Charitable Giving: Honoring Maryland's Leading Philanthropists

Charitable Giving: Honoring Maryland's Leading Philanthropists

Every four years, the world watches the Olympics to see the best athletes excel in their chosen sport and compete for medals for being at the top of their field.

For the world of charitable giving, we look to the National Philanthropy Day celebration, hosted by the Maryland Philanthropy Network of Fundraising Professionals (AFP-Maryland), as the event where awards are presented yearly for being most philanthropic. Arthur B. and Patricia B. Modell were honored as AFP-Maryland's 2009 Outstanding Philanthropists of the Year and the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) was honored as the 2009 Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation of the Year.

Art and Pat Modell's leadership and vision have altered the philanthropic landscape in Baltimore, having donated tens of millions of dollars to over 20 nonprofits throughout the state. As owners of the Baltimore Ravens, the Modells set an example for the team regarding community engagement.

Art Modell encouraged all Ravens players to get involved in the community, pushed senior executives to join charitable boards, and promoted the message of "giving back."

The Baltimore Community Foundation has had a significant impact on our community since its founding in 1972. In 2009 alone, the foundation distributed $22 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore region and beyond.

Governed by a 32-member board of trustees consisting of a cross-section of Baltimore and with assets of $148 million, BCF comprises more than 600 charitable funds. The foundation serves as a grantor, convener and innovator, helping people and organizations carry out their individual charitable plans with the common goal of improving the quality of life in the Greater Baltimore region and beyond.

By connecting donors with the wealth of expertise and information available at the foundation and by creating a community of donors who share ideas and aspirations, BCF is a leader in encouraging philanthropy in Baltimore.

As part of the celebration, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Baltimore Business Journal also awarded the Maryland Business Philanthropy Awards to three businesses whose philanthropic efforts have made Maryland a better place to live, work and do business:

  • Aircon Engineering was the Small Employer Winner  (1-100 employees). The family and company are known throughout the Cumberland community for their integrity, community generosity and leadership. With only 19 employees, this company donated more than $38,000 in the last 12 months to various nonprofits.
  • Merritt Properties was chosen as the Medium Employer Winner (101-500 employees). Consistently ranking among the most philanthropic firms in the Baltimore area, Merritt Properties gave more than $4 million to organizations last year. In addition, employees of this firm volunteered 3,000 hours in 2008 to local charities.
  • W.R. Grace and Co. was the Large Employer Winner (more than 501 employees). Each year, this company's foundation donates more than $1 million to various charities, with 30 percent to 40 percent going to Maryland agencies. Overall, the community involvement philosophy of this firm encouraged employees to donate more than 1,250 hours of volunteer time.

In the spirit of admiring those who are "best in show," we applaud these award-winning philanthropists, foundations and corporations who make such a difference in our community.

Betsy Nelson, President of the Maryland Philanthropy Network, writes every other week for The Daily Record.


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