Where should I Give?

Dhaval Udani
Updated: Aug 6, 2012 09:13:36 AM UTC

I remember very well how I spent my vacations during my school days. Twice a year, typically during summer and Diwali, my mom would take me to her mother’s place in Rajkot (a major city in Saurashtra area of Gujarat). My 10-15 day trip was filled with a lot of fun and pleasure with more than 10 cousins and doting grandparents, uncles and aunts. It brings back fond memories which we cousins continue to reminisce to this day.

There is one more thing I remember. My aunt (mother’s elder sister) was partially deaf at birth and the reached complete loss of hearing by the time she was 18. She studied in one of the schools in Rajkot which catered to such individuals. Considering that this was more than 50 years ago, it says a lot about the kind of community that the people of Rajkot built for themselves.

My aunt later even taught at this institute both as a way of giving back to the organization that benefited her as well as utilizing her skills to benefit the many others like her and give them hope. My grandfather, a dentist, was not very well off when my aunt was going to school and was grateful to the city of Rajkot for providing him with such an institution which ensured that his daughter was not disadvantaged compared to any other. Over the years, his dental practice grew and he became one of the most respected individuals not only in Rajkot but the whole of Gujarat. And so did his wealth which was more than enough to take care of his 6 children and their next generation. After retiring he spent a considerable amount of time on many development activities – one of this pet projects was the school where my aunt studied. He gave a lot both in terms of time and money to this institution for it to become better and make the hearing challenged feel on par with rest of the community.

Today my grandfather is no more. But his act inspired all his children. Many cannot give as much time as he did but nearly all of them have kept in touch with this institution in some form or another. Even though my mother moved away from Rajkot nearly 40 years ago, she yet gives a substantial part of her annual donations to this place where her sister studied and was built up by her father.

Recently on a trip to Rajkot, I visited the school for the first time with my wife. I had heard a lot of stories while growing up but never come here. My trip was brought to life by one of the older employees of the school who took us around the place and showed us what has been around since more than 50 years and what my grandfather brought to life for the more recent students. This brought back memories of my aunt who is no longer with us today. My wife who had no connection with my aunt was also quite touched by the experience and both of us made a contribution to the school. We will now make these annual contributions.

I am sure everyone has a story about their giving and this is mine. More often than not experiences, situations and places that you grow up in play a large role in deciding where you give and that is the way most donors decide their giving. If you are feeling torn between two equal choices, give to a place you go to often. Many a times we have seen donors choosing places that are close to their parent's place. As you visit your parents often, you will be able to visit the place where you are making a difference. If its close to the place where you stay, then not only will you visit it often, but it will give you a chance to take your family and involve your kids in philanthropy as well. This will build a giving & caring culture in your kids early on in life instilling the values that you were brought up with.

In our experience of dealing with donors, we have seen consistently across big and small donors that choosing where to give is only second in importance to choosing what cause to give towards. If you connect with a place and start giving, not only will you continue to give for a longer period of time but even give more over a period of time.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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