Pleasanton Weekly

- November 29, 2013

Pleasanton in top 3% for charitable giving

Holiday Fund great way to get started in philanthropy

by Gary Alt

Philanthropy is often an integral part of an overall wealth plan because those who've been blessed find ways to make a positive impact in the world.

It's no surprise then that Pleasanton ranks 316 out of 11,522 U.S. cities for charitable giving, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. That puts us in the top 3% nationwide, a testament to the quality of people who've chosen to make this city their home. It's worth looking closer at why we give so generously.

We've been blessed

When you look at everything we have in Pleasanton, it's easy to find many things to be grateful for:

* Schools that rank among the highest in the state and in the nation.

* A healthy housing market, weathering the recession better than many of our neighbors.

* Household incomes that are among the highest in the nation for cities of our size.

* Youth sports leagues for almost every team sport with coaches who volunteer countless hours of their personal time.

* An enchanting downtown area that continues to attract quality retailers and entertainment.

* Cultural activities at the Firehouse Arts Center, and free community events such as the First Wednesday street parties, Friday night concerts in the park, free movies in the park and free Shakespeare in the park.

* A beautiful park system, including Augustin Bernal Park atop Pleasanton Ridge.

Happier people give more

Research by Harvard Business School found that happier people give more, and giving makes people happier, creating a positive feedback loop. I continually hear how friendly the people in Pleasanton are. That's not to say we don't have our political or neighborhood squabbles from time to time, but overall we're happy people who like to make good things happen.

Other research has shown emotional, spiritual and even physical health benefits that come from contributing meaningfully to the lives of others. Some simply think of it as "good karma," believing that whatever we give to help others will eventually be returned to us.

Regardless of the research, charitable giving makes us feel good, and it makes sense.

But we're not all prospering

For the most part we don't see poverty here, but there are Pleasanton families who are silently struggling to make ends meet, due to tragedy, severe illness, job loss or any other setbacks. In some cases, basic family needs aren't being met. Many are looking to improve their situation, but don't have the means to pay escalating college costs.

The Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund

With so many needs in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley, a donation to the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund is a great way to get started in philanthropy or to expand the reach of your current plans. Seeing the positive impact in our own backyard is especially rewarding.

Sure, there are tax breaks for many who donate, but the primary motivation is to help others. We give because we recognize our blessings, we have compassion for those less fortunate, and helping others makes us happier.

Gary E.D. Alt is co-founder of Monterey Private Wealth in Pleasanton. Send questions or comments to gary@montereypw.com/

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