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North Hills Monthly

Pittsburgh – The City of Generosity

May 01, 2017 08:52AM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch

From coast to coast, the U.S. is infused with cities bursting with well-deserving charities including food banks, cultural organizations, animal rescue groups and environmental causes. And Pittsburgh is no different. 

“Pittsburgh is a city that is rich in so many ways,” said Kathy Buechel, director of the Philanthropy Forum GSPIA at the University of Pittsburgh. “We have highly valued arts and academic institutions, culinary establishments that rival those in major cities, and we’re consistently ranked among the top cities in the nation for institutionalized giving.” 

According to Buechel, the city of Pittsburgh has a high percentage of institutional or “foundational” philanthropy. “We are especially well-endowed in this region, but where we rank in generosity compared to other cities depends on the metrics used in any given year,” she explained. For example, in 2013, with median donations of $4.5 million, Pittsburgh ranked #17 in online giving, as compared to 265 cities across the U.S. 

If You Live Here, You Should Give Here

Supporting Pittsburgh’s many nonprofit foundations means supporting the city as a whole. “Donations are so fundamental to the region because it has enabled us to have a significant increase in meeting critical needs in arts, education, and even the health sectors,” said Buechel. “Foundational philanthropy, especially, provides risk capital for us to try new solutions to problems, to bring people together, and to work on problems on a long-term horizon. This is something that the government or even an individual just can’t provide. 

“Community organizations tend to respond faster and more appropriately to the needs of local communities than larger organizations do, and these agencies obtain most of their funding from private donations,” she added. “Local giving, therefore, provides support for the programs which enhance community well-being.”

Who Ranks at the Top?

Pittsburgh has more than 1,400 foundations, with total assets of more than $10.3 billion. An October 2015 report by The Pittsburgh Business Times lists the following five foundations as the largest in the region, ranked in order of highest gross payout based on total assets:

1. Richard King Mellon Foundation

2. The Heinz Endowments 

3. The Pittsburgh Foundation

4. PNC Foundation

5. Hillman Family Foundations

Donate Today

Nonprofits and charities are constantly looking for funding to help accomplish their goals, and giving to these organizations is an important thing to do. “It’s heartening that people and businesses really do want to make a difference by supporting the causes that matter to them while making a positive impact on the community,” said Buechel. “Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before, and our communities are truly benefiting from it.”  n