You’ve probably heard about “the man who has everything.” Frank Callahan’s late father-in-law was just that kind of man. “He didn’t need or want a thing,” Frank says. “Every Christmas he’d be given another sweater or another shirt. They would go unused and the process would repeat itself the following year.”
One year, in search of gifts with more meaning, Frank and his wife Jennifer decided to forgo the classics and make a donation to a charity near and dear to his father-in-law’s heart. “We selected the World War II Veterans’ Memorial fund,” Frank explains. “Instead of giving him the same old gift, we gave him a card with the thank you letter, and when he opened it we saw a tear well in his eye. It was a real light-bulb moment for me.”
Inspired by his father-in-law’s emotional reaction, Frank, a Denver-area philanthropist who runs an architectural lighting-design practice, decided to launch an online 501(c)3 nonprofit called The Gift of Giving, where gift givers can obtain charitable “gift cards” that can be “redeemed” by the recipient as monetary gifts to their selected charity. These gifts are tax deductible donations by the gift giver.
At thegiftofgiving.com, gift givers can choose from a variety of delivery methods for the cards— from an email notice to a specially designed gift box covered in inspirational giving quotes.
All charities featured on thegiftofgiving.com are pre- screened for ethical business practices and regulatory compliance. “We don’t have relationships with the charities on the site,” he says. “What we are doing is purely providing a means to direct donations from sources to charities in a more creative and inspiring manner. We’ve chosen the featured charities on the site by selecting ones that we think will be compelling and interesting to our gift givers. We try to select charities that inspire people to give.”
Inspiring others and adding meaning to the gift- giving process has been Frank’s goal from the start. In the four years since he founded the nonprofit, donors have included individuals as well as businesses that have given his gift cards to employees and clients.
This is exactly the way Frank had hoped The Gift of Giving would grow. This unique gift is a wonderful way to honor the experiences and values of those people who are important in your life, to introduce the concept of charitable giving to young adults and children, to demonstrate your philanthropic values to clients and employees, or show anyone that you care more about what is in their heart than another “sweater.” While, it is a great fit for the holidays, the gift card also works well for graduations, hostess gifts, birthdays, and teacher appreciation.
“My wife and I have two young children,” Frank says. “As they grew older and we began seeing holidays through their eyes, we realized that there was a central message about giving gifts that had been lost: the notion that the gift-giving experience is supposed to be meaningful beyond an exchange of material goods. We felt we could do more. The Gift of Giving is one way we found to focus on what really matters.”
Elavon is a global provider of merchant processing services and is a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. Elavon provides these services to The Gift of Giving for a fee.
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