A Time to Give
The two most precious commodities that one may ever have in life are time and money. When one endeavors to invest either or both commodities in a cause larger than his or her own, substantial interest can be earned from the principle of the initial investment.
On November 29, 2022, millions of people around the world will participate in Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday), an annual “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.”
No organization, church, college or university, or any other vehicle that is used to help communities, can sustain itself without support from people who believe in its mission. Human rights activist and chief planner of the 1963 March on Washington, Bayard Rustin, once noted, “the proof that one truly believes in action.” To that end, we must prove that we believe in organizations around us by investing in them. It is the only way they will keep going, evolving, and making positive impacts.
If you ask any organization what they need most, they will likely tell you “money.” Giving Tuesday is a great day to support them. Your financial support is what keeps lights on, staff paid, and organizations functioning. This is especially true of community-based organizations where lack of five or ten dollars could very well mean a family may not eat that night. Giving on any level to any charity or educational institution is greatly appreciated and every dollar does make a difference.
There are several ways to give. Outright gifts are when you write a check or make a credit card donation. Pledges are just that, usually in written form but sometimes taken verbally. They are pledges from individuals who have expressed their intent to make a gift within a certain time frame, sometimes in installments. One may choose to make a designated gift or pledge to earmark your contribution for a specific program or service performed by the organization. Most organizations prefer that you don’t make designated gifts, allowing them more flexibility in allocating dollars to programs that may need more help.
If you are a first-time donor this Giving Tuesday, there are several things you should keep in mind before giving. First, be sure you have done adequate research on the organization. You are about to support an organization with your hard-earned dollars. Be clear about the organization and its practices before you hand over a check or credit card number. Check out its website and social media, do an internet search to see what others may be saying about its work, and ask friends if they are familiar with and have a good opinion of the organization or program.
Secondly, only give at the level that you are comfortable with giving. Don’t feel pressured to give any more than what you can. If you overstretch your gift, the next person who may need a donation is you. Begin as a consistent donor at the level at which you are now comfortable giving, and it is more likely that you will continue to give in the future. As your comfort increases, so also will your gifts as you begin to build a stronger relationship with the beneficiary.
Just as you should begin thinking about your retirement and long-term life plans as early as possible, one can also consider the idea of planned giving that can continue even after your death. It is imperative to the success of our communities to thoughtfully steward the transfer of generational wealth. Planned giving can include setting up a charitable trust or including a charity or university in your will. This type of support provides you the opportunity to leave a strong legacy and vital assistance for generations to come. A development officer would be glad to assist you in making the proper arrangements.
Being a philanthropist does not mean you give millions of dollars, but simply that you give. Any organization that you choose to support will reap significant benefits. You personally also stand to gain from tax benefits—but most important is the satisfaction of knowing you made a positive difference through your actions. We are the ones that we have been waiting for. Take this Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to join the generosity movement. ▼
Clarence J. Fluker is a public affairs and social impact strategist. Since 2008, he’s also been a contributing writer for Swerv, a lifestyle periodical celebrating African American LGBTQ+ culture and community. Follow him on Twitter: @CJFluker or Instagram:
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash