With more than 30,000 nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts alone, the “Season of Giving” can feel a little overwhelming. If you have a little extra to give this holiday season or feel motivated by the global movement called Giving Tuesday, here are the Who, What, Where, When and How’s to give safely and with purpose this holiday season.
Who do you want to support this season?
The first question to consider is who you’d like to support. Because there are so many worthwhile opportunities to give, it’s helpful to start by pinpointing the causes you’re passionate about or problems you’d like to see addressed.
Judi Alperin King, executive director of The Wily Network, a nonprofit adjacent to Rockland Trust’s West Roxbury branch, shared with us that many donors take action to honor a specific person in their lives. Since the early ‘90s, King has worked with nonprofits in the Greater Boston area and has offered us some expert insight into how charitable support can transform organizations.
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What can you offer?
When most people think of charitable giving, they think of monetary donations. But there are other ways to offer support, like donating your time, services or just an extra set of hands.
The Wily Network supports college students who are navigating the college experience independently and need a safety net of people and resources. They rely on monetary donations to offer clothes, food, technology, WiFi access, counseling or even housing support.
But volunteers— who build relationships with the scholars, organize care packages, help them move into dorms and more— are equally vital to their success, reports King. If you’re tight on cash but interested in giving back to your community, reach out to your favorite organizations to see how they utilize volunteers.
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Where can you volunteer?
Your tradition of volunteering may have been altered by COVID-19 restrictions, making it more difficult to get together in person, but don’t lose heart. Many nonprofits have pivoted their programming to offer both virtual and in-person opportunities.
If your favorite nonprofit can’t accommodate you, be sure to ask about alternative ways to volunteer or visit Boston Cares. Boston Cares has been placing volunteers with nonprofits throughout the Greater Boston area for more than 30 years and has plenty of opportunities for both virtual and in-person volunteers.
When can you give?
The holiday season is an especially popular time to give back to others, with structured opportunities like Giving Tuesday or holiday food or gift drives. However, you can give your money (or time) whenever you find yourself in a charitable mood and have resources to share. Annual giving is popular, but most nonprofits need to raise their entire budget every year and host galas, charity walks or other events all year long. You can register for yearly events or sign up for sustained giving by setting up an automatic donation every year, quarter or month.
Why charitable giving?
When you donate to a charitable cause, your money, time or services can make a real difference and your giving can create a ripple effect on others. King has already seen this ripple effect in motion with The Wily Network scholars— the students who receive support through the nonprofit are then able to pursue their dreams, become active members in their communities, and support each other as they learn and grow.
How can you give?
Once you’ve decided on a cause to support, head to their secure website, call or stop by in person to find out how to make a donation or volunteer. Most organizations make it extremely easy to donate and there may even be tax benefits for you as well.
There’s joy in all seasons, but nothing feels better than helping others. Enjoy this season of giving!
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