In case you feel so compelled--allow me to help guide you just a bit to a few of my favorite charities--
- Heroes for Children--well, you had to know this would be on the top of my list. If you are a reader of this blog, you know my love of Heroes for Children. You know that I believe our mission is vital for cancer families. Serving these families in need is our number one priority. Something to think about:
$100 will provide a struggling family with basic household necessities.
$250 will pay for a family’s utilities at a point when it might be turned off.
$500 can make a COBRA payment for a family that might lose their insurance.
$750 (Our average gift) can make a car payment and insurance so that a family can get their child to treatment.
$1000 will pay a rent or mortgage payment for a family facing eviction.
2007 has been an amazing year for Heroes for Children--with successful expansion of our giving to three major hospitals in Texas. But we're not done yet. I've had numerous calls from social workers, nurses, parents, and family members in Austin calling for help. We're not in Austin yet. We hope to be soon. We are not throughout the state providing at the level we could be. With your donation, we will oneday provide for every family in Texas in need fighting childhood cancer. With your help, we will continue with our tradition to never deny a request for financial assistance.
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, specifically Friends of Heroes--Originally created in my sweet Allie's memory, Friends of Heroes works in conjunction with LLS to raise funds for research to CURE blood cancers. Because of the cutting edge research funded by LLS, I was given more time with my daughter. Because of their mission to fund researchers on the cusp of discovery, I was given hope. Friends of Heroes remains the largest Friends and Family team nationwide, and the amazing thing is that it is comprised of strangers, connected by the internet and the same passion to help. And here's the big news for them--they're SO close to their 2007 fundraising goal. The goal is $100,000 in order to have a research grant named after Friends of Heroes. And they are LESS than $3,000 away!! Wow--congrats ladies!
- Lance Armstrong Foundation--If you live in Texas, you know about Prop 15. You know that the Lance Armstrong Foundation in partnership with many other cancer nonprofits brought more than millions of dollars in cancer research. It's not just about a cool yellow wristband, people. It's about banding people together to put an end to cancer and to support those enduring the fight.
Of course, cancer is my fight. It is my passion and my cause. Some of you may be reading my list feeling less than excited to open your wallet and make your gift (and with gift, I am talking anything from $10 to $10,000--any donation is a GIFT). If funding a cancer nonprofit isn't what you had in mind, not to worry. There are plenty of nonprofits you can find in your area that would appreciate your gift.
At Heroes for Children, we believe than any donation is important. Hanging on our wall is a note from a ten year old boy who collected cash through a book sale. In pencil on a sheet of notebook paper, the boy wrote us about his $14 donation. Hanging next to this note is one from a large donor that sent his donation of $10,000. The juxtaposition of these two notes serves as a constant reminder--that all donations matter, no matter the increment. A significant gift is different for each person--what is significant to me and my finances is different than someone else's.
A few tips for giving:
- Check out the charity. Don't be afraid to do a little research. If a charity is not listed (example--HFC is not because of the length of time we have been around), call them. Pick up the phone and ask the questions you want to know.
- Find out the percentage of funds that go to the mission. If it is less than 60%, hang up and give elsewhere. Try to find charities that spend 70% or more on their mission. That means they are focused on what is most important and not wasting money on administrative, fundraising, or other costs.
- Choose one or two charities instead of "spreading the wealth." This isn't the first time I've written about this.
- Don't just donate your old stuff. If it is your junk, don't make it the junk of a charity's. If you do want to give it away, donate to a reputable charity that you know will use your donation of used items. For example, while I appreciate the offers of furniture or children's toys, I can't do much with them. They would be much better off if given to a charity equipped for this type of donation.
- Involve your children!! Even if you are just making a financial contribution, have your children involved. Let them help you research a charity. Have them write a note to the charity or see if they can write a note that would go to a beneficiary. As a former educator, I feel strongly that parents need to take the time to instill the love of philanthropy in our children.
- Don't let this be the only time you give or volunteer your time. Let your gift be throughout the year. Organizations thrive on donations and the countless hours of volunteers.
- Find the right fit for you. Find a cause that gets you excited. Something that makes you feel like you've made a difference and that you want to associate yourself with.
- Donate in honor of a loved one. Do we really need more gifts? In honor of co-workers, friends, and family, choose charitable giving this season. Our staff has decided not to give gifts this year. Instead, each of us will be making a contribution to Heroes for Children on the day of our staff meeting. If someone asks you want you want for Christmas--consider asking for a contribution to a charity. If you donate in honor of someone, you will recieve the benefit of your tax deduction and the knowledge that you helped a worthy cause. The person you donated in honor of will receive an acknowledgment of your gift, knowing you thought of them. Attending a party and wanting to give a hostess gift? Donating in their honor is a great alternative to bringing a bottle of wine or bringing flowers!
- Whatever you do--just give!
May you have a wonderful giving season this year!