Writing a Check (Sitting On The Other Side Of The Envelope)

Yes, I know that this article is being read, primarily, by people who will spend the next two months awaiting envelopes with other people’s money. But, I think it is worth saying that philanthropy — and the people and organizations that benefit from philanthropy– only works when people like you and me give. This is my plea for you to set an example. In the same way, we ask board members to give impactful gifts so that they can ask other donors to join them in their gift – it is important for everyone in development to give, so that they can ask others to do the same.

Here are 9 reasons to pick up your own checkbook in 2009:

  1. All the people that are on your list that you say, “they have money, but they only give to the ballet” or “they only give to the food bank or their church.” That particular gift might not benefit your organization, but it does benefit some organization(s). And really, all of us that work tirelessly to help nonprofits should recognize the need for all of us to do our part.
  2. You understand $50, $250 or $500 won’t make a huge impact to an organization unless many people have the same idea. Many organizations rely on a base of support that includes hundreds or thousands of small gifts. They may not get the same personal contact as a six-figure donor, but your gift still makes a difference.
  3. Each gift –no matter the size –is a validation to the organization that you think their mission is a worthwhile cause. I would like to think that each gift is like a vote for the organization to thrive for another year.
  4. And this type of validation is also a sign that the organization is heading in a direction that is valued by the public at large. So vote early—and if possible–often!
    You know that certain envelopes – especially ones with a personal note can make the opener smile. Make it something you would like to receive.
  5. Consider it part of your continuing education. How can you truly understand the mind of the donor if you, yourself, are not a donor? Understand what kind of thank you note you would like to receive and which you wouldn’t. What kind of recognition you might appreciate. All with an eye for improving your own skills.
  6. The economy is beginning to turn around but employment numbers have hit the double digits. Whether you consider the social service agencies that have to increase services to match demand, the membership organizations that are asked for more abatements or the decrease in foundation or government funding, you understand why this year is an important year to give a little extra.
  7. Don’t know where to give? Give to your own organization. You could probably list the reasons to give to your organization while hopping on one foot, changing a light bulb and simultaneously doing a Sudoku puzzle. Do you believe what you are saying? Will you walk the walk as well as talk the talk?
  8. You don’t want to be one of those people that development professionals refer to by saying, “They have the money, but they don’t give.” You may not be able to give $1,000,000 but don’t think that will stop someone else from thinking you could give $500.
  9. Giving feels great. Just ask any of your donors.