Giving the Gift of Philanthropy


Everyone loves a good party. We find ways to celebrate every major occasion in our lives. From birthdays, to weddings, to housewarmings, if there is a reason to party, people will come.

And, as anyone who has gone to a party knows, there can be a lot of pressure to make sure you bring the right gift for each occasion. But what if the host asked their guests not to bring a gift, but instead give a donation? Not a donation to fund their next vacation, or a donation to help them buy a new car, but a donation for your organization?

Wedding Philanthropy

There are an increasing amount of people that are starting to do just that, and at their wedding no less. Wedding registries are turning into philanthropic opportunities with places like the I Do Foundation, where you can make a charity registry so your guests can choose where they want to donate the money they would have spent on your gift.

While being a choice on a wedding donation registry isn’t necessarily going to be a huge revenue stream, it is an opportunity to get the word out about who you are, and shows you a couple who is truly invested in your organization. If a bride and groom iare willing  to make you a part of their wedding, odds are good they are willing to help in many other ways as well.

Giving your donors and volunteers the option to support your organization on their big day is yet another way of encouraging engagement and spreading your message. You can also follow the lead of organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, that will provide couples with cards to put on their reception tables. These cards let the guests know that a donation was made in their honor in the place of a party favor. If swapping presents for donations is too much to ask of their guests, this option allows the couple to still support your organization, without being quite so untraditional.

Birthday Philanthropy

Philanthropic wedding registries aren’t the only way people have found to give back on their special days. Birthdays have also become a platform for people that want to support their favorite charities. With motifs such as matching the dollar amount to your age, (donate $30 on my 30th birthday) or asking for the amount of your birthday, (help me raise 1,259.00 to celebrate 1/25/90), there is a lot of room for fun and creativity with this gift swap. To take full advantage of this trend it could be beneficial to have a birthday gift template in your digital toolbox. You could send or offer downloads to people wanting to donate to your cause in leu of birthday a present.

This template should include an immediate opportunity to donate along with information about your organization and where the money will be used. This can then be sent out by the host along with their part invitations, or distributed at the event. It’s all about growing your network by giving the people in your donor circle the chance to share YOU with all of their friends. Providing tools that make sharing your organization with their friends simple and easy is a great way of gaining exposure and widening your potential donor base.

Why This Matters to You

Life is essentially about finding the things that make us feel good and doing them as often as possible. It’s why we like parties, it’s why we love giving and getting gifts, and it’s why we donate and volunteer. It might also be what drives someone to sacrifice their own gain for the advancement of your organization. So then why wouldn’t you allow people to do good, and feel good about it, through you?

Make yourself accessible to the people around you so they can share who you are and what you do with the greatest amount of people possible. While the added donations of gift registry and birthday philanthropy are a wonderful thing, the ultimate benefit is the exposure and expansion of your organization and the cause you are championing. Invite people to get involved in your organization, then give them the tools to share what they love with the people they love. At this stage, it’s not about revenue, its about relationship. There is nothing more powerful than the recommendation of a friend.  Build relationships with your loyal supporters, then help them spread your message through their relationships, and your organization will continue to grow.

 About the author: Olivia is a senior at the University of Iowa pursuing a degree in journalism and mass communication as well as a certificate in writing. She is interested in how effective writing can benefit non-profit causes as well as traditional media. In her free time she enjoys reading, and photography, and has a passion for travel.


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