Tag Archives: charitable giving

Hunger Pains

Food Bank

It’s great to know where our next meal is coming from. Food brings people together. Especially during the holiday season! But what about the 14.5% of households who are hungry without dependable, consistent access to food? Where will their next meal come from and how can we help put food on their tables? We are our brother’s keeper, and many of us, if we look closely, realize we have family members, neighbors or people we come in contact with each day who are hungry. With this column we ask you to give to your local food bank, faith based organization, or the family down the street.

Hunger is often described with the phrase “food insecurity.” That means you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. You don’t have the money or the resources to ensure you and your family have a dependable and consistent source of food. People who experience food insecurity live in every county of the United States, with a low of five percent of the people in Steele County, ND to a high of 38 percent in Wilcox County, AL. In 2010, 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households. That’s 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children. That is a lot of people. Many are working. Some are college educated. Eight percent are seniors who live alone. Households with children experienced more food insecurity than those without children.

With all the gridlock in Washington this is not the time to wait for the government to solve this problem. It’s up to us to care. And it’s easy. Look at what you are going to spend to celebrate the upcoming holidays. Make a budget. And then figure out how much of that budget you can use to help ensure families in your community have something to eat. It’s not that hard. You can donate 85% of your company’s holiday party budget and use the other 15% for a smaller scale breakfast. You can donate 50% – or 100% – of what you would give as client gifts to your local food bank. You can look at your family holiday budget and donate a percentage. Engage your children in giving. As a family you can purchase a gift card to a local grocery store and slip the card under your neighbor’s door. You can send your sister-in-law a check or an anonymous gift card.

Remember, hunger doesn’t announce itself. Our pride often keeps us from sharing our troubles. We believe they will end soon, we fear what others will think, we don’t want to ask for a “handout.” Think about it – if your sister-in-law or your neighbor has been unemployed for 18 months, most likely she is having trouble paying her bills and feeding her children. The older couple you see at church each week may not be eating three meals a day. Too many children are coming to school hungry and have difficulty concentrating. You can make a difference.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw. Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.

It’s a Family Affair – Reunions and Giving

Creating a History of Giving

Summer time is a time for family reunions. If you’ve been to one you know they are priceless; but they can also be expensive. Reunions bring families together across the generations to celebrate history, to take pride in accomplishments, and to pass down family history and traditions. It takes a lot of work to plan a reunion and a lot of attention to detail.

We recently learned of the family reunion planner published by the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau. What we found most interesting was the reasoning behind the publication – economic impact. Louisville annually hosts more than 40 family reunions, with an average of 100 people at each reunion and a total annual economic impact of $1.5 million.

That got us thinking – what could the philanthropic impact be if families committed to giving time and money as part of the family reunion experience?

With all the expenses related to a reunion we sometimes forget the power of our giving. Airline tickets, gas, hotels, food, decorations, excursions…. All of these add up. But one “expense” is usually missing…. contributing to a family legacy of good.

If you are responsible for planning your family reunion, you can help ensure the good feelings live on in between reunions. You can encourage a new tradition of giving: each family contributing a certain amount of money to an agreed upon charity or non-profit organization.

Businesses reap the economic impact of family reunions, but the organizations and institutions that have supported our families are often overlooked. Sure we talk about the summer camp, or school that made a difference. The hospital that saved a beloved family member. The church group who made sure we received gifts at Christmas. But what do we do to ensure other families will receive these benefits?

With all the storytelling, family reunions are an ideal time to put our money where our mouth is — and where our hearts are. Now it’s our turn to give back to the communities we come from and the communities where we gather to celebrate our reunions. In our giving we recognize our history and we create a new tradition for younger generations: a history of giving.

Where you give can become part of the reunion as well. Your family may want to set aside time to paint a community center or school, clean up a neighborhood, read to children, or visit a senior center. Whatever your family gives, be sure to give money as well as time or materials. Too many non-profits are stretched thin and just don’t have the funds to meet community needs. Reunion giving helps keep your family legacy alive and well in the organizations you care about.

