Guest Blogger

Give Till It Hurts

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 13, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Christmas gifts, holiday season, Nonprofit Industrial Complex, people in need

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Becky Dansky is a recent law school graduate. She is the former federal lobbyist for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

You have probably heard the rumors that the economy isn't so great these days. If it hasn't affected you, it's probably hurt someone you know and it has definitely hurt some organizations you know. Christmas-gifts.jpgIn a down economy, the first thing to go is charitable giving. This is not to say that people have stopped giving altogether, but there is no doubt that non-profit organizations have suffered the last several years.

Non-profits are unable to adequately compensate their employees or expand their staffs. These groups do important work that is too often taken for granted. Non-profit groups have always struggled to make ends meet. They expect employees to shoulder responsibilities that would be more appropriate for two or three staff members. They offer non-competitive salaries usually justified by saying "Well, we are a non-profit..." And that was before the economy went to hell.

So what can anyone do about it? Give. Give till it hurts. It is the holiday season and we're all spending money, whether we have it or not. I spent $20 bucks on a tree topper last week - and I'm Jewish. What if I sent that $20 to shelter people in desperate need? Perhaps it could buy a meal or two. And what if we all sent $20 to a national organization that is struggling to cover its debts or a new organization that is just starting out and can't even afford to pay its staff? We could all just use the hideous tree toppers we settled for last year.

When I was a child we would get a present each night of Chanukah, except one. That night, we donated our present to a child in need. As the years went on, it went from one gift to a few gifts until my mother began providing an entire Christmas for a family. At night, so the children wouldn't know, my father would drive my mother into an unsafe neighborhood and these two unlikely elves would deliver decorations and gifts and food to a family.

Then instead of one family, it was two, and so on. Years went by and then my mother moved on to providing Thanksgiving dinners for families all over town and so on and so on and so on.

Now my parents are retired and our family - like many - has been affected by the economy. Yet my mother is out shopping today for Christmas gifts for a family in need. Whenever I say to her that maybe she should take this year off, that we should save our money, she explains to me that's exactly why she can't. She says this is when people need it most, when others are unable to give. My mom is pretty smart.

So I ask you this. As you scramble to find your last minute gifts, consider a donation. Consider asking for donations in lieu of gifts. I know presents are more fun to open, but you know someone who would appreciate it, and you probably are someone who would appreciate it.

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