There’s a New T in Town

The 4th T to add to Time, Talent, and Treasure

You probably already know the Three Ts; time, talent, and treasure. They are the basics when you are thinking about what you can donate to charitable causes. I hope you are contributing not just your financial resources to make the world a better place, but are also giving your time and talents while volunteering. Let me add another tool to your toolbox, a 4th T to the list: Ties.*

Ties: Your social capital; your online social network, your professional or collegial network, your family and friends, and your neighborhood contacts

Source: Flickr user, Jurgen Appelo

Source: Flickr user, Jurgen Appelo

In this age of social media and smart devices that we carry with us (always and everywhere!), it is easier and faster to connect with people we know, knew in the past — and even those we don’t know yet. Our networks are much more geographically widespread and diverse as a result. Some might say they are more casual, looser, and shallower as well but that depends on how we create and use them. Right now, I have 931 Friends on Facebook and 1017 Contacts on LinkedIn. It is not because I am a renowned public figure, nor a diligent “connector”, nor have I spent a lot of effort on extending my network as a goal unto itself. It is just a lot easier than it used to be. I don’t think I am that unusual in that – except perhaps in how modest my network may be compared to people who are “digital natives.”

I also have social networks that are in-person (embodied?) contacts. Let’s not forget that we have relationships with people we met at a physical gathering, where we stand within feet of each other to talk, not over an audio device, or correspond with on actual paper.

You already have a sense of the value of social capital if you are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or another social network. Before I give you a starter list of how you might use your Ties to support your charitable goals, think for a minute… How are you using your networks to contribute to nonprofit missions right now? Please send your ideas and suggestions and we can create a long list!

Here are some of my ideas for how you can contribute your Ties to help support the charitable organizations you care about. Some of these are virtual and some are in-person:

  • Share something powerful about the nonprofit on your digital networking sites – write about the impact that nonprofit has, a moving moment you experienced, or write a bravo to someone you know who also supports their mission
  • Forward videos, photos, or newsletters from the organization, that others have posted and comment – to your whole network
  • Is the nonprofit having a fundraiser; an auction, gala, road race, or other event? Post the flyer and tag your friends with a specific invitation
  • Write a post about why you are inspired to contribute generously to the nonprofit and share it to your whole network, or just the people who you select
  • When the organization launches an online fundraising drive, send a personalized message and link to your personal contacts. When they contribute, send them a personal thank you and ask them to join you in getting more engaged
  • When you get married, have a milestone birthday, or other life event, ask for donations to your favorite nonprofit in lieu of gifts
  • Talk to your loved ones about what you want to happen at your own memorial service, and when you do, ask people to contribute to a chosen nonprofit in lieu of flowers
  • If you belong to a giving circle or charitable community group, advocate for your chosen nonprofit to receive a gift or grant
  • Reach out to your networks to help recruit volunteers or board members for your favorite charities

As you can see, there are lots of ways to use your Ties to help support to nonprofits you care about. You just have to be willing to let people know which nonprofits you support and why – then ask them to join you.

*Note: I am grateful to my astute colleague Susan Crites Price for naming this concept!


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