Editorial: Don't forget local charities during giving season

Posted11/28/2017 4:41 PM
  • Volunteer Gary Snyder of St. Charles moves boxes of donated materials at the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

      Volunteer Gary Snyder of St. Charles moves boxes of donated materials at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Think charitable giving is done now that Giving Tuesday is over? Think again.

While Giving Tuesday has become one of the biggest days for charitable giving, it is actually the beginning of the giving season, which culminates on the last day of the year in order for procrastinators to take advantage of the tax break that comes with contributing to their favorite charity.

But what charity? As Daily Herald staff writer Lauren Rohr reported Tuesday, the many natural disasters of 2017 has spurred donations to large charities helping those affected by hurricanes, wildfires and floods. Local charities are in need as well, but often they get overlooked when it comes time to donate in years like this.

"Does it divert some money from some nonprofits? Absolutely. And with so many nonprofits very reliant on every donation they can get, it can make a really big difference," said Rick Cohen, spokesman for the National Council of Nonprofits.

While Cohen is confident donors who give to disaster relief will return to the local groups they have always supported, some of those groups are concerned.

"Everyone is aware of the devastation from the hurricanes and the fires and the all the awful things going on," said Mary Graziano, president of the FISH Food Pantry in Carpentersville. "But what people don't realize is that hunger is an everyday devastation for the families who don't have enough to eat, and these people are right here in our villages."

Graziano said her group saw a 21.7 percent decline in financial gifts from July to October 2017 compared to the same time frame in 2016. The holidays are its busiest time of year, as food pantries throughout the suburbs would attest.

Almost a third of charitable giving annually comes in December, according to the Digital Giving Index produced annually by Network for Good. And 12 percent of annual giving occurs in the last three days of the year.

So now is the time to look for those charities doing the hard, sometimes invisible, work in your community. Talk to your neighbors at the annual holiday party -- perhaps they are volunteering at that food pantry or working with children with disabilities.

"Now, more than ever, our services are necessary," said Therese McMahon, executive director of the Naperville-based Literacy DuPage, which provides tutoring for non-English speakers. Her sentiment -- coming as Literacy DuPage has also seen a decline in donations this year -- could be recited by most charities these days.

Please find it in your heart -- and your wallet -- to give this holiday season, and, remember, charity begins at home and in your hometown.

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