A perfect present for those who have everything: a gift to charity | Lynn Bohart

Lynn Bohart explains how donating to charity can be creative, meaningful and a gift in and of itself.

If you’re of an age, like I am, you’ve probably hit a point with your extended family that when a birthday or anniversary rolls around, you’re starting to say, “Please, don’t send me anything. There’s nothing I really need.”

After all, do any of us need one more blender, humorous figurine or book we won’t read? Why waste the money?

Here’s an idea: Consider telling friends and family to make a donation in honor of your special day to your favorite charity. It’s a win-win. The charity gets the donations, the donor gets a tax deduction and you have the good feeling that you’ve made a difference in the world.

And if you’re the giver, don’t be dissuaded by press reports of big donations that name buildings and the like. Small gifts are the bread and butter for every organization because every donation helps whether it’s $25 or $2,500. And since charities typically don’t disclose the amount of the donation in their acknowledgement to the person being honored, you don’t have to let the size of your gift stop you.

Mother Teresa said, “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”

At the Renton Community Foundation, we accept tribute gifts to all of our funds. And they’re not all for birthdays or anniversaries. We often receive gifts in memory of someone. Sometimes we receive gifts to say thank you to an individual for a good deed. Others are in honor of a graduation or milestone of some kind. Still others are in honor or memory of an individual’s beloved pet.

So think about it and be creative.

If you know someone who is a health nut, make a gift in their honor to a health-related organization and then send them a card with a recipe for a “health conscious dish,” and a note about your donation.

Or if you’re a dog lover, like I am, send a donation to an animal rescue organization and then a card to your family or friend with a picture of you and your pooch.

Or, maybe, instead of sending money to a clothes bank, go out and buy a bunch of clean socks and underwear and deliver it in the name of your friend or loved one. I bet they’d be thrilled to hear that you’d celebrated their big day in such a meaningful way.

Gift-giving, for some people, is a fine art. For others, it’s more of an obligation and a hassle. If you fall into the second category, consider celebrating the gift-giving occasion by helping out a local nonprofit. Most likely, your gift will actually do more to change the world than that ceramic gnome you were thinking of buying for your wife, or the beer caddy shaped like Bigfoot you picked up for your husband.

Lynn Bohart, FAHP is Executive Director of the Renton Community Foundation, which manages over 50 individual charitable funds on behalf of Renton and the surrounding Puget Sound area.