to do so.
Note: Bolder Giving, based in NYC, is an initiative of the Zing Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization based near Boston, Massachusetts. (USA). Zing is a nonprofit organzation and does not make grants.