’Tis the season for…a mailbox full of solicitations!
We all get them, and as a professional fundraiser, I send them! So in this season of giving, what should you do with so many worthy causes from which to choose?
Let’s look first at the reasons why we ought to give.
On a personal level, giving makes us feel good. In 2009, the Harvard Business School studied charitable behavior and concluded, “Happier people give more and giving makes people happier.” Other scientists have found a link between giving and our health: people who increase their charitable giving have more “pleasure indicators” in brain scans than those who did not. And, senior citizens who volunteer – one may give time as well as treasure – are less stressed and actually live longer.
So, giving is good for our minds and our bodies, but giving is also good for our soul. I believe that giving is an expression of our inherent spiritual nature: God generously extended grace to us, and when we give generously to others, we all become one. Through the act of giving, we love God, and we love our neighbor.
Now back to that stack of solicitation letters! Where do you begin?
1. PEOPLE GIVE MOST OFTEN TO THE ORGANIZATIONS THEY KNOW.
Maybe you volunteer at a homeless shelter and understand the great need for their services. Maybe you attended a meeting where the director or volunteer spoke about their organization and its impact. Maybe you have fond memories of your alma mater and appreciate your education. You are much more likely to give and feel good about your donation when you have a connection to the charity.
2. PEOPLE GIVE WHERE THEY FEEL THEY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Find out how the charity will use your donation. Will your gift help to satisfy a need? Will it further the organization’s mission? Certainly, no charity can exist without staff, but your donation should do more than simply pay someone’s salary. Check the organization’s website, annual report, or Form 990 to learn more about the impact of your gift and the financial health of the organization.
3. PEOPLE GIVE TO HELP SOLVE A PROBLEM OR TO TAKE A STAND ON AN ISSUE.
Take a moment to think about the causes that are closest to your heart, those about which you feel most passionate. Then, find the organizations with missions that match your interests.
No matter where you choose to give as 2016 comes to an end, keep a few things in mind:
- True giving requires some sacrifice on the part of the giver.
- True giving must show respect toward the recipient.
- With true giving, we are grateful to the recipient for making the act of giving possible.
And finally, in the words of one of Mount de Sales Academy’s recent graduates, it doesn’t take a six-figure income to give. Rather, “it is the innate value God blessed each one of us with to act as He did, with mercy and love.”
By Laura Schofield, MDS Director of Institutional Advancement