Column: Atlanta is ranked No. 4 city in the nation for philanthropy

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on October 31, 2014

When the Atlanta community convened for National Philanthropy Day on Oct. 28 at the Georgia Aquarium, it also celebrated the latest ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy stating that Atlanta is the fourth most generous city in the United States.

Alicia Philipp, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta – the title sponsor of National Philanthropy Day, said the publication ranked the 50 largest metro areas in the United States and determined that Atlanta was fourth in generosity.

The Chronicle also said that philanthropy was on the rise in Atlanta – increasing by 6.5 percent from 2006 through 2012.

“This is your accomplishment; your passion for philanthropy; your hard work and dedication; your love for this region – that’s why Atlanta is No. 4 in the nation,” Philipp told the luncheon gathering. And then she challenged all of them “to work our butts off to be No. 1 – to be the most generous region in our nation.”

The three most generous cities in the United States, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, are Salt Lake City, Memphis, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala.

According to the article in the Oct. 5 edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Atlanta’s giving bucks the “Bible-Belt Trend” of giving in the South with strong contributions to “more secular causes like environmental protection, health care, and public education.”

Although metro Atlanta was particularly hard hit by the economic recession, the Chronicle found that unlike many other cities, giving in Atlanta increased.

“Federal tax data analyzed by ‘The Chronicle of Philanthropy’ showed that in Atlanta, individual giving increased by more than $465 million from 2006 to 2012,” the Chronicle reported. “Atlantans gave roughly 4 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity in 2012, which ranks the city fourth nationally among large metropolitan areas.”

The publication also mentioned the number of major nonprofits that are headquartered in Atlanta — Task Force for Global Health, the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity International, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and CARE — all examples of charities built around secular missions. The charities also have strong partnerships with corporate donors, including the Home Depot and the Coca-Cola Co.

In her role at the Community Foundation, Philipp said, “I have seen what amazing things we can accomplish together through the power of philanthropy to benefit and improve communities in the 23-county metro Atlanta area.”

Philanthropist of the Year

The National Philanthropy Day luncheon is put on by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater Atlanta Chapter and the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta to honor people who have given of themselves to the community.

Jennifer Bennecke was honored as the Philanthropic Leader of Tomorrow for her work with the Junior League of Atlanta, the Atlanta Speech School, the Community Foundation and the Foster Care Support Foundation Board (see photos of the event on Page 6A, The Insider).

Tom Chapman, retired CEO of Equifax, was named 2014 Philanthropist of the year for his contributions to cancer-related causes at Piedmont Hospital and to the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education. Chapman, and his wife, Karen, also have supported the Marcus Autism Center.

The most emotional moment of the luncheon, however, was during the award of the 2014 Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year, which was awarded to Rabbi Alvin Sugarman.

In his introduction of Sugarman, Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, said that when he and his wife, Billi, moved to Atlanta they had no rabbi. It took some time to get used to a rabbi with a Southern accent, but “he was so easy to be with, so accommodating.”

Marcus said Sugarman had no idea what business they were in, maybe something to do with trains because of the depot name. “He’s been my rabbi through bad times and good times,” Marcus said, his voice cracking at several points when talking about the many causes Sugarman has embraced and raised money for.

Sugarman, who recently has faced his own health issues, said he was only 5 years old when he last saw his mother alive on Dec. 23, 1943. He was raised by his father, and his uncle, Sam, who was the most giving and caring human being alive. “My father used to say: ‘Be like Sam, not me.'”

Rabbi Sugarman took that to heart, seeing first-hand the chaos in society, and how it is totally unfair, and makes no sense whatsoever. “I know there’s a reason we walk this earth,” he told the audience. “Each of us is a tiny spec on this beautiful blue orb. Each of us has power beyond belief to change the lives of those we come into contact with.”

Junior Achievement and Fulton County Schools

Fulton County Schools and Junior Achievement of Georgia will be joining forces to establish a Magnet Business Academy at Benjamin Banneker High School in College Park.

“It’s the worst performing high school we have,” said Robert Avossa, superintendent of Fulton County Schools. “The big takeaway is that the business community has the know-how and the resources to help us solve very big issues. This will be another opportunity for corporate America to help us solve complex issues.”

Banneker High School currently graduates 42 percent of its students, far below the county and the state average.

Avossa said the school also is starting programs in the movie industry and the culinary arts to try to keep students in school. He envisions students combining those studies with the business curriculum. “We are trying to create opportunities for these children,” Avossa said. “I think it’s going to be extremely popular. I think it’s something the community can be proud of.”

Jack Harris, president of JA of Georgia, said the idea for the magnet program grew out of the JA Discovery Center at the Georgia World Congress Center. It was a way to help students who experienced the Discovery Center in Middle School to immerse themselves in business studies in High School.

The Banneker Magnet Business Academy will begin in the fall of 2015 for 150 rising 9th graders, and a new class will be added each year until the program reaches 600 students.

It would be open to all Fulton County students, but two-thirds would come from the Banneker school district.

“What’s so cool is that all those rising 9th graders would have already experienced the Discovery Center last year so they would have an idea of what Junior Achievement offers,” Harris said. “The timing did work out perfectly.”

Senior Connections

Senior Connections has appointed UPS executive Roger Whitson to its board.

Whitson is managing director of supply chain optimization for the UPS Customer Solutions Group.

“Roger brings great expertise in logistic, supply chain and delivery management,” said Debra Furtado, CEO of Senior Connections. “His experience in these disciplines will be of great help for us in our continued effort to provide essential home and community-based care to seniors in our community.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.