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Giving Tuesday, the Valentine’s Day of Philanthropy

Today is #GivingTuesday!

I’ve looked forward to this day each November for the last few years—and it isn’t just because my day job is in fundraising. Although, it would be fair to say that my position has allowed me to see what an impact a single day of giving can mean to an organization or fundraising effort.

I was bothered earlier today to see many of my Facebook friends complaining about #GivingTuesday. To be fair, many of these people complain about lots of things (as do I), so it’s not necessarily that different from any other day.

Their complaints made me question why I like this day so much. What I’ve realized is that I think of Giving Tuesday the same way I think about Valentine’s day (although with admittedly less personal angst than accompanies the February holiday).

Yes, we should care for and love our people all year long. But we don’t. Because we’re self-absorbed and human. For many, Valentine’s day is an occasion of intentional affection (and marketing, sure). It doesn’t excuse lack of affection the rest of the year, but it is an opportunity to stop and say, I love you and I’m grateful for you. (Or, well…at least I have a cat. Everyone’s situation is different.)

Likewise, we should give to others and causes all year longBut many of us don’t. For me, #GivingTuesday, is an opportunity to take stock of where I spend my money and how I support the organizations that have supported me over the years.

Below are a few of the organizations and causes I chose to support today. When I look at my life thus far, I can see that I wouldn’t be here without these communities. They’ve made an impact on me in some way, and I appreciate that I have the opportunity to give small gifts toward their missions. I’ve never been in a place to make large donations, but I think we’re all in a place to give something:

MD Anderson Cancer Center

It was 10 years ago this week that my father was diagnosed with tonguephoma. This still sounds like a made-up condition to me, and because I have a sick sense of humor and my dad is now cancer-free, I want to make a joke about the name of this cancer linked to how much my father talks. But, I’ll show some self-control and focus and move on to my point:

Anyone who knew my family during that time will remember the huge impact this had not just on my father’s life but also my mom and my brother and sister and me. It was a scary and uncertain time. The light in all of it, especially for my parents, was the staff of MD Anderson. You want to hear my father talk? Ask him about his experience there.

We are forever grateful to the staff and community at MD Anderson for the important role they’ve play in our lives. And although they send me way too much mail, I will always support them on this day of giving. I invite you do to the same.

Centenary College of Louisiana

Although I will never forgive my alma mater for 8am classes, I have to admit that I received a stellar education at Centenary College of Louisiana. What’s more, I was able to do that only because of the support of generous donors. For that reason, I’m glad for the opportunity to pay it forward (albeit in much smaller donations) to the next generation.

University of Baltimore College of Arts and Sciences

Some of my most meaningful friendships have come from my time in grad school. I’m so indebted (quite literally via student loans) to the MFA Creative Writing and Publishing Arts program at UB.

Without this program, I no doubt wouldn’t have written and the floor was always lava and I certainly wouldn’t have launched Writers & Words. So really, the Baltimore writing community is also indebted to University of Baltimore’s College of Arts and Sciences. You can say thank you with a donation here. (Be sure to write in “MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts” in the comments so it gets to where it needs to go.)

University of Baltimore’s William Khadem Math Center

When I moved to Baltimore, I first worked on the UB campus as an administrative assistant and then a computer skills teacher at the Achievement and Learning Center. While there, I worked with one of the most generous human beings I’ve ever encountered: Yoosef Khadem. That first spring,Yoosef’s sweet son William died suddenly. Since then, Yoosef has lived and given even more generously in William’s memory.

Upon Yoosef’s retirement this past June, UB started a campaign to name the UB Math Center in William’s memory as a fitting way to honor Yoosef. I will continue to give to this campaign until its goal is reached. If you give to only one thing today, I’d ask you to trust me on this and give to the RLB library and designate your gift to William Khadem Math Center to honor my dear friend, Yoosef.

University of Baltimore School of Law

Each year, the University of Baltimore Students for Public Interest raise money to support stipends for summer fellowships for students working in public interest organizations. This means that the students work all year to raise money to help them work all summer for organizations that would not be able to afford to pay them otherwise.

Take a second to think about how you spent your free time as a student. I spent mine at coffee shops and happy hour. These students spend theirs raising money so they can help other people. It’s pretty amazing. You can read more about their work and efforts, and you can support them with a donation today.

Finally, I also support the School of Law’s staff award in memory of my colleague Rose McMunn, who died suddenly in May 2016 from a brain aneurysm. Rose was one of the most welcoming and helpful people I’ve ever met. She loved the color pint and always had a bow in her hair.

The award in her memory honors other staff members who, like Rose, give beyond what is expected to our students and larger community. If you’d like to support this award, you can click here and write “Rose McMunn” in the comments.

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In closing, I sincerely encourage you to find a cause you believe in, and take this opportunity to give if you’re able. It’s noteworthy that I spent money  easily during yesterday’s Cyber Monday promotions (probably too easily). But today, I have a giving “budget” that I am not so tempted to go over. It reminds me that I am self-focused 99.9% of my life.

If today does nothing else but call my attention and future action to that disparity, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

And, if none of that resonated or mattered to you, then I’ll just appeal to your competitive nature before I go: supporting the UB School of Law (with a gift to any fund of any amount) helps me win bragging rights at work. So there’s also that. Be a part of the winning team, y’all. If you’re not naturally a giver, I invite you to at least be a winner.

Loving the Valentine’s Day of Philanthropy,
Michelle

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