Oh what joy holiday shopping for our six young children evoked! Imagining their Christmas morning delight, with every purchase, was almost as much fun as experiencing it. But, as they got older, I came to dread the annual chore.
By then, our children didn’t need one more material object. They needed mental and physical decluttering and an attitude of gratitude, far more than an additional layer of new toys, electronics, video games, clothes, whatever. Our entire family needed to do more to help families with less, too.
Eventually, I learned to kickstart my holiday spirit by giving to others — through adopt-a-family programs and other nonprofit donations — before buying anything for ourselves. But, I didn’t find the true joy of the season again until a spur-of-the-moment decision one Christmas Eve, by our preteen son James and me, to regift enough sweets and other presents to fill our car. We delivered them to a soup kitchen that our church supported. Seeing the delighted expressions on the recipients’ faces felt so good that James suggested our family do more the following year.
Thus was born what became an annual family giving tradition. We filled multiple vehicles with treats and new winter outerwear for the homeless and soup kitchen patrons that next year and added additional shelters to our list in subsequent years.
Thus, too, was born my desire as a publisher to make it as easy as possible for all families to support others in need. Eventually, my first magazine collaborated with The Volunteer Center and other organizations on a similar giving initiative called “Warming Hearts and Hands.” It grew to provide truckloads of supplies to numerous nonprofits. The pandemic made the logistics of the community outreach part of this program difficult. But we promise it will be reinstated next year.
More importantly though, our publications created other opportunities to help you live and give with greater impact. Through our Make It Better Foundation, we carefully vet nonprofits, and we give Philanthropy Awards to those worthy of your support. We continue to recommend all past winners, too. You can trust that all of these nonprofits will make wise use of every dollar, hour or item that you donate. We also provide comprehensive recommendations for where you can donate items you no longer use or volunteer your time and skills.
Everything we publish is intended to help you and your family communicate and collaborate better — with each other and with organizations you can trust. Families who learn to work together philanthropically not only experience the joy of giving together, they become more astute financially. Philanthropy best practices and wealth education go hand in hand, as Ramsay Slugg, wealth strategies advisor of Bank Of America Private Bank, explained at our last Family Philanthropy Summit.
Families who give together usually stay close to each other through the generations. We wish you and your family a happy, healthy giving season and many happy returns of this precious time.
Susan B. Noyes, Make It Better Media Founder and Chief Visionary Officer
Find more helpful content, visit our nonprofit guide to giving.
Susan B. Noyes is the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of Make It Better Media Group, as well as the Founder of Make It Better Foundation’s Philanthropy Awards. A mother of six, former Sidley Austin labor lawyer and U.S. Congressional Aide, passionate philanthropist, and intuitive connector, she has served on boards for the Poetry Foundation, Harvard University Graduate School of Education Visiting Committee, American Red Cross, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Annenberg Challenge, Chicago Public Education Fund, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New Trier High School District 203, and her beloved Kenilworth Union Church. But most of all, she enjoys writing and serving others by creating virtuous circles that amplify social impact.