Giving Tuesday Can Be A Gateway To Greater Community Impact
Mary Hammond played clarinet in her small Michigan hometown’s marching band, but, “First blizzard, I said, ‘This is for the birds!’” and she immediately switched to the choir. Her musical father nurtured in her a soft spot for music, as well as an interest in investing. A biochemist who would read Value Line at the Grand Rapids library while his family shopped, his objective, Mary says, “was to make more than we were spending.”
Mary and her family valued investing in knowledge as well as the financial investments she eventually inherited from her father. A career librarian who retired from Pierce College in 2007, Mary opened a donor advised fund (DAF) with GTCF in 2008 on the advice of her attorney. She saw an opportunity to be purposeful in sharing some of what she’d accumulated over the years.
GTCF recommends donors identify their values and priorities for giving, seek out organizations that align with the impact they’d like to see, and consider making gifts as early as possible.
Recently, Mary worked with GTCF’s Director of Philanthropic Engagement, Stacey Guadnola, to develop a strategy for her philanthropy. When the subject of this year’s Giving Tuesday – an annual movement started in 2012 to encourage giving – came up, Mary thought, “Why wait until December?” As a Symphony Tacoma ex-officio board member anticipating the October 18 gala, Mary saw an opportunity to encourage others to give that was a better fit for her strategy.
In October, Mary was delighted to watch the $10,000 “challenge gift” from her DAF inspire others to boost Symphony Tacoma over its event fundraising goal to support their education programs. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had giving away my money,” Mary wrote in a post-gala email to Stacey Guadnola.
“2020 may be the year to stretch yourself. Step up to some of the immediate needs caused by this pandemic.”
The joy of giving is what Stacey sees as the spirit of Giving Tuesday in action – whether or not a gift is made on December 1. Stacey advises, “You can use the ‘noise’ of Giving Tuesday to remind you it’s time to give, but then ask yourself, ‘How does this fit into my plan? What is the impact I really want to see?’ A personalized, well-defined strategy provides a structure that allows you to say yes, and no, with more confidence.” GTCF recommends donors identify their values and priorities for giving, seek out organizations that align with the impact they’d like to see, and consider making gifts as early as possible.
While Giving Tuesday enjoys national promotion and many organizations embrace the opportunity, the event also receives criticism. In her 2018 blog post, “Why I Don’t Do #GivingTuesday,” philanthropic strategist Kristen Corning Bedford, wrote, “Creating incentives to increase community giving is a good thing, [but] being swept into a feel-good day of giving once a year can create just another sense of obligation rather than build a foundation of personal philanthropy.”
Kristen says Giving Tuesday, for her, marks “the beginning of a giving season” that folds into her overall strategy. And though this philanthropic adviser and author favors a focus on “transformational” over “transactional” giving, she acknowledges that, “2020 may be the year to stretch yourself. Step up to some of the immediate needs caused by this pandemic.”
“Out in the rural areas, if you don’t have tight relationships with the whole community of providers, you can’t wrap your arms around a family.”
Marcy Boulet, community liaison for Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, suggests one way to learn about those needs is by connecting with Pierce County’s community coalitions—networks of community service providers whose size and rural locations can keep them under the philanthropic radar. Marcy coordinates the coalitions and says, “They are actually part of a public health strategy—and this has come in handy during COVID—because these coalitions keep the needs of the communities in the forefront and their networks for communication and resources are already built.”
Marilee Hill-Anderson runs Sumner-Bonney Lake Communities for Families Coalition, as Director of Engagement, Equity and Homeless Services at Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. She says, “Out in the rural areas, if you don’t have tight relationships with the whole community of providers, you can’t wrap your arms around a family.”
“If I can make an impact, that’s great. That’s pleasure for me.”
Both women say the coalitions—none of which have the bandwidth to participate in a coordinated Giving Tuesday effort—are “bread and butter” to rapidly diversifying, isolated areas. Giving in these highly networked communities—especially in the middle of a pandemic with winter setting in—goes a long way.
This year has been hard on communities and the organizations that help meet their needs. Stacey Guadnola advises, “To make a meaningful difference in the issues and communities that matter most to you, have a plan.” Or, in the words of Mary Hammond, “Simplify.” She says she “probably would have benefitted from putting a strategy together earlier,” but today, she’s pleased that the plan she’s created helps clarify her giving decisions: “If I can make an impact, that’s great. That’s pleasure for me.”
Providing 1,500 – 2,000 families with Thanksgiving meals in Sumner-Bonney Lake, Dieringer and White River School District communities