Please Steal This Fab Year-end Letter

Notably re-quotable

“All over the world, young males and females, schooled in the art of patriarchal thinking, are building an identity on a foundation that sees the will to do violence as the essential way to assert being.” ~ bell hooks (1952-2021)
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/bell-hooks-quotes. Her Dec. 17 Guardian obituary.

What her donors heard this year-end...

Authenticity, gratitude = core values

Julie’s steal-worthy year-end letter

Met her a decade ago. Then she began schooling me....

Julie Capaldi is the Executive Director of the United Way of Pickens County, SC.

Pickens County struggles and suffers in ways. In 2021, Pickens County’s poverty rate was higher than the South Carolina average … which itself has one of the highest state poverty rates in America. There’s work to be done.

Since 2016, donated income to this particular SC United Way has almost doubled, thanks in part to their proven programs. Pickens County UW is great at financial stability; literacy; and basic needs (the pandemic’s greatest hit).

But that’s not the full story. This United Way is powerfully devoted to donor love in all its communications … and has been for years. In 2020, one supporter wrote: “You know, Julie … you do write the BEST ‘Thank You’ notes of just about any charitable organization in which I’ve been involved. This is wonderful stuff!”

And enclosed a $100,000 check.

If you wonder, can one human heart be as big as the moon? Just look up. That full moon you’ll see on a clear night is Julie, as she writes to donors.

BELOW is what she just wrote to Pickens County United Way supporters, as 2021 clumsily closes its doors and a new variant of Covid-19 sweeps the world. I’m reprinting her letter verbatim, in full, with her generous permission. If you find a way to adapt it for your own donors, Julie would be thrilled.

Make sure you read all the way through! Some of the best stuff comes near the end.

. . . . . .

It seems like every December I talk about holiday depression.

The root cause is my mom, who was always down at the holidays. For her, it was memories of World War 2, when her friends would ship out and never return. Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” sent her over the edge.

She sucked it up for us when we were little, and I really appreciate that.

I’ve discovered a great tool in my arsenal to battle the holiday blues. I call it the “Double G.” Giving and Gratitude.

Giving back feels really, really good. It’s a proven fact that helping others eases depression and anxiety. There is actually a “helpers high” that shows up on an MRI of your brain.

My favorite quote has always been, “There is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up.”

Giving is actually good for your health. In all my years at United Way of Pickens County, no one has ever said to me, “I feel really bad about that donation I made to help a kid learn to read!” I have never ever experienced “donor’s remorse.”

I have a definite plan around my own personal charitable giving.

Of course, I always support United Way of Pickens County… both through payroll deduction and an “end of year” stock gift. I love to call David Mitchell at Edward Jones and tell him to grant my charitable wishes. And, I get VERY excited when David Mitchell calls ME and tells me a donor has made a stock gift to United Way! I’m like a kid on Christmas morning.

It is very important to all of us at United Way of Pickens County that donors know just how much we value and appreciate them.

Whether they give $10, $100, $1,000 or more, each and every gift is appreciated, especially by the families who benefit from their generosity.

Every time I write and send an appeal for giving, I send one to myself. I always answer my own appeal. Ha Ha. 

I want to know what my precious donors experience when they give to United Way of Pickens County. Not to brag or anything, but we do a pretty good job!

. . . . . .

In my long career, I’ve discovered there are two types of donors; the ones who want to remain anonymous and people who need a little “donor love.”

Our pledge card asks, “How do you want to be thanked?”

Some folks say, “I don’t want to be thanked.”

Asking me not to express gratitude is like being stranded in the desert with no water!

Not long ago, I was feeling really lonely at work. All communication was through texts and emails. We are still practicing social distancing because of COVID. Even though we are working in person and in the office, we are isolated.

I needed someone to talk to so I decided to call donors. It was a blast!

A couple of folks were obviously shocked and a little wary of my intentions. Others were like me…starving for human contact.

One woman had given modestly every year for over 40 years. We had a lot to talk about.

I learned about her life, her family, and why United Way is important to her. I told her about me, why I love my job, how much I appreciate her loyalty, and the huge difference she has made in people’s lives over the course of all those years.

We chatted for at least 45 minutes. It was the first time we had ever talked to each other. I was humbled and a little embarrassed. This was a conversation long overdue.

Just this past week, I received an additional “end of year” donation from this wonderful woman. I was NOT expecting it. It was the best Christmas surprise ever.

Someone once told me to “give till it hurts.”

I have news for them. Giving is wonderful. Giving will change your life.

Giving NEVER hurts anyone.

If you want to make a year-end gift to United Way of Pickens County or any of our amazing programs like Camp iRock, Preschool Pages or Pathways, go to our website, www.uwpickens.org or call me.

My cell is 864-420-1635.

I always answer it.

My email is jcapaldi@uwpickens.org. I promise you it will feel really, really good!

Happy Holidays!

# # #

You & New Year’s resolutions? Complete this fab worksheet first

HERE. Third Space Studio, based in Durham, NC, wants you to put 2021 behind you … and look ahead instead to your best year ever! You do it with their non-intimidating 2-page worksheet. Who is Third Space? Hard not to fall in love with their promise. In their own words: “At Third Space Studio, we ask great questions and actively listen to the answers…. We guide [nonprofit] teams into deep thinking and encourage and support your bold decision-making….” They have a blog, with self-care topics for leaders like “The importance of a long vacation,” “Lessons from the garden” and “Meetings can be better.”

Why we have indents

HERE. Well, I’ll let him explain it. It’s brisk. This is our very first TikTok, courtesy of the ever-so-savvy Beth Ann Locke!!!

Be part of a happiness study

HERE. I’m taking part in this study ... ’cause why not, right? It’s a 4-week introduction to things like “active listening,” designed to help you develop practices that can lead to improved personal happiness. For a lot of us, 2021 has been an ugly year. It comes from the Greater Good Science Center, at the University of California, Berkeley.