You hear about major, organization-changing donations — over $100,000 in my mind — in the religious world all the time. But it’s not as common in the atheist world.
The largest amount I’ve ever seen given to a nontheist group is philanthropist Lou Appignani‘s $1,000,000 matching offer to the American Humanist Association in 2008. If the AHA could raise at least that much money that year, Appignani said he would match it. The AHA came through on their end and earned the big check.
Now, there’s a large gift being given to the Secular Coalition for America. It’s another huge amount and it’s also a game-changer.
The Secular Coalition for America Education Fund today announced a gift of $500,000 from philanthropist Todd Stiefel. The SCA Education Fund engages in outreach to enlighten all Americans as to the need for a secular influence in government and supports activism and networking among secular Americans.
“The Secular Coalition for America’s member organizations represent a powerful united front in support of nontheist advocacy and of the separation between church and state. I make this gift to the SCA Education Fund to bring to the next level coordination and networking among secular Americans throughout the entire United States and to help educate all Americans about the important issues we articulate,” said Todd Stiefel. “Americans must become better-informed about the dangers of the privileging of religion in American public policy.”
Mr. Stiefel’s gift creates the Stiefel Fund, named in honor of his family, within the Secular Coalition for America Education Fund.
“This gift is the cornerstone of a new era for secular Americans,” stated Secular Coalition for America Board President Herb Silverman. “We cannot thank Todd Stiefel enough for a gift that truly transforms what the Secular Coalition for America Education Fund can accomplish for the cause of secularism in the United States.”
Advisory Board President Woody Kaplan said, “Beyond this extremely generous gift, Todd Stiefel is also a business leader and strategist, and a vital addition to the secular movement.”
Executive Director Sean Faircloth said, “Directly because of Mr. Stiefel’s gift, the Education Fund will be able to help lead the growth in the number, the diversity, and the geographic breadth of secular activists and their networks throughout the country. Millions of Americans are growing increasingly frustrated as they witness the religious right’s erosion of the separation of church and state on which this nation is founded. Millions of secular Americans are looking for a broad and robust movement that embodies their values. This gift allows them to have a more sophisticated media and web presence and more thorough community outreach, and sends a strong signal that the secular movement has reached a new level of credibility and strength.”
The SCA is already discussing ways to use this gift and it won’t be long before we begin seeing the results of it. I can’t wait to tell you about them when they occur.