Thursday, February 28, 2013

10 Funds in 10 Months

I am talking to you.

When I wrote a post last month talking about how happy my wife and I were to start a fund with the Columbia Foundation, I was talking to you.  Not the internet masses or random clicks through cyberspace, but the type of reader who cares deeply about their community, wants to know more, and wants to do more.

I was happy to learn that the post prompted the creation of at least one fund and that there is another one in the making.  That's $10,000 for the nonprofits of Howard County, more than you and I have raised in the history of this blog.  $10,000 of private funds to help our most vulnerable, feed our most hungry, preserve the arts, increase programming for the disabled, advocate for change, and make Howard County a better place.

I understand that the commitment is intimidating and all too easy to displace onto "people who have more money than I do."   I understand that you have children and that this presents a financial responsibility far more important than third party philanthropy.  I also understand that the immediate gratification of giving today is much more "fun" than the delayed satisfaction of working towards a fund.

But all the same, I'm coming to you.

I had an inspiring meeting on Tuesday.  One of Howard County's most distinguished leaders in the community had read my January post, knew I was talking to you, and wanted to help.  They recognized that $10,000 is an intimidating sum, but that it begins with the first dollar, becomes a habit, and ends up fulfilled.

They offered up to $500 in matching funds to anyone who starts a new fund through this blog.

If you know me, you know that this got me excited.  Because I thought of you.  I thought of the person who reads this blog, cares deeply about their community, and wants to do more.  I thought of how intimidating $10,000 was, but how much closer it would feel to have $1,000 in the bank your first year.

I'm not asking you to run off and send Beverly an e-mail right away (although that would be awesome).  I'm asking you to have at least one conversation about starting a fund.  You can have it with me, your spouse, your parents, or your rich uncle Frank.  I will make whatever arrangements necessary to find a time to meet with you to discuss whatever hesitations or concerns you may have and problem-solve a way towards starting a fund.  Or, I'll tell you that you're right, a fund is not the way to go.

Here are the different ways you can make it happen:
  • Start a Family Fund to teach your children the habit of philanthropy and the joy of giving back;
  • Start a fund with your parents, to keep the link strong and have something more to talk about than traffic and what Jimmy spilled on himself at preschool;
  • Start a fund with your friends, spreading out the financial commitment, and holding annual get-togethers to decide where to award your funds;
  • Start a fund with your Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or other place of worship to enable communal giving and live the faith.
The matching donation of $500 per fund is limited.  We have until December 31.  My goal, and hopefully yours too, is to help start 10 funds in 10 months.  That's $100,000 towards the future of Howard County non-profits.  It is a huge goal that I would never be able to reach by myself.  That's why I'm talking to you.

That's all for today.  Have a great Thursday doing what you love!