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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Year-end planning

Along with the changing of the clocks and the cooling of the weather, something else always happens at this time of year.

We seem to get a few more solicitations. You know what I’m talking about. Requests for donations from your college. From your high school. From a charity that you’ve donated to in the past. It’s the time of year that most people are doing some tax planning and getting advice on how much money they should (or can) donate, in order to maximize their tax deductions.

I actually try to take a different approach. I do not make a donation in order to get a tax deduction. Instead, I ask myself, “Whose life can I change positively?” If I can make a difference, then I make a donation. If I can’t, or the organization is so large that my donation would be insignificant, then I choose to give elsewhere.

And I learned from my mother, Frieda. A donation does NOT have to be $250 or $500. A check for $25 or $50 is always appreciated.

Here are some of the charities and causes I support, and I know I make a difference:

The Braille Institute - Los Angeles
My Auntie Ruth Silver donated her time to record books on tape. When she passed away 14 years ago, I started making an annual contribution. The impact on the lives of those who cannot read due to sight loss is amazing.

Women for Women International
They do meaningful work to help women in nations devastated by war. You get assigned a “sister” who you can correspond with. And you learn from their point of view what their lives are like.

My colleges
University of California-Davis and Mills College. My contributions are not large, but I am so grateful for the education that I received. Whenever a student from either school calls, I listen to their story (they are so nervous), and at the end I always make a donation. I suspect the positive impact on these students is tremendous, so saying “yes” and making a small donation is the least I can do.

My local food bank
At this time of year we are all reminded of those who are less fortunate and those who do not get to enjoy a holiday meal with their family. It’s my way of battling homelessness in my neighborhood.

My temple
Whether you’re Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist or another denomination, houses of worship do important and meaningful work in the community. Additionally, in our temple my donation will help support other families who cannot pay their dues, or it may send needy kids to camp.

City of Hope and breast cancer charities
Like you, I have family and friends who have been diagnosed or lost their lives to breast cancer. It’s the least I can do, since I am not a scientist and cannot discover the cure myself!

Charities that are meaningful to my coworkers and friends
Do you have a close friend or coworker who works tirelessly for a charity or good cause? What better way to let them know how important they are to you.

Remember, it’s not the amount, it’s the thought.

So as you are going through your mail or making your shopping list for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, think carefully about what you can do to change lives. It’s very rewarding.

Thoughtfully yours,
Karen

4 comments:

  1. You pointed out some meanigful ways to give back and embody the law of circulation.
    One organization that does amazing work in the world is Heifer International. Providing livestock to individuals in small villages gives them a hand up that basically changes their lives. The stories are heartwarming and inspiring.

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  2. Excellent advice. We should all share whatever we can.

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  3. So inspired! As a writer, I just found an organization called WriteGirl, that empowers high school girls through creative writing and self-expression

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  4. Karen, on behalf of the entire City of Hope family, many thanks for your years of support and friendship to City of Hope.
    Take care, Cheryl

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