#34: Party it up with tangible donations

My friend planned a party this past weekend (fun times), and asked everyone to bring in a few wish list items for the Yellow Brick House, in lieu of gifts. In line with the idea of having a birthday food drive, this is another great example of how tangible gift-giving is an effective, efficient and thoughtful way to give something back to those in need. The tangible component allows the people selecting, bagging and offering the items, a more concrete opportunity to internalize their actions, which is particularly useful for young people. Involving kids in the process of choosing some donation items from around the house to include in a gift bag, then giving it themselves to the host of the party, is a great learning opportunity for them. Such palpable actions tend to stick a bit more in the hearts and minds of little ones, than monetary donations (which are also no doubt beneficial, but in different ways).

Donating canned goods, diapers, toiletries, clothing and other everyday items to shelters and food banks is such a simple and helpful task, but one that many of us may (understandably) forget to do amidst hectic schedules and busy lifestyles. This weekend’s party was a good reminder for me to get back to donating some items to a few agencies before the end of this calendar year. I thought that as a personal goal and reminder, it would be worthwhile to plan two simple social events per year (i.e., a get together with friends over dinner, a pot luck or a bbq with friends etc…), dedicated to collecting such donations. I could ask my guests to forgo the flowers, wine, baked goods and other tokens of appreciation, and simply bring in a few items for the given agency. It’s an easy way to add an altruistic element to social activities that would normally take place anyway. It’s also a win-win-win for all parties involved and a good reminder that even in places such as Toronto, Canada, there are many people and communities who rely on such contributions for their well-being.

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2 thoughts on “#34: Party it up with tangible donations

  1. Great ideas, Akila!
    I think it is a smart thing to combine celebrations with giving back. I know that doing something more tangible, that one can hold in their hands, can be very rewarding. Yet, it is also a fact that most organizations can use your money more than actual goods. To take an example of the food bank, because the are able to buy things in bulk and have specific knowledge about what they require, it would be better for you to donate the money you would have spent on food. When I learned that many food banks have to throw out food I was so saddened! It is a lesson that if we combine our good intentions with accurate information, we can maximize our giving and help the most! ūüôā

    1. Thanks Darren! I appreciate the extra information and agree that it’s always important and most useful to think critically about multiple sides to any given situation. I agree that monetary giving is more useful in most situations (more entries with examples of this to come).
      To elaborate on the tangible giving…
      Most people who are planning regular social gatherings, particularly ones that are not specifically for celebrations such as birthdays or special accomplishments (i.e., where gift giving is not expected), won’t typically ask their guests for monetary donations for a given cause. People may hesitate asking their guests for money under these circumstances or just may not think about planning a donation campaign to accompany their get together. As such, asking guests to forgo their tokens of appreciation such as wine/flowers/baked goods, and bring an item to donate instead, is within reach, easy and effective because a small tangible donation is better than no donation at all! However, to make the donation more useful, it is definitely a good idea to inform people of the items most needed by the food bank or shelter (typically listed on the agency’s website). Giving guests additional information on the value and option of a monetary donation would certainly tie in well, as well. For birthdays or other events where gifts are expected, asking for monetary donations to a given cause certainly makes sense.
      Finally, the tangible aspect does have greater long-term reach for young children, as it helps them internalize the concepts of ‘need’, ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’ in a more concrete way. This learning will go a long way to shaping the way they think about their community later on.
      Thanks again for the comment…it’s great to continue the conversation!

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