Friday, December 23, 2005

Spread Holiday Hope and Holiday Cheer

I've been reading blogs on charity and philanthropy listed in the Non Profit Blog Exchange and in one the message is: Do your donors a big favor: ask them to give.

I cannot tell you how often over the past 13 years I've struggled to ask for money and how difficult others also seem to find this. Yet, here's a blogger saying that we're doing donors a favor because it feels good to give!!

I know this is true about giving of your time, but it seems harder when you're asking people to give their money. Yet, what's the difference? Time is money!! Therefore, as you head to the Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah feast, why not make everyone feel better by asking them to give to a charity that needs more dollars to do its work.

You can read more about "making donors feel good" on the Donor Power Blog, found at This is one of several non-profit blogs linked together in the December 2005 Non Profit Blog Exchange.

Let me talk about this from the other perspective. I lead a small non profit. I've had former students and volunteers tell me how much being part of Cabrini Connections has changed their lives. I've had people from around the country tell me how they have started new mentoring initiatives based on the information they found on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site or how much they valued the information. Yet, I've also had to reach into my own pocket to pay the bills each year because I could not find enough donors to share this vision with me.

For charities like Cabrini Connections, the last six weeks of the year are critically important. We raise almost 40% of our annual revenue in these weeks. I'm please to say that we've received significant grants from HSBC, Hewitt, Kraft Employee Fund, Polk Bros Foundation, the Wm Wrigley Jr. Co. Foundation and many donations ranging from $5 to $1,000 from dozens of individuals these past few weeks, so my Christmas stocking is filling up.

But it's not overflowing, which means unless we find more donations this week and in the coming months, we'll be borrowing money in June and July to pay the rent!!

Not all charities are as good as others in raising money. There are many who do excellent work but work in relative isolation and struggle to find funds to do their work. We set up the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to try to change the way funds were raised and distributed to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. We've piloted GIS maps to show where these programs are needed, based on where poverty and poorly performing schools are most concentrated. We've created a searchable database to help people learn what programs are in what zip codes, or if there are zip codes where more programs are needed. You can find this in the Program Locator at

I spend time writing blogs like this to try to help all of these programs get the resources they need, not just the programs I lead. I try to teach others to follow this example because I think it can increase the donor pool that supports all of us.

Thus, if you want to feel good, but don't want to send a contribution to Cabrini Connections ( ), we offer you dozens of other programs in Chicago where you can help kids and mentors connect. Furthermore, if you search the LINKS library, we offer you almost 900 links to organizations who do great work in all parts of the US, and who seek charitable contributions to sustain what they do.

I have been doing this work for more than 30 years. I've been blessed in more ways that I can count, starting with the kids and volunteers who have let me be part of their lives, and going on to my own children who are the result of me meeting and marrying a women who I met in 1980 when she became a volunteer in the program I was leading.

I hope that many of you have found the same type of joy from giving of your time, talent and treasure. And I hope you'll keep giving until it feels good!!

As you celebrate this holiday please look for ways to share some of your own blessings with people who are helping kids and who are trying to end poverty through mentoring and career education. ...or who are doing other forms of charity and service that also need to be funded with your contributions.

To all who have helped Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with their donations, with their volunteer contributions, and with their encouragement, I say "Thank You!"

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

1 comment:

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