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WELCOME TO THE SEASON OF GIVING

by David Aft

Welcome to the Season of Giving

Welcome to the Season of Giving

The holiday season is upon us, and while many of us are frantically searching for gifts to give our loved ones (or writing up wish lists of our own), it’s important to remember those among us who are less fortunate. Many individuals living in Northwest Georgia rely on churches and charitable organizations to survive from time to time. Some may need food assistance during the holidays, others may need housing, and others may need help with a utility bill to keep warm during the frigid winter months.

In one of my previous blogs, I made some general recommendations pertaining to how to give—the best way to optimize your charitable contributions and get the most bang for your bucks. Here are a few notes from that blog to consider as we journey forward into the Season of Giving.

– Give larger donations to fewer organizations. It’s great to give $100 to ten organizations, but it may be smarter from a “charitable value” perspective to give $500 to two worthy organizations or one significant $1,000 contribution. Larger, well-thought-out donations will probably do more good than several smaller gifts. This makes for harder decisions on your part, but it is a reality.

– Consider making periodic payments (monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly). Based on my experience managing and assisting nonprofit organizations, I know that a steady flow of donations during the year helps the monthly cash flow and adds to the long-term sustainability and success of organizations. And face it—it’s easier on your pocketbook to make twelve monthly $100 donations to a charity than it is to write one big $1,200 check at the end of the year. In today’s world of easy online banking, it only takes a minute to setup a regular payment schedule directed to your favorite charitable groups. Set up your automatic payments in January, and be done with it.

And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

– Use your employer’s payroll deduction program. Payroll deduction is another easy way to give. Money is automatically deducted from your check by your employer, pooled together, and sent to the organization(s) you’ve selected. Again, recurring payroll deductions allow you to spread out your charitable gifts over the course of a year, which makes your donation more manageable and helps keep a steady stream of cash going to the nonprofit of your choice. And did you know that hundreds of companies across the country match their employees’ contributions to qualified charities? Some match donations dollar for dollar, so a $500 gift becomes a $1,000 gift. Ask your human resources representative if your company offers charitable gift matching, and if so, find out what rules apply.

I consider my willingness and ability to “give back” an honor, a privilege, and a blessing, but it doesn’t stop with the generosity in my heart. Just like others, I seek value in my charitable giving decisions. As 2018 draws to a close, I encourage all prospective donors to consider making a few charitable donations before the end of the year and lifting up an individual or family in need.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.

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20th ANNIVERSARY: 20 Organizations with Endowments Managed by the Community Foundation

Chief Executive Officer, Alan Robertson stands in front of The Winners Club in Calhoun. Our Foundation helped The Winners Club establish an endowment that will allow the organization to serve the youth and families of Gordon County for years to come.

Chief Executive Officer, Alan Robertson stands in front of The Winners Club in Calhoun. Our Foundation helped The Winners Club establish an endowment that will allow the organization to serve the youth and families of Gordon County for years to come.

You have probably heard the term “endowment” used, but have you ever stopped and thought about what the word actually means and how endowments can benefit your favorite charity?

An endowment is a special type of fund that generates investment income — year after year — which make annual distributions to the organization that help them fulfill a mission. The distributions can also be reinvested in the fund to grow over time. Having an endowment fund can provide a stable annual funding stream for the organization and demonstrates its long-range financial strength to potential donors. They provide a financial stability not contingent on the success of current or future fundraising campaigns.

Our Foundation feels strongly about helping regional nonprofits and churches build and manage their endowments so that quality programs and services can continue well into the future. Today, we present twenty regional organizations with endowments at the Community Foundation. We’ve also included their missions. Is your favorite organization on our list?

1.      The Winners Club — to provide children of Gordon County with the love, mentoring and self-esteem so they have the opportunity to develop into the best people they can be.

2.      Family Support Council — to work to prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting and building strong, nurturing families in and around Dalton.

3.      Bartow Education Foundation — to support the Bartow County School System in providing world-class educational opportunities for its students and teaching community.

4.      St. Mark’s Episcopal Church — to gather in worship and fellowship, to learn, to teach, to nurture, to give thanks for God’s blessings, and be of service to the community.

5.      Harris Arts Center — to bring the arts to the entire community (in and around Calhoun) and to honor the legacy of Roland Hayes, a world renown African American tenor and composer who was born in the small Gordon County community of Curryville.

6.      Bartow Rotary Club — putting service before self, Rotary Clubs exist to help both local and global communities.

7.      Blunt House — to preserve and document the history of the Blunt House in Whitfield County.

8.      Habitat for Humanity of Gordon County — to bring people together to build safe, affordable homes, communities, and hope in Gordon County.

