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What's Up Magazine

Follow Your Own Path to Giving

May 21, 2013 11:20PM ● By Anonymous

Yet, with more than 800 nonprofits based on the Mid-Shore, finding those special organizations to contribute to can be somewhat intimidating. And that’s where organizations like the Mid-Shore Community Foundation step in.

“The nature of our business is that we have to know these organizations because we’re making grants to them on behalf of donors and we have to follow up with them to make sure the grants are being fulfilled,” Bounds says.

From environmental agencies to those promoting the arts to public service entities, there are hundreds of nonprofits throughout Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Kent counties in need of funds. Here are several options to consider as you begin, or revisit, your charitable giving approach.

Consider a donor-advised fund

An alternative to a private foundation, donor-advised funds—which typically range between $50,000 and $100,000—are a vehicle in which a donor can place charitable money and then distribute it over time to specific organizations. A recent donor-advised fund was set up through MSCF by a couple interested in giving to the arts. After securing the fund, Bounds and his staff talked to numerous arts-related nonprofits to see which organizations demonstrated interest in those funds. Often times, these grants can help stimulate a project in the community that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

“If we have donors who want to support, for example, programming for the arts in public schools, but there’s not a program there, a grant can help create it. The schools may have been very interested in doing it before, but they just didn’t have any money to do it,” Bounds says.

Start small

If you aren’t sure of a specific cause in which to invest heavily, or simply don’t have the resources to invest in a donor-advised fund, it may be best to start small and explore several charities. Bounds is quick to point out that even the smallest gift makes a difference, excitedly bringing up a new online movement that’s been gaining popularity, in which locals are asked to visit a website on a certain day to make a small—$5 or $10— contribution to a particular charity.

It might not sound like much, but with enough of those gifts, a nonprofit can amass significant resources. This is an ideal way to introduce people to the concept of charitable giving, while helping to build community rapport. “By broadening the base (of donors), you can raise not only a substantial amount of funds for your community, but, more importantly, you’re also broadening the sense of community itself,” Bounds says.

Don’t underestimate the value of volunteer work

For those unable to give a monetary contribution, or those looking to diversify their giving strategy, Bounds doesn’t refute the impact of volunteer hours. Philanthropy needs to be recognized as more than just a donation of money. Rather, it should be regarded as involvement in the work of local organizations.

Whether it’s contributing time or money, or both, to an organization’s project or mission, simply helping to improve the surrounding community’s quality of life is the true definition of philanthropy. And with the needs of the nonprofit community growing instead of diminishing, donating a few hours to an organization, or a few dollars to a particular cause, is certainly something anyone can do.