Like most moms, I wear many hats. I'm a mom, a
short-order cook, a housekeeper, a chauffeur and a fun-bringer.
But, one of the roles that I am most proud of is my professional
role as a fundraiser. I've been involved in fundraising for more
than ten years and have witnessed the outstanding generosity of so
many, the ebb and flow of giving and volunteering, burned out
volunteers and the reality of what a difficult economy can mean to
so many worthy organizations.
There are a lot of terrific organizations out there
and it is often hard to choose just one. When you're considering
how you want to spend your valuable time this holiday season and
where you want to donate your hard-earned money, or when you're
writing your resolutions for 2014, I have a few tips to
Find an organization that resonates with
you. Make sure you are personally invested in
the mission. If you don't really care about animals, don't get
involved with a shelter - even if they do throw the biggest party
or have well-connected volunteers. Consider diseases that affect
your family or an organization that makes a difference for a social
cause you believe in, such as education, domestic violence or
hunger. If the cause isn't connected to your heart strings you may
not feel like your time and effort is worth it.
Do your research. If
you are making a contribution, be sure to check charity watchdog
sites (like Charity
Navigator) which rank charities and share
efficiency levels. If you are planning to volunteer, ask people you
know or request the organization connect you with a volunteer to
Figure out your priorities.
What are your goals in getting involved? Is this a long-term
commitment? Are you looking to create a long-lasting, meaningful
relationship with the organization? Would you like to network with
board members and leadership? Figure out which organization is best
structured to help you meet those goals. If you want to build
something or have one-on-one interaction with someone in need, you
might not want to volunteer with an organization focused on funding
Be clear about
expectations. Request job descriptions
including time commitments if you are planning to
spend time as a volunteer or join a committee. If you want to make
a one-time gift and would not like to be added to a mailing list,
be clear about that in your interaction or make note of that on
Non-profit staff often depend on volunteer support. Whether
you make a commitment to come into the office to help
with a mailing, promise to procure items for an auction or verbally
pledge a monetary donation . . . Make it happen. Once it's put out
there, staff depends on your follow through to be successful. NOW
is not always the right time. So, consider what the months ahead
look like before you make a commitment. Make the commitment when
you are ready or ask an organization to follow up with you at a
If you're lucky enough to work in my profession
you'll learn that there is a staggering amount of passion and
generosity in this beautiful city of ours. Each of us has the
opportunity to make a difference - even when we feel busy or
cash-strapped. It's just a matter of figuring out what you can
offer and finding the right organization that needs you. Now, go
out there and make a difference!
Do you have tips on giving back or getting
involved? Share them here in the comments!
Lisa Hanneman is a mother of three, which makes her an expert on everything and nothing. She writes about her family’s daily nonsense and overbooked life at Hannemaniacs.
See more of Lisa's stories here.
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