Franks, Dawn

Dawn Franks

Are you feeling down about the future? Join the crowd. It’s a large crowd – a worldwide crowd.

It brings a new perspective on the importance of being crowdsourced. We must hang together and give together so that others, including our families and friends, will find help when it is needed.

Giving is different this year. It is more critical than ever. Time is short as we approach the end of the year.

Ordinarily, year-end giving is a December topic. After all, December is the last month of the year. But, as I write this column, I am struck by how quickly 2020 has flown by, even as it feels suspended in a time capsule.

For perspective, let’s focus on a few historical facts about giving in 2019. We know that nearly one-third of all giving in a year happens in December. We also know that last year Americans donated nearly $450 billion to charity. In December, $150 billion traveled through snail mail, across the internet, and through bank wires to nonprofit organizations, education institutions, and faith houses, $54 million in the last three days of 2019.

Most of us are prone to last-minute actions, a behavior learned in our school years. How often did you start studying for a test a week early? The work required to decide where and how to give feels a lot like a test. We face endless questions: how much to give — local, national or international, how to give – check, online, basket or kettle. And that’s only the beginning.

We complete donor information cards and repeatedly write addresses, credit card numbers, checkboxes, decide to repeatedly give – or not, decide to honor, in memory of and how we want our name recognized on their donor list.

Did I mention it feels like a test? If you saved fundraising letters and event invitations to go through and decide later, then your work grew to an alarming stack now requiring sorting, sifting and deciding.

It’s like deciding a, b, c, or d — all of the above. My problem with multiple-choice test questions was understanding someone else’s description. I much preferred writing the answer out in my words, answering the questions my way.

This year decide to do your giving your way. First, ask yourself what difference you want to make for your community, a particular issue or organization. Toss the organizations that don’t fit your answer. Make this years giving more meaningful to you, increase your impact, and be more strategic.

What if it’s not all about you? Start a giving conversation with your kids, young or old, ask their opinions. If you own a company and value the name recognition on their donor list, make sure the gift and organization align with your company values. Give to local organizations when you can, and don’t forget the small organizations in your community.

This year is challenging for almost all small organizations. Increased services and less income have left many organizations in survival mode. Some experts watching the nonprofit field predict that as many as one-third of nonprofits will not survive into the next several years. They have few if any resources to fall back on.

Our gifts could be the difference in their survival, but especially the services and work you want to support. Finally, if you need legal, financial, tax or philanthropy input, don’t forget to check with your advisors before the end of the year.

One more thing, what if you don’t feel like doing anything this year? If you are experiencing anxiety and fear of what’s coming next, then you are as normal as the rest of us who are hoping for a better 2021.

Start right now and push yourself to start thinking about your year-end giving. Be bold and risk what is different. We are all in this together, and it is still up to us to make the world a better place. In our southern vernacular, I’m not just asking y’all to give well – but all y’all.

Dawn Franks, the author of the e-book Giving Fingerprints, is CEO of Your Philanthropy. She provides high touch advising services to families, businesses, and foundations to enhance the giving experience and maximize impact. She writes a blog, the YP Journal, at www.your-philanthropy.com. Comments and questions are welcome. Send to info@your-philanthropy.com.

Dawn Franks, the author of the e-book Giving Fingerprints, is CEO of Your Philanthropy. She provides high touch advising services to families, businesses, and foundations to enhance the giving experience and maximize impact. She writes a blog, the YP Journal, at www.your-philanthropy.com. Comments and questions are welcome. Send to info@your-philanthropy.com.

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