9.      Salvation Army — to meet human needs without discrimination.

10.  GateKey Program — to establish two-year scholarships for eligible Cartersville High School students and give them the opportunity to work toward an attainable goal of a college education.

11.  Looper Speech and Hearing — to meet the speech, language and hearing needs of children and adults living in and around Dalton.

12.  Boy Scouts Northwest Georgia Council — to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

13.  Dalton Education Foundation — to develop, support, and promote excellence in the nationally acclaimed Dalton Public School system by recognizing exceptional teachers, awarding classroom grants, and providing scholarships to students.

14.  Dalton Organization of Churches (DOC-UP) — To provide responsible short-term financial assistance to people in temporary crisis who are living one or two lost paychecks from financial disaster and prevent families in Dalton from entering the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

15.  Advocates for Children — to advocate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect in and around Bartow County and create a world where all children are respected, loved, happy and thriving.

16.  RossWoods — to provide safety, nursing care, personal care services and therapeutic activity programs during the day in a homelike setting for participants living in Northwest Georgia.

17.  United Way of Gordon County — to accurately assess the needs of Gordon County and to mobilize available resources to meet the needs.

18.  Boys & Girls Club of Gordon, Murray, and Whitfield — to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

19.  Alzheimer’s Fund — to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease throughout the Northwest Georgia region through the advancement of research; provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

20.  Creative Arts Guild — to cultivate and sustain the arts in Dalton and its surrounding counties.

Thank you for being part of our Foundation’s history. Please help us share our story by sharing our posts with others. And as always, if we can be of service to you, your family, or your company, please contact us at (706) 275-9117.

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20th ANNIVERSARY: 20 Fundraisers that Rock!

From watching thousands of rubber duckies float in the waters to raise money for Advocates for Children to eating a heaping pile of pancakes to raise money for the Kiwanis Club of Dalton to dancing on stage to raise money for United Way of Gordon County, big fundraisers draw us in and remind us that it is time to give.

The Community Foundation is a proud partner and advocate for the hundreds of nonprofit organizations and churches that tirelessly serve the individuals and families of Northwest Georgia. To commemorate our twenty-year history of advancing local philanthropy, we are posting special reflections for twenty weeks. Today, we present twenty of our favorite charitable events.

Advocates for Children in Bartow County races ducks to raise money and awareness.

Advocates for Children in Bartow County races ducks to raise money and awareness.

1.      Duck Derby — It's a really quacky concept that benefits Advocates for Children in Bartow County. To win the Grand Prize (thousands of dollars), donors adopt a duck (from $5 to $250). Each duck adopted is released into a lake for the big Duck Derby. The ducks float along and Quacky and his friends pull the winners from the water as they go. The first duck to be pulled from the water wins the grand prize.

2.      Baxter Dean Runway Show — For years, business partners Andy Baxter and Hanna Dean (with the help of local businesses like Gentry Construction) put on a runway show and production showcasing local high school student models. Thousands of dollars are raised and donated to a specific local charitable cause each year.

3.      United Way of Northwest Georgia Kickoff Block Party and Trike Race—hundreds of people gather to celebrate the official kickoff of the campaign season, watch CEOs and teams from local businesses race on souped-up tricycles, and see the current year’s campaign goal revealed to the public.

4.      Evening of Love and Laughter — In February, Prevent Child Abuse Gordon invites the community to enjoy An Evening of Love and Laughter — an elegant affair held at the Harris Arts Center featuring entertainment, auctions, door prizes, a raffle, food and fun.

5.      Spring for the ArtsThe Creative Arts Guild presents “Spring For The Arts” in March at The Farm. The event includes a delicious lunch, an Artisan Market and Raffle, and a fabulous Fashion Show.

6.      Pond and Garden Tour of Bartow County — Because everyone loves a beautiful garden, the Magnolia Garden Club hosts a tour of private ponds and gardens to raise money for Horticulture Scholarships and Junior Garden Club projects at area schools.

7.      Kiwanis of Dalton Pancake Day —the Dalton Club's major fundraising project is usually held the first Saturday in November under the big tent on Dalton Green. Since 1960, thousands of guests take part in Kiwanis Pancake Day by enjoying all-you-care-to-eat pancakes and sausage.

8.      United Way of Gordon County Unity Run — For almost 25 years, the Unity Run (offering a 5K run/walk and a children’s 1K) has marked the official start to the United Way of Gordon County Fund Raising Campaign. Only Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars raises more funds for the local 18 partner agencies.

