The AML Group --Etiquette and Protocol Consultants

Getting Going On Giving
Tips for those so inclined


The dictionary defines "charitable" as "being generous in the giving of money or other help to the needy." Key word: "Other." That means one does not have to bear the moniker-or accompanying bank account-of a Buffett or Gates to play in this realm. Giving, it turns out, takes on many forms.

When I first moved to San Francisco in 1984, I became a tutor at Delancey Street, representing a nonprofit agency called Project Read. I worked with a young man every Monday evening for one year to help him study for his GED. Guess what? He passed. It only required a few hours every week, and Delancey Street even fed me dinner. When the new graduate found out I was helping him without any compensation, he was truly overwhelmed. I held back the tears, allowed my heart to fill, and embarked on my personal journey of giving. It just feels so good...

Interested? We all should be. If you do decide to make a donation-money or the venerable "other"-how should you begin? What are the guidelines, rules, or the etiquette for getting involved? Here are some fundamentals:

Do your homework. Part of the difficulty in selecting a charity is that there are so many organizations out there that need your help. Choose, based on your personal preferences and experiences, organizations that fit your objectives and beliefs. After all, you want to feel good about your donation, don't you?

Request a copy of the receiving organization's annual report. It will list board members and financial statements, and offer a wealth of information to help you understand just whom you might be dealing with. Financial statements are good indicators of how and where your donation will be applied. For my money, I prefer groups that focus a majority of their intake on programs and services as opposed to administrative costs.

Leave a legacy. For example, if someone in your family has suffered from an illness, combatting such a disease might be a good direction to guide your time or money. My mother was stricken with breast cancer many years ago, so I have given to various breast cancer organizations.

John Wesley, an 18th century theologian, said, "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."

Can you live by these words?

-Lisa M. Grotts