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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Gift of Giving

    When most of us think of philanthropy we think of wealthy individuals who donate large amounts of money to build a new wing on a hospital or college building.  But all of us could become philanthropists if we just donated whatever money we had after meeting our basic needs.  If we were to "network" our giving with others we too might be able to have a greater impact in our giving.  This is what "giving circles" are all about. 

      Here in Howard County we have some good examples of this. The Women's Giving Circle gives to women and girls in need in Howard County. Another giving circle is the Twentyfivefortyfive  which is a group of persons between the ages of 25 and 45 that use their joint funds in this community.

      An easy way to become a philanthropist is to establish a "fund" with the Columbia Foundation. There are many ways to set up these funds.  Some do a family fund that encourages family members to jointly contribute money to their charitable fund from which they can jointly give out grants.  Other funds allow the Foundation to use the money in the fund for designated purposes such as scholarships.

      Finally giving doesn't have to be through anything as formal as a fund.  I know of one person this past Christmas who gave each of his grown children the money he would have spent on their gifts to be given to someone they identified as having a need.  Each of his children on Christmas then shared who they had helped and what they had used the money for.  His said this was a more meaningful way to experience the holiday than to sit around opening gifts that they didn't really need. He told them he was planning on doing the same thing every year and they could be thinking of who they would give the money to during this year.  It was more meaningful than just giving to a charity.

Sometimes the gift of time is even more valuable than a monetary gift.  Becoming a Pets on Wheels volunteer, a Neighbor Ride volunteer or a volunteer with Voices for Children would be three ways that you might consider volunteering.

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