Now Accepting Applications for Special Focus Grants

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications for our annual Special Focus Grants. Areas of Special Focus include Animal Welfare, Aviation Education, and Opportunities for People with Disabilities. Applications must be submitted by Friday, April 26, 2019.

The Community Foundation has sustained a special focus on grants to help people with disabilities since 2014, thanks in part to a bequest from the late Pauline Wright. Mrs. Wright, who lived in both Jarvisburg and Southern Shores, bequeathed a house to the Community Foundation to award these grants.

Providing co-funds to help people with disabilities is the David Aycock Loy Endowment, which was established by his family to remember this boy who died too young from hemophilia complications. Donations in memory of David have a special focus on helping children with autism.

David Aycock Loy and Pauline Wright Grants are available to nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies, serving either Currituck or Dare residents, or both. In addition to an emphasis on helping children with autism, priority may also be given to assisting adults with Down syndrome. Applications for these grants must be submitted online using our web-based application.

Another area of special focus for the Community Foundation is animal welfare — supporting efforts to protect, rehabilitate, and care for animals, both domestic and wild. Animal grants will be drawn from the All God’s Creatures Fund, the Adams-Brown Fund for Animals, and the Schiffman Fund for Animals. In this category, requests for $1000 or less may be made through a one-page letter that explains the project and how the grant money would be spent. Proof of tax-exempt status must be attached. If an organization has a larger project in mind, it can apply for matching funds through the online application.

Grant funds are also available this year through the Aviation Education Fund. Requests for $500 or less may be made through a one-page letter that explains the project and how the grant money would be spent. Applicants must also submit proof of tax-exempt status (e.g., 501c3 letter from the IRS). If an organization has a larger project in mind, it can apply for matching funds through the Community Foundation’s online application.

In addition to these Special Focus Grants, the Community Foundation is also accepting applications for its general Community Enrichment Grants Program, which is open to any nonprofit for any kind of charitable project that benefits the Outer Banks. This includes: arts & culture; children & youth; education; the environment; disaster relief & prevention; historic interpretation & preservation; and other human services.

Most Community Enrichment Grants will support the direct costs of a charitable project or program (e.g., art supplies, educational materials). Additionally, the Community Foundation now offers grants to cover program staff wages, as well as other hard costs.

Community Enrichment Grants are also awarded for capacity-building projects, with a goal of enhancing a nonprofit’s long-term effectiveness, financial stability, and/or program quality (e.g., computers, office equipment, strategic planning).

Program scholarship grants are also available; these are grants that enable a nonprofit to offer scholarships for its programs to participants in need. These scholarships would offset or reduce the participation fees normally charged for any sort of enrichment program, such as a day camp, educational offering, and/or after-school program.

Before submitting an application for any Special Focus or Community Enrichment Grant, prospective applicants should first review the guidelines and the FAQ online, and then contact Lorelei Costa at 252-261-8839 to discuss their projects. The deadline to apply for all grants is Friday, April 26. Grant decisions will be announced on Thursday, June 6.



Photo above by Biff Jennings, Shooters at the Beach.

Strategic Planning for Nonprofits: Join Us for This Seminar!

She’s back! Jeanne Allen is returning to the Outer Banks to reprise her popular workshop on strategic planning for nonprofits. The seminar is on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 from 8:30 am until 4:00 pm at College of the Albemarle at 132 Russell Twiford Road in Manteo. Click here to register.

In this seminar, designed especially for nonprofit organizations, Jeanne will break down the planning process into three bites: preparing for your plan, building your plan, and living your plan. This will be a thorough yet quick dive into how a nonprofit can develop and execute a plan for achieving its mission.

This will be a hands-on workshop, with time throughout the seminar for individual nonprofits to sketch out their pathway for how to integrate planning into their organizational culture. Nonprofits are invited to bring two or more people to allow for real-time conversation and planning throughout the day.

“Good outcomes today certainly don’t ensure a future for tomorrow,” says Ms. Allen. “Nonprofits find that taking the time to plan for the future and to ask big questions will result in creating a stronger pathway to success.”

At the end of this hands-on workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Organize their own strategic planning process
  • Define and determine the roles and responsibilities needed
  • Design a monitoring and implementation process

This workshop is offered for just $11 per person, which includes a tasty boxed lunch and morning coffee. Any nonprofit serving the Outer Banks is invited to join. Click here to register!

