Inspired by Betty Londergan's What Gives 365 and the Bible (not necessarily in that order!), I'm giving away $250 a week in 2011.

This is where I'm recording that journey, and I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Friday, October 28, 2011

United Way - local programs, local results

I continue to wrestle with the question of in which contexts is one big donation is better than lots of small ones? As I look back over this giving adventure so far this year, the money has gone to a combination of large and small efforts, via large organizations, smaller ones and individuals. In the end, I suppose I hope it's like a balanced diet -- a little bit of everything, moderation in all things...you get the idea.

This fourth week of the month is my opportunity to give to a cause suggested by others to me. Once again, this time it's come in a rather backhanded way. I sit on the Board of Directors of the United Way. Last night at our monthly meeting, one of the other Directors made a passionate presentation to us to give to the United Way campaign -- partly to demonstrate what she so capably does when she goes out to community groups to speak, and partly to encourage Board members to write cheques.

I have mixed feelings about most things, and United Way is no exception. But I do choose to support it, with both time and money, for several reasons. My main motivation is that the United Way responds to local needs. That might seem obvious, but I don't take it for granted. Working close to home is really important to me (I'm looking forward to reading Who's Your City? before too long), and they're supporting over 80 local programs. I also know firsthand that the United Way is really responsive to community requests for support and that the programs it supports actually make a difference. What more should I ask?

It's United Way campaign season. During that season, agencies who receive United Way funds are asked to observe a 'blackout period.' You won't be hearing from them during this time -- they're making sure that United Way gets lots of air time for its fundraising messages in the community. Last year, United Way of Guelph Wellington surpassed its fundraising goal (no small feat, given the economy and reliance of this community on manufacturing!). This year, their target is $2.85 million, and they're well on their way to meeting that -- but it can't happen unless lots of us get involved.

So thank you, Irene, for reminding me to write that cheque this week.

PS -- I hear that Kiva loan is being paid back, little by little. So exciting! I also hear that the Globe and Mail online is starting a feature on philanthropy this weekend -- join me in having a look. Have you seen the People for Good  ads on TV? They caught my attention...

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