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Giving During the Holiday Season

Emotional Giving, it’s More Than Money
Let’s set the stage… you’re home on a Friday night watching your favorite sitcom, and suddenly there it is… the familiar sad song combined with images of mistreated animals. Now, instead of laughing, you’re tearing up and reaching for your computer or phone to make a donation.

Here’s another scenario… lunch is being catered at work today. You ask the source of the generosity and discover it was sponsored as part of the kickoff to a charity campaign. You’ve already eaten the food, so now you feel obligated to give to the charity.

These campaigns are designed to provoke an emotional response. Feelings like sadness, guilt, empathy, passion, and love are just a few that may motivate you to give.

Giving happens for a variety of reasons, but for many, it’s done in pursuit of a better life. A better life for the person or group you are giving to and an improved feeling about yourself for knowing you have helped others. Though the beneficiary of the donations may vary, the motivation to help is shared among the people that give.

Giving for “Healthy” Reasons
When the University of California, Berkley studied giving, the research found that elderly individuals who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period. A Johns Hopkins University study, it was found giving improves physical health and longevity by reducing stress. In addition, the University of Tennessee reported lower blood pressure for givers compared to their peers who do not donate.

Social Connection of Giving
When individuals give, they become connected to the cause they’re supporting. In that respect, givers tend to be more socially conscious and feel a connection to the people they’ve helped. Of course, human connection can be complicated, but connected people generally want the best for each other.

More Than One Way to Give Your Money

Whether you’re writing a check or swiping your credit card to donate, make sure the organization you are supporting has been thoroughly vetted. Researching how much their CEO is paid, the employees’ payroll, the overall impact of an organization, and the way they spend their donations will paint a picture of how the organization operates.

Employees are essential, administrative tasks must be done, and an organization cannot run without significant maintenance costs. Still, donors want to see the money they’ve given reach the people needing help. We would all like to fund a new project or outreach; however, keeping the old initiatives alive is important too. Perhaps consider donating to an existing program with proven, ongoing results.

Your Possessions
Many organizations keep a wish list of items they’re hoping to receive. These donation lists are usually on their website or may be made available by request. The wish lists usually include items in different price ranges. These lists may even include everyday items, so check with the nonprofit before throwing away usable items that could help their organization.

Your Time
If you’ve got budget constraints, consider volunteering. For most organizations, volunteers are harder to find than donations. Why? Because a donation can be a one-and-done transaction, but volunteerism cuts into the most valuable human resource: time. Volunteering reduces administrative costs and preserves resources. Ongoing volunteerism is a great way to alleviate stress for the organization’s employees. Every task performed by a volunteer allows the staff to concentrate on using their specialized skills. Even what seem to you like a small contribution can make a big difference.

Volunteering can create a connection and sense of gratitude few other tasks can. Plus, the people you meet while volunteering are some of the most hard-working and dedicated people around. Although their mission may vary, people who choose to work for a nonprofit have a shared passion for improving the world.

Your Commitment
Ongoing donations are the lifeline of charitable and nonprofit organizations. It’s estimated that acquisition costs for new donors range between $.50-$1.00 for every new donor dollar. Additionally, only 23% of donors are attracted to give a second time. Ongoing donors reduce the need to spend time and money on fundraising campaigns, advertising, and events, allowing the staff to concentrate more on the actual work. After all, if the amount spent to attract donors detracts from accomplishing the organization’s mission, the people needing assistance will receive less help.

Reasons this Season
The winter holiday season is packed with events needing volunteers and donations. You may donate because of a passion you feel for a cause, because you’re thinking of looming deadlines for tax-deductible gifts, or you may just have some extra money to share. Whatever your motivations to donate may be, the organization you give to will be appreciative of your contribution. Whether it’s your time, money, or both, the staff at these charitable organizations and nonprofits understand the significance and sacrifice of your donation.