Published: Feb 07, 2009 12:30 AM
Modified: Feb 07, 2009 01:44 AM
While the Triangle has long been rated one of the best places in the United States to live, it consistently ranks behind similar-sized metropolitan areas in charitable giving. So says a 2008 report commissioned by the Triangle Community Foundation.
"We in the Triangle don't fall short because we don't care," says Andrea Bazan, foundation president. "We fall short because of a lack of connectedness."
On Thursday, members of the foundation and the local business community gathered at the Central Park School for Children in Durham to introduce a new Web site they hope will remedy the problem.
Part social-networking tool, part online matchmaking service, www.trianglegivesback.com
allows volunteers and donors to find and engage with whatever local nonprofit or philanthropic organizations pique their interest.
Adopting some of the same features as popular networking sites like Facebook, users who set up a profile will be able to track and receive news pertaining to any organizations or users they choose to link to.
"The goal is to build up a community around similar interests," said Bazan.
Eighty-seven of the Triangle's estimated 5,200 nonprofit and philanthropic organizations have signed up for profiles since the site went live last week.
The community and business leaders behind the effort also hope that the increased access to nonprofits will inspire members of the business sector to increase their charitable donations.
According to the report, the Triangle's less affluent residents give a greater share of their annual income to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, but even that lags behind Charlotte and the Triad, where individuals on average give more.
As the nation's economic slump deepens, and the cost of living increases, those residents are finding it more difficult to make ends meet, says the report.
And as they, and members of the corporate sector, have begun to tighten their belts, nonprofits across the country are feeling the crunch.
"Donors have decreased donations or stopped giving altogether, says Bazan.
The Triangle Foundation's own endowment is down 17 percent.
Kevin Trapani, president of the Redwoods insurance group and member of the Triangle Gives Back steering committee, likens the site to jumping over the choir to engage with the people sitting at the back of the church.
"This new economy calls for a new type of philanthropy," he said, referring to the initiative's Call to Action, a blueprint for how to increase giving in the region.
"For-profit businesses, like the rest of us, are a part of this community and bear the same responsibility to ensure that all people living here have equal and fair access to opportunity," he said.
"The need is greater now."
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.