February: It’s all about hearts and love, right? Give cards, buy chocolate, love your sweetheart.
For those of us fortunate enough to live on the Olympic Peninsula, love extends to where we live. We are passionate about Jefferson County, where community hearts are so supportive of our nonprofit community.
Jefferson Community Foundation is working to reflect the changing face of generosity. Giving is becoming more personally directed thanks in large part to the revolution in communications, technology and social media. The former “top down” approach to philanthropy, which defines a problem and asks us to save the children, feed the homeless or rescue the animals, is changing in favor of a more personal approach.
Today’s fundraising vehicles are just as likely to be an “app” on a smartphone or a tap of the computer mouse as they are a letter asking for support. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising (remember the wildly viral Ice Bucket Challenge?) are bringing new opportunities for people to connect their giving to their passion.
Our community has outstanding nonprofits – the Farmers Market, Boiler Room, ECHHO and others are recognized for excellence – and we can see the impact of great organizations through a “pay what you wish” performance at Key City Public Theatre, or the beds at the COAST Winter Shelter. Others ill critical needs in social services, with at-risk youth, for the environment and in other areas. Together, they demonstrate the power of local volunteerism and local giving.
Through Jefferson Community Foundation, people can roll up their sleeves and become directly engaged in philanthropy. Eleven folks in our community did just that by pooling their resources through the “Better Living Through Giving” giving circle. Over six months the group met, shared ideas, passions and concerns. They agreed on how they would function, what community need they would address, learned about potential recipient organizations and solicited grant proposals.
Their efforts resulted in $10,000 grants to the Northwest Watershed Institute and the Port
Townsend Public Library to educate youth in science, technology, engineering, arts and
mathematics. Giving-circle members found their experience enriching, and it deepened their engagement with the community.
Philanthropy is driven by the heartfelt connection to causes we love, such as the foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls, a field of interest fund whose mission is a world where women and girls are safe, economically secure and free from discrimination. Philanthropy is also about using our heads to identify where our giving can have maximum impact, and using our hands to get more involved.
The passion for connection was evident in the United Good Neighbors (UGN) campaign, which surpassed its fall fundraising goal with participation from hundreds of people around the county. UGN, which recently joined with Jefferson Community Foundation, supports dozens of programs in every corner of our county. Because many of us know someone helped by a UGN-supported organization, we know firsthand where our funds go and who is being helped.
THE GIFT OF TIME
And, let’s not forget those whose giving is of the most precious commodity – their time. We are fortunate to have many people involved in the running of nonprofits through board service and volunteerism. Without so many hands to do this essential work, many leanly staffed organizations simply couldn’t survive.
Jefferson Community Foundation’s mission is to strengthen Jefferson County now and for future generations through engaged philanthropy. We’re excited by these shifts that are driving more responsive, flexible giving approaches, letting donors define how they want to become involved– whether that’s through a donor advised fund, an endowment, or a payroll deduction to UGN in this year, marking its 60th anniversary.
One doesn’t have to be wealthy to be a philanthropist. When the gift is from the heart, the
difference between a young person making a $20 donation and the senior willing $20,000 to charity is only the amount.
Whether your philanthropy is driven by your heart, head or hands – or hopefully, all three – we invite you to learn more about how to give.
Rose Lincoln Hamilton is President of Jefferson Community Foundation.