Giving out of gratitude for one's blessings is a key component of wholehearted living. In that spirit, I want to let you know a few of the places my “give to others” donations go:
10% of our family income goes to our church or to charities we feel are doing God's work in the world. When we were younger and found it difficult to have enough money left at the end of the month for our tithe, we decided to set it aside in a separate checking account as soon as we got paid. By making that a priority, we found that somehow there is enough for God's work and our own living expenses as well.
We support our own Emmanuel Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and Shrine Mont, its church camp and conference center, because we believe they are both doing good work in our community and our world.
Community foundations make it easy to be a philanthropist!
A community foundation is a tax-free, non-profit, public foundation in the United States [501(c)(3)]. The advantage offered by a community foundation is its ability to pool donated funds to maximize investment leverage and minimize administrative costs. So your gift is added to the gifts of hundreds of others to create a big impact. And it's “forever money.” That means it is invested so income will spin off every year to fund grants and eligible programs. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving. Unrestricted money in a community foundation is used in a designated geographic area established with the community foundation is formed. But donors may create restricted funds for any charitable purpose anywhere in the United States.
CLICK HERE to view the Shenandoah Community Foundation website. SCF serves Shenandoah County and surrounding areas, but my husband and I use it as a channel for making grants to other charities as well. There's an easy DONATE link in the right sidebar. You can give to the General Fund for use in its annual grant-making, or you can contribute any of the existing funds. Want to know how to start your own fund? CLICK HERE.
CLICK HERE to find a community foundation near you. I encourage you to find out what community foundation serves your area and learn more about it. Besides helping them with their own work, they can be a source of great information about the nonprofits that are doing good work in your area.
Kiva is not a charity, but it helps people help themselves. It is a microlending platform through which you can loan money (as little as $25) to borrowers all over the world who are looking to grow businesses, go to school, switch to clean energy, and more. Once you select one or more borrowers, you can help fund a loan they have set up. You'll receive updates on your loans, and when they are repaid, the dollars return to your Kiva account. Then you have the fun of loaning them out again. Many of those to whom I loan money are women whose efforts will raise their families and their communities out of dire poverty or are capacity-building loans for projects that will have a lasting impact.
Join the Heartspoken Lenders team at Kiva. When you make your donation, just select our team. You'll still get credit as an individual, but it will be fun to work together to help others make their dreams come true.
Yes! Magazine and nonprofit organization
“Powerful ideas…Practical action.”
I'm so tired of bad news and dire predictions. This organization and its magazine deal in possibilities — the power of individuals to make a difference and wonderful stories of folks who are doing just that throughout the world. They cover a wide range of humanity-empowering topics: sustainable living, social justice, peace, and love. Just the thing for an aging hippie!
My brother in Seattle knows the founders personally, so I have extra confidence in its work. I've been a supporter for many years and have watched its voice get stronger and stronger. Check it out!
CLICK HERE to learn more about the work at Yes!
Southern Poverty Law Center
Sometimes I just support an organization that's doing important work because I'm unwilling—or too afraid…or ill-equipped—to do it myself. SPLC is a good example of this. In the face of threats and great pressure, they fight hate, teach tolerance, and seek justice wherever they can. Their organization tracks hate groups, has developed educational materials to be used in the classroom to fight bullying and hatred, and goes to court on behalf of victims of hate crimes.
CLICK HERE to learn more about SPLC.
I won't bore you with the whole list of charities we support, but if you're interested, send me an email.
How to vet charities
Making a donation to a charity/nonprofit is like making an investment, so it's important to know the track record of the charity you're supporting, especially if you're sending more than a token amount. These three websites can provide details, such as how much of their money is spent on administration, how much their officers are being paid, and often copies of their annual tax filing: