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VOL. 127 | NO. 244 | Friday, December 14, 2012

Pearl and Mel Shaw

The Gift for Those Who Have Everything

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

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What do you give someone who has everything? It’s the holiday season, time for us to reach out to those we know, love and respect offering gifts as a token of our feelings. Some of us get creative, finding the perfect gift. Others of us struggle, uncertain as to what would be the right gift. Some of us are fortunate enough to have the challenge of finding the right gift for the person who has everything.

If you are in one of the latter two groups, don’t worry: we have the answer. Give to a nonprofit organization. Not just any nonprofit, but one that you know your friend, family member or colleague believes in. If you’ve been listening throughout the year you may have heard her talk about the American Cancer Society, her serving as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, or volunteering at a scholarship fundraiser for her sorority. Maybe she serves on the board of the YMCA. Perhaps she is on the advisory council for an industry-wide job training center. Does she read to children as part of a local literacy program? Serve as a soccer coach?

What about the hard-to-please men on your list? Do they volunteer as mentors? Advocate for marriage equality? Volunteer as a driver for meals on wheels? Coach football, basketball or soccer? Are they proud of their alma mater? Committed to their church, mosque or synagogue? Maybe there’s a man in your life who gives his time to saving the snow tiger in India, or the marshlands of the Gulf.

Your reflections will help you come up with the right nonprofit to match with each “person who has everything” on your list.

If you don’t know which organization your family members or friends are committed to think about what you know of their interests and passions. Are they artists or art connoisseurs, outdoors enthusiasts, athletes, theater buffs? There is a nonprofit for everyone.

When you honor someone with a gift to a nonprofit we recommend you take steps to make sure that your wishes are fulfilled. Here are our recommendations. Call the nonprofit and ask if they have a program for accepting “honorary” gifts. Ask what you need to do in order to ensure a note or card is sent to the person you are honoring, communicating that you have made a gift in their honor. This is important to do when giving to small, local or grassroots organizations. Larger organizations often have such processes already in place. You can typically find the information on their “donate” Web page.

Giving to a nonprofit in honor of someone you love or respect has multiple benefits. You show you are aware of what’s important to your family member or colleague. You are contributing to a cause that will continue beyond the holiday season. You can give again for the person’s birthday. You can stay out of the mall, and wait until the last minute to “shop.”

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “The Fundraisers Guide to Soliciting Gifts” now available at Amazon.com.

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