Did you know that more charitable donations are made in the fourth quarter every year then any other time? Imagine how difficult that is this year when many charities are relying on these end of year gifts, especially when we have been officially declared in a recession.
I'm frequently asked about tips for fundraising and giving during these tough times. Just as I did last year, I would like to give a few simple tips to charitable giving during these times. Most of this is probably stating the obvious, but I wanted to highlight something so very important to me. Now more than ever, charities need us. Some things to consider:
- Don't stop! While you may have to cut back on your financial contributions to charities, I urge you not to stop all together. As the economy continues this way, there will be two important things happening for charitable organizations--1)the donations may DECREASE as people begin tightening their spending habits 2)the need from the clients served (especially for social services organizations) will INCREASE.
- If you give less, don't spread the wealth Choose one or two charitable organizations instead of giving to five or more with smaller increments. Choose to make a bigger splash than more small drops in the bucket. Instead of giving 5 $20 gifts to 5 different charities, choose one that means something to you and give $100.
- Donate in-kind gifts Think about ways you can donate and support a charity without giving cash. A disclaimer--be sure that you have done your research with the charity in advance before you donate in-kind gifts. For example, we had a kind woman do a big used toy drive for HFC. When she called us with boxes upon boxes of used (albeit gently) toys for us to donate to the hospital or cancer families, we couldn't do anything with them. Due to immunocompromised patients, hospitals will only accept NEW toys! So, we had to sadly turn the woman down for her charitable giving.
- Consider food banks Now more than ever, local food banks are struggling. Again, the strain of the economy will further push the demand of services provided by local food banks. Many will struggle to keep their shelves stocked. Pick up a few extra cans at the grocery store--even the smallest gesture helps!
- Engage your children I cannot stress enough the importance of getting children INVOLVED in philanthropy. Whether it is having them research charities with you (for the older kids) or coloring pictures to give with your donation, make them a part of your giving process. Put a collection jar on your counter. Find a cause that will be meaningful with them. *Side note--if anyone in the Dallas area is interested--I do an entire speech on children and philanthropy that I love to do for moms groups, PTAs, church groups, etc. Contact me if you would like to set up a speaking engagement!*
- Make a donation instead of purchasing a gift this holiday season When I taught, I was overwhelmed with the gifts of candles. It took more then three years after I taught for the candle box to dwindle! I'm not kinding. There are only so many candles I can have in my home. I would have been honored to have a donation made in my honor in lieu of a Christmas gift as a teacher. Better yet, if the parent had asked me about my charity of choice, it would have made it all the more special. Instead of spending $15--20 on a small gift for the teacher, make a donation to an organization that is meaningful to the teacher. Most charities have cards that can be sent to the honoree stating the donation. Think about all the different groups you can do this with--office co-workers (our staff does this every year and this year we're purchasing gifts for a Holiday Heroes family in lieu of buying small gifts for each other), giving family gifts (my mom and I are choosing a charitable donation instead of a gift to each other this year), or even as a company's gift instead of items to send to clients (we just had a company make a donation and they are now sending cards to their clients saying they made the donation to Heroes for Children this holiday season in honor of their clients--shows they are charitable and not being frivolous on things like a fruit or cheese basket!)
- As I said last year, make it a year long commitment The holiday season isn't the only times charities are in need. It is often when our hearts are most geared towards philanthropy due to the holiday season and that general feeling of gratitude many of us have. However, there is just as great of a need in July as there is in Christmas. Make it a New Year's resolution that you can stick with--stay involved. The best way to do that? Match your talents/gifts to your volunteerism. If you are a graphic designer who has a passion for your work, put it to good use helping a worthy cause. If you aren't shy and willing to ask for donations, get yourself on a fundraising committee to help the charity build a stronger base of donors. Finding the right match for your is key to keeping you engaged longterm.
- Did I mention DON'T STOP? Yeah, well, that's a big point I want to get across. Keep giving. No matter how much or how you go about doing it. Find a way to give, even in the smallest of increments. If we all gave even a small increment this holiday season, it will make a difference.
Thank you for your willingness to support the many worthy causes out there. If you would like, highlight a charity or cause that means something to you in the comment section. I would love to hear about the things near and dear to your hearts!