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Donations

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.

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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.

Be A Hurricane Harvey Helper

By David Aft

Hurricane Harvey has caused historic flooding. Thousands have been displaced. You can be a "helper." Photo credit: Houston Chronicle

Hurricane Harvey has caused historic flooding. Thousands have been displaced. You can be a "helper." Photo credit: Houston Chronicle

Our thoughts and prayers turn to our Gulf Coast neighbors in need after Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi and precipitated historic flooding in Houston and surrounding communities. As the late Fred Rogers urged us years ago, we should spend less time dwelling on the catastrophe and focus instead on the “helpers” among us—those who choose to brave the rising waters to save families trapped in homes, those who provide shelter to the displaced, and those who purchase and distribute food, water, and clothing to the victims of this tragedy. In fact, you may want to be one of the helpers. This is not a complete list, but we've thrown together a few ways you can help those affected by the storm and included useful hyperlinks.

MAKE A MONETARY DONATION
Monetary donations are more flexible and cause less of a strain on the charity in times of crisis. As a spokesman on television said last night, unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods.

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help provide immediate relief. They have set up a way to donate to victims with a simple text. Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit http://www.redcross.org/hp/harvey3

The United Way has also announced a way to text a donation: Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund

Donations to support The Salvation Army's Hurricane Harvey relief efforts can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund set up by Houston's mayor, Sylvester Turner, and administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation is another great way to provide aid.

The Houston Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are asking for donations.

Carter BloodCare covers hospitals in north, central and east Texas. To donate, call 877-571-1000 or text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999.

To help animals suffering from the disaster, visit the  Houston Humane Society or the San Antonio Humane Society.

The Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio is asking for diapers and wipes, which can be mailed to 5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Texas 78238.

GIVE BLOOD
AABB, which coordinates a task force to manage blood collection efforts during disasters, put out a call on Sunday for blood donations in the aftermath of Harvey.

Those interested in donating blood may contact the following organizations:
American Red Cross: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), Blood Assurance: 785 Shugart Rd, Dalton, GA 30720, 706-226-7735, Armed Services Blood Program: 703-681-5979, or AABB: 301-907-6977.

OTHER ONLINE ONLY GROUPS TO CONSIDER
GoFundMe has created a page with all of its Harvey-related campaigns.

Airbnb is waiving service fees for those affected by the disaster and checking in between Aug. 23 and Sept. 1, and can guide users in creating a listing where their home is offered to victims free.

YouCaring has a fund-raising page set up by J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans with a goal of $1 million.

GlobalGiving's Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund supports local organizations by helping with "immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter.

You, too, can be a “helper.” As always, if you have a specific question about relief efforts or how you can make a difference, give me a call at the office at (706) 275-9117.

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.