My family was the typical family of the 1980s, two parents, a brother, and me, sometimes a dog, always a cat. We lived modestly and most evenings held the same routine. My dad watched the Andy Griffith Show while my mom prepared a dinner of lasagna or hamburgers and fries. We had everything that we needed and often vacationed in the summer thanks to my dad’s coin jar where he collected his spare change throughout the year. I still remember counting the change and rolling it for the bank as we excitedly waited to see how much he had saved.
We did not have a tremendous amount of extra income with a father who was a pastor and a mother who was a stay at home mom, and in later years, a middle school teacher. Sometimes things were tight. Despite this modest lifestyle, one thing stands out to me clearly over the years. My parents always found money to give to charitable causes. My dad did not hesitate to hand a ten-dollar bill to someone in need, and my mom was the first to purchase an extra book at the book fair for a child who did not have the money to purchase one, regardless of how tight our resources were. I clearly remember my mother saying that the blessings of giving to others are always returned ten-fold.
Our nation and the world have faced an unprecedented crisis in 2020. The COVID-19 global pandemic created a dire need for the services of nonprofits while crippling their ability to raise funds in the traditional way. The economic impact of this pandemic seems to grow greater everyday and has impacted families’ jobs, incomes, and lifestyles.
At the beginning of 2020, the Cape Fear Literacy Council saw a bright future for the year’s fundraising. As the president of the organization, I looked forward to celebrating our 35th year with a luncheon, featuring North Carolina poet laureate, Jaki Shelton Green, alongside our student-lead Readers Theater production in June and a gala birthday event in late September.
When March hit and the shutdowns began to take shape, we knew that we needed to pivot and find new ways to raise funds. Working together, our board and staff drafted a plan that ended up becoming a beautiful video presentation of how our organization has served the community over the past 35 years. We were able to host an online debut event and an online fundraising campaign that helped us to raise almost as much as we would have at our in-person events. We were absolutely amazed at the support of both businesses and individual donors in the Wilmington area.
This fundraising effort and my experiences growing up with my parents made me think. How can we each do a small part that will add up to create a tremendous wave?
In other words, fundraising and supporting your local nonprofits does not have to be a large donation. If we all work together to support our community in small ways, we can make huge impacts. December is the perfect time to think about doing things for others. We are already in the mindset of giving and can celebrate the holiday season by giving back to our community.
Here are a few small ways you can help your local nonprofits this month:
1. Make small donations as you can. Charities appreciate donations of all sizes. $5 or $10 can quickly add up to meet fundraising goals if many community members participate. Donate $10 and ask 10 friends to do the same.
2. Save your change. Just like my dad did for our family vacation, you can save your change for a week or a month or however long you wish and donate it to the charity of your choice. This is a great way to get the whole family involved.
3. Pick up a few extras each time you go to the grocery store in the month of December. When you have a grocery bag full of items, deliver it to an organization like NourishNC or Good Shepherd Center. Often organizations like these have wish lists on their websites to help guide your purchases. You probably won’t notice a few extra dollars in your grocery bill, but over a month, these purchases can add up to a big difference.
4. Donate gently used items from your home: used furniture for Habitat for Humanity, clothing items for Salvation Army, or books for the Cape Fear Literacy Council online bookstore. This is a no-cost option, and these organizations often have volunteers who may be willing to pick up donations from your front porch.
5. Consider donating money that you would have used to travel this season. With limited gatherings and travel options, this may be a great way to fit an end of year donation into your budget.
6. If you want to make a long-term commitment, pledge to donate a small amount each month to a charity of your choice. A $10 a month donation adds up to $120 over the year while a $50 donation amounts to $600!
As you see, it only takes a little creativity and thought to find small ways to donate to nonprofits in these trying times. Together, we can lift our community up through the pandemic and beyond.
Kelly Goss Sechrist, a Wilmington resident for over ten years, has many years of experience working with nonprofits. While she started her career as an educator, she quickly transitioned to the nonprofit sector. She has worked closely with numerous local and national nonprofits, ranging from education and literacy to community crisis support to medical research. She has served in some capacity, as a volunteer, board member, or development staff member for over twenty-five years. Additionally, Kelly served on several local and state election campaigns as a volunteer, including state senate campaigns in 2006, 2008, and 2010 where she served as the assistant campaign manager and public relations liaison. Currently, she is the president of the Cape Fear Literacy Council Board of Directors and has been a member of the board for almost four years. Kelly works as the Development Director at the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit that provides resources for ranked-choice voting. She is also an entrepreneur and owns a small business. A mom to three young adults, she enjoys reading, writing, playing tennis, and fitness.
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