Up next: Suggestions for Family Reunion Giving.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw. www.saadandshaw.com

Would You Give Away 50 Percent?

Bill Gates & Warren Buffett

By now you may have heard about The Giving Pledge. It is a movement started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage other billionaires to pledge to give away at least 50% of their wealth. They want to encourage the richest people in the world to commit to charitable giving either while they are living or upon their passing. And they want each person or family who takes the pledge to make their pledge public and ask their peers to do the same. The goal: increased funding for philanthropy across the globe.

People taking the pledge are not asked to give to any specific charity or cause – they are simply asked to give. It is not a legally binding pledge but rather a morally binding one.

The idea grew out of a series of dinners hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet over the course of a year. Many of their peers have already made very substantial gifts and pledges. Now they are asked to publicly affiliate with others who are doing the same. The idea is for billionaires to inspire conversations with their peers about their giving, their intentions, and what they are learning through the process.

The impact will be felt for generations to come. When the Giving Pledge was announced earlier this month there were 40 billionaires who had signed on. These include 14 from California, 12 from New York, two from Texas and Georgia, one from Missouri and Michigan. Here are what a few have to say.

Michele Chan: Our passion, our mission is to transform health and health care, in America and beyond.

Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor: “We want to leave our kids a different kind of inheritance…we pledge the bulk of our assets to philanthropic activities carried out over the course of our lifetimes.”

Jim and Virginia Stowers: “More than 99% of our wealth will go to philanthropy during our lifetime or at death. We have already started our giving.”

Finally, here is what Vicki and Roger Sant have to say. “Our support of various not for profit organizations has given us enormous satisfaction particularly where we have been personally involved with the boards or committees of those institutions.”

We call special attention to their quote because it highlights the value people receive when they give their time and money. If you work or volunteer with an organization or institution do not be embarrassed to ask others to join you in giving their time, money and resources. Giving is an important part of life whether or not you are a billionaire. Think about this: you can make your own giving pledge. It doesn’t have to be 50% of anything. What it should be is a moral commitment you make to yourself. Do it. And ask others to join you. Together we are creating the world we want to live in.

To learn more about the Giving Pledge visit www.givingpledge.org.

Keeping the Community in Community Foundations

Community foundations play a major role in communities across the country. They are a vehicle for organized giving that primarily benefits a specific geographic area. They bring together individual donors, local businesses, families, and others to pool their resources and make grants.

Here is how the Austin Community Foundation defines what a community foundation is: A community foundation is a philanthropic vehicle that combines the charitable gifts of many to provide leadership and financial leverage in addressing the current and future needs of the community through various grant making activities designed to improve the lives of the citizens of that community.

And here is what the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis is doing to encourage local residents to give to the foundation, and to have a say in how those funds are granted out to local organizations. They call their campaign GiVE 365. The campaign was launched with the belief that everyone can be a philanthropist. They especially want to engage people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s though anyone can participate. Annual membership is $365, or a dollar a day.

GiVE 365 helps participants to change how they know themselves. When you join GIVE 365 the definition of philanthropist changes. A philanthropist is not someone else. A philanthropist is you and me. Making a commitment to GiVE 365 puts everyday people in the driver’s seat. As long as you can give $365 a year you are in the mix. And it is a mix.

Being a member of GiVE 365 means you give and you grant. You – and the other members of GiVE 365 – get to work together to determine how the funds given should be granted. Now that is an unusual experience for many of us. Usually we – and our organizations – are on the soliciting-side of philanthropy, not the decision-making side. Participating in a donor circle such as GIVE 365 changes the dynamic so that you become a decision-maker.