Jeanne Allen, our presenter, is an instructor in the Duke University Nonprofit Management Certification Program, where she teaches Board Development and Governance, Strategic Planning, Social Media Strategy and Policy, and Volunteer Engagement. Ms. Allen is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer and a Certified Instructor in the Service Enterprise Program, sponsored by Points of Light Foundation. As a volunteer, she is a local organizer for NC Tech4Good, specializing in technology topics for nonprofits.


You’re Invited to the Southern Shores Flat Top Tour on April 27

The Southern Shores Historic Flat Top Cottage Tour is back! The 2019 tour will be held on Saturday, April 23 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Tour tickets are just $7.00 per person and will be sold on the day of the tour beginning at 1:00 PM at 156 Wax Myrtle Trail or 13 Skyline Road. The ticket covers all of the cottages on the tour.

Fifty years ago, flat top cottages abounded across the Southern Shores landscape. Known for their distinctive cinder block walls, flat roofs, jewel-toned soffits, juniper paneling, and vertical shutters, Southern Shores flat tops were designed and inspired by Frank Stick (1884-1966), the visionary developer, painter, outdoorsman, and architect (whose son founded the Outer Banks Community Foundation). Today, only about twenty-six flat tops remain, most built from indigenous Outer Banks materials.

Fourteen of Southern Shores’s remaining historic cottages will be open for the tour on April 29:

  • 156 Wax Myrtle Trail (Clarke Cottage, and Tour Headquarters)
  • 13 Skyline Road (Outer Banks Community Foundation, and Second Tour Headquarters)
  • 39 Ocean Boulevard
  • 43 Ocean Boulevard
  • 69 Ocean Boulevard
  • 113 Ocean Boulevard
  • 159 Wax Myrtle Trail
  • 23 Porpoise Run
  • 142 Ocean Boulevard
  • 157 Ocean Boulevard
  • 169 Ocean Boulevard
  • 176 Ocean Boulevard
  • 218 Ocean Boulevard
  • 18 East Dogwood Trail

There are two headquarter cottages where tour tickets will be sold: 156 Wax Myrtle Trail (entrance facing Porpoise Run) and 13 Skyline Road (Outer Banks Community Foundation). Sorry, advance tickets are not available. Maps will also be available at headquarter cottages, detailing the addresses of each open house. Brief histories of the cottages will also be provided. Balloons will mark cottages that are open on the day of the event.

All proceeds from the tour will benefit the Flat Top Preservation Fund of the Outer Banks Community Foundation. The Flat Top Preservation Fund is a perpetual endowment that helps fund the maintenance, protection, and preservation of the Community Foundation’s flat top headquarters at 13 Skyline Road. Built in 1953 by Frank Stick, the cottage was donated to the Community Foundation in 2007.

For more information, please contact Sally or Steve Gudas at 804-399-8342 or


Huge thanks to Baldwin Video Productions for the PSA Video below!

Scholarship Application Now Open!

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications online. Applications are due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 31, 2019. We have 50 different scholarships available, and about $170,000 to give away this year. We look forward to getting your application!

How to Start: CLICK HERE to begin your application. This link will take you to a short questionnaire that helps you identify the right scholarships for you. Answer each question in the questionnaire as completely and accurately as possible, and you’ll get a list of the scholarships that you may be eligible to receive. Select the scholarships that seem to fit you, and start your application.

Create an Account: You must create a (free) account in the system in order to apply. By creating an account, you can save an incomplete application, and log back into the system later to complete it. To log back into the system to finish your application, go to, click login, enter the email and password for your account, and you will see the list of all of your applications, including incomplete, pending, and submitted applications.

Common Application: Students complete one common application for all Community Foundation scholarships. That means that once a student completes his/her first application in our system, all of the information from that first application carries over to his/her next applications. This includes financial information, academic information, extracurricular information, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. The only part of the application that a student must complete individually for each scholarship is the essay question at the end.

Letters of Recommendation: We require two letters of recommendation. The application form will prompt the applicant to identify two people to submit letters. The system will automatically email your recommenders once you enter their email addresses. It is the applicants’ responsibility to ensure that their recommenders upload their letters by the March 31 deadline. We regret that late letters cannot be accepted.

