Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#GivingTuesday in Howard County

Today is Giving Tuesday.  While I appreciate the sentiment that we shouldn't need a day to give, my experience in nonprofit service tells a very different story.  Philanthropy is down.  Way down.  While smaller nonprofits have been able to tighten belts and (continue to) freeze salaries, larger nonprofits are holding their breath and waiting for things to recover.

Based on my anecdotal experience, corporate giving is what has gone down the most.  With the consolidation of private firms (particularly banks), there just aren't as many "givers".  The sentiment that those who profit from a community should contribute some percentage of that back into the nonprofit sector has lost its compulsion.

There are certainly exceptions.  I don't think I've been on a nonprofit board or attended a nonprofit event without seeing names like Howard Bank, Harkins Builders, or Williamsburg Homes.  There are many others that I am sure I am leaving out, but your work speaks much louder than anything I might write here.

Individual contributions seem to have remained steady, which is odd in the age of the individual.  If we are "bowling alone" and freelancing and decentralizing our life, you would think we would do the same with our giving.  I've previously advocated for planned giving and continue to believe this is an important way to make a significant impact.  Nevertheless, I must admit that with a campaign, a baby, and a new job the support for my fund has slowed.  But even in the haze of "keeping up", I try to always remember that someone else is just trying to get their feet under them.  And so, my wife and I still give.

Here are some nonprofits I would recommend as deserving your attention on this #GivingTuesday (whether you think we need the "holiday" or not):

Living in Recovery - You will recall that a few years back we raised over $5,000 to help establish some of the first "Sober Houses" in Howard County.  That nonprofit has continued to flourish and currently has a generous donor willing to match donations up to $2,000!  If your philanthropic budget is limited, I think this is a great place to start.

Voices for Children - If you've spent any time on this blog, you may know that I've served on the Board of Directors for Voices for Children for over 8 years.  I currently serve as Board Chair, which has renewed my enthusiasm for a quiet nonprofit that does very important work for our county's abused and neglected children.  If you are looking to invest in giving children the comfort and protection they need, please contribute via this link.

Columbia Festival of the Arts - I joined the Board of Trustees for the Festival last winter.  Admittedly, I am not particularly well versed in the arts, but I believe in the mission of this organization.  Without culture, without the arts, Columbia is just a place with a name.  We will always have our collective history, but we'll lack the glue that makes us a community.  The Columbia Festival provides that glue and is undergoing an exciting change that will continue to evolve with our city.  If you see the inherent value in the way a collective experience can help define a place, you can donate here.

Even if my recommendations are not on point for you today, I would encourage you to find an organization that is.  They need you.

Have a great #GivingTuesday donating to what you love!