Giving has always been a big part of the holiday season. We spend time thinking about what to give family members, close friends and coworkers. But the holidays are also a great time to consider helping the nonprofit organizations in your backyard—many of which share their wish lists and need increased support during winter.
In fact, the giving season is often essential to rebuilding their annual budgets and determining whether or not they’ll be able to continue the work they do in the communities they serve. That’s why—as you consider the various ways to donate during Christmas—you should consider these five key ways to support the local causes near you.
How to Help Local Nonprofits This Season
Budgets are always tightest around the holidays. But the good news is, you can make a difference in a variety of ways that can boost an organization’s bottom line and ability to thrive.
1. Give Matched Money. When you give, explore options for matching funds from an employer, for example, or corporate sponsor.
- You may have the means of helping your organization find a corporate donor or foundation involved in philanthropy that will match donations up to a certain amount or for a certain period of time.
- You may be able to arrange a fundraiser with a local business for a certain percentage of sales to be donated to your cause.
Even if you give alone, consider monthly giving—a practice that helps shore up an organization’s cash flow throughout the year with regularly scheduled donations. It can be as small as you like—even $5 a month goes a long way over the course of a year.
2. Give Time and Skills. Organizations have to spend on necessities first, and that often leaves little to nothing left for anything else. Volunteers can really make a difference by donating their time and skills. Whether you’re performing everyday chores, providing transportation, doing maintenance, fixing a problem, lending support to fundraising events, or even helping maintain the organization’s online or social media presence within the community, in the end, you’re donating money that they didn’t have to spend to get something done.
3. Give Goods. If you have items that you no longer need or use, donate them. You can collect and donate from others too. Organizations may be able to use the items themselves, or they may turn donations around for their own fundraising silent auctions or tag sales. Small businesses, artists, tradespeople and other entrepreneurs can always donate time, supplies or experiences related to their livelihoods that can be raffled or auctioned.
4. Give References. The Nielsen statistic that “92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising” proves that word of mouth has incredible power. When people ask what they can do for their community, be ready to tell them about your favorite local organizations that you support.
5. Give a Seat at the Table. When you or your other organizations hold community events, consider productive ways to include your favorite nonprofit. Give them a table at the event, or let them help sponsor it through volunteering, for example. Opportunities for visibility and participation within the community are important to organizations that work to serve the people within those communities.
Around the holidays, we wish more than ever that we could solve all of the world’s problems. But at the local level, the best gift is a realistic goal that can make a huge difference for all the people we care about.
Choosing Local Nonprofit Organizations and Charities
While most organizations do seek to make the world a better place, when it comes to giving, consider what each organization is focused on and exactly who their money benefits.
- Efficiency directly relates to what an organization is accomplishing. How much of its funding goes to overhead versus direct program costs? What actual impact is the organization making, and how is it measured?
- Locality of giving impacts communities—both negatively and positively. According to Nonprofits Source charity statistics, “31% of donors worldwide give to NGOs, NPOs and charities located outside of their country of residence.” That money leaves the local community and, many times, even the country.
- Doublechecking the legitimacy of the organization can help you avoid scams. You can search for charitable organizations through the IRS Charities and Nonprofits webpage or sites like Charity Checker or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
The key takeaway is that, when you give to local causes near you, your generosity benefits your community first. You can see for yourself the impact an organization is making. Plus, you may even be able to reap some of its benefits for your own family or share them with people you know. You could be the person whose one donation keeps a community resource’s doors open for the next month or year.
Make Your Mark with Arc
At Arc of Acadiana, we’re proud to be one of your local nonprofit organizations providing vital services to families in the Acadiana and Bossier City areas. Our services help adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live the fullest, most independent lives possible—and we always have the need for volunteers, new team members and community fundraising.
Want to make a difference that impacts the people in your neighborhood? Give to Arc today by visiting our Arc Get Involved page. It’s a great way to leave your mark in Acadiana this holiday season and beyond.