#GivingTuesday — Giving, Not Shopping, is the Spirit of the Season

November 26, 2013

gtIn America, the next week has, by my count, five named days. Most of them born of our “need” to shop.

On Thanksgiving, we’ll spend time with family, watch some football, express gratitude for our plenty and eat too much. (We may or may not acknowledge that Native Americans see the day differently than non-natives.)

Then on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, we’ll spend millions — much of it to buy stuff we don’t need.

That’s why I find #GivingTuesday to be a refreshing change from the three days that proceed it. On #GivingTuesday, we’re asked to share some of our plenty with charitable organizations and nonprofits in our community and across the country. It is a new national fundraising day to remind us that giving — not shopping — is the true spirit of the holiday season.

I’ve just about finished up my 2013 charitable giving — doing much of it on Minnesota’s recent Give to the Max Day. But, that day had its technical difficulties, and maybe you didn’t get around to giving what you had planned. Or maybe you haven’t tried online giving at all. If that’s the case, I urge you to consider participating in #GivingTuesday.

Why #GivingTuesday?
Many Minnesota nonprofits with matching dollars left on the table from Give to the Max Day will make them available on #GivingTuesday. Matching gifts multiply the power of your contribution.

According to The Able Altruist, published by Software Advice, 22% of annual giving to nonprofits comes in on December 30 and 31, which makes nonprofit budgeting awfully difficult. This way you’ll get it done a few weeks before the end of the year.

It’s a well publicized national day of giving with $100,000 in prize grants to the top 50 participating nonprofits from across the country.

And, it’ll be fun — social media will be buzzing with the hashtag #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3.

– Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Wishing You a Happy New Year!

December 31, 2009
MCF Staff Photo

MCF staff members at the 40th Anniversary and Annual Member Meeting

2009 was a great year for us with many notable highlights — among them celebrating the organization’s 40th Anniversary and a very successful MCN and MCF Joint Annual Conference. Thanks to all of you — members, nonprofit allies, and friends — who made this year such a success. Here’s to a Happy New Year to you and yours in 2010!

Happy New Year(-End Giving)!

December 28, 2009

I’m sure your mailbox has been like mine these past few weeks – plenty of letters soliciting year-end financial contributions mixed in with the holiday greetings. The challenge has always been how to sift through all this and make the decisions to give to some causes and not to others.


Before you uncork a bottle of bubbly on New Year's Eve, will you be making any last minute donations?

How is the tough year affecting your year-end giving? Do we choose to support nonprofits that address hunger and housing? How about organizations that are filling a need created by government budget cuts such as those providing education or medical care and support to those who struggle to afford it?

Or do we support those nonprofits that may have experienced a drop in giving this year (like arts groups, for example), because a good base of their support now is being directed toward basic needs and they are not perceived as such? Do we support dire needs in our own zip code, state, country or across the ocean?

In this economic climate, difficult choices are coupled with our own decisions about how much we’re capable of spending, giving away and saving.

Given the amount of mail I’ve received (via the regular postal service and via email) now is a time of great need for the causes I support (as well as for those for which I’m not sure how I got on their distribution list).

Working in the nonprofit field, I tend to view fundraising appeals through a somewhat more critical lens, thinking about messaging, impact and other nuances.

A couple of recent articles caught my attention. In his monthly e-newsletter free-range thinking, Andy Goodman recounts a study conducted in 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University in which researchers studied the giving of students who received appeals using data alone to illustrate need, a personal story alone outlining need, and data plus story. The results in a nutshell: Story alone is a more effective appeal than data alone and surprisingly, data plus story.

A New York Times article recently touted Dec. 31 as the “most lucrative” day of the year for many nonprofits, especially those that solicit online giving. Nonprofits, the article says, are increasingly using a last-minute email appeal to entice people to take advantage of any tax benefits for giving during the preceding year.

Join the conversation: Has your mailbox seen more, less or about the same amount of fundraising mail this season? Which appeals do you find most impactful? Any examples you’d like to share? What’s your experience with New Year’s Eve giving? How much giving do you do then? Or, if you’re a nonprofit, is that a “lucrative day” for you?

– Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF communications associate

Image CC Oskay

Time for Giving and Receiving

December 10, 2009

Times are hard and there may not be much cash left over for charitable contributions. One thing you can always give (even if you don’t have much of it) is your time for volunteering. This past weekend that is just what I did.

I volunteer for a local nonprofit (Pet Haven Minnesota) and they are participating in an event called Twice the Gift, sponsored by one of MCF’s members: The Pohlad Family Foundation.

Twice the Gift is a store located in the IDS building where 67 nonprofits showcase crafts and other items for sale, perfect little Christmas gifts that carry a message of giving to the greater good. The profit from the sales goes right back to the nonprofit thanks to the Pohlad Family Foundation, who provide the organizations with the retail space and store management.

This is the third year the fabulous event is going on. This year Partnership Resources, Inc. has taken over the operational management of the store with the Pohlad Family Foundation still supporting it.

One of the sales item ideas is a so called “share card”, which is a printed informational card about the organization of your choosing.  You donate a selected amount and give the share card as a gift. With the informational share cards the Twice the Gift store not only give the nonprofits a place to gain monetary support, but also provide them with a platform to spread the word about the work they do.

– Annette Lennartsson, MCF administrative assistant

I Freely and Openly Choose to Give

July 2, 2009
Photo by *Micky

Photo by *Micky

The choices are endless.

I could help the local girls softball association repair their catchers’ gear, the church youth group’s journey to New Orleans to rebuild houses, food shelf collections at my neighborhood grocery store, the picnic for families struggling with sarcoma, the small theater company’s edgy production of a work by an Asian American playwright.

Or I could support internationally renowned breast cancer researchers, a potter in South America via microfinancing, cleaner air worldwide, millions of the hungry and sick displaced by civil war or drought-ridden lands, or schooling for a youngster in Uganda.

Whether it’s across the street, across town or across the ocean, whether it’s one person or a multinational organization with hundreds of staff people, their passion to make the world a better place is what motivates them to pursue their mission and inspires us to give.

Among the freedoms we celebrate this weekend, let’s not forget that we Americans have the freedom to choose which of these passions we support and the extent to which we give.

Imagine how different our country would be if we could not freely and openly give.

In American Philanthropy Diversity: What It Means, Why It Matters, published March 2009 by The Philanthropy Roundtable, Naomi Schaefer Riley writes:

“The distinctive characteristic of American philanthropy is freedom. … However Americans want to help, they are at perfect liberty to do so. The result has been an awe-inspiring display of human ingenuity. The breadth, depth and variety of American charity has no historical precedent or contemporary parallel.

It addresses many thousands of causes, supported by many millions of donors, all of whom take it upon themselves to try to improve their communities in some small way. Such philanthropic diversity reflects the extraordinary creativity of free people deciding how best to give away their money.

It exists because countless individuals freely come together in pursuit of a vast variety of moral goods. Each of these associations has some charitable purpose; each has its own strategy. Each is unique, and each contributes to the rich mosaic of American philanthropy.”

So, choose to give a little or a lot, to some and not others, to give money or time. For me, the key is that I am choosing to give.

Happy Independence Day!

– Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF Communications Associate

Day of Service

January 19, 2009

Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. MCF member grantmaker contributions:

  • The General Mills Foundation once again sponsored the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast, “Because of His Dream, I Can… Lead, Grow, Inspire” this morning. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was scheduled to be the keynote speaker.
  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation gave $1 million to help build the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that a record number of volunteers are planning service projects today. A Star Tribune editorial argues that “if the unprecedented enthusiasm of last year’s campaign and election translates into higher levels of volunteerism and community service, all Americans will benefit.” Blogger Seth Godin agrees and wonders, “If every person in the US spent an hour doing something selfless, useful and leveraged, what would happen? What if you and your circle committed to doing it an hour a day for a year?”

Join the conversation: What can you, as an individual, do to answer Dr. King’s call to “make a better nation”?

January 1, 2009