Around this time of year, my mailbox begins to fill up with requests from charitable organizations. This is a good reminder for me to be sure that my family has met our giving goals for the year.
In the past few years, my family has developed a donation strategy and a list of organizations that we want to support on a regular basis and in as significant way as we are able. The list includes local, national and global organizations. It has evolved over time. This list keeps us focused as a family on what we each feel is important and allows for conversations about giving, receiving, wants and needs.
I encourage any family that is in the position to give, financially, through volunteering or with in-kind donations, to take time for meaningful discussions about where, how and why you choose to give. When children learn generosity, the world benefits.
Strength in Numbers
When my children were in elementary school, they were lucky enough to have teachers who helped sow the seeds of generosity. Each year, the class would collect funds during the year, often small change. At the end of the year, the donation would be made to the Heifer Project, an organization that works to end hunger through community empowerment. The students found it so powerful to know that through their combined savings they were able to provide a family with a goat, whose milk would then be used to provide nourishment and economic support.
My own family has tried to follow a similar model in developing our own giving strategy. We look for organizations that strive to make a lasting difference and maximize the power of the dollars we donate.
Seek Out The Match
Matching gift programs are available through many employers, foundations and organizations. This is a great way to expand the power of your own donation. You may even be able to find opportunities for you and your family to become the sponsor of a matching donation, encouraging others in your community and network to give to a cause you believe in.
When Disaster Strikes
Disaster relief efforts deserve a bit of extra attention this season. Communities across the world have experienced a number of devastating disasters this year. From fires to floods, earthquakes to volcanoes, as well as famine, displacement and war. Organizations, charities and local services need ongoing support, both in times of disaster and all year long in order to be ready to respond when the need arises. Engaging the whole family in supporting these causes can help children process fears that may come up from learning about disasters and trauma, instilling a sense that there is something that can be done to help.
Charitable giving and volunteering are not just thoughts for the winter season. It is important to keep those in need in our hearts all year long. As the year comes to a close this is a good time to pause from our own every day concerns, think of others and take time to make giving a family affair.