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It’s Giving Season: Tips for Sharing Your Time, Talent & Treasure

It’s Giving Season: Tips for Sharing Your Time, Talent & Treasure
MBL Editors

It’s Giving Season: Tips for Sharing Your Time, Talent & Treasure

By Nicole Valentine

The months of April, May and June are prime time for non-profit fundraisers.  Board members, special committees and event planners gear up to celebrate and share causes and charities in the hopes of raising much needed funds to operate and expand.  This time can be overwhelming for everyone involved.  The planning team is charged with executing an event that reflects the benefits and value to the community.  The Board sets a fundraising goal in keeping with their fiduciary duties for a financially healthy organization.  And the public receives countless invites to black-tie dinners, festive cocktail occasions and auctions in many cases with a per ticket price ranging from $100 – $1000.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are currently over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States.  This number includes public charities, private foundations and other types including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues.  Nonprofits are businesses formed to benefit society and those benefits can be measured by assessing the impact of the service on the community they serve.  When you make a donation to a nonprofit, you become an investor in its mission, methodology and leadership.

I have extensive experience with non-profit businesses.  As a lawyer, I work with leaders on attaining IRS tax exemption status and in some cases dissolution events that include transfer of assets and mergers with like-missioned nonprofits.  As an advisor, I work with leaders on developing strategies to communicate and connect with large donors.  As a Board member, I serve on the governing body of The Brotherhood/SisterSol and focus on our development, marketing and special events.  In my many years in the nonprofit sector, I’ve learned that all philanthropy is personal.  What you choose to spend your time, talent and treasure on is largely based upon your connection to the heart of the cause.  For example, I connect to education and mentoring causes because I remember how valuable The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Players was in my teen years to my development as an orator and self-confident adult.  I connect to cancer research and support causes because of my personal experience with family members who have both passed away from cancer and who have survived cancer.  I connect to civil rights organizations because I believe this human experience should be fair for all of us no matter the differences in our race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Below, I offer some Giving Strategies to optimize and organize your giving.  When you have a plan, it’s much easier to navigate the nonprofit terrain.

1.  Connect to Your Giving Story:  Spend some time reflecting on what matters most to you.  What are you passionate about?  Which charities align with your personal values? When you are clear about why you support specific causes, a few things happen.  Giving becomes something you want to do and is not seen as a chore or a formality.  You are also able to bring your network to your nonprofit.  Because you care, you will find there are friends and family who care about you and are empathetic even if they are not directly connected to the problem the nonprofit is solving.  You will also find that you will develop a “consistent giving ethic” which creates sustainability for the solutions the nonprofit is delivering.

2.  Give as a Group:  When I was a young associate at my law firm, I knew I wanted to make a $100 donation during Black History Month to a nonprofit serving African-American & Latino young people.  I reached out to the other lawyers who I thought would donate based on their participation in the Diversity Committee.  I sent a heartfelt note and information about The Brotherhood/SisterSol and I collected over $1500.  When I sent that envelope to the organization, I felt the power of giving as a group.  When you organize group giving, you become a branch on the tree that leads to more fruit.

3.  Family Legacy & Planning:  When your family comes together, whether immediate or extended, do you ever talk about the causes you collectively care about and want to support?  Families that organize their giving are effective in providing resources in a concentrated manner.  This can lead to the execution of larger projects getting accomplished like a new building or underwriting a specific program for a period of time.  Nonprofits may also give families the opportunity to receive recognition for their focused philanthropy by adding the family name in the records and in other public ways.

4.  “Valuable” Volunteering:  I’m often asked by companies and individuals about opportunities to volunteer at nonprofits and how to get started.  I often provide the following advice, First seek what the nonprofit needs most and determine if you can fulfill that need.  When you volunteer, ask the nonprofit, “How can I be most valuable?”  When volunteers know they are important in moving the needle on a key project because of their expertise and access to resources, satisfaction comes.  Volunteering is an opportunity to be authentic in your support of the nonprofit and a chance to bring valuable talent to an under-resourced organization.

5.  Social Sharing:  With changes in our habits due to technology, how you share information is just as important as what you share.  The days of sending long letters have been replaced with crowd-funding campaigns on platforms like Kickstarter, Razoo, Crowdrise, CauseVox, Causes and Indiegogo to name a few.  Many nonprofits have become more modern and are now sharing their work visually through documentaries posted on YouTube and on their websites.  Below is an example of how you can connect rich content with an invitation to support:

I’m passionate about The Brotherhood / SisterSol.  Please check out an overview of their game-changing work:

I believe they are cultivating the next generation of leaders.  Please get to know a specific example of making an activist:

And I invite you to celebrate with us on May 8, 2014 at our annual Voices fundraising gala.  We look forward to your attendance.  Here’s a peek at what’s in store:

The Giving Season is upon us and I am excited about the power of people to benefit the lives of other people.  I look forward to seeing us all grow in our philanthropy.  Whether we are on the giving or receiving end, let’s be grateful for what we do have and our ability to experience the gift of giving.

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Nicole Valentine, Esq. Nicole Valentine, Esq. is the Founder of Winly, a business strategy & coaching app for business owners focused on accelerating growth and CEO of Synergy Business Development, Inc., a strategic consulting firm focused on growing businesses through partnerships, mergers, acquisitions and global and national expansions. More about her businesses can be found at www.winlyapp.com and www.synergybusinessonline.com

She is a Quarterback for Entrepreneurs and is based in New York.

She is also a Contributing Writer to My Beautiful Life

Image Credit – Getty Images
Photographer – Rolf Bruderer