5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Happy New Year DoGooders!

I hope your holidays were and are merry and bright and your new year's resolutions center around how you can transform your community into the amazing place you know it can be!

Here are 6 resources for you to get that marvelous transformation started in 2017!

If you're a nonprofit professional...

If you support nonprofit organizations financially through donations or board service...

If you want to do more for the nonprofits you love in your community...

  • Check out VolunteerMatch to see if your skills are needed at an office near you!

Whether it's deciding to make a small recurring gift to a local organization or volunteering your time to serve on a board or making the choice to take care of yourself...small decisions can lead to huge transformations! And those of us who love and serve the nonprofit sector know this better than anybody!

SO go out there and build great things, do great work, and create the community you want to see!

Elsewhere...

Creating a Culture of Giving

Part of what moved me to create Building the Table was seeing a growing awareness in the people around me of the system I had been part of for years. Over the last few years people have wanted to know how they can connect with nonprofit organizations making an impact in their communities, wanting to know how to give in a way that was useful and not just boastful.

And time and again I would tell them: "even a small recurrent donation makes a difference, taking time out of your schedule to offer to volunteer for some grunt work, making sure a nonprofit you love is gifted something when you pass" Small but mighty things that make difference in the lifespan of a nonprofit organization.

It is so often forgotten in this day and age of big splashes and viral videos that even small commitments can do great things. People get overwhelmed seeing headlines about this organization or that organization getting a 5 million dollar grant or that a national advocacy org got hundreds of thousands of dollars after a successful hashtag campaign, they think that their one small act, their $10 a month can't possibly make a difference.

And so instead of a culture of giving, we create a culture of showing, of seeing, of waiting...a culture that forgets that small commitments, in it for the long haul, make all the difference.

So today I thought I would do a little list and talk about: 4 things you can do TODAY to begin creating a culture of giving in your life!

  • Give up take out soda, or coffee or pastry or a sandwich at lunch, one day a week, one week a month and dedicate that amount to a recurring donation to a nonprofit organization you love. Yes, it seems like a microscopic thing. That's what? Maybe 8 bucks a month? 10? You just bought a ream of paper for an organization you believe in. That means you helped them write grants, take meeting notes, print booklets for programming...the list goes on and on.

  • Take 5 minutes and go to VolunteerMatch.org. This excellent organization will pair you up with local organizations who need a hand. You enter your interests, your skills, even your availability and they email you suggestions and contact info! 
  • Ask your company if they have a gift matching program. And then if you're very bold, start fundraising! Matching gifts not only double the impact a small gift may have (did you decide to save up your 10 bucks a month and then donate it at the end of the year? smarty. Now with your companies matching gift program the organization has $240 to play with) but they put smaller organizations on the radar at larger companies. Many times companies look to their employees to see who is giving where. This can be a big help for smaller nonprofits! And if you are bold enough to ask friends to join with you and support your cause, that's even more dollars going to the group you love!
  • Reach out to the people you know who work closely with charities and learn exactly what they need. This one doesn't cost you anything and may just be the most important one on the list! Chances are you know one or two people who work for a nonprofit organization (and if you don't email me and I will put you in contact with people all over the world!) Talking to the people doing the real work at nonprofit organizations can tell you exactly what they need most. Most times yes, it's funding. But sometimes its an in-kind donation need that only YOU can meet! Do you have a special skill set - design, or coding? They may be in a position to accept some pro bono work from you! Hearing about exactly what's needed is something that can't really be done on the large scale and is a unique opportunity for an individual to make a difference.

It's a short list but we just established that small things can be mighty right? So what are you doing to support nonprofit organizations you love this time of year? Share and link them in the comments!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

End of the calendar year is a busy time for us in the nonprofit industry. Every donation needs a thank you letter, every year the annual report needs to be more informative but also more interesting, the board is meeting to approve the budget for next year, the 990 needs to be filed.

This rush at the end of the year generally centers around money - something many "outsiders" consider a necessary evil in the nonprofit world. Nonprofit organizations rely on regular donors to support their missions and sustain their impact. Individual donors can often have more of an effect on the day to day work of a charity than a major corporate grant. These personal connections, the $100 a month from a neighbor or family member keep the lights on, keep the workbooks printed, they put coffee in the coffee pot.

This year was an election year in the United States (my apologies to potential international readers, I'm going to tend to skew heavily States-ward, since that's where I do my work!) and because of that we have seen some interesting trends in giving.

According to Nonprofit Quarterly, Blackbaud's analysis of Giving Tuesday gifts "reports only a 20 percent increase in the value of the gifts it processed yesterday, for a total of $47.7 million. While the number looks impressive, the rate of growth is far less than in previous years."

However, advocacy and civil liberties groups have seen a tremendous increase in donations since the election. Individual donors saw a perceived need and rose to the occasion in record numbers. The ACLU reported website crashes the day after the election because of the donors flooding in.

So what does this mean for nonprofit organizations in general? Will this trend continue of overall giving declining but certain groups getting an influx of cash? What is your organization doing to prepare for the changed political climate, and with that a potential change in giving levels?

 

Infographic on giving for 2015. Individual giving made up 71% of contributions.  Many thanks to the Giving Institute for compiling and analyzing all the data to give us this incredible picture of the charitable climate of the United States! Source: https://givingusa.org/see-the-numbers-giving-usa-2016-infographic/

Infographic on giving for 2015. Individual giving made up 71% of contributions.

Many thanks to the Giving Institute for compiling and analyzing all the data to give us this incredible picture of the charitable climate of the United States! Source: https://givingusa.org/see-the-numbers-giving-usa-2016-infographic/

Let's get Civic-al!

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of MyCivicWorkout the other day. So many people have been asking me, and many others I know in the nonprofit world, "what can we do?" in response to this particularly vicious political climate. People are beginning to realize that just posting a status on Facebook or dropping a load of garage sale leftovers at Goodwill isn't enough any more, and they want to get involved! While I usually start by encouraging people to make a recurrent, unrestricted donation to a charity they are passionate about, everyone can do more to create the world they want to see. MyCivicWorkout helps people reach out and make an impact in their communities. It's a fantastic way to flex those activist muscles...even if you're just starting out. Subscribe to get 5-, 10-, and 30-minute activism "workouts" to build your do-goodery muscles and make a difference. So get out of the armchair activist role and get to work!

(Guys, that was a LOT of workout metaphors for one blog post. I'm so sorry)

Taking action gets colorful at a roundtable discussion on women and entrepreneurship with  EmpoweredPHXX

Taking action gets colorful at a roundtable discussion on women and entrepreneurship with EmpoweredPHXX

"What's Next?"

One of my favorite shows The West Wing used this as a call to action, a way to move on to the next adventure. And I loved it to the very bottom of my little activist toes. I am a do-er, a dreamer too, but nothing pleases me more than an execute-able plan and a long line of successfully delivered deliverables. That's why the nonprofit world has always been special to me. It's a beautiful thing to make a career out of helping people...but it's also day after day of hard work.

15 years after I started in this crazy, awesome, grueling industry, I decided it was time to be a resource to the organizations I have spent my professional career serving. So Building the Table was born.

I wanted to create a space for people to come together to hear stories, plans, trials and successes from other people grinding out the beautiful, difficult work of building charitable and served communities.

Stay tuned for amazing interviews with all types of people, endless links to incredible resources, hilarious and engaging videos...and MORE!

This is what's next...