Gotten enough emails yet? From us? From other Jewish organizations? From your favorite environmental/advocacy/performing arts/social service non-profit? From every 501(c)3 with an internet connection and a functioning keyboard? Can you hear me now?
How about now?
The end-of-year donation solicitation email has joined Dick Clark, the Times Square Ball and a plethora of Top Ten of (fill-in-year) lists as one of the most reliable countdown to New Year’s institutions. And because you respect the mission of these correspondents, you overlook the awkwardness of repeated emails appealing to your noble philanthropic impulses which also subtly remind you that these impulses have a positive (if time-limited) tax-liability impact.
And you know what? That’s okay.
The end-of-year appeals are really no different than the work-a-day fundraising that goes on year-round and which is necessary for our society to have functioning religious institutions, cultural organizations, non-governmental social safety nets and issue-oriented activism. It’s the clustering of so many appeals in the fading days of the expiring year that can overwhelm. It’s the distillation of the entire non-profit sector’s life-blood into a potent stream of emotional appeals and idealistic blackmail that can cause us to shut down and turn away.
So I’m here to remind you not to.
Charitable giving is one form of tzedakah — which has many translations in English, but no one definition really suffices to encompass the totality of the word. The best I can say here, is that tzedakah is the moral imperative to complete the work of creation: to make the world a more just, compassionate, creative and healthful place. The work of tzedakah happens in large and small ways every day — from small acts of kindness to large donations of money. They’re all necessary. And when any of the work goes undone or underdone, the world is poorer for it.
We send these emails to you at the end of the year because we are hoping to get your donation for our benefit and for your own as the Gates of Tax Deductions are closing. But I like to think that we also send these emails to you at the end of the year because it is a time of reflection, a time of resolutions and coming as it does on the heels of Chanukah, a time of re-dedication. It is our hope that our message at the end of this year, will carry over to a resolve in the new year to remember the responsibilities we all have to create and support the communities we desire for ourselves and our loved ones.
So yes, it would be great if you would make a donation right now.
But better than that would be if you resolve that in 2012 you will make a contribution — be it of time, of money, of spirit to helping us continue the never-ending work of creating this Community Center…
…but you can also donate now.