LETTER: Who to give to before the tax year ends

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:

I do a lot of looking at organizations. I have one of those advanced degrees in this subject area. