How I Give

Last Monday I gave a few of my personal thoughts on why I give to nonprofit organizations. I find it funny that we ask people for money all day but hardly talk about where we give it ourselves. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about where I give my money and why. I don’t want to give exact number but to give you a reference point my wife and I give about 7% of our gross income every year.

The majority of our charitable giving goes to our church. As a church member and someone who spends more than a day a week there, it is important to me that I am consistently giving to support the mission of my church. My personal belief is that God has been generous to me, and in response, I should be generous to his church.

When I started at my current employer, I felt that it was important for me to give a personally significant gift. There is something psychological that happens when you make a gift to the organization for which you work. Until I make that gift, it can be easy to keep fundraising at an arm’s length away. If you are not willing to make a significant gift to the nonprofit you work for, then you are probably working for the wrong nonprofit. The other organization I give to is a personal connection of mine. A friend built and runs a school in Africa and has asked me personally a number of times for fundraising tips and support. After my church (77%), most of my giving goes to The Wellspring Foundation (14%) and the Bellevue College Foundation (9%).

Every year I hear about hundreds of nonprofits, and I envy people who have more money to give away because they can choose to support more organizations. There is a lot of value in annual fund giving and I will, on occasion, respond to an appeal of my favorite organizations. I don’t like to give too many $25 to $50 gifts because the resources spent cultivating me as a donor, through thank you letters and additional appeals, exceeds the value of my gift. As a fundraiser, you have to be willing to make that kind of investment in all of your donors; I understand that. Organizations I gave to this year in that capacity range are: New Horizons Ministries and King County Library.

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One Response to How I Give

  1. KatieG says:

    Good topic and thanks for sharing your reasons behind giving…for some reason few people really talk about this. I agree with what you are saying about making larger gifts and why you don’t make many in the under $50 range…mostly. There are some organizations (local usually) for whom $50 is a big deal and for that level of gift I really don’t expect any big hooplah – a thank you/receipt letter is fine and if I don’t hear from you until the next time, well, I usually know your organization well enough to know that it is because you a) don’t have a dedicated development person 2) have a small staff that is doing the work I am supporting. Don’t rule out small gifts, but instead get engaged with your small organizations and understand what your gift is really doing – sometimes $50 is a REALLY big deal. PS it is actually amazing how much more often I get a handwritten thank you for a gift under $50 than for one for more than that.

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