Alexandria in Action: The gift of giving

Alexandria in Action: The gift of giving
John Porter

The holidays are upon us. Hanukkah has begun with Christmas not far behind and before we know it, we’ll be beginning a new year. This time of the year is such an enjoyable time for families and friends — a time of reflection, giving and receiving.

And while we are all children at heart and enjoy receiving gifts from loved ones, this is
also a particularly important time of the year for gifts to nonprofit organizations.

You have probably received many end-of-the-year appeal requests with the promise of more to come. Nonprofits look to the end of the year as a final opportunity to receive donations to allow them to carry on and even expand the important work they perform. For some, these last few weeks can truly make or break annual fundraising goals and set the stage for the new year — either in a positive or negative direction. Thus, your support now can be of immense value to the nonprofits about which you care.

Giving can also positively impact you. Dr. Michael Roizen, M.D., in a piece in Sharepoint, likens the effects of giving, whether of time, expertise or money to that of “the so-called runner’s high (the rush of endorphins) … But unlike exercise euphoria, this rush can last a long time.” He believes and research supports that “your thoughts about helping others helps you … to strengthen your immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and provide stress relief.” A piece on the five advantages of giving in Greater Good magazine states that giving makes us happier, healthier and more socially connected. In addition, the piece states that giving is contagious, thus promoting the concept of paying it forward.

ACT for Alexandria would like to assist you with your giving. Like most nonprofits, we rely on donors like you to support the important work we do in the community and would certainly welcome your donation. And while we appreciate these direct donations, we also want to assist other nonprofits by having you donate through us. This can be done by setting up a charitable giving fund — a Donor Advised Fund — at ACT to which any contributions made provide an immediate charitable deduction for you and allow you to then make grant donations to causes you care about now and in the future. With the stock market at record highs, now is also the time to consider opening such a fund with
appreciated assets, on which you won’t pay any taxes but will receive the charitable deduction benefit of the appreciated value.

Even though we like for you to give to us or through us, we most importantly want you to give — to those organizations and causes which are most important to you. The nonprofits, churches, synagogues and schools that you choose to support will benefit greatly, as will the many individuals they assist both now and throughout the coming year. Thus, your continued support is crucial and truly can make a lasting difference.

If you don’t know where to give, ACT can also be of help. One of the important functions of a community foundation is to inform the community of and direct resources to specific and identified areas of need. This can be done in conjunction with your areas of interest or more specifically areas of greatest concern. A short phone call or meeting with us might be the perfect solution to assist you to direct your giving where it will have the greatest impact.

And remember, it’s not just about the recipients of your philanthropy — it’s also about you and your well-being. There’s an old Chinese saying that goes, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

As for me, I think I’ll take that nap first and then make out my end-of-the-year donations to help others. I hope you do the same. And be sure to let me know if ACT can help you with your giving.

The writer is executive director of ACT for Alexandria.