This is Denise Weaver’s story, the fifth installment in our Client Stories series which shares how different clients use their DonorsTrust donor-advised accounts in different ways. You can read the previous article from Ann Fitzgerald here.
Let’s talk about money.
Good friends know I’m always delighted to talk about how to maximize a personal budget or how to use airlines miles to get a ridiculously good trip for a fraction of the cost.
For work, I’m always digging into nonprofit budgets and other financial matters, so for the most part I don’t mind the awkwardness of talking about money.
However, I’m not sure how to talk about giving. Sure, there’s the Charles Koch-types, the Mark Zuckerberg-types, and the folks with a few decades on us that give, but what about our peers? It seems weird to talk about giving.
The Year-End Giving Crunch
My husband Joe and I have spent practically our entire careers either working for or with nonprofits. On top of that, we aren’t waiting on the government to solve society’s woes, so we feel compelled to give.
Until last year, come December, we would look at our yearly spending, calculating our tax bill, and then debating how much and where to give. And if you could be a fly on the wall to see the chaos of the conversation… Let’s save the puppies! Or kids? Oh, or there’s some museums we like? Or maybe, we should probably give to organizations where our friends work. Or are we even giving enough to matter—maybe we should just add to the baby’s college fund?
While giving is supposed to be an altruistic endeavor, this conversation brought no joy to our Decembers.
I saw an ad for Novus Society in spring 2017. Huh. A giving society aimed at our demographic? Was I reading this right or was there supposed to be an extra zero in that number? I was surprised that Donors Trust was interested in our demographic—we couldn’t possibly be giving enough for anyone to notice.
I’d worked around and respected DonorsTrust for years, so it seemed worth learning more. Heck, Peter Lipsett and I were even on a trivia team in DC together for years! So I apprehensively asked if we could chat (I knew that Peter was nice enough that he’d at least let me down gently if I just missed the point and the intended donors were folks who had already sold a few companies and fully funded their children’s college funds…).
So Peter and I sat down. It was like a confessional! “So, we want to give! I mean…it’s not that much, but it matters to us! But…uh…I feel like I should know this, but how do we give in a way that makes a difference?” And he didn’t even laugh at me! “This is the point of the Novus Society,” he said, “for folks getting started on developing a philanthropic profile.”
I was thrilled! We weren’t the only ones confused by how to give purposefully and having trouble understanding how we fit into the world of philanthropy.
Since joining Novus, we’ve budgeted our giving better. Our giving has been more organized for our taxes. It’s eliminated some of the weirdness we felt about giving and helped us think through our giving in a more structured, purposeful way. DonorsTrust has made time for our silly questions and connected us with others—both peers and seasoned donors—that help us think through where we are now and where we want to be.
The Giving Conversation
Back to talking about money. Giving doesn’t have to be an awkward discussion. As for Joe and me—we want to learn more and we want to give more. We want our giving to matter, and to feel good about how we’re giving. Right now we’re giving to organizations that we know well, but we’re exploring how to branch out—but also not stressing as much that we don’t have it all figured out.
If your organization gets a gift from us—it most certainly won’t be the biggest gift your organization receives this year, but know it means an awful lot to us.