January 18, 2017

Wise Giving Wednesday: A Lesson from Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In looking back at the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day we just celebrated on January 16th, I am reminded that we honor Dr. King not only in regards to his legacy on civil rights but also for his encouragement for giving.  As noted in the blog posted Monday by the Council on Foundations, we are urged to think of MLK Day as a “Day On, Not a Day Off” which quotes Dr. King as concluding, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” 

So, if MLK Day inspires us to service, how can we best take on this task, not just for one day, but as more of a commitment to service throughout the year?  An article in Forbes makes the helpful suggestion of mentoring a young person.  There are a number of charitable programs that involve assisting young people which can range from a couple of hours a month to longer programs depending on the interests and availability of volunteers.  In addition, the website of the Corporation for National and Community Service includes a search engine titled “United We Serve” that enables visitors to locate volunteer opportunities in their area. 

Independent Sector (a leadership network for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations committed to advancing the common good) previously stated that 62.8 million Americans or 25.3 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $184 million in 2014.  Americans are clearly generous in giving their time to charities. As suggested in a previous Wise Giving Guide cover story on volunteering, however, potential donors are encouraged to find out, among other things, what charities expect of their volunteers, whether the volunteer work involves special skills or training, and whether the volunteer position involves a long term commitment. 

As donors consider Dr. King’s question of what they are doing for others, we also hope they will take the time to verify the trustworthiness of the organization by seeing if the charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. 


On a related note, as part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring Nancy Kelly, MHS, Executive Director of Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) (a BBB Accredited Charity) which seeks to improve the availability and quality of health care through education, training and professional development of the health workforce in resource-scarce countries. The organization reports that each year, health professionals complete more than 500 HVO volunteer assignments, contributing over 7,000 days of volunteer service at more than 80 HVO project sites around the world.  


We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include: 

Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.   

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance