“It’s something how we have so many more friends at this time of year,” Carol said as she sorted through all that had been stuffed in our mailbox earlier in the day.
She wasn’t talking about Christmas cards, those treasured connections that the digital world can’t replace. Emails with dancing Santas and singing elves don’t hold a candle to Christmas cards delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Of course, being in the print business you might suspect such sentiments from me.
But Carol wasn’t referring to those sending Christmas cards. Rather, it was the flood of appeals from nonprofits. Indeed, we were suddenly the “friends” of organizations that I have never heard of, much less contributed to.
Giving has become big business. Along with many of these mailed appeals are tokens of appreciation, based it would seem on the assumption you’re going to give. Batches of mail labels with our names and address – notice how they have personalized the appeal? – are frequently enclosed with a letter letting us know all the good our generosity will do. How could you use those labels without at least giving something, no matter how small the amount?
Guilt is a motivator and some nonprofits have no qualms in employing whatever means they can to get you to open your check book.
I’ll confess to using a similar ploy some years ago while serving on a board of a nonprofit that I’ll leave unnamed. The organization was applying for a major grant and it felt imperative that we could say every member of the board had contributed to the capital fund drive. The problem was that we had a large board and some members had not participated in years.
My suggestion, which was followed, was that we send all board members a letter stressing the importance of demonstrating our unified commitment to the cause and enclosing a dollar asking that they return it and whatever more they could. We were going to shame them into giving, or so I thought. Even with the “guilt” dollar we couldn’t get 100 percent of the board although, in the end, the organization was awarded the grant.
Taxes can be used as another motivator. More so at this time of year than any other, public radio and television stations are suggesting I can get rid of my car or boat by gifting it to them for a tax deduction. That’s a possibility only I wouldn’t have a car from which to listen to the fine programming my contribution would benefit.
While I question some schemes designed to get us to give, I’m in awe of this community’s spirit of giving.
Consider the more than 150 toys given in memory of Frank Rosa in a drive sponsored by The Beach Café; the tens of thousands donated to Hendricken High during Giving Tuesday, the $10,400 in GoFundMe donations to the burned out Woodbury Union Church; $1,400 in checks and cash dropped off at the Beacon in support of Neighbors Helping Neighbors; the $47,000 given so far to maintain the school mentor program plus the hundreds of food baskets and adopt-a-family programs supported by churches, service organizations and businesses. That’s only a sampling.
This is a time of giving and I can’t fault organizations spread far and wide and with diverse causes from appealing for support. Many of them do great work. For the most part though, those close to home and whose good work I see are first on my list. I count them as friends.