As the new decade begins, many of us are simultaneously reflecting back and looking ahead to the future, wondering what adventures lie ahead and how we can smash our goals in 2020. Typical aspirations revolve around careers, health and wellness, chipping away at financial debt, starting families, etc., but where does philanthropy fit in?
Recently, members of the Impact team attended the Mid-Hudson Valley chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ National Philanthropy Day awards breakfast where our client, Feldman, Kleidman, Coffey & Sappe, LLP, was being honored for its charitable giving and volunteerism in the community. The keynote speaker, Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president of administration at Duke University, memorably quoted renowned businessman and philanthropist, David Rubenstein, who believes that success entails a moral imperative to give back. For Rubenstein, giving back has included funding restorations to beloved national heritage sites, including the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.
After leaving the breakfast, I was fixated on the idea of giving back as a moral imperative, and how that impacts the clients I serve. American writer Robert Ingersoll said, “We rise by lifting others,” and I truly believe in that karmic concept, which I’ve seen play out time and time again to the benefit both givers and receivers. Instead of viewing giving as a sporadic, occasional practice, it should be implemented regularly and selflessly to forge human connections and build community. Giving can include both financial gifts and time, each a valuable investment, or be performed through for-profit businesses to bring to life its values, also considered corporate social responsibility.
Giving does not strictly entail monetary donations. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, approximately 77 million Americans—30% of the adult population—volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Recently, our client, Tompkins Mahopac Bank (TMB), volunteered for two days to help sort gifts for an Adopt-A-Family program hosted by another client, Astor Services for Children & Families. Supported by volunteers like the lovely folks from TMB, Astor was able to bring joy to thousands of families in need over the holiday season.
There are so many ways to give back, including: volunteering on a board for an organization you admire; delivering meals to those in need, like our client Greystone Programs does regularly through Meals on Wheels; lending your expertise on a fundraising event committee; donating clothes, toys, books and other hand-me-downs to charities like the Salvation Army; reading or tutoring children; donating blood; coaching a local sports team; serving food at a soup kitchen; volunteering at a fundraising event; and, of course, financially supporting causes through donations, corporate giving and sponsorships, matching gifts, grassroots fundraising and more.
While benevolence should stem from a selfless place, the advantages cannot be ignored. Not only will giving help your community, but it will nourish your personal growth, build a great reputation for you and your brand, bring about good karma and inspire others to follow suit. No matter how you choose to embrace philanthropy, you will surely benefit, or as Robert Ingersoll says, “rise by lifting others.”
When contemplating your goals and plans for 2020, do not forget to include charitable giving and volunteerism. These should not be viewed as “extras” or “possibilities,” but as necessary agents of change and fosterers of priceless human connection. Giving as a moral imperative is a concept worth embracing.