"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Finding the Happy In the Holidays
Every year at this time, I find myself asking where the year has gone. It seems to have evaporated before my very eyes. I can recall an infinite number of sporting events, school functions, birthday parties, and homework sessions...not to mention all of the work-related obligations, so it's no wonder the year seems to have passed with frightening speed. But I also find myself reflecting on the things I would have liked to have done more of with the kids in the midst of all the things I felt I had to do. Community service and volunteering can often fall (easily) onto that list of "wish I had's." It's one of the reasons why I love the holidays. It's a time when we slow down, if ever so slightly, and almost feel compelled to look beyond our own busy lives to see where we can make a difference before the final chapters of yet another year are written.
Often we get stuck because we think the acts have to be big. But that is so not true. Small acts of service, even conversations about the more global realities affecting people in drastically different circumstances, can leave lasting impressions on children in the formative years. Of course, doing always makes the biggest impression, so I suggest finding a way to bring it home. Make a Holiday Give Back Plan (see our FB post on November 2); give gifts that give back (the Huffington Post shared some good options the other day); grab a tag from a giving tree at a local store and have the kids grab the gift (with their own money); go caroling at a senior center or nursing home; find a project from our site - like Project Bread's Holiday Spoons Project - and get started with something that fits your busy life. You may just find your holiday season a little brighter in the midst of making it brighter for others, and those may be some of the best memories for all of you this year.
And I would be remiss if I didn't slow down and remember to thank all of our partners, volunteers, advisors, users and friends for your support. It's been a great year, and it is because of you that we will build the next generation of Giving Kids.
With gratitude and warm holiday wishes,
Molly Yuska, Founder
PGK Featured In Charity Matters
PGK Founder, Molly Yuska, shares the genesis of Project Giving Kids with Heidi Johnson of Charity Matters. Read how one mom and nonprofit consultant's response to a personal need turned into a first-of-its-kind website for busy families.
The Empathy Gap
The Chronicle of Philanthropy just released a special report on "How America Gives." I've spent the past several days stewing over the findings, rather unwilling to accept the reality suggested by the numbers. In a nutshell, as we continue to climb out of the "Great Recession," there is evidence that the wealthiest Americans gave smaller portions of their income to charities during the lean years, while those with smaller incomes gave bigger shares. This may not come as a shock to some, but if we think about what lies beneath the numbers, we may want to ponder the kind of response that may be necessary.
The numbers alone should give anyone with a charitable heart pause. According to the Chronicle's report, the rich got richer during the Great Recession and simultaneously decreased their charitable giving, while the poor had the opposite response; the change in the share of income donated to charity for those earning between $25,000 and $50,000 a year INCREASED by 8.7% during the recession (2006 - 2012), while the amount donated by those earning over $200,000 DECREASED by 4.5%.
But beyond the pure numbers and what they mean for the financial support flowing to our nonprofit sector providing life-changing, and sometimes life-saving services (and there are several implications), they suggest a growing gap in our country's ability to relate to one other's realities. Vox.com did a piece in response to this study and a particular thought has stuck with me: "If the nation becomes more unequal and economically segregated — or, put another way, if Americans' incomes move apart and the rich and poor increasingly live apart physically — it becomes much easier for people to be blind to how people outside their own class are living."
It's happening. There are now data to support it. And as much as that notion concerns me, I know there are ways to turn it around. Empathy can be cultivated in children with relatively little effort. Small moments of service; honest, non-threatening conversations about what is happening in the world; and intentional, repeated exposures to the more global realities around them will wake up kids' natural inclination to care. All we have to do as parents is make that a box we check when we go through our daily list of "must do's" and we will create the next generation of Giving Kids, a generation that will figure out a new way of giving.
For an excellent summary of the findings, including MA specific rankings (which leave a lot of room for improvement), check out the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network's recent post or the Chronicle of Philanthropy's full report How America Gives.