The end of the year is often seen as a time to give to those in need, whether it’s through monetary support or showing up to volunteer. How can you make the most impact this season as you decide where your resources should go?
If you can afford the money or the time, giving to others is a way to contribute to the positive social fabric of our communities. Here at Mascoma Bank, we truly believe that the year-round support we show our neighbors—whether through grants made to local humane societies, funding for art programs, or making it possible for nonprofits to expand their infrastructure—makes the world a better place, not just within our own neighborhoods but in the world at large.
Individuals who want to contribute to that social fabric have plenty of choices. Your local food pantry? A youth sports program? Your church? In many ways, there’s no wrong way to give, but perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind would feel at home as a social media post: Follow your heart. Choose an option that aligns with your own values. Your gift will be more meaningful and you’ll be more likely to do it again.
Here are some tips to think about when consider a year-end donation.
- Money isn’t the only item on the wish list. Many places in New Hampshire and Vermont collect clothing (especially warm winter clothing), food, and toys. Take a look at your house to see if there are any gently used items that might find a new life in someone else’s home. Even better, buy a new book or toy and donate it to an organization collecting to make sure every child experiences some magic this holiday season. Check guidelines from the organization that’s collecting items and be discerning about which used items you donate.
- Time is valuable. Serving food at a community meal, reading stories to children at a local after school program, baking some cupcakes for a bake sale—the ways to give are endless. If a monetary contribution isn’t in your budget this year, consider donating some of your hours to make a difference. Plus, experiencing the joy of sharing a meal or a story time or even an hour dressed as Santa Clause can bring home the message of giving in a way that writing a check might not quite accomplish.
- Even small donations do good. There really is no “small” in charitable giving. While large events and big checks might make the news more often, the donations of $5, $20, $50 really add up and make a significant difference. This is useful to remember when encouraging children to become socially responsible—that weekly allowance can go a long way when it’s donated to charity.
- Add charity to your monthly budget. Just as you put a certain amount of your monthly income into a savings account, bookmark some for giving. You can let that amount grow over the entire year or give it away in monthly increments. Some organizations are even able to deduct a certain amount every month from your account or charge it to your credit card.
- Research. We might like to think that anyone who asks for money is sincere in their need, but sadly, this isn’t It’s a Wonderful Life. You’re sure to find a local nonprofit with a stellar reputation of making their dollars do excellent work, but if you’re looking further afield, you might want to check around. You can do a fairly comprehensive search for nonprofits on Guidestar and greatnonprofits.org to make sure you are giving wisely.
Giving back to communities has always been a hallmark of Mascoma Bank’s mission, and we find that many of our customers hold the same ideals. Even giving a little bit can go a long way. To see a few profiles of nonprofits we support, check out our articles on the Randolph Area Food Shelf, the Intervale Center, and local animal shelters.