Giving Sustains Cultural, Educational Institutions in Pittsburgh

With some private foundations still recovering from the Great Recession, many nonprofit organizations in the Pittsburgh region are relying more on individual donations to help make ends meet, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

At the end of the nineteenth century, home-grown titans of industry such as Andrew Carnegie and Richard King Mellon endowed the Steel City with a host of schools and cultural institutions. But philanthropy operated differently back then. "In those days, you had to know someone who knew the wealthy person and make your case," said Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management executive director Peggy M. Outon. "That closed out a lot of people. It's a lot more open than it used to be."

Yet, many nonprofits have difficulty attracting foundation support. Kathy Buechel, senior lecturer and director of the Philanthropy Forum at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, told the Tribune-Review that the needs of the region have reached the point where foundations don't have the resources to keep up.

Acknowledging that individual donors are critical to the health of the region's nonprofit sector, the Pittsburgh Foundation launched its Day of Giving and PittsburghGives Web site in 2011 with a promise to match individual donations to local charities. Through the campaign, the foundation raised nearly $6.5 million from more than 13,600 people. "All the work we're doing with the Day of Giving and PittsburghGives, and the use of social media by nonprofits, is an effort by the Pittsburgh Foundation not only to introduce people to philanthropy in a new way," said the foundation's president and CEO, Grant Oliphant, "but to make nonprofits stronger by helping them tell their stories more effectively."

Bill Zlatos. "Donations Sustain Cultural Offerings in Pittsburgh Region." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 02/12/2012.