I’m wearing a magic cloak that blunts the effects of biting sarcasm from fellow bloggers, so I’m emboldened to say that Warren Buffett’s gift to the Gates Foundation will cement what is for many Americans the archetype of the philanthropist: a wealthy, socially conservative white male considerably past middle age. We know, of course, that Great Givers come in all colors and genders* from every income category, even though their generosity doesn’t often make front page news.
We’re reminded of this when we read contemporary versions of the parable of the widow’s mite, like this Washington Post story on the extraordinary generosity of Thomas Cannon, an African American postal worker who had given away an estimated $150,000 to charity by the time he died.
The African American community has a reputation among fundraisers for being especially generous. On average, blacks donate to charity 25 percent more of their discretionary income than whites. In 2004, African Americans made $11.4 billion in charitable contributions. According to the author of the Post story, “That kind of giving tends to be curiously overlooked by critics who describe their black countrymen as selfish underachievers who lounge around waiting for handouts.”
* Yes, all genders, even the in-between ones.