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Ice Buckets and David Letterman - Stu's 2014 Annual Meeting Speech

Posted by: Stuart Comstock-Gay on 9/12/2014


This is the speech I gave on September 10th at our Annual Meeting.

Good afternoon again. Thanks for being here. Working with you—nonprofit and community leaders, donors, partners, government officials, friends, philanthropists all—It is such a privilege.

We learn from you every day. We are honored to work with you. Vermont is a special place, and it’s because of you, and because of the traditions of working together. 

All of us are, indeed, Better Together.

It’s also a privilege each year to have this opportunity to share some thoughts about philanthropic issues of the day.

As I travel around the state, I find myself talking about community and connectedness. That makes sense, as our work at the Community Foundation is fundamentally about that, about social capital: our commitment to each other, trust, and reciprocity toward each other—that is social capital.

I’ll talk about social capital today. I’ll talk about how we’re Better Together.

Beyond the natural beauty of these mountains and valleys, it is this social capital that makes Vermont such a special place.

But I want to approach this differently than in the past.

Ice Buckets… and David Letterman

People ask me about The Ice Bucket Challenge.

For those of you who don’t spend much time on the Internet, or watching television, or talking to people who do, the ice bucket challenge is something that burst on the scene this summer. The idea is that people are “challenged” by friends, family and colleagues to make donations to research for Lou Gehrig’s disease—ALS. They are asked to either give $100 for ALS research, or to dump a bucket of ice on their heads and give only $10. Pretty clever. 

Since it started, the campaign has involved everybody from our Governor to Britney Spears and David Beckham to many of your nephews and nieces and children—and probably some of you in the room. It’s been a stunning success, and has brought over $100 million to the ALS Association—somewhat more than the $2.8 million they raised in 2013. 

So that seems cool…and good.

But if you read the blogs in the philanthropy world, and in many newspapers and reputable online journals, there is little love for the ice bucket challenge... Read the entire speech.

Stu accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with assistance from Tim Donovan, Chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges.

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