Give as long as someone is giving to you |

Give as long as someone is giving to you

It’s the time of year when nonprofit organizations fill our mailboxes with requests for donations. With more than 300 nonprofits in North Lake Tahoe alone, there is no shortage of worthy groups to support.

We in the charitable world try to appeal to both your heart and your head by combining the spirit of the season with the realities of tax advantages.

So, your tax tip for the season is that one benefit of supporting a worthwhile cause is the ability to take a federal income tax deduction. Be sure to get a tax receipt from the charity for your records.

Now on to the heartfelt reasons to give.

Last month I met with a man and his mother who were researching how to implement their family’s goals for giving. I felt privileged to participate in this rich and intimate discussion. When we came to the question of, “How much should we give?” I started a long explanation on percentage of income and determining how much money is enough. The woman summed it up much better than I ever could:

Keep giving as long as someone is giving to you.

Philosophers refer to this as the ethic of reciprocity. And aren’t people always giving to us?

As someone who works in the field of charitable giving, I talk with people everyday about philanthropy. They come to Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation to learn how to make wise decisions with their donations. They come to investigate the fiscal soundness of organizations and how much of their donations go to programming.

Some even tell how they once needed the services provided by a charitable organization. Mostly they come to tell stories of the ways giving enriches their lives and the lives of their family.

Community foundations are the embodiment of that ethic of reciprocity: When people give to us, we are able to continue supporting the important work of nonprofits. Philanthropy really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Each year the Sierra Sun and Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation join together to encourage everyone in North Lake Tahoe to “give back.” Gifts for Good allows you to make one gift to Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation and know that it will benefit many of those 300 nonprofits that work day in and day out to make our region better.

I donated to Gifts for Good this month. I wrote a small check to a scholarship fund my parents started to help pay costs for ministerial students to go to seminary. I wrote still another check to an advocacy group whose work I support. As I was writing these checks, the same thought kept flashing in my head: Keep giving as long as someone is giving to you.

The ethic of reciprocity requires we make the connection that people helping people helps us all. As the poet Edwin Markham said, “We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.”

Thank you to all who have contributed to Gifts for Good and sent your kind wishes and blessings. May these blessings be fulfilled many times over in your life.

My life is rich indeed.

Lisa Dobey is CEO of Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation connects people and opportunities, generating resources to build a more caring, creative, and effective community. Lisa can be reached at 587-1776 or

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