Friday, June 29, 2007

Becoming an Educated Donor and Volunteer

I like to check in with Charity Navigator Trent Stamp's blog on a frequent basis. This week, he posted a link to an article in Money Magazine educating donors how to be efficient in both their monetary donations and volunteerism for charities.

I think the point of the article is reminding people to find the passion in what they are commiting to. Get involved with a charity (doesn't have to be this one, though we love to have you!) because it means something to you. Doing something out of obligation never is effective.

For me, I had to narrow it down. I run a charity, so that means I tend to have a bleeding heart. I watched American Idol's show Idol Gives Back and like the rest wanted to reach for my phone and get to calling for my donation. I have been fortunate to attend many charity events in the last few years. I have not found many charities that aren't doing good works for good causes. But, I just can't give to them all.

So, this past year, I narrowed down my list. Naturally, Heroes for Children is my largest charity involvement. Well, it does pay my salary! But, and this is the more important part--it is what means the most to me. I love the cause and I love to see the positive effects of the dollars to the families. It is hard for me to give money to any other group. With the exception of very small donations to support friends or family (such as a donation to my mother in law's Team in Training run last year). But, I do volunteer my TIME, which I feel is just as important in many cases, to a different group other than Heroes for Children.

I've been fortunate to be the Arts & Crafts staff member (Director this summer--yikes!) for Camp Discovery, a week long cancer camp for kids 7-16 from San Antonio, Dallas (Medical City Children's Hospital only) and Austin. The camp is funded by the American Cancer Society and free for all campers. Since January, I have attended monthly planning meetings to help in the coordination of camp. Camp is in two weeks and I can't wait! I spend one exhausting week with kids, working in the A&C room to create woodworking projects, lanyard necklaces, and fuse bead art. I even suffer through my least favorite activity--tye dying--and participate in the ever disgusting "Jello Wars."

For me, it was about finding what means the most and sticking to just though. Heroes for Children and Camp Discovery have my heart. What has yours?


Anonymous said...

I think this is such an important point/post. It's very easy for me to get scattered when it comes to charitable giving, because (like you) I have a bleeding heart and there are so many worthwhile causes and organizations, and trying to distinguish which is most important makes my head and heart hurt.

But I have been making a conscious effort to limit my charitable giving (that sounds awful) so that I can concentrate and give more to the ones that mean the MOST to me. I also have started viewing charities with a very critical eye as to how they manage their practices (due to personal experience, I know that not all charities are quite so...altruistic).

I have checked Trent Stamp's blog periodically and find it to be pretty interesting.

So to answer your question: Heroes for Children (but of course!), UUA, and some other smaller organizations/trusts that were established to honor children and relatives of friends of mine.

Nate's Mom said...

Most of my contributions go to support people who are running/walking/biking/simming for a cause. I have supported several friends doing TNT activities. One of my friends' daughter had open heart surgery when she was a year old and my friend is very active in the AHA and the heart walk. I always support her in that. I also contribute to my own LTN walk, Relay for Life, and Komen 5K.

The other thing that is close to my heart is our local children's hospital ( My own children have been treated and stayed there. I wouldn't take them anywhere else! It is also where I did my internship in ped. oncology. If I ever won the lottery (which I never play, lol) they would never have to worry about money!

This was a great post to make you think about what is important. I am always getting things in the mail asking for contributions. Unfortunately, I don't have money to give to everyone. But, there are definately orgs that are near and dear to my heart. If HFC ever comes to CA, I will be here for you as a volunteer and financial supporter! And if I ever move to Texas... well nevermind, lol.

Sheri in CA