For various reasons — some probably having to do with the emotions and sentiments of the holiday season and others no doubt connected with American tax policy and the Internal Revenue Service — a disproportionate percentage of annual charitable donations are made during the final quarter of the year, at least in the United States of America. More specifically, the highest number of such donations arrives between Thanksgiving Day and 31 December.
As you may have noticed, we’ve now entered into that period for 2022. And tomorrow, 29 November, is “Giving Tuesday.”
What is “Giving Tuesday”? It’s a fairly recent invention that was, as I understand it, conceived in response to the orgy of consumerism and materialism connected with “Black Friday” and “CyberMonday,” which immediately precede it.
It may really be needed, by the givers as well as by the recipients. Lately, I’ve been hearing the term thanksgetting. It’s evidently been around for a while, but I had never heard it until it occurred in a television commercial that I happen to have seen. I find it slightly amusing, quite revealing, and, really, very repulsive.
Thanksgetting is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “What people celebrate when they have forgotten the real meaning of thanksgiving,” with the illustrative sample sentence “The McCains just sat down for Thanksgetting dinner.” The Urban Dictionary goes on to explain Thanksgetting (with a capital t) in this way: “The holiday in which people abandon their closest friends and family for the thrill of saving $100 on a slightly larger television set on which to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” And here is the sentence specimen that it offers for that usage: “Mom, sweetheart: hurry up and finish your turkey. It’s half an hour until noon and I need to start my Thanksgetting day shopping.”
Lots and lots and lots of worthy causes will be vying for your possible donations. I’m writing to ensure that the Interpreter Foundation is noticed among them.
I do so with my usual reluctance. I really don’t like asking people for money. Not even in the best of times. Given the problematic state of the economy as I write and the current rate of inflation, though, many people are under real pressure right now. The cost of everyday living is higher than it’s been in years, and people are feeling it in the grocery store and at the gas pump. Even potential major donors have seen the value of their savings and investments plummet, so that a donation of x dollars will likely cost them more this year, in a sense, than in other years.
Such thinking discourages me just a bit. Maybe more than just a bit. But the Interpreter Foundation, despite the fact that it is run and mostly staffed by volunteers — we have no salaried, full-time employees — and despite the fact that its authors aren’t compensated, needs money to continue its basic operations. (As you can see here, our regular expenditures currently run on the order of roughly $120,000 per annum.) And we need additional funds to do special projects. (Most notable and by far the most financially demanding among planned future projects is our Six Days in August movie effort, on which we hope to begin filming this coming spring or summer.)
I believe in the cause. I believe in the mission of the Interpreter Foundation. My wife and I have been donors to it from the beginning, and will continue to be. (I hope that it doesn’t need to be pointed out that both of us are unpaid volunteers.) We try to use the money that’s given to Interpreter very efficiently and effectively; the leaders of Interpreter don’t dine out lavishly on donated funds.
So I will be out beating the bushes for contributions between now and the end of 2022. Ho ho ho! And as part of that effort, I will be posting a fundraising page on Facebook, starting tomorrow morning. (You can donate directly in other ways, too. See here.)
To be sure, large donations help us a great deal. But please don’t imagine that small donations aren’t appreciated. They are appreciated, and, as they accumulate, they make a considerable difference for us.
I say that I’m reluctant to ask people for their money. I feel no reluctance at all, though, about this next item:
More and more, for good or for ill, people do their shopping online. Especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. And one of the principal places where they do that shopping is Amazon.com. (Until his rather expensive divorce a while back, this fact made Jeff Bezos the richest man in modern history.)
But did you know that you can enlist Amazon to donate to an eligible charitable cause of your choice?
By purchasing your books or whatever else through AmazonSmile rather than the regular Amazon.com — Amazon sells far, far more than merely books — you can have Amazon donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to a charitable organization that you have chosen. AmazonSmile, which is operated by Amazon itself, carries the same products and offers the same prices and shopping features as Amazon.com. The only difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate half a percent of the price you pay to a designated charity.
Thus, if you’ve chosen to buy $100.00 of chartreuse-speckled, liver-and-onion-flavored Acme widgets on Amazon.com, you can go instead to AmazonSmile and buy precisely the same number of those oh-so delectable widgets for precisely the same $100.00 and with precisely the same convenience. In this case, though, Amazon will donate $0.50 — that is, fifty cents — to the charity that you have designated. And it will cost you nothing. It is painless.
(It should also be noted that this won’t count as a charitable donation on your part, because it will be Amazon that is giving the money, not you.)
Now, you might object, this is a trivial amount. So small! Why bother?
True, it’s small. But if enough people do it, it will add up rapidly.
If, for example, 10,000 people each make $1000 worth of purchases through AmazonSmile in a particular year, which is surely not impossible, they will have caused Amazon to give fully $50,000 that year.
Now, I’m going to suggest — big surprise! — that the Interpreter Foundation would be a remarkably good charity for you to designate as a recipient of Amazon’s generosity. We are, as a matter of fact, eligible and on their list. I will also suggest that Jeff Bezos is not an especially apt recipient for what could be charitable money. Here is a brief video that my friend Tom Pittman kindly created a few years ago, showing you how to choose the Interpreter Foundation (or some other recipient) for this purpose. I don’t know if any of the details of the process have changed during the intervening years, but the general principles are surely the same.
Of course, you may be the kind of person who doesn’t want to give to the Interpreter Foundation. Maybe you’re the kind of person who would rather give to the Society for the Promulgation of Spray-Paint Graffiti or to the Friends of the Anopheles Mosquito or to the Serial Killer Defense Fund. (Just the sort of folks, of course, who wouldn’t want to support the Interpreter Foundation anyway!) Frankly, I rather doubt that those august organizations are on Amazon’s list of eligible charities. But the fact is that there is absolutely no reason not to choose some charity as a recipient of Amazon’s corporate giving.
Choose somebody — whether the Interpreter Foundation or somebody else — as your designated AmazonSmile charity. You can still make further charitable contributions to that organization or to another one. But there is no reason whatever to refuse Amazon’s generous offer.
Do it soon, before you really get into your Christmas shopping. In fact, why not do it right now? As in, before you forget.