I want more. Now.
Categorized as: Stories on March 1, 2014.
Guest writer Katy Geisert is a stay-at-home mom living an ordinary American life . . . except for her extraordinary part-time work for an organization called Catalytic Women, that brings women and men together in a synergy of giving that just may get Katy what she wants.—Now.
This piece first appeared on the Catalytic Women blog.
By Katy Geisert
I ask, as I fish shell remnants from her mouth: “Avery, why did you eat the snail off the patio?”
Avery (my 3-year-old daughter): “Because I did.”
This is my life. I’m a Stay at Home Mom (with a part-time, work-from-home gig) with two daughters ages 3 and 5. Our days are filled with watching the baby baboons at the Oakland Zoo, visiting the amazing Exploratorium, swimming lessons and dance parties— exhausting, but never dull.
Never dull yet never quite stimulating either. Every morning I wake with one goal in mind. How can I fill the day with fun, thought-provoking activities to stimulate my kids and wear them out so they’ll nap longer? In my world naps are true bliss. Nap time is my time: miracles happen; productivity is at its highest.
I’m sure it’s abundantly clear that my days lack serious adult interaction — real and meaningful interaction that isn’t focused on children. In truth, like most other parents out there (whether you stay at home or work), finding adult time is challenging. By the end of the day, I just want to curl up on the couch and watch Downton Abbey reruns — but for sanity’s sake, I opt for a date night with the hubby or a girls’ night out.
Somewhere along the line, I have realized that I want more. And in this world of instant gratification, I want it now. The brutal and honest truth is that I don’t feel like I’m making a difference in the world around me. Sure I volunteer at the school, dog-sit for a friend, and grocery shop for the neighbor. But I’m talking go-big-or-go-home, truly meaningful impact. Sounds so easy, but it’s not.
I’ve scrutinized every expense and there are no hefty amounts lying around to give away. Plus, I want to make an impact on a cause I care about, meet like-minded women, andenjoy the process of making donations. Ok, so now what? Where do I start? The number of nonprofits out there is insanely overwhelming. How could anyone possibly weed through each nonprofit, research their accountability, and do all the work to choose the best fit? Even if I were able to select an organization, just writing a check wasn’t what I had in mind anyway.
So I continued searching and kept coming across giving circles. I looked into this newer form of giving: essentially, it’s a way of giving socially. Giving Circles allow donors to make more of a difference, spend time with other caring adults and learn about causes that are important to them. It’s no wonder that in recent years giving circles have taken off. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “it’s estimated that giving circles have donated hundreds of millions of dollars and engaged tens of thousands of people during the last decade.” This is exactly the go-big-or-go-home, kill many birds with one stone, truly meaningful impact I’ve been seeking.
Even though I’ve just begun to get my feet wet with giving circles, I highly recommend it as your next method of giving. Giving Circles are becoming so popular that more and more organizations are offering them. Lana Volftsun, Executive Director with One Percent Foundation, understands the obstacles donors face. One Percent focuses on engaging Millennials and their online platform makes it easy to create a new circle or join one of the 20 that already exist. Another site I found is newAnthropy, which has circles ranging in topics from supporting veterans, to fighting for the homeless. Last month Catalytic Women launched Giving Circles that are a little different in that they allow the donor to pick the issue and the place to make an impact through shared giving. Existing topics range from environment, youth, cultural diversity, poverty, healthy, and women and girls. And this is just the new (online) face of giving circles: many exist in communities that focus on gathering in person to learn about and to fund local needs.
My advice is to start now, no matter what or how you give. Now that I know giving can be modest, that it can be easy and that that I can make an impact, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to sign up.
For me it’s a win-win — a chance to do something for others and do something for myself, as an interested, caring mom. Hope to see you in a circle soon.
Katy Geisert is Catalytic Women’s Events and Social Media Manager.
LEARN more about Catalytic Women’s mission to disrupt philanthropy, democratize access to giving, and build a community of people who like to give together and make a difference here.
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