Monday, February 21, 2011

Give 'Til It Hurts?

I have a cousin who lives on the other side of the continent, and her visits "home" are infrequent.  Her father -- my mother's twin brother -- is buried in the same cemetery as my parents.  Each December when Bonnie and I go to put a wreath on their grave, we put one on my uncle's as well.  It is a small thing.  For us.  For my cousin, it is a very big thing.  A visit that she is unable to personally make is made by cousins who loved her dad quite a bit.

This week I received an email from said cousin.  She knew I'd had a birthday and wanted to know my favorite charity so that she could give a donation to it.  As a way to thank me for placing a wreath.  I was blown away.

Such a contrast to the other emails, letters, phone calls, Facebook postings and even people at the door with clipboards asking me to give money to support their favorite charities.  Which is hard for me.  Because I really can't.  I have causes that are personally important to me, and I give to them.  I know that my friends' charities are personally important to them, but my philanthropic budget line isn't large enough for me to take them on.  If someone mentions a cause that she is supporting and I feel moved to help with that support, I do.  But beyond that, all I can do is just say, "It sounds very worthwhile and important to you."

So my "distant" cousin has given me something to think about.  A philanthropic approach I can possibly implement in some way.  Thanks, cuz!


suz said...

What a lovely thing to have done. I'd much rather my family did that then run into a store and grab something just to have a "thing" to give me. I moved after 22 years this past summer and ended up "regifting" a great many things that I kept out of guilt. Too bad the money couldn't have been used better. I appreciate their gesture, but I really like what your cousin did.

Anonymous said...

Cuz had a lovely idea. Your "thinkin' on giving brings to mind one thing I do not like about giving donations.... for every donation I give I get half back in "paper" asking for more.... most times it is a one time thing that I am doing in memory of someone.....

Blue Ridge Mountains said...

We give to a charity organization each Christmas from my sister and two brothers. When you are elderly there is not much one needs but there are many needs out in the world. My favorite one is sending chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits. I would love to be able to buy a water buffalo.
Mimi, try to ignore the others asking for more. Concentrate on a favorite one.

Quiltdivajulie said...

What a lovely, thought-provoking, respectfully written post!

howdidIgethere said...

I love the idea of giving to a favorite charity in place of a physical gift! I started doing this with my daughters when they were in elementary school and just didn't need more "stuff" from friends who came to their birthday parties. They were completely behind the idea, so each year they chose someplace and asked that their friends make a donation rather than buy them a present. Worked for the first year or two, when it was still a novel idea, but after a while, many guests still showed up with gifts, usually because of the parent, I think.

As for personal "solicitations", I, too, have been asked for funds for running, climbing, rocking, reading, walking, etc., and sometimes have responded, other times have not. OTOH, I confess that I have done this myself -- exactly once.

Since I'm not acquainted with Bill Gates or his friends, everyone I know has limited means and many (most?) will probably not share the same charitable interest as I do. When I sent my invitation to contribute to "my" cause, I certainly did not have expectations of anyone, but if someone was moved to help out, I am extremely thankful and will be sure to express my gratitude appropriately. And I won't ask but the one time.