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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!