Americans give in every season

Donna Chavis

Donna Chavis

Over the winter holiday season, special events celebrate individuals and groups that keep our society functioning in more equitable and humane ways year-round.

For this reason, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is often referred to as “the Season of Giving.”

At one reception that celebrated contributions of time, talent and treasure, a nonprofit leader reflected on how difficult the month of December is on her and her organization.

All the invitations her group received for receptions and other celebrations of “the season of giving” represented a major drain on their resources — both human and institutional — to maintain their work and still attend all the events.

In fact, every season is a season of giving.

The work of nonprofits and the donations of time, talent and treasure for the common good occur through out the year.

While it is understandable that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas would be considered a “season of giving,” do we perform a disservice by concentrating so much attention in that one month period? Unfortunately, much of the giving refers to the mass consumerism related to holiday gift-giving.

On the other hand, many decisions related to tax-exempt financial contributions are made at the end of the year and are most likely part of the cause for the attention given to it as “the” season of giving. Ironically, we have just passed through a season, tax season, which is known to be one of the times of the least giving for charitable causes.

According to Charity Navigator, 61.2 million U.S. residents volunteered in 2006, spending a median of 52 hours.

Based on a value of $18.77 an hour, each volunteer gave roughly $976.

That totals over 3.18 billion hours volunteered.

Even without calculating the dollar value of those hours, we can see that giving is certainly taking place in every season.

While the month of December is certainly a season of giving, it is just as certainly not the season of giving.

In 2008, let us not forget to celebrate the time, talent and treasure that Americans give in every season.

Donna Chavis is executive director of NCGives in Raleigh, N.C.

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