So, You Want To Be A Philanthropist?
Humans have been working together and performing good deeds long before philanthropists like Carnegie and Rockefeller entered the scene. National Philanthropy Day was designated by President Reagan on November 15, 1986 to honor the countless acts of kindness each year. This day celebrates the people who make an effort to support the common good - it is especially important to recognize every philanthropist’s dedication this November.

In a year as overwhelming as 2020, every day seems to bring another call-to-action for a deserving cause. How does one help frontline workers, fill local food banks, provide aid to those affected by natural disasters, all while considering how to support and make change for marginalized groups? It may feel like you are being torn into too many directions to make a real impact.

Here’s my advice: Evaluate your everyday life. The simplest definition of philanthropy is “love to mankind.” Through this lens, you can find a variety of ways to make an impact. Below are some tips that will help you celebrate philanthropy throughout the year:

Do your research. There are 1.6 million nonprofits in the US which means there is something for everyone. Find organizations with missions that align with your beliefs and values, then dig deeper to learn how your donation will be used.

Think small, then build. Support local and small charities when you can. In the same way supporting a small coffee shop makes a significant impact on that business, your donation makes a major impact in small nonprofits.

Take advantage of matching gift programs. Many companies have corporate matching gifts programs that match employee donations at least 1-to-1. These programs increase the company’s corporate responsibility and allow their employees to influence the areas in which the company gets involved. Matching your donation is easy. To find out if your company has a program use the search tool on the RA/LP website or contact your human resources office. Recent studies show that $4-7 billion is unclaimed annually - double your impact and use up those funds!

Gifts of all sizes make a difference. Every dollar counts and participation goes a long way. It is important to remember that you can donate more than money. You can donate time, food, clothes, school supplies, even blood and bone marrow! Reviews and sharing social media content are also ways to give – this may help your favorite organizations get on the radar of someone who has the means to make a transformational gift.

After taking my own advice, I realized that by making recurring gifts where I work, donating to my local food bank, and volunteering for my family’s non-profit, I am making a difference during these difficult times. As an independent school, Ridgefield Academy and Landmark Preschool, like other nonprofits, rely heavily on donations. The Annual Fund is strategically used in the operating budget and helps keep tuition costs as low as possible. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the value of this unrestricted operating fund. The donors who gave early to the 2019-2020 Annual Fund enabled the school to accommodate a slew of unforeseen expenses related to Covid-19. This is also true of the 2020-2021 Annual Fund supporters who have already made their gifts.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can be a philanthropist, please contact Manager of the Annual Fund Clancy Healy by emailing chealy@ridgefieldacademy.org or calling 203-894-1800 x128.

Bio: Clancy Healy is the Manager of the Annual Fund and Alumni Engagement at Ridgefield Academy where she works to cultivate a culture of philanthropy among families, alumni, faculty, and staff. Before coming to Ridgefield Academy and Landmark Preschool, Clancy was the Alumni and Community Relations Liaison at Woodlynde School in Strafford, PA. She also is highly involved with the James P. and Debra Fitzgerald Healy Foundation, a nonprofit scholarship fund established by her family in 2010. Clancy earned a BS in Marketing from Providence College.