Government and giving

I was going to title this post, "Michelle and me." You see, I (and 10 million+ others or so) just got an email from Michelle Obama asking me to give to charity this holiday season. Here's my personal email from Mrs. Obama:

"Lucy --

This holiday season, the grassroots movement you helped build can make a big difference for those in need.

I hope you will join me in supporting your favorite charity or contributing to causes that are especially meaningful to me and my family.

While many of us will spend the holidays counting our blessings and sharing dinner with loved ones, millions of people around the country won't be so fortunate. Donating to your local food bank will help provide a holiday meal to people in your community who can't afford one.

Talking with the families of deployed troops was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during the campaign. Giving to Operation USO Care Package is a great way to send members of our military stationed around the world a reminder that someone back home is thinking of them.

This is a time to celebrate our blessings, the new year, and a new era for our country. But it's also a time to come together on behalf of those who need our help.

Do what you can to help today by locating your local food bank and giving your support:

Or send a care package to an American in uniform:

Thank you for all that you do and have a very happy holiday season,

So, this is all well and good. I'm proud to participate and every fundraiser knows how important the "ask" is.

However, let me also point out the obvious. I'm on this particular email list because I voted for (and donated to) change. Two changes in particular that I'd like to see:
  1. Food policy, jobs, and a safety net that minimize the demand on food banks, and
  2. Fewer troops overseas in need of care packages.
So, yes, I give, but my gifts won't bring about either item 1 or 2 above. Those will only come from policy change. I've been giving as much money and time as I can. And I vote, and I'm watching, and I'll keep voting and keep watching and keep giving and keep working. Because its not all going to come from individuals, nonprofits or donors, and its not all going to come from government, and its not all going to come from the private sector. It's all got to come by all of that coming together.

And so I hope that all of us, as we give, consider how those gifts sit in light of our own understanding of where philanthropy meets policy, where government meets giving, and where private commerce fits in to all of it. Where we see those things now and where we want them to be - for they are shifting, or, dare I say, changing.

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