November is that time of year when the trees start to change if they have not already, and the weather gets a little bit cooler. As the fall festivities begin, families come together and celebrate Thanksgiving in their own special way. Sadly, some do not have the resources to make this time of year special. Whether the resources are related to food, clothing, or the means to bring loved ones together, those without cannot enjoy the Thanksgiving season like many. Fortunately, this time of year also opens people’s hearts to help those in challenging situations through philanthropy.
Promote the Giving Spirit
What better way to help spread the word of giving than through National Philanthropy Day? National Philanthropy Day is on November 15th, right before the week of Thanksgiving, and was established as a national day by President Reagan in 1986. This day symbolizes the need to unite as a society to work towards a common good. Philanthropy does not just mean giving money. Resources include clothing, food, volunteering your time, and several other options that help those needing it.
One way to promote National Philanthropy Day is to mention the day on social media. Social media is a primary outlet to communicate information; therefore, the more philanthropy is discussed, the more awareness is brought to the cause. Another option is to join a National Philanthropy Day chapter. These groups are made up of like-minded people with a mission to help those in need. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) provides links to help you connect to a chapter near you. AFD has been in the business of philanthropy for the last 60 years.
Types of Philanthropy
Philanthropy can come in several forms depending on people and the community needs they are trying to support. Here are some of the key types of charity:
Impact Philanthropy: This type of philanthropy focuses on making the most substantial impact and benefiting as many people as possible through strategic actions. It often involves grassroots approaches that thoughtfully and intentionally use time, talents, and resources to give in ways that advance equity, effectiveness, and systems change. Some assessments to determine what cause to support include:
- Causes with integrity and strives to deliver a public benefit to better the world.
- Determine what’s working and what’s not based on working with the communities and people funding philanthropy.
- Qualitative and quantitative means understanding the impact of positive and negative, intentional and unintentional efforts on the people and communities served.
Strategic Philanthropy: This involves supporting the causes that matter the most to the donor and deciding on the best way to help. This may be donating to a single charity yearly or building a portfolio of organizations to contribute to at different times. The essential elements of strategic philanthropy are as follows (Double the Donation, 2023):
- Goals—Strategic philanthropy emphasizes the importance of defining clear, achievable goals that can be referenced when determining budgets for grants or other funds.
- Data-Driven Plans—Research plays a crucial role in this strategy-building process. Philanthropic organizations should have well-established data collection procedures to record and measure the outcomes of grants and programs.
- Accountability and Roles—With guidance from in-depth research and data, funders should be able to develop a clear hypothesis for approaching the problem associated with their mission. Roles and financial resources can then be assigned accordingly.
- Impact Evaluations—Outcomes are another significant aspect of the strategic philanthropy model. The strategy cultivated by this model is intended to predict and lead to reaching the organization’s established goals. Collecting and communicating data on the impact of these strategized efforts is essential for informing subsequent funding decisions.
Venture Philanthropy: This social investment may involve long-term approaches, hands-on support, and board management. Some vital elements of these funds include:
- Requires the right organizational outlook.
- Requires attracting and engaging funders who support making investments and understand that returns will flow back to the fund.
- Provides regular updates on the fund’s investments and the progress of these investments, including both scientific and financial updates.
- Requires both scientific and financial expertise.
- Disease-focused fund provides money, expertise, focus on a particular disease, and access to an entire ecosystem, including patients, scientists, and a clinical research network.
Family Philanthropy: This is the act of giving as a family in the long term. It helps establish a culture of giving for generations and passes on positive attitudes towards money and helping others. It’s a powerful form of philanthropy, allowing families to keep giving as the philanthropic landscape changes (CAF, 2023).
How Can I Help?
There are a few options for philanthropy, especially during the holiday season. Here are some of the popular ways that you can help during this holiday season:
1. Volunteering: Volunteering your time to a cause can sometimes have a more significant impact than donating money. Many organizations are looking for volunteers to help those in need. This can include Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for families needing a house; giving your time to a retirement home to provide a friendship or someone to talk to for those who do not have a family to visit them; and mentoring troubled youth.
Thanksgiving is a time when volunteering can have a considerable impact. Many organizations open food banks and pantries for families during this time of year, and a few hours of someone’s time could help serve more meals to the community.
2. Donations: Donating can come in several forms, including the following:
- Thoughts, ideas, and plans for a community—raising awareness of an issue within a community or making plans to start a food bank are great ways to help support a community.
- Time devoted to community needs and improvement—as discussed, volunteering can significantly impact helping those in need. Sometimes, it takes several people donating their time during the week to make changes in a community.
- Financial contributions—donating money is often the most common and sometimes most straightforward. Many organizations collect money to support their cause. Feeding America hosts virtual food drives that convert donated money into more meals than if the food was donated directly to the organization. This process is beneficial during the holiday season.
- In-kind contributions (e.g., meeting venues, food and beverages, tools, equipment, etc.)—this donation serves as an umbrella to other resources the community may need. Corporations can donate their spaces to host charity events; people can donate food items to food banks, and clothing can be dropped off at pick-up locations. There are many resources that people need beyond the traditional donation types.
- Planned gifts—this type of donation occurs after someone has passed and named a charitable organization as a beneficiary to receive some resource (e.g., property, financial, etc.).
Donations can also be broken down into one-time donations and recurring gifts. A one-time donation is where the resource is given once to an organization or community. Multiple donations can be made throughout the year and still be considered one-time donations. Recurring gifts differ because the donations are made on a consistent, recurring schedule.
3. Start an Event: While this may initially seem daunting, it can be as simple as setting up a local meeting to bring awareness to an issue within your community. Another option is to ask for donations and then raffle them off to support a cause. If you do not have enough time to set something up, you could see if your employer is willing to set up a charity event.
With National Philanthropy Day being so close to Thanksgiving, it makes sense to see what charities and events are available in your area. According to Pure Wow, here are some of the major charities and events you can participate in during the Thanksgiving holiday:
- Feeding America Food Bank: We mentioned this one earlier, but Feeding America provides relief to families and individuals experiencing food insecurity. It should be noted that due to the popularity of volunteering for Feeding America, facilities may request a food donation instead of volunteering their time.
- Local Soup Kitchen: Like Feeding America, local soup kitchens provide food to people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. When you visit your local food kitchen, you can provide your contact information when they are short-staffed.
- Turkey Trot: This event involves running a long-distance race (typically 5k) for a good cause. Most trots are aligned with a charitable organization, so you can feel good about working out.
- Giving Thanks to Heroes: This holiday campaign is run by Homefront America, where cash donations are used to supply military families in need with a full complement of groceries, a pumpkin pie, and a turkey voucher that can be redeemed at any number of convenient grocery locations.
No matter what route you take to meet your philanthropic needs, the result will make you feel good and help support or bring awareness to an issue in society. Many people and families rely on charitable donations to live, so having a national day dedicated to giving helps them get the necessary resources.