A Giving Guide

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True gifts require nothing in return, but givers benefit from giving and U.S. philanthropy is building a new head of steam. Beyond the tax breaks, businesses can build relationships with new customer bases, improve reputations and contribute to the health of the communities in which they operate; individuals may also build relationships and improve lives. Your giving strategies will depend on your philanthropic priorities and philosophy.

“Give Where You Live”

Giving to local organizations with “friends and neighbors” is a way to help improve and shape your home community.  Coast to coast, north and south, there are more than 650 community foundations across the United States that have been helping donors easily and effectively support local causes for many decades. The Council on Foundations advances diversity and inclusive practices in philanthropy, and in its own organization, with a comprehensive plan and D&I guidelines for philanthropists.

Local giving initiatives are growing. One example, the Indy Give! campaign, highlights specific nonprofits as it builds a habit of giving close to home, especially among young people. The Community First Foundation in Colorado launched GivingFirst.org to assist donors in their research of local organizations in the state, as well as a designated day to inspire local giving. This year, its Colorado Gives Day donations were up 20 percent over last year to $15 million.  There are efforts like this across the country.

Give with a Big Picture in Mind

Some issues transcend local community.  If you are looking to support organizations that address national and international issues in diversity, inclusion, innovation and equity, here are just a few remarkable options to explore:

  • Venture for America addresses issues of job creation and talent development by mobilizing recent graduates as entrepreneurs.
  • Librotraficante responds to the Latino Studies ban in Arizona and promotes Latino literature, literacy and history as well as “a fuller understanding of all the histories that make up the United States.”
  • The Color of Change advocates for the engagement of Black Americans to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.
  • The Media Literacy Project advocates for media justice and accountability, and provides educational resources for deconstructing media messages and their impacts.*
  • The Mary Robinson Foundation works to address climate change and to secure climate justice, under the leadership of the former president of Ireland.
  • The Pachamama Alliance empowers indigenous people of the Amazon – “the lungs of the planet” – to preserve their lands and culture, and uses knowledge gained from that work to educate and inspire others to action.
  • Shining Hope for Communities combats gender inequality and extreme poverty in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya by linking tuition free schools for girls to accessible social services for all.
  • Occupy Sandy. The movement once characterized as “disorganized” and “anarchist” has provided some of the most effective hurricane response. It has been a “go to” resource for FEMA, the Red Cross and others.

Align Giving with Goals

The array of worthy organizations can be dazzling, and there are innumerable ways to further inclusion and equity through philanthropy. Only you can decide what’s most important to you or your business. Make your own list according to your own priorities. Then do the research and follow up. What do you want your philanthropy to accomplish? How will you make sure your gifts count?

* While The Media Literacy Center is a New Mexico-based organization, its work is broadly applicable.

Reply below and add your favorite non-profit or foundation for promoting the change you want to see in the world.

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