By: Jennefer Witter
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. -Winston Churchill
As the holiday season approaches, hearts and minds turn to supporting those less fortunate. That need to give is often heightened by the inevitable flood of year-end charity appeals.
If you’re not sure where to begin, and want to make the biggest impact, consider meaningful giving, which is guided by relevance and creativity. It benefits donors and charities alike and delivers higher levels of happiness and emotional rewards to the giver.
In fact, many studies indicate that donors and volunteers are happier and healthier than those who don’t give.
To transform the intention to give into reality, follow this simple formula: Relevance + Creativity + Giving = Won. This comes from Peter Weedfald, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Sharp Electronics, an avid practitioner of meaningful giving.
When it came to fulfilling the creative component of his formula, Weedfald was inspired by the sight of a hot air balloon featuring a colorful design of three mammoth Australian Gouldian finches.
The balloon was flown across the country to children’s hospitals on behalf of the Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House. Youngsters who were well enough were given balloon rides; others were entertained by costumed gold finches and given coloring books and crayons.
“This creativity surpassed anything that I had seen,” says Weedfald, who supported the effort. “The response was tremendous. We raised nearly a million dollars for the two charities and provided lifelong, happy memories for hundreds of children.”
You can be as meaningful as you want, but, ideally, you want to see as many positive outcomes as possible as a result of your giving.
Be sure to conduct research into your targeted non-profits. Charity Navigator and Guidestar provide information about the almost one million US non-profit groups registered with the Internal Revenue Service.
You can learn such details as how much of the money you donate goes to program expenses, administration. and fundraising, as well as financial health and ability to sustain services and grow. And to supercharge your impact, look at what an organization spends and compare that to what it achieves for the money. Or evaluate costs vs. societal benefits.
Don’t be afraid to think about getting the most “bang for your buck.” A successful non-profit must operate akin to any other business. A lack of business acumen is a red flag.
Finally, don’t restrict your giving to the holidays. Consider donating year-round, because most recipients are in need on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. “Meaningful giving fuels the dignity of hope, prosperity, security, and healthy living for those we care about,” says Weedfald. “The result is a stronger, more secure society."
Jennefer Witter is the CEO/Founder of The Boreland Group Inc., a public relations agency that focuses on corporate and executive visibility. She is the author of "The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Grow Your Small Business" (HarperCollins). Witter is also an in-demand speaker, with appearances at venues such as The Pentagon, The Pennsylvania’s Conference for Women, Vital Voices Global Ambassadors program, the 92Y, and The Brookings Institution. You can follow her on Twitter at @JenneferTBG.