Holiday Giving All Year Round
The holiday season is full of family, friends and fun. We look back over the year and give thanks for our good fortune. Many of us also share our good fortune with those who need lifting up by donating to our favorite charities. It makes the holidays even sweeter to know that we’ve made lives a little brighter.
But why stop there? The International Journal of Happiness and Development published a study recently reporting that extending even a little bit of kindness or generosity to others can increase social connection and feelings of positivity.1 The study concludes that people feel happiest if they donate to a charitable cause through someone they know instead of simply sending a donation to a worthy cause through a website or direct mail.
This study speaks volumes as to how non-profits can maximize year-round donations by recruiting ambassadors and helping them build on their social connections. It is also possible to extrapolate from this study that donors with positive emotions associated with their giving might make more frequent and even larger donations. Happy supporters might even be more likely to become ambassadors themselves, as well as loyal volunteers and community advocates.
The holidays may be over for 2015 but the need is not. Every day, Faith Mission’s Community Kitchen serves over 700 meals to hungry fellow central Ohioans while CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence shelters around 75 victims and their children. The LSS Food Pantries depends on approximately 50 volunteers every day to help distribute groceries to local residents, not to mention the countless volunteers needed for the many mobile pantries spread out among 14 Ohio counties. These programs are deeply grateful for any support that local individuals, businesses and organizations provide all year long, not just during the holiday season.
My job as Director of Engagement at Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio (LSS), the 104 year old organization that runs Faith Mission, the LSS Food Pantries, CHOICES and many other programs, is to engage these ambassadors, volunteers and community advocates by sharing the stories of our clients and their need, as well as their success stories. By communicating the impact that one donation or one volunteer hour can bring, we realize that lives are changed. The connection is made and those critical long-lasting relationships are fostered. Our goal is always to develop a support system for LSS that lasts long past the holiday season, but for years and decades to come.
So, as you make your plans for 2016, think about your charitable giving and volunteer commitments, not only personally but also professionally. Could your marketing team benefit from a team-building project? Does your peer group need a service project? Volunteering at a homeless shelter or planning a fundraiser for a food pantry could be just the thing. That first experience could lead to more service opportunities as well as networking and business opportunities. And it’s guaranteed to lead to happiness. What more could you want?
About the Author: Pam Georgiana is the Director of Engagement at Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio. She is responsible for fulfilling the LSS mission of creating a better world by serving people in need by fostering meaningful and lasting relationships with donors, clients, volunteers, congregations, community leaders and the community.