Leader Letters are monthly letters from the Maintex Leadership team. This month, Maintex President Linda Silverman discusses charitable giving.
December 3rd was “Giving Tuesday.” On that day, I received many email requests from a wide variety of charities. When I checked in on social media, I saw requests for support and donations from many worthy organizations.
I am personally drawn to a wide variety of causes and I choose to give with both finances and volunteer time. Maintex as a company also has many charitable initiatives. But all of this charitable activity centered around December 3rd prompted me to reflect on charitable giving and how this special December day came about.
What is Giving Tuesday?
In 2012, the 92nd Street Y in New York and the United Nations Foundation created Giving Tuesday as a philanthropic response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In just a few short years, it has set huge records of exponential growth. Giving Tuesday has rapidly grown into the biggest giving movement in the world. This year Facebook donated $7 million dollars in matching funds to various causes. Giving Tuesday is the second largest giving day behind December 31st.
Why should we give?
The reasons for giving are as individual as the many charities and organizations that exist. People can be inspired by an organization’s mission and cause. Others may give to make a difference or for personal satisfaction. Religious beliefs and family upbringing influence may also how we give, as do our social networks.
There are plenty of things we gain when we give. Some people give for immortality - in hopes that they will be remembered by their name on a building or a plaque. Cultural institutions and non-profits generally list donors in giving categories in brochures. Additionally they may host events for community leaders, donors, and business owners to mingle and network. Some donors seek to serve on a Board of Trustees which is a respected role. And those of us in business can't forget about the tax benefits!
Lastly, there is Anonymous Giving, which is often described as the highest form of charity.
To whom can we give?
Non-profits are classified by the IRS as tax exempt organizations. Charitable, religious, educational, scientific, and literary organizations are classified as 501(c)(3). Civic Leagues and Social Welfare Organizations are classified as 501(c)(4).
There are watchdog organizations which rate thousands of charities on financial metrics, mission, accountability, transparency, impact, capabilities, and accomplishments. They also judge revenue versus expenses, enabling givers to know where their money is going and how it is spent.
Careers in giving are growing
Philanthropy and non-profit is a growing industry. There is a wide range of educational programs in this field, including extension and certificate courses, online programs, as well as four year degrees. As I was delving into this topic I saw 25 top universities for non-profit careers. Indiana University has an acclaimed program at the Lilly School of Philanthropy - a degree in nonprofit management prepares individuals for careers in social work, fundraising, PR, and administrative services.
The Clean Up
December 3rd has passed, but the end of the year is approaching. Now is a great time to consider giving for charitable and tax deduction reasons. I suggest that you consider what causes pull at your “personal heartstrings” and make sure they are well-managed organizations. Now is the perfect time to give back or pay it forward.