Need-Based Awards: Though many of the Community Foundation’s scholarships are merit-based, the majority of awards consider financial need. For the need-based awards, students should complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and upload the resulting Student Aid Report into their application.

Students, start your applications today! Our application closes on Sunday, March 31 at 11:59 pm. Unfortunately, late applications are never accepted. All scholarship winners will be announced at their school’s Senior Awards Night in May or June.

Click here for more information in English.

Haga clic aquí para más información en español.


OBCF Honors Jo Oden, Elects New Board at Annual Meeting

The Outer Banks Community Foundation honored Josephine Oden at its annual meeting on February 19, naming “Miss Jo” posthumously as the organization’s 2019 Champion, in recognition of her role in starting the foundation’s scholarship program. Two new board members were elected by the foundation’s members, and two departing board members were honored.

Photographs of the event can be found here.

The meeting was sold out this year, with 175 guests attending. The crowd celebrated $750,000 in grants and scholarships awarded to the Outer Banks in 2018, and almost $9 million awarded since the Community Foundation’s establishment in 1982.

The event featured exhibits from several local, historical nonprofits that had received grants from the Community Foundation the prior year, including the Pea Island Preservation Society, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, the Ocracoke Preservation Society, and the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center.

Members of the Community Foundation unanimously elected two new directors for the organization’s board: Jean-Louise Dixon of Buxton, and Noel Preston of Martin’s Point. Ms. Dixon is a practicing attorney, and Rear Admiral Preston is a helicopter pilot retired from the US Navy. Board terms for Jane Webster and Ray White were renewed by the members.

Two retiring board members were thanked for their outstanding service: Teresa Osborne of Nags Head, who served as the Community Foundation’s president in 2017 and 2018, and Chris Seawell of Manteo, who served as vice president and grants chairman.

Mr. Seawell announced the winning videos from the Community Foundation’s annual contest. Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station came in first place, followed by Ocracats in second place, and the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research in third place. The winning videos can be viewed online by clicking here.

Katie Phillips gave the keynote address. Ms. Phillips was the Community Foundation’s Sawyer Scholar in 2016, and she spoke movingly about how her scholarship—and the Community Foundation—gave her hope and support through college.

Finally, Leanne Robinson, who was the Community Foundation’s Inez Daniels Austin Scholar in 2001, conferred the Champion Award to Josephine Oden, aka “Miss Jo,” the Community Foundation’s first female board member and first Hatteras board member.

Miss Jo, her sisters Ramona Hunter and Sybil Skakle, and their sister-in-law Ruby Moser, gave the first Inez Daniels Austin Scholarship in 1976 in honor of their mother, and moved the funds to the Community Foundation in 1984 to ensure the scholarship’s perpetuity. In so doing, Ms. Robinson said, Miss Jo started the Community Foundation’s entire scholarship program, which today includes over 50 scholarships that have bestowed more than 1800 awards and $2 million to local students attending college. Miss Jo passed away in 2017, and her son, Jeff Oden, accepted the Champion Award on his mother’s behalf.

Miss Jo was a Legacy Donor and left a final bequest to the Community Foundation, which grew the Inez Daniels Austin Scholarship even further. Her family has subsequently started a new scholarship in her own name, the Josephine Oden Scholarship, which will grant its first scholarship to a deserving Hatteras student in 2019.



Photograph Above: Katie Phillips, the Community Foundation’s 2016 Sawyer Scholar, and keynote speaker at the foundation’s 2019 annual meeting. Photograph by Biff Jennings, Shooters on the Beach.

Community Scholarships: How Can We Do the Most Good

Note: This article first appeared in the February 6, 2019 edition of the Outer Banks Sentinel.

It happens every spring in Dare County, at the end of each school year.

The community gathers at each local high school—dozens of businesses, families, civic groups, and churches—with the graduating senior class. Community leaders stand at a podium, one by one, and begin to call students’ names.

I’m describing Scholarship Night, and in case you haven’t seen it, let me tell you: our local scholarship programs are a stunning display of community generosity. The smiles, the tears, the pride—Scholarship Night is truly inspiring.

Last year, in the course of just three evenings, our community bestowed $500,000 in scholarships to our Dare County seniors. That’s counting just the local dollars from our own community; that doesn’t include Pell grants or any of the money given by universities or colleges. As far as I can tell, scholarships are the largest act of philanthropy, dollar-wise, in the Outer Banks in any given year.

