While not directly related to organizing skills, most of my clients find it easier to part with their things if they know those items are able to be used by someone in need. To help clients identify what this means to each of them I've become somewhat of a "donation expert" in my region. To facilitate this, I’ve invested time into researching what goes on behind the scenes in various charities, local and otherwise.
The book Charity Detox by Robert D. Lupton caught my attention because the author’s message regarding charitable donation programs mirrors my belief that clients must be invested in some way during the organizing process or they won't get anything out of it. It brings to mind the quote, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for life" (Maimonides). In order to really embrace donating, it has to be about more than getting rid of stuff. It has to be about self-sufficiency while connecting with the donation resource.
Yes- it makes us feel good to give – reaching out to those in need, whether with our money, our things, and/or our time. Lupton draws from over 40 years of urban ministry activism to break down how current charitable giving tends to focus on doing for, rather than with, the recipient in need, and how this cannot lead to lasting change or self-sufficiency. Much like setting up an organizing system for a client, instead of with them, doesn’t always insure the client will be able to achieve self-sufficiency with the system. There are many parallels between the steps to successful charitable giving and the transference of organizational skills.
The author points out that sound business principles are also good principles for responsible charitable investing, and that top down charity focused on what benefits the giver versus the needs of the receiver seldom result in success. It’s about building relationships and committing to measuring outcomes (self-sufficiency for example) instead of the busyness of “doing” as measures of success.
My favorite quote in the book is, “The poor, no matter how destitute, have enormous untapped capacity. Find it, be inspired by it, and build upon it.” My clients also have untapped capacity, and it’s my job to find it, be inspired by it, and help them build upon it!
Lupton looks at charitable giving programs from a Christian/ministry perspective, yet I also found that the underlying message of addressing the basic needs of humanity in a way that valued both the giver and the receiver spoke loudly to the “donation expert” in me.
If you need some resources for donating - whether it is to donate a bra or an entire estate, give me a call! I'll not only help you find the right charity, but help you learn to connect with your donating process, too.
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Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who