By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer
With 2017 right around the corner and the weather in Northeast Ohio turning colder, the season of giving descends on Greater Cleveland. End-of-year giving, supported by religious and secular seasonal practices of charity and volunteering, prompts donors to get their gifts in before December 31 and work to meet the needs of those less fortunate.
Twenty percent of donations are made throughout the month of December, said Dan Mansoor, chief philanthropy officer and vice president of development at United Way of Greater Cleveland, which is more than double the monthly average. More than 90 percent of December donations are given in the last three days of the month, he said.
The National Center for Charitable Statistics supports Mansoor’s numbers, stating “as the holidays near, people may feel encouraged to give more generously than during the rest of the year.” Supported by a GuideStar Survey of organizations, half of those served receive the majority of their contributions between October and December.
The psychology of giving
Nationally, 80 percent of charitable giving comes from individual gifts, and many take advantage of the itemized deductions for donations on taxes, Mansoor said. But these donors may also want the good feeling that comes from giving to others. According to an article published in Psychology Today, charitable giving lights up a participant’s brain the same way pleasures like comfort foods and dancing does.
The article references several psychological studies, including one conducted in Eugene, Oregon proving when people are given random sums of money, one of the most satisfyingly altruistic options is to donate it.
Do the most good
Whether a donor’s gift is from the heart or their neurons, the basic needs in Greater Cleveland are more visible in the colder months. Kitchens host holiday meal events; community groups make care packages for the homeless and organizations like Toys for Tots focuses on providing toys and Christmas gifts for needy families.
“People want to help others at this time of year, there’s a good feeling,” Mansoor said. “Especially as they’re buying for family and friends, relatives, maybe even themselves, there is a good feeling that comes from helping others.”
Procrastinating through the end of the year, last-minute individuals no longer have to rely on snail-mail to get their gifts in before January 1. Donations can be made at www.UnitedWayCleveland.org, because United Way dollars go to multiple organizations within the community, it is a more efficient way to give during the holiday season.
“United Way helps the most needy in the community, in partnership with a large number of nonprofits and agencies,” Mansoor said. “In addition to collecting money, we also have a volunteer allocations committee made up of members of the community, so we have a body of knowledge to ensure these funds get to where they can do the most good.”