Why Charity? Give generously. Feel better about life.

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$1M gift to support a program that I helped to establish at Denver Scholarship and Community College of Denver -many thanks to the Mordecai family for the final gift from their foundation.

I love that quote by Anne Frank. It’s clear, direct, and hard to argue with. Most of us can afford to give at least a little bit of our time or money or both to a cause or an organization that is meaningful to us. The more personally connected you are to that charity, the more likely you are to feel the good vibes that come with your generosity. And that will make you want to keep giving.

Even as my husband and I save for our sabbatical, we have continued to support charitable causes that matter to us from homelessness to education, because it makes us feel good and it’s the right thing to do. In fact, one of the things we are both looking forward to while on sabbatical, is giving more of our time to causes we believe in.

Read on to learn how and why I give and for some ideas and resources to support your own giving plan.

How and why I give

When I gave my notice at Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) after almost 10 years (nearly since its founding), my boss and mentor did something awesome and unexpected when he established the Rana Tarkenton Scholarship Fund in my honor. I decided that all funds raised would go either to theatre majors, which was one of my college majors, or immigrant students, who have inspired me over and over again during my time at DSF.

The gesture was immensely humbling, and also motivating. Although I am generally feeling excellent about my recent decision to take a year long sabbatical to travel and spend time with my husband, that joy has been accompanied by a sadness and occasional feeling of hopelessness given the state of our nation these days. Oppression, acts of overt racism, and disregard for both humanity and the environment have left me feeling pretty empty some days.

The scholarship fund in my name gave me something so positive to which I could redirect my focus. You may be thinking, but you work for DSF, weren’t you uplifted and motivated every day? Yes! The work we do is so important, and I’ve helped to raise millions of dollars already for the organization. I’ve been a donor for the last ten years already. But the scholarship fund that I am now supporting through DSF supports two causes that are very personal to me–the arts and equity for immigrants.  That brings my commitment to an even deeper level on which I hope to engage many of my friends, colleagues and family members who also have a personal connection to those causes.

I am trying to raise $25K to endow the scholarship. I’m donating $1,000 myself to start. So far we’ve raised about $10,000. If you are looking for a very real way to protect the freedoms, the values, and the people that make this country great, I encourage you to consider making a donation or finding your own cause to support (see resources below). 

Donate at www.denverscholarship.org/donate. Be sure to select the Rana Tarkenton Scholarship from the drop down menu. I won’t know how much you donated, just that you did, and it sure would mean a lot to me and to Denver students.

Funds raised go directly to college and technical school scholarships for low-income Denver Public schools students to go to a technical, two-year or four-year college.

Giving Resources

There are lots of ways to be engaged in philanthropy in a meaningful way. One is to donate your money to a cause or organization that is meaningful to you. The other is to donate your time. Both are critical to the fabric of our nation, and both will make you feel great.

Make sure you evaluate the charity you select so that your time and money have the impact that you desire. Click below for some of my favorite charitable organizations and resources.

TedTalk by Dan Pallotta: “The way we think about charity is dead wrong.” This is an excellent talk by Dan Pallotta about how we should really be thinking about charitable giving. Highly recommend watching!

GuideStar: rates charities and nonprofits, based on both their financial position and their program outcomes. Helps you determine if your investment in a given organization is a sound one. I like GuideStar because it doesn’t just look at financials, but also their impact. Both are key in determining the worthiness of your donation.

Volunteer Match: matches you with volunteer opportunities in your community. I found my passion for education through a volunteer opportunity on this website in Boston 15 years ago.

aurora-public-art-project-2016
Summer 2016: Trent & I painting a public street mural in Aurora, CO (with the artist on the right)

Giving Day Websites: Many communities have Giving Days that promote nonprofits in the community on a certain day of the year. In Colorado, it’s www.ColoradoGives.org, and the day happens in December every year. Google “giving day” in your own community to see what pops up!

Denver Scholarship Foundation: How can I not plug this amazing organization that has done more for Denver students than any other charity (imho) in the last decade? DSF supports college and technical school scholarships for Denver students. Type my name, Rana Tarkenton, in the “in honor of” field if you want to contribute to my fund, which specifically supports theatre majors and immigrant students.


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