Today is, in case you missed it, Giving Tuesday. In short, today is the day that pretty much every charity is going to make a push to get donations.
While most all charities need support all the time, this is especially important in these times. Many people are being negatively impacted by the pandemic. Many businesses—and that means employers—are running at reduced capacity. A lot of others are just plain closed, too many times forever. A great deal of what most of us call “entertainment” is gone for who knows how long.
All of this leads to increased need for the things that many charities provide…essential things like food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a seemingly endless list of other services are all seeing a spike in need.
Many companies are donating huge amounts of goods, services, and money to charities. Some of these companies are lucky enough to have seen a smaller impact that others, and their income remains strong. Others are in bad shape but see the need and are doing what they can.
In a similar way, many individuals are helping the charities. Again, some people are lucky and can afford to give more while others may be in need themselves, but find a way to pay the help forward.
No matter what category you’re in, it’s easy to get frustrated and throw up your hands asking what can you possibly do to make a difference. That’s normal and, to some degree, expected. Let me just tell you a little about me and my company…
My company is one of the lucky ones. We have always, since day one, been highly decentralized and distributed. Pretty much everyone in the operation works remotely and always has. This means we didn’t have to make many adjustments for social distancing: It was already in place. Yes, there are times that we would like to travel to have some face-to-face meetings and the like, but when we looked carefully at things, it wasn’t absolutely needed. While we have been impacted by the general slow-down in music and film/TV production, we have seen an increase in art and written entertainment. Loosely speaking, the decrease in some areas has been offset by increases in others.
As for me personally, there has been effectively no change in my income. Chalk it up to diversification if you like.
Both me and my company have always given to various charities, but recent events have made two changes to our giving patterns…
First, we find we are giving more in terms of absolute total dollars. For me, this is a no-brainer: The need is greater, so the support must be greater. Here near the end of calendar year 2020, our charitable donations are up just over 300% compared to this time in 2019.
Second, we used to focus mostly on “neglected” charities. By neglected, I mean those that traditionally receive less support than others. By means of example, zoos, botanical gardens, and schools (across the entire range) tend to get fewer donations than, say, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and food banks. We have started to donate to the more traditional charities while, at the same time, increasing donations to our old friends in the neglected classes.
Another big change in the company is that the managers in each division have been empowered to make donations up to a generous limit without the need to get approval from higher-ups in the company. Remember…we are very decentralized. It is very possible (if not likely) that a manger in a certain area will see a need for a more or less local charity. This lets them make a donation to that charity without wasting time in the bureaucracy getting approval.
Another thing the company is doing is to sell an entire division of the corporation. This is an area that, honestly, I’m not sure how we ended up in, but it is far from our core business and really doesn’t fit our model too well. Yes, it makes money, but none of us can see a downside to getting rid of it. Another company is likely more suited to run this kind of operation than we are. And we have already committed to funneling the lion’s share of the proceeds from the sale to charity.
One thing that has not changed is that both the company and myself make all donations in strict anonymity. We don’t make donations to get free PR. We don’t give support to impress others. We do these things to give back to the community—or world if you prefer—that has been good to us. We want to help as much and when we can.
So this brings me back to what YOU can do to help others.
I guess the real answer is that I have no idea. I don’t know your situation. For all I know, you could be wallowing in cash, taking bathes in champagne, and lighting your hookah with $100 bills. You could also be living in a cardboard box under an overpass and dumpster-diving for your next meal. Odds are, however, you’re someplace between the two extremes.
Can you afford to write a $1,000 check to your local food bank so they can feed a few people?
Maybe you can pledge $10 to the Wounded Warriors Project?
How about taking the change you just got from Walmart and dropping that in the Salvation Army kettle out front?
Or you could even go down to the local animal shelter and volunteer to spend some time with the dogs and cats waiting for their Forever Family to adopt them?
My friends, it doesn’t matter WHAT you do or HOW MUCH you give. What does matter is that you DO give.
Who can say what the repayment for your caring and kindness might be?
Perhaps the food bank will feed a child who grows up to be a doctor who, in the future, saves your life when you come into the ER with a heart attack.
Maybe a depressed suicidal veteran helped by the Wounded Warriors will go on to be the teacher who inspires your child to become the first human on Mars.
It’s possible that the Salvation Army helps a drug-addicted young woman pull herself up and become a leader in business.
And maybe, just maybe, that cat you give ten minutes of comfort to before he is to be euthanized gets just enough time for his Forever Family to come in and fall in love, taking him home from your arms and away from the needle.
Help in any way you can.