Giving is Receiving

Leaves and snow are falling. Warm food for cold nights heats on the stove and the television is inundated with commercials to entice you and the children in your life to want more, more, more! The holidays are here and the threat of new beginnings and resolutions lurk weeks away. In the philanthropic world, we also call this time “year end.” November and December are the last two months of the calendar year where non-profits and community organizations are avidly accepting monetary and in-kind gifts. Donors and supporters are usually looking to solidify their charitable giving for the year in time for the coming tax season. Perhaps even you will consider becoming a philanthropist in the coming year. Tis’ the season, right?

The holidays bring much to us in the form of food, love, and material gifts. We are in the season for giving, the season for sharing, the season for growing. Many of us are unfamiliar with philanthropy or its impact, so in the spirit of giving, I’d like to give some quick steps to becoming a philanthropist. It does not require a six-figure salary or participation on a Board of Trustees to show your support of a local or national organization working for change. A tax break is the “cherry on top” when you give from your heart and believe it or not, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to give back.

Being a philanthropist simply means that there is a cause you believe in and you actively work to contribute to that community’s growth and well-being. I work in education where donated dollars support the gap in tuition and the cost to educate each student. Toys for Tots collects new, un-wrapped toys for children in need. Hosea Feed the Hungry provides Thanksgiving meals for the homeless and turkeys for families who cannot afford them. There is no one approach to giving back. What is important is that you give. Our support of organizations, like Boys & Girls Club, creates opportunities for exposure and safety that would not otherwise be available for children. Money and supplies to the Red Cross helps those we know whom Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy affected. Donating clothes to the local women and children homeless shelter has an immediate effect on those who benefit. There are even Salvation Army Santa Clauses with bells and buckets to collect your graciousness. Sometimes, they even let you ring the bell. No matter how, giving back is necessary to sustaining and improving all of our communities.

How You Can Change the World:

  1. Have the desire.
  2. Think about the ORGANIZATIONS you could support.
    • Organizations in your community/neighborhood
    • After school programs you once belonged to or tutored at.
    • Your private academic institutions. (Private schools or College Alma Mater)
    • LGBTQ
    • The Arts (Music, Visual, Performing)
    • Health and Disease Research Support (AIDS, Cancer, Lupus
  3. Think about what you have to GIVE:
    • Money
    • Clothes and shoes
    • Food (Canned or prepared for serving)
    • Time
    • Lessons and Skill
  4. GIVE!
    • Visit their website to see how to contribute dollars.
    • Give them a call if you have some material items they could use and save money on purchasing or want to volunteer.
    • Make a gift in someone’s honor to his or her school. (Great holiday gift for the person that has “everything.”)
    • Tutor throughout the year.
    • Do arts & crafts at the children’s hospital.

The possibilities are endless. You might even become interested in starting your own non-profit that serves a need in the community. Passions develop when we learn we can do something else well and to help others. We have all benefitted from some aspect of philanthropy as children or adults and per the cycle of life metaphor, we must return these gifts in fruitful ways. You don’t have to give your last or wear yourself thin, but giving is important—and even more so as we receive in the coming weeks. The “less fortunate” is actually not just an idiom—go figure.

Cheers to a light hearted holiday season.


Related posts:

  1. “There is no such thing as a free lunch!”: A Reflection on Giving Back
  2. Giving Back to Japan
  3. Giving Back: Footloose! Raising Awareness for Autism
  4. Giving Back for the Holidays: “Marine Toys for Tots Foundation”
  5. Giving Back For The Holidays: “Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center and New York Cares”
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