9.      Roman Open Golf Tournament— a large-scale fundraising golf tournament held in Dalton that benefits nonprofit organizations operating in Whitfield and Murray counties. In 2017, the tournament raised $86,500, distributed to forty local charities, two memorial scholarships to Dalton State College, and eight merit scholarships to Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

10.  Relay for Life of Gordon County — the walk is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and is held in many counties across America. In Calhoun, the relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers of Gordon County and sponsored by local companies.

11.  Dalton Tour of Homes — In December, the Northwest Georgia Crisis Center launches their annual Tour of Homes where ticket holders walk inside some of the showpieces of Dalton and enjoy elegant food items. Proceeds help victims of domestic violence.

12.  Dancing with the Stars Events — Dalton, Calhoun, and Cartersville all host entertaining Dancing with the Stars type events. In Dalton, proceeds of the community dancing extravaganza support The Alzheimer’s Association. In Cartersville, the proceeds help support Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter. In Calhoun, funds raised by the dancers and the community go to help United Way of Gordon County.

13.  Toast of the Town — a fundraiser held at The Farm that honors a member of the Whitfield County community each year. Proceeds of the event benefit Family Support Council’s programs that focus on supporting families and preventing child abuse.

14.  Calhoun-Gordon Community Foundation Golf Ball Drop — in 2006, our Calhoun affiliate got the community’s attention by hosting a golf ball drop to raise funds to build up their community endowment. They’ve since awarded over $620,000 to local nonprofits and charities.

15.  The Purse Auction — In Bartow County, it’s all about the bag! The Etowah Scholarship Foundation hosts an annual charity event promising a fun-filled ladies night out with live and silent auction items, raffles, music, and fellowship.

16.  Festival of Trees — the Harris Arts Center in Calhoun invites the community to decorate and donate Christmas trees and put them on display during the month of November at the Harris Arts Center. The trees are auctioned off and the proceeds help the HAC fulfill their mission. There are also other Festival of Tree events in Northwest Georgia, as well.

17.  Tour of Adairsville’s Society Hill Historic District — a fundraiser for Bartow County’s Etowah Valley Historical Society and Sans Souci Women’s Club. For a small donation, six spectacular Victorian homes in historic Adairsville are open for touring groups in early November.

18.  Celebrity Spelling Bee — a hilarious fundraiser where prominent members of the community compete in a traditional spelling bee to raise funds for the Whitfield County School System.

19.  Love Light Tree — Benefiting Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Love Lights offer a unique way to honor or memorialize a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, or beloved pet during the holiday season. As each gift is made to the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation, a light is added to the Holiday trees at Hamilton Medical Center.

20.  Woodsongs Dalton Concerts — a concert series featuring an eclectic mix of professional musicians who play to raise funds for the DEO Clinic in Dalton, a nonprofit organization that provides free compassionate and competent care for needy patients who have limited financial resources and no insurance.

Thank you for being part of the Foundation’s history. Please help us share our story by sharing our posts with others. And as always, if we can be of service to you, your family, or your company, please contact us at (706) 275-9117.

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January is for GIVING, Too

by DAVID AFT

You have probably heard that 50 percent of the nation’s nonprofit organizations receive a majority of their annual donations in the weeks between October and December. It’s true. Most of us haven’t really thought about this pattern of giving, but I have, and I encourage you to think about it, as well, because it isn’t ideal for many organizations.

JanuaryGiving.jpg

Every December, there’s a big push to send end-of-year donations, as charities near and far vie for our attention and our wallets.

The holiday season adds its own demands, with countless groups working to make the holidays a little better for our less fortunate friends and neighbors. Many also “time” their giving to maximize the tax advantages of their charitable donations. 

But then January comes and the “goodwill toward man” spirit in our souls is shaded by the exhaustion that follows the holiday rush. It takes a few weeks to get back into the groove of regular, day-to-day operations. It also takes a little while for our pocketbooks to recover from this very special, but sometimes expensive season. Our focus shifts and donating to charities is the last thing on our minds. After all, we wrote all those checks in December, right?

In the meantime, many nonprofit organizations are starving for funds in January. Their needs didn’t go away just because we turned a page on the calendar. For example, extra donations in December to a food bank mean they can feed more food-insecure individuals and families, and that’s usually what happens. Not every organization is in a position to save those extra donations, like squirrels stowing away acorns for the winter. For many charities, the transition from December to January moves them from a feast to a famine scenario.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are four ways to help keep your favorite charities afloat all year round.

1.   AUTOPILOT—Consider setting up your bank account to automatically send your donations to your favorite charities each month. For example, instead of writing one $500 check in December to the Humane Society, consider setting up your bank account to send them $41.67 each month.

