The Checks are in the Mail
HOLIDAY GIVING, FINANCIAL STYLE
By Edward Shanahan
Having finished writing some dozen end-of the year checks to various local charitable agencies, it is finally time for me to sit down and pen a few holiday greetings to old friends and acquaintances.
You know the kind of notes - about the highs and lows of the last year, the positive feelings this past election fostered, and reminiscences about times past and the fleeting nature of time present.
But wait, before I can begin that pleasant annual task it turns out there are more checks to consider writing, all in addition to the ones that just went out, at least based on the mail harvested from a single visit on Saturday to our Florence post office box.
Along with a Talbot’s catalogue, a Harper’s magazine and a WFCR newsletter, there were 10 other pieces of mail, but they bore little relationship to personal mail of a kind that might be expected during the holiday season.
They were all solicitations to contribute money and represented either a reflection of the increasingly difficult economic times we all face, or the last minute need to get under the fund-raising wire for 2008—of course, in the spirit of the belief that it more blessed to give than receive.
They came from disparate sources, and all of them were absolutely worthy of our support, in mind and spirit as well as in cash contributions.
But how do we make choices, and especially when the needs continue to grow and the solicitations proliferate? And how did we get on so many mailing lists?
So when sorting through the requests who do we favor, the Commonwealth Opera, the WGBY 2008 annual fund, Brightside, the Eric Carle Museum, American Friends Service Committee, Whole Children, the Food Bank, Smith College, the David Ruggles Center, or the Roxbury Latin School.
At a distance, it is impossible to measure the needs of each organization, its current resources, requirements and performance. For some social service agencies, the United Way tries to do that evaluation and winnowing for would-be contributors. And we all have our own favorite agencies and organizations, so coupled with that the torrent of mail solicitations from an explosion of institutions poses a huge dilemma for the recipient of all these requests and others we have had, some repeatedly, over the course of the year.
Maybe others have a proven method of making sure they make the right choices and send the right amounts to the most needy, valuable, effective and worthiest of the worthy. I still haven’t figured out that equation.
One aspect of a solicitation that tends to encourage a donation is evidence of a person behind the otherwise anonymous mailings, as the Ann and Ed sticky note of thanks for past support and brief handwritten request on the Food Bank letter.
Even better was Valle Dwight’s note extolling the virtues of Whole Children and in addition offering her “best wishes & merry Christmas.”
So Whole Children goes to the top of the pile.
downstreet.net©2001. All rights reserved.