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I don’t know about you but this year was NOT like previous years. Understatement of the century, right? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess most of my peers feel the same way.

Now we’re at the point where Halloween and Thanksgiving will be over in a flash and soon it’ll be time to put away the turkey décor and drag the Christmas lights out of storage.

As the holidays give me pause and I start to reflect on the last 10 months, it’s with a deep sense of relief, residual shock, and an abiding sense of gratitude that I look ahead to 2022.

If anything, the past year reinforced the fact that life is short and pushed me to be more daring—with respect to work, relationships, investments, you name it. And I wasn’t the only one.

Dare to Dream

More than four million Americans—an astounding three percent of the American workforce— quit their job in August as the pandemic forced a tight labor market and demand for workers rose.

In addition to being more daring with their career aspirations, Americans were more daring with their finances. Individuals, corporations and foundations in 2020 donated a record $471 billion to charity. Total giving this year could eclipse that, even amid all the market volatility stirred up by the pandemic.

Small-dollar donations in 2020, moreover, spiked over the previous year, likely because of the $300 above-the-line charitable tax deduction enacted as part of the pandemic relief package.

As John Biedermann, chair of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, told the Nonprofit Times, “It’s striking that on December 31, there was a 28% increase of $300 gifts, which is exactly the maximum amount a donor can take using the universal charitable deduction.”

Carpe Diem

As someone who was raised to “play it safe” and has experienced a fair share of tragedy, I often shrink from grandiose plans or large financial commitments, opting instead to take things a step at a time.

A silver lining of the pandemic, however, is that it crystallized people’s goals, and made many realize there is no time like the present to make a move—whether with charitable giving or otherwise.

As Daniel Gressel, a longtime DonorsTrust client, says, “I give because there are causes and principles worth fighting for now, not when I’m dead!”

He’s right. After all, what’s the worst that could happen if you open a charitable investment account right now? The money will always go to charity, and—if you open an account with DonorsTrust—your money will always go to charities that honor and reflect your values.

What’s more, you’ll even get to strategize with givers who share your values and your hope for society, as DonorsTrust Novus Society Assistant Director Lydia Pitea says in her latest column.

“Getting plugged into liberty and supporting the valiant efforts of so many amazing nonprofits seems like a daunting task. With the right support, however, it’s an exciting and enjoyable beginning for sure.”

Let Gratitude Guide

Perhaps one of the most striking things I’ve witnessed in the wide world of philanthropy is the power of gratitude. When gratitude takes root in a person’s heart, it has the power to create a domino effect.

The outpouring of support for our first responders and frontline workers throughout the pandemic is evidence of this fact. When someone puts his or her life on the line for another, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Take for example the “legacy” employees of the New York City Fire Department—young men and women whose parents were killed responding to the 9/11 terror attacks and now work for the department themselves.

Gratitude drives giving. I again learned this last month during a work conference in Nashville when I met Lee Robbins, Jr., pastor at the Source Church Unlimited in Buford, Georgia.

A full-time minister, Pastor Lee also runs a staffing agency that helps returning citizens get back on their feet. Many of the men and women his agency places also attend his church and tithe generously.

Pastor Lee has cultivated a remarkable community of givers that understand one another and pay it forward out of a deep and abiding sense of gratitude.

As you reflect on your year-end giving goals and identity potential organizations to support, consider the charities that helped you or a loved through this tumultuous year.

As DonorsTrust Vice President Peter Lipsett says, “[D]on’t merely think about specific groups. Consider those moments of joy and celebration throughout the past year.”

Which organization took you or a loved one from a “low” to a “high” this past year and gave you cause to celebrate? Think about it, and dare to pay it forward this Thanksgiving and beyond.

Carolyn Bolton

Author Carolyn Bolton

Carolyn Bolton is the communications and marketing manager at DonorsTrust. Before joining the DonorsTrust team, Carolyn was a senior content specialist for a public-affairs firm in northern Virginia. She is an alumna of the writing fellows program at America's Future Foundation and, prior to her foray into content creation for corporate and nonprofit clients, Carolyn was a general-assignment reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press and a content editor for Cox Media Group. She is a graduate of Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor's degree in political communications. After graduating early, she interned for the National Journalism Center and The Washington Times. When she isn’t working, Carolyn enjoys exploring area restaurants, ice skating, and reading.

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