Young hands grasp the hands of an older person

Liam – November 20, 2018

This time of the year is rife with cozy sweaters, pumpkin-spiced everything and giving thanks. It’s also rife with opportunities to give to charity. There is no shortage of end-of-year asks from every kind of non-profit or charitable organization. My email inbox is filled with them; so is my mailbox. My wife, Kim, gets frustrated by it.

“How are we expected to give money to everything?” We’re not, I tell her. We have to choose the causes closest to us. We have to consider where we can make the greatest impact. “Whatever,” she’ll reply. “Just tell me whom to make the check out to.” Then I remind her that we can donate online and she cools off.

pumpkin-shaped mugs with steam coming from the sit on a table with real pumpkins.

This time of year inspires pumpkin-spiced everything, but more importantly, it is a time of giving thanks and charitable giving.

To be clear, my wife is not a Scrooge, a Grinch or a Potter. It’s that she handles our financing and I make it hard for her to keep up because I get a little loose with the digital (and analog) check book this time of year. I liken it to my heritage. The Danes, globally speaking, are big on velgørenhed – charity.

Each year, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) conducts a study on how charitable the world is. The CAF World Giving Index 2018 was released in October, and Denmark made a strong showing at #24 out of 146 countries with 46 percent of the population having either helped a stranger, donated money or volunteered time. The most charitable country this year? Indonesia. The U.S. came in at #4 behind Australia and New Zealand, respectively.

While being #24 is nothing to scoff at, it would have been nice if Denmark had broken the Top 20, which is where it was four years ago. But statistics being malleable, Denmark does sit at #20 in the CAF World Giving Index’s five-year ranking with a score of 45 percent. Breaking the numbers down even more, the Danes scored a 56 percent in financial donations, landing at #16. The majority of charitable efforts in Denmark, as is the case in almost all countries, is helping strangers. Here, Denmark scored a 58 percent.

The importance of velgørenhed was not lost on the founders of The Danish Home of Chicago, one of whom was my Fafa Izzy. Built to help aging Danes, and later folks of all backgrounds, an essential goal back in 1891 was to offer financial assistance to residents who had exhausted all other fiscal means. That legacy continues today through The Danish Home Foundation.

A man in a suit speaks into a microphone in front of seated guests.

Friend and supporter Peter Ørum made an impassioned plea at The Danish Home’s annual benefit to give to “Our Future in Focus” now.

But the Foundation can’t cover all the needs of the Home. That’s where “Our Future in Focus” comes in to play. This capital campaign aims to raise a total of $10.5 million, $8.5 million of which is for building improvements. These improvements include a new, spacious dining room overlooking the garden as well as new suites on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. The money raised during this campaign will also help fund The Danish Home’s programs, events, outings and charitable care.

It’s not my job to appeal to your good, generous nature; I’m only telling you this because ’tis the season of velgørenhed, and velgørenhed is what Danes do pretty well.