If you live in Cleveland, you have reason to celebrate National Nonprofit Day today, Aug. 17, which recognizes the incredible work nonprofit organizations do for their communities.
Our city has a long history of nonprofit innovation as the birthplace of the Community Chest (predecessor of the United Way) and home to the oldest community foundation in the United States (The Cleveland Foundation). Today, Cleveland has a thriving nonprofit sector, boasts one of the highest concentrations of community development organizations in the country and is known for a world-renowned healthcare infrastructure.
Not only that, but Cleveland is home to Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, which offers nationally ranked graduate education programs in social work and nonprofit management, as well as doctoral training in social welfare.
To learn meaningful ways to honor National Nonprofit Day today and the many nonprofits around Cleveland, The Daily spoke with Lauren Steiner, president and founder of Grants Plus, a national leader in grant-seeking consulting, and an adjunct professor at the Mandel School, where she teaches a graduate-level course in philanthropy.
Read on to learn Steiner’s suggestions.
1. Take five to ponder your philanthropic priorities.
Most people give in a reactionary way, but have you given much thought to how much you give annually and where your philanthropic dollars go? Take a moment to consider the causes that really ignite your passion.
Are you a champion for education? For healthy equity? For animals or the environment? Some people find it helpful to write a personal philanthropic mission statement for themselves and their families. It can both help you decide where to make donations and make it easier to say “no thank you” to those (nonprofits) that don’t fit within your priorities.
2. Make a donation—and consider making it monthly.
One-time donations are wonderful but for most nonprofits, the real challenge is to build sustaining support. When I was a young professional, I wanted to support my alumni association in a significant way but I couldn’t afford to make the $1,200 one-time payment.
So instead, I set up a recurring donation of $100 per month for 12 months. At the end of that year, I was so proud that I was able to make that gift. How much can you afford to give to your favorite cause this year? Try a recurring monthly donation and watch your support add up!
3. Give your time.
Volunteering today looks so different from what it did even in the last five years. Of course you can do a wide range of volunteer activities in person (some of my favorite Cleveland-based opportunities include sorting school supplies and other goods at the Shoes and Clothes for Kids warehouse, helping out at one of Hands-On Health’s community health events, or serving as a volunteer mentor through a program like True2U or Big Brothers Big Sisters of GC).
But there are a multitude of new ways you can get involved virtually. Most organizations have volunteer committees that work on marketing, fundraising, or even finance and HR. What’s your professional or personal interest area? Is there an organization that might benefit from your skills? Don’t be afraid to reach out to that organization and inquire about nontraditional ways you can volunteer your time!