A lot of my life has been focused on giving. My parents are givers. There are very few charities that do not include my dad on their mailing lists. My Nana, one of my philanthropic heroines, was a spectacular giver. Whether it is with time or baked goods or good old-fashioned cash, my family has taught me generosity through example.

I’ve been giving my time as a volunteer since I was a kid, . I’ve been giving to nonprofits since before I really had enough money to do so. And I’ve devoted my career to writing for nonprofits, which in essence is giving because I don’t make that much money. 🙂

So today was an exciting and stressful opportunity for me to promote and celebrate giving through DC’s first Give to the Max Day. Sponsored by the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the United Way of the National Capital Area, and Razoo, Give to the Max was designed to highlight the power of social media and online giving as fundraising and general awareness raising tools for nonprofits. I think it’s worked–with less than an hour and a half left in the giving event, more than 16,000 donors have contributed more than $1.7 million to DC-area nonprofits. Not a bad day.

I helped several organizations prepare for Give to the Max Day, either with conversations and ideas, writing and curating content for their G2M pages and emails, or simply telling them about the event. So I feel good about that. The organization I was most invested in helping was the Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center, a powerful three-person nonprofit that helps DC’s most vulnerable children and the foster, kinship, and adoptive parents who care for them. FAPAC raised over $2500 from 50 donors. This is not insignificant, although I feel like it pales in comparison to For Love of Children, which raised more than $85,000 from 40 donors, or Little Lights Urban Ministries, which raised more than $30,000 from 676 donors. Somehow I’ve got to figure out how they did it so I can learn for the future.

I am trying to remind myself that we did a good job and everything I did to help was, in fact, helpful to someone. Any donation through Give to the Max is better than no donation at all. But there’s always a feeling I could have done more. I hope Give to the Max offers some sort of debrief or publication about how the most successful groups did what they did.

Perhaps the best payoff for me today was a message I received from a mom I met last year at Zoe’s preschool. She said she had seen my promotion of Give to the Max on Facebook, and that today is her older son’s birthday. In their family there is a tradition of giving to charity on your birthday (a fantastic idea, which I plan to borrow) so she and her son Max sat down and talked about what he was interested in and found a nonprofit on the Give to the Max website and they made a donation for his birthday. Helping teach a young man about philanthropy and giving is worth thousands of dollars for sure. A gift from Max to give to the max. 🙂