In the US, 2019 was a good year economically speaking. The Dow showed a positive return of 22.2% (CNN Money) and unemployment was the lowest since 1969 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). It was also the first year we all filed under the new tax laws signed in 2017. When the new law was announced, not-for-profits began to squirm as we
expected a decrease in the amount contributed to charities in 2018 as an estimated 88% of tax payers would take the new higher standard deduction. But, the generosity of the American people came through and overall giving in the US
increased from $410.02 billion in 2017 to $427.71 billion in 2018 (Giving USA Foundation). With the focus on the changes in the tax law, it was also a good time to look at our charitable giving and reflect on our reasons for giving, asking ourselves if our investment was resulting in a positive return.

Cynthia and I looked at our giving more carefully this year as well. This is the first year that all three of our children were out on their own. We have had so many generous people support us and the work of Camptown over the years that we wanted to not only continue our giving but increase it. We wanted to invest in people and organization that would give an eternal return on our investment. We wanted to support organizations that make the most of our contributions and where we can contribute directly to help someone in need. Camptown is such an organization. An investment in the life of a child is an eternal investment that will always result in a positive return.

Everyone at Camptown provides direct service to youth. Contributions to Camptown make a direct impact in the lives of youth. Let one of our students tell you why. “Camptown has helped me to become a better person. It has showed me that just because I am capable of doing something easily does not mean others can. It has showed me that some people lead more quietly by helping others with making sure they don’t fall behind. I’ve also learned that many of the experiences I’ve had, others have not and vice versa. We all have different backgrounds and experiences, but can still work together. I’ve learned that people you don’t talk to might have similar experiences to you. Overall Camptown has helped me to resolve differences, not discriminate, and how to be a better leader. Overall Camptown is a great program.”

It is always a good idea to look at charitable giving and where your investment can make the most impact. Last year Camptown served 3,519 youth through our day, overnight and weeklong programs. We provided financial assistance to 92% of our partner organizations and 61% of our youth participants were living in poverty. The average cost of a Camptown program is only $115 per child, less than the cost of one Starbucks latte per week.

I want to thank our contributors, board members, and volunteers for all of their hard work and support this year. It is because of you that we can make a difference in the life of the youth we serve. I want you to know how much we appreciate your financial support. I see every contribution that comes into Camptown and am always grateful for the time, thought, and sacrifice of each gift we receive. I guaran-tee that at Camptown we are very serious about being good stewards of your gift and that we will use it to make the best investment in the lives of youth right here in Central Indiana. We hope that this year you will either continue to make Camptown one of your investments in a better life for someone or you will begin to invest in making a difference.