As the director of the Outer Banks Community Foundation, I am privileged and humbled to participate in local scholarships each year. The Community Foundation is the largest and most diverse scholarship provider in Dare County (we also have scholarships for Currituck and Ocracoke), with over 50 different scholarship endowments, and anywhere from 50 to 100 student recipients each year.

Not all of our scholarships are for four-year institutions; many are earmarked for community colleges, trade and vocational programs, and continuing education.

The Community Foundation is just one of many local groups helping students pay for college. Scholarships are truly the entire community coming together to help our young people achieve their dreams and start off in the world.

So, is it enough? Do we do enough for our students?

$500,000 is an incredible amount from a community our size—but I cannot pretend that we’re meeting the need.

Consider this: across North Carolina, the average student loan debt upon college graduation is over $26,000 per student, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

Each year about 175 graduating seniors from Dare County head to a four-year school. Multiply that by the average debt in North Carolina: our young people are graduating college collectively owing $4.5 million in loans.

College debt is certainly not unique to the Outer Banks or to North Carolina. Across our country, 44 million Americans owe $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans, according to the Federal Reserve. What’s most shocking is how quickly that’s growing. The national student loan debt was less than a $500 million in 2006. In other words, our student loan debt has tripled in less than 15 years. How did that even happen?

If you want to get riled up, read “Buried in Debt,” a 2018 study that analyzes survey data from 7,095 adult Americans with outstanding student loans. A growing number of young Americans are delaying or foregoing home ownership, marriage, starting a family, even retirement, because of debilitating student debt. The domino effect on our national economy is mind-blowing.

Our little community is amazingly generous in trying to protect our students from debt, yet the cost of college is outpacing our fundraising. So how can we do the most good with the scholarships we give? I ponder this question constantly, and I have a few humble suggestions.

Most local scholarships are one-time awards of $1,000 or less, and while $1,000 is very generous, these days that hardly pays for college textbooks.

Meanwhile, scholarships are a lot of work—both for the giver (creating an application, selecting students, writing checks), as well as for our high school faculty (coordinating the program, collating transcripts, writing letters of recommendation). Perhaps our community’s smaller scholarships could amplify impact and achieve some economies of scale by working together, pooling funds, utilizing a common application, and making larger, more significant awards.

I’d also like to make a case for renewable scholarships. The majority of our local scholarships are one-year only, which means that our kids are entering college with great financial backing in year one, only to be high and dry for the last three years of school.

It’s not just local scholarships that run out after a year; many colleges and universities “front-load” their merit-based aid in year one to attract the best possible freshman class, only to reduce or eliminate the aid in subsequent years. This is troubling because many students select their colleges based on financial aid packages, without realizing that university aid may decrease after a year. I have seen with our scholarship recipients first-hand, and it’s a trend that is becoming well-documented by US News World Report and others.

As local scholarship providers, we can do the most good by helping our students when they need us most, in the subsequent years of college, by making our local scholarships renewable.

As a parent of a high school junior, these numbers and trends keep me up at night. But then I remember everything that we are doing as a community: $500,000 each year for our students. Collectively, we are eliminating roughly 20% of our local students’ loans. That’s not too bad.

We are making a difference. What a testament, not only to the benevolent spirit of our community, but also to the value we place on education and on our young people. Come witness it on Scholarship Night, and get involved by giving back.


The Outer Banks Community Foundation’s Scholarship Application opens on Monday, February 25. The deadline to apply is Sunday, March 31. Click here to apply.

Annual Meeting 2019!

We hope you will join us for the Annual Meeting of the Outer Banks Community Foundation!

The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, February 19 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel at 1701 South Virginia Dare Trail in Kill Devil Hills.

We invite you to arrive at 11:30 am to enjoy socializing while browsing some local history exhibits from our 2018 grantees. A delicious lunch will be served at noon, after which we will conduct some brief membership business (including ratification of new proposed bylaws), watch the winning videos from our annual video contest, and announce our 2019 Champion Award.

We are near the maximum for the seating limit at our Annual Meeting. Please call 252-261-8839 to register, and we will do our best to accommodate you or, if need be, add you to our wait list. Thank you so much for your interest!




Photograph above by Biff Jennings, Shooters at the Beach.




Our 2019 Grant Application is Open!

We are now accepting applications for our Community Enrichment Grants Program. The first deadline to apply in 2019 in January 25. Click here to read our grant guidelines, and click here to start your application.

