As I mentioned, I’ve asked several individuals to share their thoughts on holiday giving from a variety of perspectives. Today’s dose comes from a wise woman, one whom I always enjoy valuable conversation. She walks her talk, both at the organizational and individual level. As she said, she gives to charity. But there was a time when we were talking parenting books and the next week an Amazon shipment arrived, simply because she thought I would enjoy it. That’s the kind of generous nature I aspire to have. If you like what Erin has to say, consider a gift to her current job, the Red Cross.
I’ve had the privilege of working for 3 very different non-profits at all levels of giving over the course of my 13 year career in philanthropy. I have given to each while I worked there and sometimes I continue to give what I can after I’m gone. I’m moved by the mission or I wouldn’t work here but I also think that when I am asking others to support my cause that it is important for me to put my money where my mouth is.
The holidays tend to put a special spot light on philanthropy. Some of us spend more time thinking of others or thinking about how grateful we are for what we have and want to share our wealth. Others see the tax man coming and make some gifts to offset some of that pesky taxable income. Some people write a check every time they get one of those lovely direct mail pieces with free return address labels (and those people are the reason you get solicited so often..we’re playing the odds around here), and some people give when they see a crisis in the news that is so horrible they have to do something (anything) to help. Others know they were given a hand up and now they want to pay forward.
What I’ve come to learn is that no matter what you choose to support, what your motivation might be, and no matter how much you are able to give, it all makes a difference. A large gift to Ohio State can endow a scholarship and create access to education in perpetuity but $10 to Red Cross can buy a blanket to keep someone warm when they have just lost everything. Both of those things are important and they both require the same thing: The desire to make someone else’s life a little better and a little easier.
Today is Giving Tuesday. For lack of a better explanation this is the non-profit world’s answer to Black Friday. It is a day when we highlight the good that non-profits do in our communities in the hopes that it will encourage you to consider giving a little something to make someone else’s life a little easier.
If you’ve never made a gift before, think about some way that someone has helped you in the past and do a quick google search to see who is doing that for others on a bigger scale. Look around your community and see what moves you. Community gardens, feeding the hungry, early childhood education…. If there’s a need, there’s a non-profit for it!
I’ve always felt confident in my giving because I’ve worked for outstanding organizations that are doing good work every day and I get to see it first-hand but if you want to spend a little time doing your own research there are resources to help you determine if the charity you choose will be a good steward of your money. One well known resource is www.guidestar.com and another is Charity Navigator. Or ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations.
Non-profits exist to bring people together to find solutions for complex problems. Our power to change is much better when harnessed with that of like-minded people and I think our world is better for non-profits and the work they facilitate. Take a minute today to check out the difference non-profits are making in your community. You never know where your giving spirit might lead!
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