Charitable giving

Roping Practice

A num­ber of years ago, I was pho­tograph­ing on loca­tion, and over heard a con­ver­sa­tion with the busi­ness own­er on the phone. Unin­ten­tion­al­ly eaves­drop­ping, I did get an idea of the fellow’s char­ac­ter. The caller was ask­ing for some kind of char­i­ta­ble dona­tion. Not an unusu­al call for a busi­ness to receive, but I thought his response was unusu­al. After lis­ten­ing to the caller’s script and ask­ing some appro­pri­ate ques­tions, he told the caller he was indeed inter­est­ed in the char­i­ty. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, his busi­ness decides at the first of each cal­en­dar year what they plan to give for the next 12 months and this char­i­ty hadn’t been con­sid­ered. “How­ev­er,” he said, “could you send me some infor­ma­tion and then give me a call in 2 weeks and we can con­sid­er this oppor­tu­ni­ty?” I didn’t fol­low up on how this actu­al­ly worked out but I believe the man was sin­cere and intend­ed to be involved.

From time to time, I have thought of this sit­u­a­tion. Usu­al­ly dur­ing a phone call from some­one solic­it­ing for some char­i­ty. I always try to be gra­cious. I am always hon­est.  usu­al­ly I respond that I have already decid­ed on my char­i­ta­ble giv­ing for the year.  In addi­tion, I do have some cri­te­ria for the orga­ni­za­tions I want to be involved with. Some of the cri­te­ria:

  1. Is the group rep­utable? Can I check up on how they use the mon­ey I give?
  2. Is this some­thing I am tru­ly inter­est­ed in prop­a­gat­ing?  Do I want my name attached to this group?
  3. What will my involve­ment (or lack of) mean to the recip­i­ents of this char­i­ty?
  4. Is this some­thing I can “just” give mon­ey to or is my involve­ment going to include my time and ener­gy and pro­fes­sion­al skills?

Anne (my wife) and I have char­i­ties we “just” donate mon­ey to. We have longterm con­nec­tions to friends in the orga­ni­za­tions and are knowl­edgable how the mon­ey is being spent. I wouldn’t mind if my name was pub­lished by these folks. These char­i­ties are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the world. Sev­er­al of them pro­vide ongo­ing inter­na­tion­al relief work. They would be missed if they were not there, and our par­tic­i­pa­tion would be too.

Back­ground with all our busi­ness sup­port­ers

Cow­boy, Cow­girl, horse and child

Rodeo Queen and young boy

We also have some local char­i­ties we give time and ener­gy to. The Rough N’ Ready Rodeo is one of those. This event is on a Fri­day in Sep­tem­ber each year dur­ing the Riv­er City Rodeo and Stock Show. ( Chil­dren with spe­cial needs are paired up with Pro­fes­sion­al Rodeo Cow­boy Asso­ci­a­tion Cow­boy and Cow­girls. Then they par­tic­i­pate in “rodeo events” : stick horse races, rop­ing hay bale steers, buck­ing horse teeter-tot­ters, and of course, rid­ing a real horse. I round up a few vol­un­teer pho­tog­ra­phers to make por­traits of the kids and the cow­boys. Then, we make prints and deliv­er them to the kids and their par­ents at the end of the morn­ing! The time goes way too fast. The kids have a great time and the funds that are raised are divid­ed between four local char­i­ties that work with the par­tic­i­pants dur­ing the rest of the year. Is the world changed by my work here? May-be not, but the kids with spe­cial needs have fun and feel loved and accept­ed and that is worth my time.


The Oma­ha Street School  (  is anoth­er orga­ni­za­tion we sup­port. The school locat­ed in north Oma­ha serves at risk high school stu­dents. I have been doing head shots for their year­book and oth­er pho­tog­ra­phy needs they have for fund rais­ing. Some of the stu­dents have nev­er had a por­trait made! Very dif­fer­ent from my world! I also do pho­tographs of their golf tour­na­ment in the sum­mer. I know the Oma­ha Street School is edu­cat­ing kids that “fall through the cracks” of soci­ety. Their lives are being changed and I get to be a small part of that. And that is cool.

Stu­dents and Prin­ci­pal Mrs. Shel­ley Pool

OSS Instruc­tor and Stu­dentStu­dents


So what is my point? I want to lead by exam­ple. Are you par­tic­i­pat­ing in char­i­ta­ble giv­ing? Have you thought about it so when the South Amer­i­can Swamp Rat Asso­ci­a­tion calls look­ing “for your $50 dona­tion again this year” you already know you won’t be giv­ing to them? More impor­tant, have you found a place to give your time, ener­gy, exper­tise, name, and mon­ey to? A char­i­ty or non-prof­it that is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in someone’s life? There are many wor­thy caus­es out there. The first of the year is a good time to think about these things.



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