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The Giving Mentality

How to get involved in our community year-round

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Around the Christmas holiday, the bell ringers greet us at every store and mall. Envelopes and emails from nonprofits remind us to include them in our holiday giving.

But what about the rest of the year? 

You shouldn’t need a bell to find them. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the U.S. right now. More locally, there are 3,187 nonprofit organizations in the Pittsburgh region or about 11.1 nonprofits for every 10,000 residents, according to the Forbes Funds.

The programs and services provided by most nonprofits and cause-based organizations continue to run year-round, meaning their ability to help those they serve relies on ongoing commitments from donors who provide the financial stability they need to plan and grow.

For many, embracing the spirit of giving – not only among family and friends but to those living in need and the organizations working to help them – means extending support all year long. If you’re committed to helping improve the lives of others in your community, it may mean thinking long-term.

These five tips can help your gifts provide long-term benefits for the causes you support:

Make a personal connection. Hand-deliver your donation to a local chapter and introduce yourself as a supporter. Even consider bringing your kids to inspire generations of giving. Inquire about how you can make the greatest impact and learn about ongoing events and opportunities to get involved.

Spread your contribution over time. If a strict monthly budget has you concerned about breaking the bank, consider signing up for a recurring donation to benefit those served by an organization like The Salvation Army throughout the year. A $25 monthly gift can feed 126 people over the course of one year or provide 11 nights of shelter for those in need in your community.

volunteers plantingIntroduce co-workers to the cause. Many businesses support employees’ volunteer efforts and match contributions, which makes it easy for you to become a champion for cause-related work in your community. Gathering colleagues who share your passion for a cause is a team-building activity that allows you to build personal connections with people you might not have a chance to interact with regularly otherwise. Sharing the load also means you can take turns volunteering, attending events or making contributions for a larger overall impact than you could make on your own.

Give the gift of giving. Rather than giving material goods, consider a meaningful contribution in your gift recipient’s honor. Or share an experience to benefit the cause: spend date night volunteering or gift someone tickets to a nonprofit organization’s performance or gala event.

Pay it forward with younger generations. Introducing kids to the joy of giving can pay dividends for decades to come. Teach the little ones in your life about the big impact they can make by letting them get hands-on. Kids delight in getting to donate loose change and you can take advantage of their interest by explaining the impact of their donation.

A Gift That Keeps Giving
A monthly sustaining gift is one way you can make an impact for a cause you support while spreading your contributions out over time. A relatively small recurring gift can go a surprisingly long way, and the organization benefits by being able to anticipate those funds to plan for future initiatives.

As an example, over the course of a year, a single $25 monthly sustaining gift to The Western Pennsylvania Salvation Army can:

  • Provide school supplies for two children for an entire school year
  • Keep one family off the streets, reducing the chances of using government assistance
  • Help Americans fight addiction at 141 rehabilitation centers across the country
  • Contribute funding to 28 anti-human-trafficking programs nationwide

In our area, there are endless opportunities to give – time, talent and treasure. Here are just a few, but check out Great Non-Profits Pittsburgh for a comprehensive list with pertinent details.

Volunteer with an organization like North Boros Meals on Wheels to provide a healthy lunch and some even more important companionship to a senior or disabled resident in need

Donate your time to an organization like North Hills Community Outreach who have a vast list of services, from their food pantry for residents in need, to shoveling snow for the elderly in our community

Support Literacy Pittsburgh in its mission to help every resident of Allegheny and Beaver counties achieve a better quality of life through improved reading, math, computer and workplace skills

Animal lovers with older kids can get involved by walk dogs and help tend kennels at local animal shelters. Animal Friends is always looking for more help

A giving mentality begins at home. We may not all be able to donate monetarily, but we can give our time. Volunteering as a family for organizations that service your neighbors benefit us all. Get involved.

Content sponsored by The Salvation Army

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Meg A. Watt

Meg is relatively new to the Pittsburgh scene but she's already made herself a community fixture through her involvement in community events, boards, and this site. She started her career as a journalist and still writes daily as a Content Director, and loves that this publication lets her come full circle with those skills - and her love of the North Boroughs. You can also find her writing on www.lit.buzz where she waxes poetic about all the books she loves. If you see her around Lincoln Avenue, she likely has her husband, grown daughters or a pack of dogs around; don't worry, no one bites! (And before you ask, yes; that is really her name)

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