Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Journey as a Philanthropist, Part 4

by Kat Birkenbeuel, Development Intern


New Year’s resolutions. We make them. We break them.


Usually, our resolutions center on ourselves- wanting to lose weight, eat healthier, read more, finally get to the end of that to-do list, etc. But what if this year, we shift the focus of our New Year’s resolutions from ourselves? What if we resolve to get out and give back to those in need?


Throughout this blog series, I’ve shared my journey as a philanthropist. This journey started with a lemonade stand when I was 8, carried into high school and college with volunteering and ended up at the McCormick Foundation, but it isn’t over yet. Your journey begins with a shift in mindset, realizing that no matter if you have 50 cents or $50 million, you can still be a philanthropist.



What does this philanthropic New Year’s resolution look like? It looks like a Year of Giving.


Give the gift of time.

  • Sign up to be a mentor and be a positive role model in the life of an at-risk youth.
  • Help a small nonprofit with mailings and other administrative tasks.
  • Do you have special skills? Offer to help under-resourced organizations with photography, videography, copywriting, IT support or accounting.
  • Check-in on an elderly neighbor, visiting with them and offering to run errands or do a few house chores.


Give the gift of resources.

  • Instead of selling clothing for a few bucks at a resale shop, donate the clothing items to a local shelter, refugee organization or clothing donation box.
  • Buy extra school and classroom supplies, or unused materials, and give to a school in a low-income area.
  • Donate baby toys, outgrown toddler clothing and cribs to a teen parent resource center.
  • If you are throwing an event (i.e. conference, wedding, etc.), arrange to donate leftover meals to a homeless shelter.


Give the gift of financial support.

  • Become a monthly donor for an organization you love and support them all year long.
  • Pick 12 organizations to donate to throughout the year, one each month.
  • Donate a percentage (even if it’s just 0.5% or 1%!) from each paycheck to a local nonprofit.
  • Set up a friend-raiser for your birthday instead of asking for gifts. There are many nonprofits that have these tools available to you on their websites and Facebook does, too!


This is by no means an exhaustive list, however I hope it spurs ideas of how you can join me in this Year of Giving. Individually, we can’t solve the world’s problems. Collectively, we can sure try.


Thank you for following along on this blog series and warm wishes for a Happy New Year!


This is the final part of a four-part series on my journey into philanthropy as a millennial. If you missed the first three installments, read part one, part two or part three here.

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