President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, delivered a message about the importance of private philanthropy as the honorary chair of the 2019 Utah Philanthropy Day on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
“I salute you for your work in support of private philanthropy,” President Oaks told philanthropists during a luncheon held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. He also addressed the importance of persuading “citizens to a ‘spirit of giving’ in our communities and in our personal efforts throughout the state.”
The private sector, he said, is essential to “preserving pluralism and freedom in our nation.” Its financial well-being is dependent upon philanthropy.
“Millions of these ‘private associations’ — religious and charitable — are responsible for tens of millions of jobs and innumerable services that benefit our citizens at every level,” President Oaks said. “These include private educational institutions, hospitals, social welfare agencies, and innumerable other organizations ministering to the needs of children, youth, the aged, the poor, and citizens generally…
“The impact of these private contributions on those they serve is magnified by the millions of volunteers motivated by the philanthropic ideals you pursue. You are an essential part of that great service.”
President Oaks, a former Utah state supreme court justice, has supported private philanthropy at the nation’s highest levels, according to a Newsroom release. He testified before the United States Senate Finance Committee in 2011 and asked government leaders to not reduce the tax deduction for personal charitable donations.
“While I appear here as a religious leader, the possible impairment of the charitable deduction in order to enhance tax revenues is not a religious issue,” then-Elder Oaks said in 2011. “It is not a political issue. It is not even an economic issue. It poses a question about the nature and future of America.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Utah Philanthropy Day. Since 1999, the Association of Fundraising Professionals Utah Chapter, Utah Nonprofits Association and UServeUtah have gathered every November to celebrate Utah’s philanthropists.