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Philanthropy

A LESSON FROM NOTRE-DAME

by DAVID AFT

The fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral

The fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral

Shock and sadness swelled inside me as I watched the video footage of Notre-Dame Cathedral ablaze on Monday evening. Like many, I’ve stood in awe of the ancient structure — a medieval building built by the hands of thousands between 1160 and 1260 that today is one of the most widely recognized symbols of Paris, France, and European culture.

Just hours into the wake of the devastation, hope emerged. Calls to restore the heavily damaged Notre-Dame to its symbolic majesty were answered with pledges of financial support. Individuals, businesses, and foundations across the globe pledged more than $300 million within the first 24 hours of the fire. The speed of the philanthropic response to support Notre Dame not only reinforces the notion that the many throughout the world view the cathedral as belonging to the whole of mankind, but also emphasizes that in today’s digital world, we can move quickly to raise money for causes close to our hearts.

I read that on Sunday, a GoFundMe campaign to help three black churches rebuild from arson had raised less than $50,000. But after the outpouring of generosity on the world stage in response to the burning of Notre-Dame Cathedral, donations for the small Louisiana houses of worship skyrocketed to $1 million in just two days. Sometimes it just takes a reminder — a nudge — to get the attention of philanthropists.

I often wonder what magic ingredients must be present to create such a groundswell of interest and support, as there are so many causes that deserve our collective and thoughtful action, but never mobilize the same kind of response.  Some might say that these other causes don’t rise to the same level of global significance, while others will argue that so many worthy endeavors suffer from their inability to adequately share their message.  I guess after more than thirty years of trying to find common ground between important causes and those willing to open their pocket books and wallets in support, I am still looking for a way to make it happen more often.

I feel fortunate to live in a time when responses to tragedies can move so quickly. However, I see tragedies each and every day — parents who don’t have the money to purchase food for their families, people in a downward spiral as a result of a drug or alcohol addiction, service men and women with PTSD who don’t have access to mental health services. If the world can move so quickly to rebuild Notre-Dame, can we prioritize our community’s problems and work more swiftly to address them?

I know we can.

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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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 Quotes About Philanthropy

Quotes have the power to say so much with so little. They convey big concepts and connect with people in an instant. In today’s busy world, so many of us don’t have time to pause and read long blogs, but most of us can find a few minutes to read a few quotes.

To commemorate our twenty-year history of advancing local philanthropy, we are sharing special insights and memories for twenty weeks. Today, we present a selection of twenty powerful quotes about philanthropy and charity. We hope you find a few minutes to think about each one. Which quote is your favorite?

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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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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 Historical Grants

From sacred Cherokee grounds to hallowed Civil War battlefields to theaters harkening back to the Roaring Twenties, Northwest Georgia’s historic monuments and landmarks allow us to look at history through a different lens, ask different questions about the past, and learn new things about our history and ourselves. Preserving history is an important way for us to transmit our understanding of the past to future generations.

An evening at Calhoun's historic GEM Theatre. Photo compliments of the GEM.

An evening at Calhoun's historic GEM Theatre. Photo compliments of the GEM.

The Community Foundation places great importance on partnering with and assisting organizations and projects that prioritize historic preservation.

To commemorate our twenty-year history of advancing local philanthropy, we are posting special reflections for twenty weeks. Today, we present twenty Community Foundation grants that have helped preserve the rich history of Northwest Georgia.

1.      New Echota State Historic Site — in 2012, the Calhoun-Gordon affiliate awarded a grant to help fund the Cherokee Visiting Artists and Historic Demonstrations Series.

2.      Prater’s Mill Foundation — in 2013, the Dalton-Whitfield Community Foundation affiliate awarded a grant to help Prater’s Mill extend their hours of operation to draw more visitors to the historic landmark. Since then, the Foundation has awarded other grants to help Prater’s Mill preserve its rich history.

3.      The Emery Center — in 2016, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant to help fund much-needed building repairs at the center.

4.      GEM Theatre — in 2007, the Calhoun-Gordon affiliate awarded a grant to help with the restoration efforts of the theatre.

5.      Noble Hill Wheeler Memorial Foundation — in 2006, the Cartersville-Bartow affiliate awarded a grant to help them with the historic preservation of the site.

6.      Whitfield-Murray Historical Society — in 2013, the Dalton-Whitfield Community Foundation affiliate awarded a grant to help replace a security gate and make general improvements to the Dug Gap Battle Park. Through the years, the Foundation has awarded several grants to help the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society’s properties throughout the region.

