Philanthropy Friday: Six Lessons I Learned While Pledging to Donate Every Month

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

Today is a travel day for Philanthropy Friday. I’m sending you over to GOOD.

Are you a member of GOOD yet? You should be. It’s a community for people who give a damn.

I’m reflecting on the six lessons I learned by donating every month through my Giving Pledge. Here’s a preview:

In February of 2012, I started my very own Giving Pledge. I was frustrated by the lack of donations to worthy nonprofits on my part at the end of 2011.

The problem was that my husband and I didn’t make giving a priority throughout the year. Once the “giving season” and the last chance to get those tax-deductible donations in arrived, we simply couldn’t afford to donate a lot of money all at once. Not many people can, I suspect.

I noted that waiting until the end of the year to donate money to a good cause is a terrible giving strategy.

I should know better, considering I’ve worked in nonprofit development and fundraising in some capacity for nearly 10 years. There’s a need for money year round, not just in December.

Since I declared my Giving Pledge –  to donate to at least one nonprofit each month – I’ve blogged about whom I’ve donated to and why. My goal was for my husband and I to give to more organizations and feel better about our philanthropic efforts at the end of the year.

After two full years of my Giving Pledge, I can safely say “mission accomplished.” Compared to my 2011, my charitable contributions when up significantly in 2012 and 2013. Looking back at my donations in these two years, I learned a few things about myself and my giving habits.

Read the full article Six Lessons I Learned While Pledging to Donate Every Month on GOOD and leave a comment if you have a moment.

I hope it will inspire you to consider your own giving pledge. It’s easier than you think. I promise.

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December Giving: Small Donations with Double the Impact

This time two years ago, I was contemplating my public Giving Pledge. I was disappointed in the amount of money I donated to nonprofit organizations throughout the year.

Though December is traditionally known as the season to give and the last chance to get that extra tax write-off before the next year, I knew better. I work with enough nonprofits to know that the need is there year round.

Not long after, I pledged to donate money to at least one nonprofit every month. My first “official” donation for my pledge was in January of 2012. I am proud to say that I have never missed a month of giving. And I can honestly say that my giving has become more intentional through this pledge.

I plan writing more about what I’ve learned in the two years of my Giving Pledge – about myself and my giving - after the holidays.

For now, I am winding down and getting ready to spend the holidays with close friends and family. We have a big trip planned for New Year’s Eve that my kids don’t know about yet. I’m sure I’ll write about that one later too. (And, no it’s not Disney World! It’s much colder. Any guesses?)

This month, I made two smaller donations. While my husband and I decided that we’d have a minimum donation amount this year, I didn’t see myself making it with so much going out of my bank account this month (it always happens at once, doesn’t it?). The neat thing is that my smaller donations will equal to more than my minimum because both were matching donations.

Giving Tuesday unselfie

The first donation was to WaterAid America on #GivingTuesday. This one was a bit of a no-brainer for me because a generous donor matched the donations that WaterAid received that day. Plus WaterAid has become a favorite nonprofit of mine. Their goal was to raise $100,000. They ended up raising over $250,000! So, yes, my smaller donation made a difference.

The second donation was initiated by my 8-year-old son, G. His third grade class decided to donate money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital instead of exchanging gifts during their holiday party. There was no pressure to donate money, but it sounded like the kids really liked the idea. They talked about how any small amount would help. G decided to donate $5 of his own money, and I matched the amount. He was excited to double his amount, and it sounds like I’m not the only parent to do so. I’m not sure what the final tally was on donations, but I have no doubt it will make an impact.

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Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.

another jennifer giving pledge

Celebrate #GivingTuesday on December 3rd + Rally for WaterAid to #doubleit

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Is it just me or did the Christmas hype start way too early this year? I realize that Thanksgiving is a bit later than usual, but it seems we went straight from jack o’lanterns to Christmas trees.

I’m not a fan of decorating or shopping for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I’m not even a huge turkey fan, but I believe we should respect the bird. Plus Biz turns 5 on Thanksgiving this year. When he was born (after going into labor on Thanksgiving evening) I vowed not to let the craziness of Christmas seep into the house until we appropriately celebrate his birthday and Thanksgiving.

With that said, we’re about to hit that “giving” season where we’re constantly hit with sales at ridiculous hours of the day to buy things we mostly don’t need. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. You know the deal.

Last year I told you about the first annual #GivingTuesday. Well, it’s back this year with a ton more partners and social media ambassadors (including myself). You can also submit a story of impact.

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So what’s #GivingTuesday? Here’s the description from the website:

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. This year help us create #GivingTuesday. A new day for giving back. On Tuesday December 3, 2013, global charities, families, businesses, community centers, students and more will come together to create #GivingTuesday.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

Last year, Over 2,500 charities, volunteer organizations, corporations and foundations came together in all 50 U.S. states to inspire people to be philanthropic on #GivingTuesday. The result was a more than 50% increase in online donations compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year.

Not too shabby.

In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, I thought I’d share how one of my favorite nonprofits is celebrating the day:

Rally for WaterAid to #doubleit on #givingtuesday

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photo credit: WaterAid

A generous WaterAid supporter has challenged us to raise $50,000 on December 3rd. If that goal is made the money will be doubled. Doubled! Considering the amazing conversations we had on this blog about the importance of toilets and sanitation for World Toilet Day last week, I’m thinking some of you might be game for this challenge. Just make your donation, however much you can, between 12 am and 11:59 pm EST on December 3rd. Find out more about Wateraid and the campaign

You might also be interested in a new report Wateraid just released with its partners, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, and Unilever’s leading household cleaning brand, Domestos. We can’t wait highlights “the stark consequences that the lack of toilets and good hygiene practices have for women and girls.”

Anyone can be involved with #GivingTuesday. Whether you tweet about it, give money or volunteer your time for a nonprofit, I hope you will take a moment to celebrate generosity.

Will you participate in #GivingTuesday?

Speaking of World Toilet Day, today is the last day to enter to win a $200 Lowe’s gift card!
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