Apply to Be Our Summer Intern!

Announcing Our 2019 Milton Jewell Internship

Are you a college student who’s looking to build your résumé, and make some money this summer? Are you interested in a career in journalism, communications, marketing, or photography, and eager to get your foot in the door? Or maybe you are hoping to learn more about the nonprofit sector, and passionate about helping your community?

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications for our prestigious Milton Jewell Internship, and all of our past scholarship recipients who are still enrolled in college are invited to apply.

This summer our Milton Jewell Intern will focus on marketing and communications projects, assisting with the foundation’s various print and electronic communications. We are looking for enthusiastic, creative individuals who are mature, quick to learn, and hard-working. We are particularly interested in students with an interest in photography and photojournalism.

The intern will work 20 hours per week from our Southern Shores office on the Outer Banks, with flexible hours to accommodate additional employment. The position pays $12.50 per hour. Start and end dates will depend on the intern’s college schedule; however, a 12-week commitment is expected. The Milton Jewell Intern will closely with our Executive Director and our entire staff.

Job Duties:

  • Interview donors, grantees, scholarship recipients, and volunteers to glean stories of the Community Foundation’s impact on the Outer Banks.
  • Compose compelling and beautifully written articles and press releases to tell those stories, targeted for specific media outlets and audiences.
  • For students with a photography interest: capture on-site, creative photographs of the Community Foundation’s donors, grantees, and scholarship recipients that tell stories through powerful and inspiring images.
  • Update the Community Foundation’s social media pages, including our Facebook and YouTube pages. Craft creative strategies for engaging and expanding our social media audience.
  • Help design and update the Community Foundation’s webpages, as well as (potentially) various print publications, flyers, and brochures.
  • Analyze the Community Foundation’s electronic reach, using online analytical tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. Create recommendations on improving that reach.
  • Uphold and promote the mission and values of the Community Foundation.
  • Assist with administrative duties as assigned.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a current undergraduate college student. Preference may be given to current sophomores and juniors; however, current freshmen and seniors are also invited to apply.
  • Must be a current or past recipient of an Outer Banks Community Foundation scholarship, including any of our scholarships given in partnership with other entities. (If you received this invitation to apply directly from the Community Foundation, and you’re still enrolled in school, you qualify! If you’re not sure, call us at 252-261-8839 to check.)
  • Preference may be given to students in the field of journalism, communications, creative writing, public relations, and/or nonprofit management, and/or to students with a strong career interest in the nonprofit sector.
  • Additional preference will be given to students with photography interest and skills.

Essential Qualities:

  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills.
  • Enthusiasm, creativity, flexibility, maturity, reliability, self-motivation, congeniality.
  • Superior work ethic.
  • Strong computer skills.
  • Proficiency with the MS Office Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint).
  • WordPress and web design skills are a plus, as are graphic design and videography skills.

To Apply:

  • Email your cover letter, résumé, list of three references, and writing sample to no later than December 28, 2017. Please specify “Internship Application” in the subject line of your email.
  • If you have a photography, graphic design, and/or videography, samples are welcome. Send us either links to your samples, or send them as attachments to your email application, if the total files are less than 10MB in size.
  • Your list of references should include professional and/or academic contacts, with at least one current or past employer. For each reference, include his/her name, title/affiliation, telephone number, and email address.
  • In your cover letter, please describe your career interests, and any experience you have managing or creating spreadsheets and databases.
  • Your writing sample should be between 750 and 5,000 words. It should be wholly written and edited by you. It may be an excerpt of a longer work.
  • Finalists may be invited to interview in person over the holiday break, if possible.

About the Community Foundation: Founded in 1982 and based in Southern Shores, the Outer Banks Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 public charity that helps meet local needs across Dare County and the entire Outer Banks. The Community Foundation manages $17 million across 180 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, providing tailored services to help donors pursue their charitable interests. With these funds the Community Foundation awards charitable grants to local nonprofits, and educational scholarships to local students through 50 diverse scholarship programs. Since its inception in 1982, the Community Foundation has awarded an estimated $8 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students. Learn more at

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. It is our policy to make all hiring and other employment decisions without regard to an individual’s sex, race, national origin, religion, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, or physical or mental disability.

