Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Let's Redefine Christmas by Putting More Thanksgiving in It.

Today's Chicago Tribune include a full page ad that encourages people to consider giving gifts to charity, rather than to each other. I saw this ad a week ago and was going to write about it.

Anyone willing to spend this kind of money to encourage philanthropy is a hero to me.

However, the first ad apparently used the word "loathsome" and that generated negative feedback. Thus, the second version was rewritten. Eric Zorn wrote about this in his column today, which is what prompted me to take another look.

When I first saw this ad I wondered who sponsored it, and there was some small type saying The Dolio Family Foundation does not solicit donations from the public. In his column today Zorn interviewed Matt Dalio, on behalf of the Dalio Family Foundation, the sponsor of the $2 million campaign. This gave me a greater appreciation of the goals behind the ad.

I just want to say THANK YOU.

If you've read my blog in the past you know how much I'm trying to recruit leaders who will use their visibility, and their wealth, to generate more consistent year-round support for tutor/mentor programs. I don't have an advertising budget, thus having someone like the Dolio Family Foundation step forward and spend their money is great news for me.

I only have one wish. I'd like to have seen them provide a link to a web resource where people could find a list of charities to support, such as you'd find on www.networkforgood.org or www.change.org.

Furthermore, I love to have them review the Program Locator which the Tutor/Mentor Connection is piloting. This is intended to help tutor/mentor programs grow in all poverty neighborhoods, by teaching donors to look at maps showing all the places where programs and donations are needed, then choose what section of the city, or what zip code, they want to help.

Once they have made that decision they can search the Program Locator by zip code, and type of program, age group served, and time of day service is provided, to narrow down their search. This only leaves a few choices in most neighborhoods.

If systems like this were used, the small charities operating in neighborhoods without the high visibility of a Cabrini Green, or a Robert Taylor Housing Development, would have a better chance to get consistent funding and this would enable more comprehensive tutor/mentor programs to grow in all parts of the city.

If leadership like that provided by The Dalio Family Foundation helps long-term charities grow in high needs areas, their gift will have a lasting effect. So will yours.

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