Giving – whether gifts for friends and family, giving back to your community by volunteering, or donating to the organizations you care about – is a central theme of the holiday season. Naturally, it’s a time of year when we at the Case Foundation take some time to reflect on what we’ve seen this year when it comes to giving. When 2009 began, we anticipated it would likely be a challenging year for giving – and the year has not been without its challenges: overall donations are down, even during this holiday season and the face of volunteerism and civic engagement is changing. However, both in our own work and across the sector, we’ve seen some extremely encouraging signs – America’s Giving Challenge garnered more than 105,000 donations, and raised $2.1 million for nonprofits in need; and online donations are expected to exceed $4 billion this holiday season. And of course, we’re seeing every day how technology continues to have a significant impact on how nonprofits think about individual giving strategies.
And while giving in other forms continues to gain significance, offline, neighbor-to-neighbor giving is still an important source of funds, particularly during the holiday season. Of course, nothing is more symbolic of this than the Salvation Army volunteers we see every holiday season with the red kettle and bells asking their neighbors to give what they can. That’s why the Foundation team took the opportunity recently to spend an afternoon ringing the Salvation Army bell outside of DC retailers, which was a truly inspiring experience. While we spend a lot of time thinking about online giving, we had a blast getting out of the office to spread holiday cheer while encouraging our neighbors to give back. One of the things that struck quite a few of us during our bell-ringing shifts was the number of people who turned around and thanked us back for the time we were spending volunteering. We also saw that volunteering can be contagious – one group of bell-ringers from the Foundation had someone approach them about volunteering, noting how much fun we were having. And, while singing carols, chatting with passersby and practicing one-on-one fundraising skills, bell ringing reminded us that volunteering can and should be fun. It gave us the opportunity to get to know colleagues in a different context and to take heart in the holiday spirit apparent in so many of the folks that dropped by the red kettle to give what they could, or just to hear more about the organization. It truly was a reminder of how uplifting giving back can be.

This holiday season, we thank you – friends and partners of the Case Foundation – for helping bring our work to life with your time, energy and passion. Happy Holidays!