The holiday season is a busy time, especially for your favorite charitable organizations. Data shows that, on average, organizations receive up to 40% of their yearly donations in the last three months of the year–and that money is vital to planning for the new year. Operation USA counts more donations during the last 2-3 months of the year than any other non-disaster time, and we rely on the generosity of our supporters during the holiday season to plan for programs in the year ahead. So, how can you make sure you are making the most of your charitable gifts this year? Read on for some helpful tips.
1) GIVE BY DECEMBER 31
When you make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the calendar year, you’ll receive tax benefits on your next return. Plan ahead and add making a charitable donation to your “to do” list so you don’t forget. This year, #GivingTuesday, a national giving movement being celebrated for the third year in a row, is Tuesday, December 2nd. Join the campaign and help support your favorite causes by making a donation or sharing your voice in social media.
2) DO YOUR RESEARCH
With so many different causes and campaigns to choose from, making a meaningful impact during the holiday season can seem challenging. Fortunately, there are resources available to help with decision making. First, research specific causes that are important to you to identify specific organizations you may want to help. Then, use sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar, as well as the organization’s public financial documents, to confirm the validity of the organization. Typically, groups that have low overhead and well-documented program success can be trusted to make the most of your donation.
3) GIVE THE GIFT OF A DONATION
Have a lot of names on your holiday shopping list? Some people can be tricky to buy for, but a charitable gift in a loved one’s name is a great way to support their passions while making a difference. Most organizations encourage donating on someone else’s behalf during the holiday season. At OpUSA, we’ll even send out holiday cards or e-cards to your loved ones to let them know that you made a donation in their name. You can also add “make a donation in my name” to your own wish list so loved ones can donate on your behalf.
4) THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Cash donations, while important to charitable organizations, are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to supporting a cause you care about. If you want to give back but don’t have a big budget you can donate air miles–which allow organizations like Operation USA to travel to program areas while keeping overhead low–or material supplies. Many organizations also accept donations through shopping programs like We-Care.com and AmazonSmile, which allow you to earn donations for your favorite causes while you shop, or Causora, which lets donors earn rewards with each donation.
5) RESOLVE TO GIVE MORE IN THE YEAR AHEAD
While the spirit of the holiday season tends to encourage us to give more at the end of the year, organizations have to stretch those dollars throughout the year ahead in order to expand programs and continue to thrive. Consider making your holiday season donation a year-long commitment and sign up to be a recurring donor. At OpUSA, you can easily opt to make your donation a monthly gift, which ensures that you’ll give a little at a time throughout the year in support of ongoing programs.
Remember, your year-end charitable gift makes a lasting and meaningful impact on the organization’s work in the year ahead! Learn about even more ways to support Operation USA this holiday season HERE.
Emily Sullivan, a 16-year old Girl Scout from Nation’s Capital, shared her personal experiences with STEM and Maker activities, and how much Girl Scouts has enabled her interests. While she was in middle school, Emily shared ideas about modifying the wheelchair for a friend with physical disabilities, intending to make it easier for her friend to participate in school activities. More recently, Emily spoke about how she enjoys attending the Advanced Space Academy camp over summer in Huntsville, Alabama with the Girl Scouts Destination program, where activities included electrolysis, creating ablative shields, filtration, and rocketry. Emily emphasized that every girl in her Troop is a maker and that Girl Scouts encourages girls to be “makers” with the variety of activities and badges they complete.
Suzanne Harper, Chief Girl Experience Innovator at Girl Scouts of the USA, spoke on the panel about the results of a pilot program conducted with five Girl Scout councils. In partnership with the Maker Education Initiative with support from Intel, the five councils recruited two young women to be Maker Corps Members. Those young women helped 4th and 5th graders do Maker projects at summer camp. Suzanne also shared an example from Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana , which has created MakerPlace, a dedicated STEM lab located at the Girl Scouts Louisville headquarters. The council has partnered with the Kentucky Science Center, who provides expert volunteers and through this partnership, more than 200 youth have attended Maker workshops in the past year.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) spoke about legislation she has introduced with the Girl Scouts to engage more girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, and her support for Girl Scouts as co-chair of Troop Capitol Hill. Congressmen Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Mark Takano (D-CA) who co-chair the Maker Caucus made remarks and the other panelists included Dr. Renne Wittemyer, Director of Social Innovation from Intel; Kylie Peplar, Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences & Director of The Creativity Labs at Indiana University Bloomington; and Maura Marx, Deputy Director of Library Services, IMLS.
The Intel recent report, MakeHers: EngagingGirls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and Inventing, showed that girls enjoy do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and if they are engaged with making, designing, and creating things with electronic tools they will develop a stronger interest in STEM education. Anna Maria Chávez, CEO for Girl Scouts of the USA, provided a foreword to the report.
Created in consultation with experts including the Girl Scouts and Maker Education, the report aims to increase access to and interest in computer science and engineering, especially among girls and women and underrepresented minorities, where there remains a significant gap. The study’s findings are based on data from surveys in the US, China and Mexico of “makers”, parents and youth; participant observation and interviews with leading experts on Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), gender, learning sciences, and the maker movement.
Girl Scouts of the USA cares deeply about the potential of girls and young women to make the world a better place. With their new report, Making Her Future: Girls and Women and the ”Maker” Movement as a Gateway to STEM, Intel is demonstrating how the Maker Movement has helped turn a generation of tech-savvy girls, nearly all of whom grew up in the digital age, into the leaders and entrepreneurs of the economy of tomorrow.
Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez voices her support for introducing girls to, and encouraging girls in, the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the foreword of the Intel report:
“Our mission has always been to ensure girls are equipped with the tools, skills, and experiences that will enable them to go out into the world and make it a better place. At Girl Scouts, we are excited about the prospect of turning today’s girls into tomorrow’s makers—and leaders in the ever-diverse and endlessly expanding world of STEM.”
The 2012 report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math found that an impressive 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM fields, and 88 percent of girls want to make a difference in the world. Girls like being creative, asking questions about the world, and solving problems.
To get more girls engaged and involved in STEM activities, girls need more out-of-school opportunities to develop their skills and become confident in these subjects. Unfortunately, too few girls have these opportunities. Generation STEM found that only 27 percent of girlshave participated in STEM activities outside of school. The good news is that Girl Scouts offers girls important opportunities to explore the fascinating and fun world of STEM for themselves. Whether they're discovering how a car's engine runs, how to manage finances, or how coding can address some of the world’s most pressing problems, girls are fast-forwarding into the future through Girl Scouts.