Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Frugal Philanthropy!


Longtime readers will know that over the past few years I have had a side writing project.  At times my work on it has left my blog posts neglected for days, maybe weeks.  Well, the writing, editing, and production for the book is now complete!  Middle Class Philanthropist: How anyone can leave a legacy was released November 1st!

This evening I had the pleasure of holding my first ever reading for the book at Mystery to Me books on Monroe Street here in Madison.  Now I do lots of seminars related to my legal practice.  I could do those in my sleep.  This was different, and it turned out to be a lot of fun.  And as I read one of the final passages I knew I should share it for my next Upside of Frugal entry.  No, it is not about the frugal V.A. government attorney who left hundreds of millions to charity.  But rather the power of "in lieu of flowers" donations.

You've heard of these I'm sure.  Obituaries commonly have a phrase at the end that says "in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to....and the name of a nonprofit is listed".  One can die penniless and still be able to create a legacy with these types of charitable actions.  No, it may not be up there with the donations of Bill Gates, but they are lasting nonetheless.  The following is a passage from the book:

Momentum continued to build at the Sewing Machine Project. In the fall of 2010, an influx of checks began to arrive in its mailbox. Most included some small reference to the memory of “Viola”, an unknown woman to the members of The Sewing Machine Project. Who was she? Curious, Margaret went online to search and found an obituary for a woman named Viola Kraemer. The announcement ended with a suggestion to donate money in lieu of flowers to The Sewing Machine Project. An avid sewer in rural Minnesota, her family did some internet research upon her death and found The Sewing Machine Project. While Viola did not have a connection to the organization in her life, it mirrored her passion for sewing and was a small grassroots organization the family assumed would benefit from donations. In total the donations sent in Viola’s memory represented ten percent of its annual operating budget, a very welcome bump. Over the years many of those donors continue to send in small donations, $10 here and $35 there, as a way to remember the passion of a dear friend.
Thanks for reading, and remember philanthropy does not belong just to those with millions.  Anyone with a generous heart can make a gift that will give for generations.

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