Shaheen Farah |Senior Vice President, Argent Trust Company, Beaumont, TX
Lisa O’Blanc |Senior Vice President & Trust Officer, Argent Trust Company, Beaumont, TX
Creative Ways to Make a Difference
We’re approaching one of the strangest weeks of the year.
On Thanksgiving Day, most of us will gather with family and/or friends. We’ll dirty every pot, pan, and platter we’ve got. Then we’ll stuff our faces until we can’t keep our eyes open.
The next day–aka Black Friday–some of us will awaken as early as 3:30 a.m. and go–zombie-like–in search of amazing deals and “doorbusters.”
And that’s only the beginning! Next comes Small Business Saturday. This will be followed by Cyber Monday…which will bring us, at last, to Giving Tuesday.
On this day (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year since 2012), we’re all encouraged to support worthwhile non-profits that are doing so much good in the world.
It seems that after a frenzied week of going and eating and shopping, people would be far too exhausted and distracted to even consider giving to charities.
A movement of lavish generosity!
If monetary gifts to a charitable organization are how you “celebrate” Giving Tuesday each year, fantastic! It’s easy to do when you follow a few simple, smart steps:
- Set a budget. Determine the amount you’re comfortable giving without straining your finances or stressing you out.
- Remember your values. Choose organizations that align with your interests.
- Do your homework. Research the charities you’re considering. Make sure they’re reputable and effective in using donor funds. (Online tools like Charity Navigator or GuideStar can help you determine a charity’s financial health and transparency.)
- Leverage smart giving strategies. Talk with your financial advisor about tax-efficient strategies and long-term giving plans, such as donor-advised funds or charitable trusts. (And if you don’t have a financial advisor, our Argent Financial team would be glad to help.)
- Diversify your giving. In the same way that a diversified portfolio minimizes investment risk, diversified giving maximizes your impact. Consider supporting multiple organizations to address a broad spectrum of needs.
- Participate in workplace giving. If your employer offers a matching gift program, take advantage of it. Check with your HR department.
We encourage you to be as generous as you can be. But we also want to remind you that monetary gifts aren’t the only way to make a difference on Giving Tuesday.
Think beyond “financial”
We recently discussed Giving Tuesday 2023 with Argent leaders Lisa O’Blanc and Shaheen Farah. Here’s some of what they had to say:
“I see Giving Tuesday as a way to give back. It’s how we express our thankfulness for the fruits we have received and a way to share those blessings with others. It’s never about seeking recognition; it’s always about noticing and seizing opportunities to benefit others.
“Typically, when we say ‘Giving Tuesday,’ people immediately think ‘money.’ But it’s more than financial. It’s also about what you do with your time. How can you give yourself? How can you use your talents to help improve the lives of those in need? What can you do to strengthen your community as a whole?
“I’ve been involved with various nonprofits over the last 40-plus years. I’ve even served as a board member for a few. Currently, I volunteer with Kairos Ministry, in the Kairos Family Kitchen. Each month, we prepare and serve meals to the homeless.
“Here’s what I’ve learned. It’s easy to write a check. And, of course, we should write checks! Groups like Kairos desperately need our financial support. But they also need volunteers. People who will show up, sit with the people they’re serving, and be a listening ear. I’ve found it’s always harder to roll up your sleeves, to go and serve, deliver food–all that…but in my experience, it’s those kinds of personal interactions and hands-on activities that are the most rewarding.”
“Shaheen’s right. Most people assume that our contributions to charities and non-profits always have to be monetary. But depending on someone’s personal situation, a financial gift may not be possible. That’s why I love the old saying about giving your ‘time and talent,’ as well as your ‘treasure.’
“Your gift might be volunteering an hour or two per week. Or doing some kind of pro bono work for a non-profit.
“Like Shaheen, I’ve served on a few boards. I know that every dollar counts. I also know how critical non-monetary contributions are. I’ve seen firsthand how this kind of personal involvement helps connect you to an organization and the people it’s helping.
“I know that’s what brings me the most fulfillment. When I give my time and energy–in addition to my money–that’s when I really start feeling passionate about a cause.
“Giving Tuesday is just one day out of the year. Our goal should be to make it a lifestyle. Think of it like Black Friday. Some people do a lot of shopping on that one day–but that’s not the only day they buy things, right? The same is true for generosity. It needs to be a regular thing.”
Get Creative this Year!
Go ahead and write a check (or multiple checks) on Giving Tuesday! But don’t stop there. Here are 10 non-monetary ways you can make a contribution that will benefit charities, individuals, and your community:
1| Be a virtual volunteer. Offer your expertise remotely. Provide online tutoring, graphic design, or social media management for a nonprofit.
2| Organize a neighborhood cleanup. Gather some friends and work to create a cleaner, safer community.
3| Provide tech assistance for seniors. Assist older community members with technology challenges (e.g., setting up smartphones or troubleshooting computer issues).
4| Engage in meal sharing. Cook and deliver extra portions to elderly or housebound neighbors.
5| Sponsor DIY workshops. Host “how to” classes to teach a skill like gardening, home repair, or crafting.
6| Be a mentor. Offer your knowledge and guidance to young people in the community, helping them navigate education and career choices.
7| Befriend an international student. Help her sharpen her English skills. Have him over for dinner. Make them feel welcome in the U.S.A. (Many will become influential leaders in their countries.)
8| Make an artistic contribution. Use your musical or writing ability to raise awareness for a charitable cause. Paint a mural in a public space (with permission, of course!)
9| Be a reading ambassador. Volunteer to read to school kids. Launch a book drive for an underserved community.
10| Care for the environment. Participate in local conservation efforts. Plant a tree. Help restore a wildlife habitat. Preserve a natural space for future generations.
Watch what happens!
Here’s what we know: Giving–whether your money, time, expertise, or influence–produces real benefits. You not only make a difference in someone else’s life; you also benefit yourself.
Numerous studies have shown that giving actually improves your mental and emotional well-being. It boosts personal happiness, reduces stress, and fosters a strong sense of meaning and purpose. Moreover, giving can have a ripple effect, inspiring others to follow your lead.
This Giving Tuesday, join the movement and make a difference. Experience the joy of generosity.
And if you need more guidance, contact our team at Argent. We’d love to partner with you in figuring out creative ways to make a positive impact on the world.