Many people think they don’t make enough money to make a difference in their community.
But according to Dionne Broadus, vice president of development and external relations at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Diane Strachan, director of philanthropy at the Cleveland Museum of Art, both in Cleveland, one’s total income has little to do with giving back.
The average person has many options when it comes to supporting their favorite organization, by way of planned gifts or otherwise.
“For organizations like the museum, it is to become a member,” Strachan began. “Our membership is $65 for a base membership and $90 for a partner. So, it’s a way to get the whole family involved, and while it may not sound like a lot, all those memberships add up. We’re so grateful for everyone, including those base members.”
She added gifts can also go through an estate plan or will. This allows allocation without affecting any current funds or assets.
Broadus said many organizations will meet donors half way.
“We can structure a gift of any size, and if someone wants to do it for a planned gift, it can be life insurance, a bequest, an estate gift, etc.,” she said. “But, it’s less about the way they do it. We’re open here to doing it any way that meets the donor and their family’s needs. We’re definitely open to gifts of any size.”
Gifts of all sizes impact organizations across the board.
“This is because it’s about their engagement and interest in learning more about an institution,” Strachan stated. “If we can engage a person at the $65 level and they learn about what we do, maybe next year they’ll become a $200 member.”
Broadus added, “Our annual giving is what sustains our operations and programs. And we accept donations of any size, whether you want to give to our annual fund or become a member. Our memberships start as low as $50 and with that membership, you become part of our family.”
Individuals can give to organizations in ways unrelated to money.
“People’s time and expertise can be a great resource for the museum,” Strachan noted. “We value that through volunteerism. That is very helpful to many organizations, especially ours. We have about
700 engaged volunteers at the museum. When you look at the value of that contribution, that is extraordinary.”
Broadus added, “In terms of giving time, we have many volunteer opportunities at the Rock Hall. You can be a docent in the museum and we also have opportunities at special and signature events, like the induction.”
Broadus noted individuals can also give tangible gifts, like collectibles and artifacts.
People get discouraged in making smaller gifts because the impact isn’t talked about.
“You hear about the big things, but it is so important to remember that philanthropy starts at home,” Broadus said. “Being philanthropic and supporting the greater good can start early, small and locally. We need to tout that message louder and really encourage people and let them know the impact of all gifts, no matter the size. If you get 100 $10 gifts, that is impactful. Every bit counts and adds up.”
Strachan said she didn’t get involved until later in life due to the lack of philanthropic role models.
“I didn’t become a donor until I was in my adult years and saw what it did for various organizations,” she said. “But within the Cleveland community, we’re known for our philanthropy. And the Jewish community’s philanthropic spirit is such an outstanding example for others.
“For people in lower income brackets, I don’t think they have a sense that their small gift makes a difference, but for so many organizations, like the CMA, their contribution makes a tremendous difference.”