7.      Blunt House — in 2014, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant to help remove an existing damaged sidewalk and replace it with a smooth, wheelchair accessible sidewalk to accommodate visitors.

8.      Huff House — in 2016, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant to help them with expenses associated with their Huffabaloo Festival.

9.      Bartow History Museum — in 2014, the Cartersville-Bartow Community Foundation affiliate awarded a grant to the Bartow History Museum to help fund “The War Comes Home: a Civil War Exhibition looking at Bartow County.”

10.  Save the Dalton Battlefields, LLC — in 2013, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant to help preserve Mill Creek Gap Battlefield Park.

11.  Etowah Valley Historical Society — in 2014, the Cartersville-Bartow affiliate awarded a grant to help fund “Bartow History Scholars,” a web-based tutorial with interactive digital maps to teach Bartow County history to all three school systems.

12.  Friends of the Crescent City — in 2014, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant (one of many grants) to help restore the 1949 vintage Pullman train car, which has become a point of interest for visitors touring Dalton, as well as local students.

13.  University of West Georgia Center for Public History — in 2014, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant to help fund the West Georgia Textile Trail Annual Conference, a state-wide promotion of the heritage tourism related to the textile industries and their communities from Columbus to Dalton.

14.  Chieftains Museum (Rome, GA) — in 2013, Bill and Linda Blackman awarded a grant from their Community Foundation Donor Advised Fund to the Chieftains Museum to help restore some historical letters penned by General Robert E. Lee.

15.  Kingston Womens Club — in 2007 and 2008, the Cartersville-Bartow affiliate awarded a grant to the club to help them preserve the history of the Kingston area.

16.  Friends of Resaca – in 2008, the Calhoun-Gordon affiliate awarded a grant to help fund restoration and projects associated with the Resaca Battlefield.

17.  Town of Cohutta — in 2016, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant to the Town of Cohutta to help fund the renovation and restoration of the historic Andrews Chapel Cultural Center.

18.  Bandy Heritage Center — in 2013, the Dalton-Whitfield affiliate awarded a grant to purchase video equipment for the Bandy Heritage Center to help them record the stories of historical figures throughout the region.

19.  Bartow History Museum — In 2015, the Cartersville-Bartow affiliate awarded a grant to help fund an exhibition titled, “Fill ‘er Up: The Story of the Service Station.”

20.  Calhoun-Gordon Sports Hall of Fame — In 2015, the Calhoun-Gordon affiliate awarded a grant to the local Sports Hall of Fame to help preserve the sports-related histories associated with local residents.

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.

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.

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What We Share

by DAVID AFT

It seems like only yesterday that we all took a moment from our busy lives to put on a pair of silly cardboard sunglasses and stared at the sky.  My wife and I joined a great number of our fellow Americans in looking skyward and watching the moon eclipse the sun.  For a moment or three (depending how far you ventured into the celebrated “zone of totality”) our differences were set aside in favor of a truly unique and other-worldly experience. 

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Beyond the natural beauty of this infrequent collusion of heavenly bodies, it was hard not to notice that for a brief moment, it seemed we were all on the same team. There wasn’t any of the contentious rancor that has so characterized our modern world. Even the President took a moment to look upward. He understood that it was bigger than all of us.

Over the weekend, I joined most of the country in watching Hurricane Irma and its devastating dance through the Caribbean and up the coast of Florida. We all held our breath as we thought about our friends and neighbors.

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Utility service trucks organized, staging in strategic locations, ready to move in as soon as the storm’s winds subsided. 

Once again, we focused and we acted - not as a fractured commonwealth, but as a team. 

There are many things that bring us together - some exciting and extra-terrestrial, like the eclipse, but some with a more serious and human aspect.

Now, you may ask what all of this has to do with philanthropy and charitable giving. The answer is pretty simple – we are at our very best when we work together and remember that our highest aspirations and deepest commitments are best served when we focus our energies on the things larger than ourselves.

Sometimes it seems like we will never find the balancing point between our individual perspectives and our collective needs. 

The fact that we pause for a moment to look up at the stars or commit ourselves to the welfare of our common man, prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we can focus on things that are larger than all of us.  Further, these opportunities also remind us that in the face of adverse conditions, we, as a country, are willing to line up, like the utility trucks we saw earlier this week headed for Florida and Texas, and focus our efforts on making a difference.

This spirit is alive and well, and the last few weeks have provided ample reminders that when we pause for a moment, the noise and bickering that so often characterize our world, take a distant second to our resolve and commitment. This is truly the heart of philanthropy.

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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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.