Posted tagged ‘Giving’

Four small ways to give

September 4, 2018

We all want to make a difference.

There are so many worthwhile charities and nonprofits to choose from, but many of us don’t have a lot of money to donate. Or maybe we aren’t ready to make a commitment through a will or trust.

Every gift matters.

We don’t have to wait until we’re “successful” or have a lot of money to support a cause we feel passionate about.

You’ve probably heard of these ideas before, but here are four small ways to give that can have a big impact.

Loose change. We can start small, by collecting loose change in a piggy bank and writing the name of a nonprofit on it. There are also bank accounts, debit cards, and credit cards that will “round up” our purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer it into a savings account.

Birthday gifts. The older we get, the less we need – and the more we can buy for ourselves. Instead of buying a gift or throwing a party, ask family and friends to donate to your favorite charity or nonprofit. Some social media companies will help us create a birthday fundraiser, set a fundraising goal, and may even make a small contribution.

Matching donation fundraisers. One of the easiest ways to make our donations go further is to contribute to a matching donation campaign. In September, we could choose the Foodland Give Aloha Campaign, which matches each donation up to $250,00 for all organizations combined. If we shop at Foodland or Sak-n-Save, we can make donations right from the check-out line. Golfers and golf fans might like this one: In November through January, we could choose the Aloha for Hawaii Charities Campaign, through the Sony Open in Hawaii, which gives charities a “bonus boost” if they raise at least $1,000 in donations.

Changing beneficiaries. We can give a donation in the future, without committing to a specific dollar amount today. All we need to do is name a nonprofit as a beneficiary on a checking account, savings account, or retirement plan. We don’t need a lawyer, we don’t need to specify an amount, and we can change beneficiaries at any time.

How do you give back to our community? Which charities and nonprofits do you support – and why do you support them?


Giving back on Giving Tuesday

November 29, 2016


Today is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving. It’s a reprieve and balance to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, which focus on shopping. Last year, over 700,000 people raised $116 million online in over 70 countries.

There are so many charities that are doing good works and so many worthwhile causes to support. It can be overwhelming. So I’d like to share 5 causes and nonprofits that I support and what makes them so meaningful to me.

* Reading. “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them,” said author Neil Gaiman. I support my local library with gently-used books, so they can continue to add books to the library and sponsor community programs. Reading is important – to teach, to inspire, to share different points of view. I love to read, and I want to share my love of reading with others.

* Education. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” declared revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela. I support our public schools with money, goods, or my time. My son attends a public elementary school in Honolulu, and I want to show him that education is important. I also give back to my college every year, because college is important to career-readiness and lifelong learning.

* Human services. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” proclaimed diarist Anne Frank. I support my local American Red Cross because they help keep our communities resilient, offering disaster preparedness and assistance. I have taken a disaster readiness class and my son has participated in their free summer swimming lessons, and I appreciate what they do here in Hawaii and around the world.

* International aid. “As you get older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others,” said actress Audrey Hepburn. I strongly believe that we should help people help themselves, and micro-finance lets small donors make a big difference. I support because they help people borrow money to start or expand a business, go to school, or improve their lives (donors can lend as little as $25). I support Heifer International because they help farmers feed their families and communities, with gifts of basic needs, crop seeds, farm animals, community projects, and support for small businesses.

* Animal welfare. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” stated activist and political leader Mahatma Gandhi. I support the Hawaiian Humane Society because animals need care. I give a little each year in memory of my cat Oscar, who taught me about responsibility (thinking about someone else first) and confidence (though I could never win our staring contests).

Which charities and nonprofits are you passionate about? Will you choose to give on Giving Tuesday?

Celebrating National Philanthropy Day

November 15, 2016

National Philanthropy Day

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

November 15 is National Philanthropy Day, a day to honor and appreciate the charitable work that everyone does to make a difference in our communities.

Hawaii’s people are incredibly generous, with 93.3% of Hawaii’s households making some type of charitable donation in 2014, according to “A Report on Charitable Giving in Hawaii” (2015). This includes donations of cash, goods, and volunteered time. The average donation made by Hawaii households was $2,024 for 2014.

