Practicing Gratitude: Acknowledging
Practicing Gratitude: Thanksgiving

Practicing Gratitude: Giving

22/30

Today, as I make my pies and chop ingredients for the stuffing and pull out my festive tablecloth, I'm also continuing to think about how I practice gratitude.  

For the last two days, I've been blogging about "gratitude tasks" -- how performing simple things like writing gratitude lists and thank you notes can help you feel better and improve your general outlook.  

Today, let's go further with another "task" that also turns out to be good for you . . . philanthropy.

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Because philanthropy . . . is a topic near and dear to my heart.

You see, my convoluted career path led me to philanthropy.  (Maybe someday I'll tell you about that path . . . from teacher to CPA to foundation director.  But not today.)  For 17 years, I had the great fortune of running a large, private women's foundation in Grand Rapids.  It turned out to be a dream job -- and also one of the greatest learning experiences I've ever had.

Mostly, though, my job turned me into a philanthropist . . . certainly as a professional, but - more importantly - as an individual.

Anyone can be a philanthropist!  Although I think most of us associate folks like Andrew Carnegie, John Paul Getty, or Bill Gates with the term "philanthropist," that's selling the rest of us short.  You are a philanthropist no matter how much or how how little or how often you give a donation to a charitable organization. 

I think that's an important thing to remember.  Financial contributions of any size make a huge difference to charitable organizations!  Not only do all of those little gifts add up to make a big impact -- but they also signal your emotional support,   your belief in a cause, your desire to fight for a better world. . . to an organization that lives and breathes their mission every day.  

Giving . . . makes you a philanthropist.  

Give.  Give.  Give.  Because it matters.  It's the right thing to do.  And it'll make you feel good, too.

(Okay.  Now just let me put a higher platform on my soapbox for a second.)

How do you choose which organization to give TO?

Here's my short answer:  Follow Your Heart!

  • What causes are you especially concerned about?  Water quality?  Domestic violence?  Disease awareness?  Public education?  Health care access?  Constitutional rights?  Hunger?  Arts and culture?  Animal adoption?  Refugee services?  Leadership development?  Homelessness?  Gun violence?  Heck . . . the list goes on and on and on.  Figure out which issues are most important to you.  Narrow your scope.
  • Do a little research.  Are there organizations in your own community that are working on your focus-issues?  Start with their websites or annual reports.  Maybe give them a call and schedule a visit.  Attend an event they sponsor.  Basically -- get close and see what they do in your community.  (Note that I did NOT start with a visit to GuideStar or Charity Navigator; more on that later.)
  • If you're interested in theses issues beyond your community - or if you're interested in more national or global issues - expand your net a bit with your research.  It might be harder to get personal, community-level information from organizations beyond your backyard, but you can still learn about what they do and who they serve through their websites and annual reports.
  • Mostly, though.  Figure out what matters most to you -- and GIVE.

Now. . .

Let's talk a minute about sites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator -- sites designed to provide good, solid information about the inner-workings of charities.  If you are looking to make a significant personal gift (let's say . . . over $10,000) or if you work for a foundation, then - by all means - do your due diligence and take a look at the financial statements and 990s of charities you're considering. 

But.  If you're just making regular, personal charitable donations of $25, $100, or even $1,000 . . . skip that step.  Seriously.  Just give.

And I could go on and on (and on) about the evils of equating operational overhead with poor nonprofit management (because I would need a stage-sized soapbox for that one) -- but, instead, I'm going to leave you with this most excellent TED talk from activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta.  (I know it's 18 minutes on the day before Thanksgiving, but this is totally worth watching if you really want to change the world.)

In the meantime . . . GIVE!

 

Comments

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Vicki

OK! Thank you!
I'm going to have to bookmark that TED Talk for later... looking forward to it. (What an amazing thing those TED Talks are!! I've learned & been inspired so much.)

Carole

I give monthly to Planned Parenthood and my local NPR station. I've been thinking I need to add another charity to that monthly group, though. And, of course, locally we are all about Kiwanis and the things we can do by being a part of that.

Bonny

My thoughts on philanthropy and giving changed after Trump was elected and I saw that organizations were going to need money to fight back. I give monthly to Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and NPR. It's not a lot, but hopefully it helps. With evidence of climate change staring me in the face and the administration vehemently denying it, I need to research and add an environmental organization (Sierra Club or something similar). Thanks for all the guidance and info.!

Patty

I will watch that Ted Talk as well...on Friday. I do my best to support locally and more specifically to organizations that have provided opportunity / learning / community to us or our families in the past. There's always some place to give and now I'm almost ready to start giving back...time. xoxo

Jo

Another fun way to give is.....knitting! My knitting group at church decks a tree with scarves, hats and mittens that are distributed to homeless people and some charities. We get the benefit of a great group of knitters!

margene

I have three organizations I give to that are important to me. The Utah Food Bank is #1 and I feel it important to give all year as people don't just need help during the holidays. July is just as important (if not more so). I don't have a lot to give, but I give as much as possible to causes that mean the most to me. Your information is important and a good guide to follow. The video is fascinating and an important message. It's the opposite of how we're all taught to think. Thank you!!

Pam

I look forward to watching the Ted Talk. I work for a tiny, local non-profit. People don't always realize that SOMEONE has to pay the overhead -- rent, janitors (ours are volunteers, but they need supplies and scheduling . . .), accountants, etc. Small monetary donations make a real difference to small organizations. And larger gifts let us focus on our work, instead of where the rent will come from.

karen

I could join you on the soapbox regarding overhead costs in non-profits! I am the controller of a large statewide non-profit in PA. I get so tired of hearing about funders looking negatively at overhead costs. Have you ever tried to run any type of business without rent or space costs? Ummm...not doable.

And smaller donations add up in any non-profit. Especially in today's world when so many of the people our non-profit serves are being negatively impacted by the changes in gov't.

Mary

I look forward to watching the Ted Talk ... thank you - as always! - for a post with good information and inspiration! (Happy Thanksgiving, Kym!)

Honore´

I taught a course for years on proposal writing for non-profits - primarily those in the start-up stages...dreams, in a way... there are so many people who want to help make the world a better place for all. I think that's one reason the crowd-source funding concept raises so much money...it is reprehensible that in this country there are so many without the basics...anyway, I so appreciate your sharing this information and inspiration. Every effort helps.
Your post gives us hope.
Cheers~

AsKatKnits

This! SO MUCH THIS! And, I have saved the TED talk for later this weekend when the flurry of the day has settled and I am not feeling guilty for stealing a moment or two at the PC!

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