In this era of steadily declining government philanthropy, private philanthropy has struggled to make up the difference.
From the Salvation Army's Red Kettles to turkey parties to benefit volunteer fire departments, local groups have done their best to fill community needs where government falls short.
Because government programs on most levels tend to have a higher level of waste than those in the private sector, that shift hasn't always necessarily been a bad thing.
However, in most cases, private philanthropy is regulated by government through the tax code and statutes that set not only standards to ensure donor confidence but also limits on how, when, where and by whom the charities are run.
This week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed in rare bi-partisan fashion a bill that would increase the limits on prizes offered through bingo and other small games of chance run by charity groups and fraternal organizations.
The bill would increase the maximum prize payouts and theoretically increase giving in the process. Up to 30 percent of the revenue could be used to cover operating expenses, so long as at least 70 percent is committed to public-interest activities.
Yes, it's gambling, that old vice that makes many people wince. But, like some other minor vices, if kept in check, it can do great good by providing revenue that can be directed to needy causes.
It won't be remembered as one of the pivotal issues of this session of the General Assembly, but we believe the public would be served well if this bill ultimately receives the governor's signature.