This is a new program at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and those who participate will help shape the program. To kick it off the foundation matched the first $20,000. We talked with Bob Fockler, the president of the foundation and he said “We are really excited about the prospects for GiVE 365. Memphis has been shown to be a city full of very generous people, yet we are far from a wealthy city. GiVE 365 provides an opportunity for people from virtually all economic backgrounds to have an active part in helping to transform this city. After all, most great things come about as a result of the collective actions of a great many people.”

If you are interested in starting such a program in your community, call your community foundation, ask to speak to a program officer, and tell them you read about what the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis is up to. Be sure to say you want to help make it happen. GIVE 365. It’s worth it!

Haiti relief: how to make your gift

Haiti Relief

What can be more important than making a gift to help relieve pain and suffering in Haiti? Where could your dollars make a more direct, immediate impact than giving to bring water, food, blankets, and medical supplies and services into Haiti.

 We urge you to give. To give now. And to give a month from now and six months from now. The question is who should I give my money to?

 There are many options ranging from the Red Cross to your local church or community based effort. Evaluating how to make your gift is important. Because your money is valuable.

Ask yourself:

  1. Does the organization have experience giving to international disaster relief? If no, ask why are they collecting money for Haiti. (see below)
  2. Does the organization have the expertise and relationships to ensure that aid actually gets into Haiti?
  3. Does the organization have people on the ground in Haiti who can help ensure that short-term and long-term relief and rebuilding efforts affect those in need?
  4. Is the organization large enough to handle a major influx of financial contributions?

 While giving is of utmost importance you should also know that in-person and on-line fraud does occur in the wake of disasters and that people are taken advantage of. To help prevent being a victim of fraud do not give cash. Write a check or use your debit or credit card. Make sure the organization is a recognized charity. Make sure you know how the organization will use your money. Get a receipt that lists the organization’s tax identification number.  Check out www.give.org a website of the Better Business Bureau if you have questions about how to make your gift.

 Disasters are also a time when well meaning people and organizations appeal to others for disaster assistance when they really don’t have the ability to directly impact the lives of those who are suffering.

 Yes, organizations without direct experience in Haiti or without experience in disaster relief may turn around and use your gift as part of a larger gift to an organization such as UNICEF or the Red Cross, but you don’t know that for sure. This is a good time for organizations to increase their revenue while “passing through” money to larger organizations. There is certainly no problem with giving a $100 check made out to the Red Cross to your church or a local community based effort. There may be a problem giving $100 to such an organization for Haitian relief. If you give this way, make sure that they are aligned with a larger organization that knows how to get needed people and resources into Haiti.

 Your care and concern for others is so important. Together we are making a difference. As we write this column $16 million has been given to major charities by text messaging alone often in amounts of $5 and $10. American businesses have given over $43 million. The NFL gave $2 million.  We as a country are giving $100 million via USAID. Your gift makes a difference.

That’s it for now. And as always, remember to have a FUNdraising Good Time! You can make a difference.

Fundraising for Haiti – what you need to know

Clinton and Bush Raising Funds for Haiti

Disasters are a time when we come together to support each other as human beings. Plain and simple. It’s not about politics. It’s not about religion. It’s about people. Saving lives. Food. Medical care. Clean water. A place to sleep. Everyone is getting involved. President Obama has allocated $100 million via  USAID. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are busy fundraising. And so are many others.

Disasters are also a time when Americans give generously as a country and as individuals, families, and local communities. We give and we fundraise. We also need to be paying attention to how we give, who we give to, and how we fundraise.

Here are some links you can check out for more information.

Advice on Giving to Haiti Support – guidance from the Better Business Bureau regarding how to make your gift to support Haiti.

Good Intentions Are Not Enough – learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Diaster Giving

Text and Give – how to give via text messaging. Includes a list of 21 different organizations you can give to via a text message. $16 million have been given via text messages as we write this blog!

Giving to the Red Cross – links for how to direct your giving

Updates on Giving to Haiti – stay up-to-date with information about giving and fundraising for Haiti. Information provided by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

That’s it for now. And as always, remember to have a FUNdraising Good Time! You can make a difference.