2.   A LITTLE PLANNING—Make it a New Year’s Day tradition to sit down with your family and plan out your family’s charitable gifts for the year. This will not only help shape a roadmap for your giving throughout the year and prevent the end-of-year giving frenzy, but it will also teach your children the importance of thoughtful, consistent charitable giving. You will be shaping the next generation of philanthropists with their involvement and participation.

3.   CLUBS AND ASSOCIATIONS—If you are a member of a club or association that raises money for community causes, consider making a motion to have the gift be delivered at the beginning of the year, as opposed to other times.

4.   THE TIMING OF FUNDRAISERS—If you are a volunteer with a church or nonprofit organization, sit down with the executive director and help them schedule fundraisers throughout the year to help keep a steady stream of donations coming in.

I want to be clear. I am not suggesting you stop or reduce your end-of-year charitable giving practices. I just want to encourage you to be mindful and remember the nonprofits of the world in January, February, and March—when their donations drop.

By changing our giving practices a bit, we can ensure the charities that care for so many, stay healthy all year long.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.

HOW to Give

by David Aft

In my last blog, I covered timing your charitable gifts to make the greatest impact for the beneficiary organizations you’ve chosen to help. Today, my focus is on how to give—the best way to optimize your charitable contributions and get the most bang for your bucks. Here are a few notes to consider.

– Give larger donations to fewer organizations. It’s great to give $100 to ten organizations, but it may be smarter from a “charitable value” perspective to give $500 to two worthy organizations or one significant $1,000 contribution. Larger, well-thought-out donations will probably do more good than several smaller gifts. This makes for harder decisions on your part, but it is a reality.

– Consider making periodic payments (monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly). Based on my experience managing and assisting nonprofit organizations, I know that a steady flow of donations during the year helps the monthly cash flow and adds to the long-term sustainability and success of organizations. And face it—it’s easier on your pocketbook to make twelve monthly $100 donations to a charity than it is to write one big $1,200 check at the end of the year. In today’s world of easy online banking, it only takes a minute to setup a regular payment schedule directed to your favorite charitable groups. Set up your automatic payments in January, and be done with it.

– Use your employer’s payroll deduction program. Payroll deduction is another easy way to give. Money is automatically deducted from your check by your employer, pooled together, and sent to the organization(s) you’ve selected. Again, recurring payroll deductions allow you to spread out your charitable gifts over the course of a year, which makes your donation more manageable and helps keep a steady stream of cash going to the nonprofit of your choice. And did you know that hundreds of companies across the country match their employees’ contributions to qualified charities? Some match donations dollar for dollar, so a $500 gift becomes a $1,000 gift. Ask your human resources representative if your company offers charitable gift matching, and if so, find out what rules apply.

I consider my willingness and ability to “give back” an honor, a privilege, and a blessing, but it doesn’t stop with the generosity in my heart. Just like others, I seek value in my charitable giving decisions. I encourage all prospective donors to consider not just who they give to, but when they give and how they give. In my next blog post, I’ll address how to avoid scams in your charitable endeavors. Stay tuned.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.

WHEN to Give

by David Aft

Every holiday season, I find myself in more than one conversation about charitable giving. Knowing I have dedicated my life to fostering both civic enterprise and promoting charitable giving, friends, family members, and business associates often corner me at holiday gatherings and ask candid questions about the legitimacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of dozens of local and global organizations on their radars.

A few weeks ago, when someone asked my advice about where he could donate some money to achieve the greatest impact, I shared a short list of groups I have worked with over the years—each with impressive records in impact and accountability. And then I paused and went a step further.

I told him that he could increase the relative value of his gift by waiting a month or two to make it. Let me explain.

For most people, the decision of which organizations to give to often trumps when to give and even, how to give. My argument is that all three of these decision factors are equal in importance.

Today, I will focus on the when part of the equation.

Most donors are “value driven”—they want the best return on their investment—and relatively speaking, their contribution could possibly hold more “charitable value” to an organization in the leaner months following the holiday season, when less dollars are circulating through the organization.

Many people are filled with the giving spirit in December, and they make a few year-end donations to help others, and perhaps, because they are looking for a few more tax deductions—not that there is anything wrong with that. As a result, many organizations are “financially fatter” at the close of the year than they are in the following springtime. So again, the aptly described “season of giving” may not always be the time when charities and the important causes they champion need our help the most.

It brings me great pleasure to be able to give back, but like other folks, I want to give back with great value and confidence. I encourage all prospective donors to consider not just who they give to, but when they give, because the timing of our charitable contributions matters.

In my next blog post, I’ll share a few thoughts about the different ways donors approach their giving, with an eye for making large charitable gifts manageable. Stay tuned.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development