Plan Your Giving for 2019: What We Can Learn from Ebenezer Scrooge

By Lorelei Costa

Note: This article first appeared in the December 19, 2018 edition of the Outer Banks Sentinel.


My son and I are binge-watching A Christmas Carol this season—every version we can reasonably watch, from Patrick Stewart to the Muppets to the corny musical with Albert Finney. The story has great messages about opening your eyes to people in need, and about the sheer joy of giving back.

There is so much heart-breaking poverty in our world, not so very different from what the Christmas Ghosts showed Ebenezer Scrooge. Once you open your eyes, it can be downright overwhelming. With so much need around the world, and even here on the Outer Banks, where on earth do you start?

Look, giving away money is easy. Giving it away wisely can be hard—yet all the more joyful. Effectual, impactful philanthropy does not require deep pockets, just some thoughtfulness and planning.

With the new year approaching, this might be a great time for you, your family, or your company to start planning your 2019 philanthropy. It’s simply a matter of reviewing your past giving, creating a vision, selecting focus areas, and setting some guidelines.

Step 1: Review your past giving. Start by making a list of all your gifts from 2018. If you keep good records, this will be easy—and the actual numbers may surprise you. But if you can’t remember every gift, that’s okay. What’s most important is to answer these three questions:

  • What was the largest gift you gave in 2018?
  • What gift had the most impact, or made the biggest difference, in your estimation?
  • Lastly, of all your gifts from 2018, which brought YOU the most joy?

In the perfect world, you’ll name the same gift for all three questions—but oddly, for most of us, that’s not always the case.

Ideally, we each donate the majority of our resources to the causes that fulfill us the most, and make the biggest difference.

For example, maybe Scrooge’s biggest gift was to his childhood boarding school, but the gift that made him happiest was the Christmas goose for the Cratchits. Maybe next year he resolves to give away more geese.

Step 2: Create your vision. Think big, and imagine a little. What are your hopes and dreams for your community, today and tomorrow? How would you want to improve our world?

Speaking of world, ponder your scope. Do you want to address global issues, or start at home in your community, or both?

Think about impact: Do you want to help today by focusing on immediate needs, or would you rather tackle root causes and long-term solutions? For example, would you rather buy new crutches for Tiny Tim, or contribute to research for finding a cure for spina bifida?

Step 3: Select your areas of focus. Now that you have your vision, what are your specific charitable priority areas? If you’re not sure, think about the issues that inspire you (or enrage you) the most when you read the paper, or the organizations that have made a difference in your life.

Maybe you are passionate about disaster relief, or faith-based charities. Or maybe it’s the environment, health, education, animals, affordable housing, economic development, arts and culture, or civil rights. Be as specific as you want; specificity now will be helpful when you start to feel overwhelmed later. Try to narrow your focus to one, two, or three priority areas, the causes that touch your heart the most.

From here, consider summarizing your priorities into a short mission statement. This is optional: for most folks, a simple list of focus areas is enough. That said, if you’re doing this exercise on behalf of a company or foundation, you might find that a well-crafted mission statement will help you publicize your charitable goals.

Scrooge might have written something like this: I seek to ameliorate Ignorance and Want by supporting literacy efforts, helping children with spina bifida, advocating for reform of prisons and workhouses, and providing food for the hungry, with a special emphasis on Christmas geese.

Step 4. Set your guidelines. You have your charitable priorities now and, presumably, a budget for your giving. You may wish to establish some guidelines, and allocate percentages for different areas of focus.

For example, Scrooge may want to target 60% of his wealth toward his top causes (e.g., literacy, Christmas geese), while keeping 20% for general community causes (e.g., his alma mater and community foundation), and 20% for his flex fund. I do recommend keeping a small flex fund so you can support any unexpected, compelling requests as they arise.

If you have children, perhaps you allocate some amount for your kids to give away. If you have a business, perhaps you dedicate some amount for your company’s priorities, and some amount for your employees’ matching gifts. Set other guidelines (must-have’s, never-do’s) as desired.

Lastly, look again at your priorities, and compare them to last year’s giving. Whatever gifts brought you the most joy and made the biggest impact last year: make sure you dedicate the majority of your largesse to those places.

To purloin the sentiments of Scrooge’s nephew, Fred: Though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that giving has done me good, and will do me good.

May your holidays and new year also be filled with the joy of giving.


Image by Robert Doucette through Wikimedia Commons.