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Impactful Philanthropy: Proximity is the key

Lakeland & Polk County are special. Dating all the way back to 2012, Lakeland and Winter Haven ranked near the top of Florida Cities for giving with an average of 5.2% of Taxpayers’ AGI going toward Charitable Contributions. (Ledger) Even relative to other countries the US is a giving place. Our 1.44% of GDP donated to charities was 82% higher than the second most giving country as of 2016 (CAF). In total, there are approximately 1.3 to 1.8 million 501(c)(3) organizations based in the United States.

With so much funding, so many needs, and so many choices, what sets the most effective organizations apart? To me, something my father told me growing up has stuck with me and guides my view of effective philanthropy: “Those in best position to solve a problem are those closest to it”. My view of effective philanthropy is not to take away from the good work done by large national organizations, but I believe it is nevertheless supported by a rational analysis of the incredible work done by our communities’ local charities hyper-focused on individual needs despite constrained budgets.

My wife Emily and I have internalized this worldview and focused our philanthropic efforts in one area, animals, and one organization in specific, SPCA Florida. Despite growing up with a disdain for felines (and an allergy to them!), I’m now proudly a cat dad of two, and my wife and I have fostered nearly 100 SPCA kittens until they were ready for adoption. My team at Allen & Company has additionally enjoyed the opportunity to serve as a sponsor of their annual fundraising Gala and introduce our friends to their programs. Executive Director Shelley Thayer and her team at SPCA Florida are a great example of maximizing finite resources and serving hyper-local community needs. Our cats have become an integral part of our lives, and along with it, animals have become the center of our giving.

There is no one charitable organization that will speak to everyone, but there is one that will speak to you. All you have to do is listen…

January 2024

Sources:  Charities Aid Foundation (Gross Domestic Philanthropy: An international analysis of GDP, tax and giving)-January 2016), Foundation Group (50 Nonprofit Facts and Statistics-September 2021) and (Nonprofit Statistics, Facts, and Figures to Consider 2024-September 2023)



Chris Hammond 

Chris Hammond

The Chartered Financial Analyst credential is considered by many to be the gold standard in investment management designations. The average 4-year commitment and rigor for this designation speaks to the degree of dedication exhibited by its’ candidates. Chris Hammond is a CFA Charterholder.