If you are like our family, you are often looking for options for giving outside of piling the living room (and your house) with presents. Instead, there are ways that you can encourage philanthropy, give back directly, and create a tradition of doing good. We’ve compiled four tips to consider this holiday season:
Start a conversation
Use the holidays and gift giving as an opportunity to talk about the ways that we can participate in a community by thinking outside our own household. For younger kids, use this time to talk about things that are relatable, like choosing toys to give to a toy drive. For older kids, you can talk about how nonprofits work and the ways that people can support them (time, talent, treasure, advocacy, etc.). Encourage them to think about a nonprofit that the family might support together.
Choose companies that give back
Before you hit “buy” on your online shopping cart, consider supporting companies that have a mission to give back part of their proceeds to support a nonprofit. Some might do a “1-for-1” where the same item you purchase is also donated or they might give a financial donation for each purchase made. Other organizations like zoos or museums offer memberships that will also help support their bottom line.
No need to feel like you need to make a Bill Gates-sized difference on a ramen noodle budget. Each family can determine what giving looks like to them. For some, this may mean providing more time than treasure but each is philanthropic. As defined by the famed Robert Payton, philanthropy is “voluntary action for the public good,” and that means each family or individual is able to participate.
One year you might pool together resources to buy a cow through Heifer International or maybe you will do a food drive for the local food pantry. Last year, as part of our large friend and family holiday party, we stopped for milkshakes and tipped big for the local servers working on Christmas Eve. The holidays are a chance to give back and pay it forward, and this year could use it more than most.
Aja May Pirtle has two decades of experience in marketing and fundraising in nonprofits, government, and education. She currently serves as managing director of marketing and communications for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.