September 28, 2015
Send holiday cheer to the people who need it most.
By Maureen McCabe
Like most Canadians, I was deeply shocked and saddened by the images I saw of Alan Kurdi’s three year-old body lying dead on a Turkish beach. Until then, I had a vague understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis, but after seeing that, helping to ease the plight of the Syrian refuges became a priority for me this holiday season.
In the past, we’ve promoted clients by gifting some of their products, like we did with jewelry from Natalie Waldman Designs, and gift baskets from Big Al’s Delish. And, of course, we’ve gone the more traditional route with gift certificates to our favourite stores and restaurants.
This year, in lieu of Christmas gifts, I made a $550 donation to the Red Cross in my company’s name, which will provide a family with a tent to shelter them from the elements and give them a roof to call their own for now.
And because Syrian refuges can’t wait until the holidays, neither did I. I made the donation a few weeks ago, and the tent we bought is on its way to the Middle East right now. Depending on when you read this post, it may have already been pitched!
Follow our Christmas Gift lead
Let me say right now that there’s nothing wrong with big shiny Christmas gifts in beautifully wrapped boxes under the tree. But there has to be balance. A commitment to corporate responsibility is an excellent way to achieve this balance; it’s essential in times like these when so many have so little, and it’s something everybody in your office can get behind.
I liked knowing what our gift could buy and choose the amount based on the United Nations Refugee Agency’s website: $20 for synthetic mats for two families, $50 for high thermal fleece blankets, $100 for a cooking stove, and $550 for a tent. We chose the Red Cross because we like their hands-on approach, and my mom and grandmother had volunteered for them when I was a wee lass.
The federal government will match donations dollar for dollar until the end of the year, up to $100 million. I was thrilled when I learned of this commitment, amazed at how much the government has already committed, and extremely proud to be a Canadian.
There are many organizations the Canadian government fund-matches to:
- Canadian Red Cross
- Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders
- Oxfam Canada
- Save the Children (Canada)
- Unicef Canada
Quite honestly, as long as the organization you donate your money to is credible, and an overwhelming majority of your donation actually goes to the people in need instead of to administration, it doesn’t matter where you donate — just as long as you do.
You can make a personal or business donation. The former is matched by the government and comes with a personal tax credit, while the latter is 100% tax deductible as a business expense if the donation is under your company name.
Tips for donating
Speaking of all the money getting to where it needs to go, there are things you can do to make sure your charity of choice is collecting as much as it can.
- Don’t click on Google ads. Google ads are pay-per-click so if you click on your charity of choice’s ads, they have to pay. If an ad you see gives you donation motivation, copy and paste its display URL into your browser window and get to their website that way.
- Don’t donate via email. Save your charity of choice the processing fees and call them directly.
- Do verify that the charity receiving the donation for the Syria Emergency Relief Fund will declare it to Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada by January 15, 2016 to ensure your personal donation is matched.
- Do your research. Like every other industry, there are credible players and shady players. Before you donate anything, know the charity you will be donating to. Check them out online, and check them out with Revenue Canada.
Let’s start a trend
Our world is hurting. It needs people like us to step up and support the people who can’t support themselves. And because Syrian refuges can’t wait until the holidays, there’s no time like the present to start.
If you like what you read, please share this blog with the hashtag #SyriaGift. Or even better, decide that this year’s corporate Christmas gift will be a gift to Syrian refugees.
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