3 Ways to Rethink Holiday Giving in 2020

2020 has been a year like no other. Many of us have reassessed priorities in our life. Maybe we are realizing how great having more homemade meals are. Or maybe the way you’ve been using your commute time to finally launch that side hustle will end up being a permanent change. These perspective shifts are likely to continue as we prepare for the holiday season. Here’s three ways you can shift your holiday giving perspectives to make more of an impact during this year’s unique circumstances.

1. Make a purchase that matters, locally.

I hope this one is obvious to most of us by now, but just in case it’s not, let’s  #SupportLocalBusiness. The Facebook post that circulated a few months ago said it all – these small businesses are the ones who sponsored your child’s soccer team, donated a gift card to your school raffle or put together a silent auction package for your gala. They’ve been there for the nonprofit sector, for our families and we need to be there for them.

There are even some great win-win holiday gift options where a purchase can benefit your local community, such as Guelph Strong hoodies that support United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin or the Guelph Box which includes locally sourced items and 5% of every purchase supports a local charity.

A thriving economy is a key factor in our community’s wellbeing. Buying local is just as important as donating this holiday season.

2. When donating, ease up on the focus on administration rates.

It is very important that as a donor, you research organizations to find one that matches your passions, that you understand their mission and know that they are effective at fulfilling that mission. Organizations like SmartGiving can help with tips on how to do that.

For many, this research is focused on administration rates. What I would urge donors to do, especially this year, is to consider easing that focus.

The Ontario Nonprofit Network estimates that 1 in 5 organizations will cease to exist after this year. We need these local organizations to keep their lights on, have staff and deliver services. Not doing so could mean there could be no food pantry to access if you lost your job or no distress line to call when you were facing a crisis.

The best gift you could give this year is an unrestricted gift. Allow our local organizations to put your donation where they need it most, so they can survive, and they can continue their important front-line work.

And, if you are willing, let’s think about this going forward. Why are so many organizations in a financially precarious situation right now? It is not only the current challenges of fundraising within a pandemic that are causing struggles. Organizations who haven’t been able to smartly invest in operations previous to Covid-19 won’t be thriving either. Try pivoting to virtual program delivery with a computer from 2000 or quickly innovating how to reach isolated clients without having a skilled team.

Investing wisely in the right areas allows us to reach more people and create more impact, not waste more money.

3. We’re all in this together (for real).

It was mentioned to me that Covid-19 has been “the great equalizer” when it comes to mental health because it is affecting us all.

As much as it’s sad to know that we are all suffering, the hope is that it’s helping us realize it’s not a situation of us and them. Donors are not the heroes who are coming in to save the day.

Let’s not other the people we are trying to support and lift up. That is going to re-enforce inequities and stigmas that are part of the problem in the first place. Let’s foster a sense of belonging. A sense of community.

Whether it’s giving back by shopping local, donating to provide important community services, stopping by to check-in on an isolated senior or taking the time to give back to yourself so you can rest and rejuvenate, each way we give back this season matters.

Glenna Banda, Executive Director, United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin

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