The year before last, the son of a colleague I respected highly passed away. There were no notices about causes the family desired to support after his passing and no directions surrounding monetary contributions. However, I wanted to contribute and felt most comfortable sending the donation to a cause I thought aligned with what I knew of the son – something I felt more comfortable doing than putting the task on the grieving family, which I would have been doing had I just sent a check with request to donate where they desired. Since they didn’t specify, I decided not to put this burden on them.
I spent hours researching a cause that I thought would be in some way appropriate. In the end I found a nonprofit in San Antonio, TX (where my colleague lived) which provided musical instruments to low income students. He wasn’t low income but he and his son shared a mutual love of music and played guitar together nightly. I thought this nonprofit’s focus on music to be a great way to pay my respects.
I was what every nonprofit desires (read: needs) – a person with an open checkbook and pen in hand.
I was what every nonprofit desires (read: needs) – a person with an open checkbook and pen in hand. It should have been so easy to give them my money. But it wasn’t. After hours of searching for an appropriate nonprofit – something much harder to navigate than I would have ever imagined, I was tired but satisfied that I’d finally made a selection. Only now that I’d made my selection, I struggled to find where to send the money. I had an address, but no phone number and no apparent operating website. This was concerning to me because I simply wanted to call and verify their existence before throwing a check in the mail – which I realize is still not the most rigorous of security measures. Remember the hours I spent searching for a cause, and now that I had one I spent well over an hour searching for a way to contact and/or verify their legitimacy. It was too much.
After hours of searching for an appropriate nonprofit – something much harder to navigate than I would have ever imagined, I was tired but satisfied that I’d finally made a selection.
What I did next, I am not proud of. I did almost nothing. I sent a nice card paying my respects. That alone is enough and more than appropriate in these sad situations but there was a guilt that followed me for a while after that experience. I knew what I had intended to do. I knew the hours I’d spent trying to see those intentions into fruition. But my colleague didn’t know and couldn’t have known of my intentions or my failure and I didn’t see the purpose in telling him. I only talk about this now to bring my point home…
It was August 2015. There should have been a better, an easier way for me to find and connect with a nonprofit. But there wasn’t. My donation fell through the cracks because of the nonprofit’s failure. How many others out there have similar stories? How many others have been dissuaded because finding and connecting with causes was too difficult?
I hope this situation never repeats itself. But if it does, my part of the storyline won’t have the same ending. There is now technology to eliminate these problems for nonprofits, etc. and as more organizations find it their chances for economic viability and participation will continue to increase.