This Christmas, we decided to do something different. It was my husband’s idea. He was inspired by the images of refugees fleeing war and the contrast between those in need and the oncoming glut of excess that seems to follow Christmas. He said, “Why don’t we have a party where the whole idea is about giving to others?” We decided to call it a Giving Party. We had no idea if anyone would be interested. It is a busy time of year and folks are already stretched thin with their time and wallets. We gave it a go anyway.
We picked five charities we cared about and asked everyone to bring a donation, big or small, to give to one of the organizations. We also asked for people to bring canned foods for a local food bank, toys for a local toy drive, and some food or drink to share. We made plans for the kids put care packages together for homeless folks so we could help our kids learn about people that are less fortunate, and spread the giving even further.
We were wanting to include $5 McDonald’s gift cards in the care packages, but realized we were getting a little over budget. I attempted to get donations from local vendors but found that no one would help a private individual, you have to have a nonprofit designation. So, on another whim, I set up a Go Fund Me campaign to see if we couldn’t get a few donations ahead of time. We were blown away. Our friends from all over—Beijing, China to Canberra, Australia, the UK and of course the U.S.—donated and a matter of days, we had raised $570. It was $200 over the amount we were hoping to raise.
The party was just as successful. At the party, we raised $1,507 for the following charities:
- Migrant Offshore Aid Station ($160)
- Heifer Project ($542)
- Community Food Share ($305)
- Boulder Homeless Outreach ($20)
- A Local family in need ($480)
In addition, the kids and adults put toghter 50 care packages to hand out to homeless folks. Each one included a toiletry kit, hand warmers, hot chocolate mix, V-8 drink, granola bar, a $5 McDonalds gift card and a note saying who packaged it and who sponsored the package. There were also quite a few toys and canned foods were donated.
Having this party showed me—overwhelmingly—that so many are willing to give. All you need to do is ask. Hearing this message loud and clear was so refreshing and not just for us. Many folks thanked us for having a party like this, and several people told me they wanted to throw their own. So… in an effort to spread the giving just a little more, here are some tips and tricks to help you host your own giving party:
- Pick charities that are politically and/or religiously neutral. Don’t let a personal preference get in the way of generosity. Choose organizations that are easy for people to get behind.
- Make it easy on yourself and ask folks to bring a appetizer or drink. Not only will this make the party easy to organize, but it also makes others feel like they contributed.
- Get creative and include the kids. Encourage kids to bring some of their own money to make a donation and let them pick where to give. Kids are never too young to learn about giving and philanthropy.
About a month after the party, as we were getting on the highway, we rolled down our window to hand a $5 gift card to someone that was panhandling in the median of the turn lane. As we drove away and onto the highway, Mike pointed down to the guys stuff and said, “Look! It’s one of the care packages from our party!”