If you are looking for a way to maximize your giving, today is also the start of the annual Aloha for Hawaii Charities campaign. When you donate to a participating Hawaii charity, your donation gets a bonus boost with funds from the Friends of Hawaii Charities and the Sony Open. Donations up to $3,000 will receive a boost! The campaign runs from November 15, 2016 through January 15, 2017.

With so many worthwhile causes, philanthropy can be overwhelming. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) offers five “Ps” for wise giving:

  1. Passionate. Support the charities and causes that you are important to you. The more passionate you are about the cause, the more likely you are to get involved beyond just giving money.
  2. Proactive. Reach out to charities and organizations, instead of waiting for them to ask you for help.
  3. Prepare. Learn about the charities and nonprofits that you support. Look for consistent management; pay attention to fundraising and program costs.
  4. Plan. Budget how, how much, and how often you want to give. Consider spreading your giving or your time throughout the year, instead of during the winter holidays.
  5. Powerful. Make the most of your gift-giving by looking for matching gifts, using an affinity credit card, or just saying “no” to donor thank-you gifts.

Which issues and causes are you passionate about? What makes you decide to support a charity or nonprofit?

Giving back on #GivingTuesday

December 1, 2015


Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks. #GivingTuesday is a day dedicated to giving back. Fueled by social media, #GivingTuesday (the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States) is a reminder to share your time, talents, and resources to make the world a little better.

These are just a few ways to join the celebration of giving:

  1. Get inspired by GivingTuesdayHawaii on Twitter, this month and throughout the year. Learn about ways to help Hawaii nonprofits.
  1. Donate a new, unwrapped toy to Toys for Tots Hawaii, and help brighten a child’s Christmas. This coming year, let’s encourage children to set aside a birthday gift to donate to next year’s holiday toy drive.
  1. Adopt an angel at The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree in various malls and at Central Pacific Bank branches in Hawaii. Pick a tag and fulfill a wish from a child or senior.
  1. Read essays written by people like you who support meaningful nonprofit organizations on the MyGivingStory Facebook page.
  1. Join GoodWorld’s “Million Dollar Challenge” and be one of 1 million people who support their favorite nonprofit. GoodWorld is donating $1 for every $20 contributed with #donate and shared on social media, up to $1 million, through the end of 2015.

Here are three things I keep in mind to help me make good decisions about giving:

  1. Make a budget. I decide how much I can give, and try to spread it out over the year. By making “giving” a part of my budget, I ensure that I can pay my bills and I don’t feel pressured to give.
  2. Choose charities, schools, and nonprofits that you know. Choose causes you believe in and that have special meaning to you. I start with organizations that I have a personal relationship with – my college, my son’s school, my local humane society, a local relief organization, and my local library. I see the good they do and I want them to continue doing goo.
  3. Focus on a few good causes. There are so many worthwhile charities and nonprofit organizations doing good, but it can be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to make unplanned donations that you can afford, but also don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to other charities.

To charities and nonprofits, I’d like to offer a suggestion about giving: ask us when we would like to reminded about giving (perhaps every February or Thanksgiving) and how we would like to be contacted (mail, email, or phone). We don’t need labels, cards, or notepads. A short thank you email is acknowledgement enough.

What will you do on #GivingTuesday? How do you choose the ways you give to your community?

3 questions about charity, responsibility, and government

July 14, 2015


noun: 1. benevolent goodwill toward others. 2. generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless. 3. An organization that helps people in need.

Hawaii is a truly giving state. In 2014, an inspiring 93% of Hawaii households donated money or goods, or volunteer their time in the community, according to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Hawaii Giving Study 2015. Households of all income levels increased their giving and volunteering. Around the nation, people are giving more and planning more of their giving.

But it seems as if there are more people in need than ever. Here are three giving numbers to think about:

  1. $2.76 billion: the amount the Hawaii Department of Human Services spent on social programs in 2014 (State of Hawaii Department of Human Services Annual Report on Fiscal Year 2014, FY 2014 Budget).
  1. $597 million: the amount Hawaii residents donated to charities and nonprofits in 2014, of which $418 million (70%) stayed in the state, according to Hawaii’s Giving Study 2015.
  1. 4,250: the number of charitable organizations registered with Hawaii’s Tax and Charities Division (as of July 10, 2015).

I was raised with my grandmother’s generosity. A devout Christian, she gave money to her church, pastors, and missionaries. She volunteered at her church and always set aside money to give to others, before she spent money on herself. She worked part-time, but it was usually for her spending money. She didn’t have to worry about paying bills or balancing a checkbook.

