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Giving Tuesday Thoughts

#GivingTuesday heart

#GivingTuesday is not a huge thing in associations – although the ASAE Foundation has done some nice work on social media drawing attention to their donors today (more than directly asking for donations). But it’s ENORMOUS for fundraising/cause-oriented organizations. It doesn’t really kick off the holiday giving season – trust me, they’ve been laying the ground work for their holiday campaigns since before Labor Day – but it does often give a big boost to their efforts.

I rarely time my own charitable giving to fall on the actual Giving Tuesday, but it has got me thinking about giving, and I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned over the years:

One, my dad taught me that, no matter how little you have, give some of it away. There’s always somebody worse off than you. Even when I was a poor starving grad student, I followed that advice, and those few dollars I could afford to give didn’t make any difference in my household finances, but made a HUGE difference in my outlook on life. Generosity is ultimately a little selfish – it makes you feel rich in ways that have nothing to do with how much cash is in your pocket.

Two, my mom taught me that you don’t have to (just) give money – you can give time, too, which is sometimes more meaningful. That’s not to say don’t give money (see point one above), but also think about other ways you can give. Do you knit? There are national groups that collect hand knit items for the homeless, and your local shelters probably do, too. Have someĀ outgrown coats sitting around? Same thing. Give time in your local community. Do a fundraising race or other fun event. But get involved.

Three, I had an epiphany a few years ago: I could give $100 to a large international organization and it wouldn’t even be a drop in the bucket of the cost of their next direct mail campaign. Or I could give locally, to organizations doing good in my own community, and see that money have a direct and immediate impact. Rather than giving $25 to every WWF or Red Cross solicitation that comes your way, save up that money and give larger amounts to local organizations working on issues that are important to you and will have a positive impact on your own community and neighbors.

Think globally, but give – and volunteer – locally. You’ll be glad you did.

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About Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE

Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, is CEO and Chief Strategist at Spark Consulting LLC. Elizabeth has over 19 years of experience helping associations grow, in membership, marketing, communications, public presence, and especially revenue, which is what Spark is all about. She speaks and writes frequently on a variety of topics in association management. When she's not helping associations grow, Elizabeth loves to dance, listen to live music, cook, garden, and blog about the Philadelphia Eagles.
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