Ideas for charitable giving
As I write this, (April 2, 2020) we are in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, which seems like it will disrupt the normal course of our lives for the next year or more. After you’ve taken care of yourself, your family, and your friends, I urge you to turn your thoughts to the institutions that you support. I suspect that government and corporate grants will enter a down phase in the next year or two, so if you believe in a cause then you might want to consider investing in it. This doesn’t have to be money, though that is sometimes the easiest investment. It could be a gift of your time to create a bit of content. It could be engagement by showing up at (virtual, for now) events or commenting on a blog post or news article. All of these activities are things I would consider investments but the sponsoring institution also sees as engagement, which is one metric that they will use assess success or failure, to solicit grants, or to sell advertising. It’s one thing to count web traffic, but it’s quite a bit more powerful to count people that are willing to pay to support you.
Since this is a native plant blog, the examples below pull where they can from native plant and ecology-oriented examples.
Change your CNPS membership into a sustaining monthly donation. Why do a basic annual membership ($50) when you can donate starting at $5/mo as a Perennial Monthly Sustainer (only $10 more annually). As CNPS puts it, “[Monthly Sustainers] provide much-needed, predictable income for our programs. Your gift will be automatically repeated every month.” Sometimes constancy trumps total value, as it allows year-round planning with a steady budget. Don’t forget to patronize our local nurseries and other native plant institutions such as Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (reciprocal membership policy gets you in free at other particiapating botanic gardens, including the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden) and Cal Flora. Don’t forget that attendance at our local CNPS meetings is always free and that we welcome non-members. This is an ideal example since no one is checking membership at the door and you will still be welcome even if you never join, since we value your engagement too.
Donate to a local organization. Go big with an endowment in your will or go small by picking a favorite charity through smile.amazon.com. The Palos Verdes Land Conservancy was my pick at smile.amazon.com, which donates a portion of each purchase to the charity of your choice – smile requires that you use the web version of Amazon to pay, so if I’m on my phone I will fill my cart from the app, then log in through the browser to pay. At the opposite end of the spectrum is an end-of-life bequest. The SCCNPS was fortunate to receive such a bequest from the Conze estate, and has used it to good effect to promote native plant gardening.
Engage directly with news media by visiting their web sites, commenting on articles, and most of all subscribing to a news service such as a newspaper or monthly journal. Journalism and research aren’t cost free and a subscription supports this directly with the added benefit that it may get you past a pay wall to view more content. I subscribe to the LA Times since I support hometown journalism as well as High Country News, a western states monthly news magazine. Neither subscription is ghastly expensive and occasionally I give a bit more to HCN. But remember, even viewing the news and commenting could be valuable. Imagine in the newsroom: “Look boss, our article on California native plants got 1,500 more views and 20 more comments than expected! Let’s feature more of that.” If you are already a print subscriber to the LA Times, then I believe you can access the online version with no added cost. LA Times is running a limited time special right now – 8 weeks online subscription for $1. High Country News has made their COVID-19 content free and offers a year of magazine+online delivery for $37.
There are many other worthy organizations that I am sure I overlooked. Please comment with your own suggestions.