Charitable donors say it’s not how much, but that you give that matters

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Friday, October 26, 2007
— What separates a person who donates $5 to the charity of their choice and one who gives $500 or more?

Nothing, said those who pledge to the United Way of North Rock County’s annual fund-raising campaign, now under way.

But does giving at a higher level make donors feel more connected to their community?

No, local United Way givers agreed.

“I don’t think it matters,” said Wendy Ceuvas, vice president of human resources at Blackhawk Credit Union.

“We don’t promote how much, it’s more about the act of doing something,’’ Ceuvas said of BCU’s workplace campaign.

Bill Albright, a Milton resident and banker, agreed.

“It’s important to give whatever you can,” said Albright, a United Way Leadership Circle giver along with his wife, Joyce. People in that group give $500 or more in their commitment to making a lasting impact in their community.

“We try to give as much as we can and balance that with the time we donate to different projects,’’ said Tom Dorscheid of his family of five.

“I don’t want to belittle anyone who doesn’t give as much as some people just because they don’t have the means to give more. Anybody who gives is doing a good thing. Everybody has to find their own balance. There’s not one formula that works for everybody,” added Dorscheid of Sanford Business to Business.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve been connected with the community whether I was giving money or not,” said Ken Pollard, an engineer for AT&T.

“I don’t feel any different than before I started giving through the company,” Pollard added.

Irving Trewyn, a grinding room supervisor at Baker Manufacturing in Evansville, said he feels more connected to the community simply because he designates where he wants his dollars to go—United Way agencies with which he has volunteered and other agencies that have benefited family members.

As Trewyn’s giving to United Way has increased, he said he has not felt anymore connected to his community than he did before.

“I just could afford more and figured my money would be just as good as my time,’’ said the former “big brother,” who now works two jobs so is unable to volunteer.

Similar factors motivate people in their giving.

“Each of us is very blessed with our lives, and we need to share that with others,’’ said Joyce Albright, who is a speech pathologist at a Janesville elementary school where she sees parents of her students struggling even though they work hard.

“It’s an obligation to help others in our communities,’’ she added.

Her husband agreed.

By donating, “you get a feeling that you’re bettering the lives of people far less fortunate.”

That, too, is how Trewyn described his motivation for giving.

“It’s a feeling I’m helping somebody that really needs it,” he said.

Pollard also gets that warm, fuzzy feeling by contributing to United Way and volunteering with his family—wife and twin teenagers—in the community.

“There’s a lot of people not as fortunate as myself and my family. It makes you feel good about being able to help somebody out that’s less fortunate,’’ Pollard said.

It’s only natural Dorscheid and his family are big supporters of community projects because both he and his wife were raised in families that gave of both their time and money, which are tied together, he said.

“I don’t think you can give to organizations without feeling like a part of it. We just feel that if everybody gives a little bit of themselves, it helps everybody,’’ Dorscheid said.

“There’s value when you can see the benefits of how a community that grows helps each other,” Dorscheid said.


Contribute through your workplace campaign if available. Otherwise, go to www.uwnrc.org and click on the “Give Now” button or call (608) 757-3040.


1. Clarify your values.

-- Do this before you open your checkbook, volunteer or look at that letter from a charity.

2. Identify your preferences.

Ask yourself: “What issues are important to me?” Hunger? Animal welfare? Helping sick children?

Where should the charity do its work—in your neighborhood, region, country or internationally?

Ask yourself if you want to support a large or small charity, a new or an old one.

3. Search GuideStar—a leading source of information on U.S. nonprofits with a searchable database of more than 1.7 million IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations—to find charities that meet your criteria.

4. Focus on the charity’s mission.

Look at each charity’s description in the GuideStar search results, on its Web site or in its literature.

-- Find the nonprofits that fit best with your values.

5. Eliminate organizations that don’t meet your criteria.

6. Verify a charity’s legitimacy.

-- If you find a charity on GuideStar (www.guidestar.org), you know it’s legitimate because all nonprofits listed on the Web site either are registered with the IRS or have provided proof of their status as legitimate nonprofits that meet the IRS criteria for tax-exempt organizations. You can see at a glance if your contribution will be deductible.

If the charity is not on GuideStar, ask to see its letter of determination.

If the organization is faith based, ask to see its official listing in a directory for its denomination.

7. Get the facts.

A reputable organization will define its mission and programs, have measurable goals and use concrete criteria to describe its achievements.

8. Compare apples to apples.

Be sure to compare charities that do the same kind of work, especially if you’re looking at their finances. The type of work a charity does can affect its operating costs dramatically.

9. Avoid charities that won’t share information or pressure you.

10. Trust your instincts.

Source: GuideStar at www.guidestar.org

Last updated: 12:19 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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