My husband gave me a different perspective on charity: he believes that we donate enough money to charities through our taxes, and he doesn’t feel the need to give more. Of course, I knew that our taxes pay for social services, but I hadn’t really connected taxes with “giving” before. I couldn’t argue with his viewpoint; unlike my grandmother, I worry about paying bills and budgeting. But the difference is that I choose where to give, and government chooses for me.

I don’t have any easy solutions or cost-saving ideas to helping people who need food, medical services, or housing. I don’t want to blame anyone for their circumstances or blame government for not taking care of people. This week, please think about three broader questions about charity and responsibility:

* Why do more people need help? If people need help, they usually turn first to family and friends, then to the community, and finally to government. But today, we have more single-parent families, smaller families, and families that live farther away from each other. Has government become the “family” we turn to for help? Do we expect more help, for longer periods of time, when we fall on hard times? Did we stop helping individuals and families because government became responsible for charity?

* How did we get here? Government has created a social “safety net” for all of us, not just the most vulnerable for a limited amount of time. Did government, though lawmakers and legislation, end up helping people because it meant winning elections, or because the community couldn’t? Does the community, through churches and charities, end up helping people because the government is ineffective?

* What is the most effective balance between government services and local charities? Government has the advantage of legislation, greater funding, economies of scale, and a network of other agencies to call upon. Local charities have the advantage of first-hand knowledge of an issue, a first-name basis with people in need, quick response time, and volunteers who can help keep costs down.

What charities and organizations do you support? Why do you give?

Planning for generosity

March 22, 2011

Growing up, my family didn’t really talk about money, budgets, bills, or charity. My grandfather earned money; he (and the rest of my family) mostly left generosity to my grandmother, who contributed to her church, missions, and evangelical ministers, and spent time helping churchmembers.

I never thought about planning for generosity until I read “The Generosity Plan: Sharing Your Time, Treasure, and Talent to Shape the World” (2009) by Kathy LeMay. But think about it – we plan for vacations, weddings, college, and retirement; we save generosity for when we have “enough” money or when we pass away. Why not have a plan for giving back while we are alive?

Generosity is not about giving large amounts of money, or even how large your estate is when you die. Generosity is about “finding your passion, envisioning a better world, and putting yourself on the path to making that vision a reality” (page x).

LeMay advises us to keep a Generosity Journal, which will help you create your Generosity Plan. Her book is filled with personal stories about ordinary people who made a conscious decision to give back. There are questions, exercises, and tips to help you practice philanthropy in your life.

I won’t go into the full detail of LeMay’s Generosity Plan here (if you’re interested, read her book or visit her website at, but I want to highlight the five steps that resonated with me.

1. Look back at your giving roots. “Each of us has roots in giving, be they based in culture, faith, personal belief systems, or family” (page 1). Think about how your family, friends, and teachers gave back. List the people that inspire you and how they changed your life. Reconnect with the things that you did which were most fulfilling.

2. Unlock your vision and set your priorities. “With a vivid and powerful description of the change you want to see, you put yourself on track toward transforming an idea into a reality” (page 18). Determine the causes and issues that you are most passionate about, and decide how you would change the world. It’s important to stand for something, not against something!

3. Share your time, treasure, and talents. “The time, treasure, and talent model works because it takes all of our gifts in service to the greater good” (page 42). Choose organizations that match your passions, goals, and values. Give your time informally (such as helping family, friends, and neighbors) and formally (such as becoming a mentor or tutor).

4. Create a giving formula. “You will feel powerful when you add a generosity line item to your life budget” (page 131). Figure out the percent of your income (not the dollar amount) that you currently give to charity, and what you would like to give. Determine what percentage would feel empowering to you, and what is truly affordable.

5. Know what successful giving looks like. “The five keys to a successful Generosity Plan are: vision, boldness, authenticity, staying the course, and support” (page 225). If you know what to expect from your giving, you can feel a sense of accomplishment or progress. Decide whether you need immediate results (such as feeding the hungry) or long-term social change (such as ending hunger), or both.

“Philanthropy belongs to all of us because the world needs all of us to participate” (page xxii), LeMay declares. What does generosity mean to you?