Impact of charitable giving lasts for centuries

Charitable giving isn’t something new. I was reminded of that when I was traveling in France this summer. We were in Beaune and toured a beautiful museum dating from the Middle Ages. It had been built specifically to be a hospital for the poor. 

Most amazingly, it had been built from charitable funds. The people of Beaune were faced with famine and poverty following the Hundred Year’s War. The chancellor of the Duke of Burgundy, Nicolas Rolin, decided to found a hospital for the poor and endow it with an annual income (a saltworks) and its own resources (vines).

From the Middle Ages until the last patient left in 1983, the sick were cared for, whether they were rich or poor. Over those centuries, the hospital expanded with donations from the nobles and the middle class. They endowed the hospital by donating vines, the resource of the greatest value in Burgundy.Hospices de Beaune Giving Back

For the past 150 years, an auction of the wine from the Hospices de Beaune vineyards has funded charitable causes. Last year’s auction, which raised 4,848,760 Euros or $6,981,002 funded cancer research to “improve the therapeutic support of the sick.”

What an incredible example of the impact charitable giving can make. You can only imagine how many people have been helped by the charitable dreams of one man in 1443.

Even in the difficult economic climate today, charitable giving continues to be a rich tradition. Giving USA reported that giving from American individuals, corporations and foundations was up in 2010, with an estimated $290.89 billion in gifts.

Giving in Kansas City also continues to be a rich tradition, with the community ranking third in the country for charitable giving in 2010 according to the Daily Beast.

The types of charitable gifts are as varied as the charitable passions of the people who give them. But whether the charitable funds help provide scholarships, enhance the arts or in the case of the Hospices de Beaune, help provide medical care for those in poverty, charitable giving can make an impact that lasts for generations.

Greater Horizons Giving Vice President Debbie Starke


Authored by: Debbie Starke, Vice President


Blog Category: