Getting to the Charity Stripe, Together
I'm very fortunate to be a middle aged, middle class American. My wife and I have both had stable corporate jobs for over a decade and only had our first child this year in our late 30's. We're doing well at a time when it often feels like things in general are not.
That being said, every year we get to tax time and I'm a little embarrassed at how uncharitable I've been. I've usually donated some clothes and given to a couple of charities with a family connection or pledged for friends doing things like a 5K, but giving back has just never been forefront in my mind. In 2017 I remember promising to do better but then simply didn't.
For that reason, at the beginning of 2018 my wife and I were discussing some annual budget stuff and decided to set aside $2,500 to donate to charities throughout the year, above what we might normally do. There are many people who give a far higher percentage of their income than we committed to, but it was our starting point.
That same week, Sam Sheehan (then of CelticsHub, now of CelticsBlog) went viral on Twitter with his "Kyrie Manhattan" meme and used the newfound notoriety to promote giving to the Brooklyn Bail Fund.
I thought that was a good opportunity to start giving but instead of just making a donation, I challenged my Twitter followers to make up to $250 in donations that I would then match. By the end of the day, seven people had stepped up to donate a total of $270.
I decided that this might be a good way to use the charity fund. Instead of just donating out my own I could be obnoxious to the few thousand people who (foolishly) follow me and try to double the amount. I know I'm not Shea Serrano but every bit helps, right?
We're now approaching the end of the year and things went better than I could have imagined. Across nine challenge periods you all donated nearly $5,000 spread out across 18 charities.
When you add in my contribution (under the circumstances I was happy to go a little over budget) and the mid-year realization that my gigantic corporate employer has a foundation that matches personal donations, we broke $10,000 as a group!
As you would expect, the majority of this was driven off basketball connections. Jared Weiss (The Athletic) has a personal connection to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation where we initially raised $200 in January.
In mid-June, when news first broke wide that the US Government was separating families at the Mexican border, Tom Ziller (SB Nation) dedicated his Good Morning It's Basketball posts to a series of immigrant-focused charities. We tagged along and together raised $3,750 for four charities focused on immigrant and refugee rights.
In September, Celtics super-fan Ms Samatha May, who earlier in the year started a free basketball camp/clinic for children with special needs, was raising money for Autism Speaks. For that I offered to match up to $200 in donations but was tagged on $510 in your donations within no time.
Finally, for this year's "Giving Tuesday" I opened up the last pot of matching funds and challenged Twitter to come up with new charities that are meaningful to you. Chris Forsberg (NBC Sports Boston) talked about his own story and the good work of the Hearing Aid Project. Jared made an additional donation to JDRF and I talked about my own connections to charities in Haiti and Nepal. The dean of Celtics Twitter, Mike Dynon, brought in California charities trying to help in the aftermath of the fires.
For the day I was hoping to raise $500 but a few very generous donations resulted in us tripling that. Between your donations, my remaining matching fund, and my employer's matching, we raised more just on November 27 than I had expected to donate for the entire year.
In the end, the money that was raised will go to everything from a community bail fun in New York to scholarships in Tanzania. From an education center in Haiti to dog rescue in Boston. From wildfire services in California to immigrant legal support in Texas to building homes for Boston's homeless. Your contributions will make a real difference to people all around the world and helped uplift my spirits along the way.
I can't thank you all enough for participating in this project.
I try to stick to charities that are transparent and well rated so, in that spirit, here is the final accounting for the year. Two of the charities were not eligible for a corporate match (one does not have a US address and the other was below the matching floor for the day). Two charities I made in-kind donations to that did not match to exact Twitter donations.