Posts tagged ‘MLK Day’

January 18, 2013

Is MLK Day Just Another Day Off?

On Monday, January 21, Americans will celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. This is a national holiday rooted in the country’s core MLK Day logoideals.

“Service is a powerful way for citizens, nonprofits, the private sector and government to work together to meet critical needs and advance King’s dream of opportunity for all,” states the Corporation for National and Community Service. “MLK Day is an opportunity for Americans to put the core American principles of citizenship and service into action.”

These core ideals go back to the birth of the country. Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th century French historian and political writer, made a number of observations about America including:

The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

“I must say that I have seen Americans make great and real sacrifices to the public welfare; and have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend faithful support to one another.”

“If a stoppage occurs in a thoroughfare, and the circulation of the public is hindered, the neighbors immediately constitute a deliberative body; and this extemporaneous assembly gives rise to an executive power which remedies the inconvenience before anybody has thought of recurring to an authority superior to that of the persons immediately concerned.”

It is an American tradition that when we see a problem, we often will seek to solve it. We are not content to sit back, whine, and hope the government will take care of it for us. Certainly, government has its role. However, at the heart of the American democratic spirit is the notion of private citizen action to help one another and our society in general.

Volunteers do much good for our society. They also form an important force that allows our democracy to thrive. On MLK Day, hundreds of thousands of people will volunteer joining the millions who do so throughout the year. This call to service makes MLK Day unique among American national holidays.

43 percent of Americans volunteered in 2011, according to The World Giving Index 2011. The world average was 21 percent. Only four other nations ranked higher than the US for volunteerism in 2011 (Turkmenistan, Liberia, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan).

In the US, 42 percent of men and 44 percent of women volunteer. By age group, the percentage of the population that volunteered in 2011 breaks out as follows:

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January 13, 2012

Enter Now to Win a Free Planned-Giving Book

I always find January to be a bit of a let-down. By contrast, December is very festive with Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and New Year’s Eve. But January? January is dark, cold, and filled with post-holiday malaise.

So, I thought I would do something to bring a bit of fun into January.

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service (January 16), publisher John Wiley & Sons and I will be giving away one free copy of my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.

MLK Day recognizes the birth of King while encouraging citizen action. Many in the nonprofit sector have embraced this day to promote volunteerism. Since my book helps nonprofit organizations secure much needed resources, I thought a planned-giving book give-away would be just one small thing I could do at this special time of year.

In a moment, I’ll tell you how you can enter to win. First, I want to say that I think planned giving is a very attractive way for individuals to support favorite charities, especially during challenging economic times.

A few years back, I was trying to explain to my oldest, childless aunt what it is I do for a living. I tried explaining planned giving. Grasping what I was saying, she asked, “Why on Earth would someone give to a charity after they’re dead?” I asked her, “What charities do you support now?” Among the organizations she supports is an animal welfare group. I then asked, “Who’s going to take care of the little puppies and kittens after you’re no longer here to keep writing checks?” Her eyes widened and, in that moment, I think I might have lost my inheritance.

Planned giving allows people to continue to support organizations they are passionate about after they are no longer here to keep writing checks. In addition, planned giving may help donors lower their taxes, pass money and property on to heirs in an efficient way, generate an income, or provide major gifts to organizations without making any sacrifice during their lifetime. All of these benefits of planned giving are magnified during challenging economic times.

For these reasons, among others, I strongly believe that now is a great time to talk with people about gift planning. Today, given economic uncertainty, individuals might be uncomfortable making a significant financial gift out of current cash. However, those same individuals might be perfectly willing to provide some type of deferred contribution or life-income gift.

Only 22 percent of Americans over the age of 30 say they have been approached by a nonprofit organization to consider a planned gift, according to a survey by the Stelter Company. Imagine how much more revenue would be generated if more nonprofit organizations asked more people for a planned gift.

Now, let me tell you how to enter the book give-away.

For your chance to win a free copy of Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, simply comment below.

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