Feel like Buffet or Gates

by Robert Benjamin Johnston

Trustee, Community Foundation of Grundy County

December 8, 2015


Want to feel a little bit like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg without the burden of being a celebrity? Want to take a break from the holiday rush? Try donating a little bit of money to causes you believe in.

Folks make philanthropic contributions for all sorts of reasons. Let’s start with the important ones first. People make philanthropic donations to support causes in which they personally believe directly affect the communities in which they live and to teach their children about the importance of giving back and paying things forward.

Making a donation to a cause, you believe is personally important, allows one to leave some small indelible positive mark on your community. Do you have fond memories of riding your bicycle as a child? Consider Operation St. Nick. Ever actually been hungry or under financial stress? Consider the We Care food pantry. Do you believe in connecting children who overcome difficult challenges every day while showing courage and joy? Consider Special Connections. Do you believe that seniors who truly are not able to enjoy basic shelter and community through no fault of their own deserve a bed and safe place to live? Consider the Grundy County Housing Authority.

Some folks donate to causes in order to teach their children important life lessons: that their parents provide them not only with material things which others do not have, but also with nonmaterial things that others lack, like love, teaching and an always available ear to listen; that faith-based giving is a keystone of all the great religions; and that children can make a difference in the world. Children need to see tangible results. They are creatures of their senses and immediacy. They need stories that teach charity and compassion.

If they like a particular kind of animal, adopt one at a zoo and go see it. If faith-based charity is important to you, Samaritan’s Purse is tough to beat. If your child wants to help the poorest of the poor directly and wants immediate gratification, then look at Give Directly. Within about 30 minutes the funds will have been received by a family in need Kenya or Uganda. Want to teach them that the holidays is about others and share a gratifying experience with them? Take part of the holiday toy budget. Go on the Internet. Have them choose a charity. You will see that your hard work has surprisingly paid off by witnessing the character that you have instilled in them. My children never cease to amaze me, both the good, and, dare I say, the entertaining.

The financial reasons and methods to do so are discussed frequently and a length, but worth a quick recap. Get a receipt. Donations should be made by the end of the year to take advantage of the tax laws. Donate appreciated assets. Donations can be made by check, credit cards, cash, and even Paypal.

Finally, remember it is the holiday season. Be charitable. Resist the urge to donate in the name of an annoying friend.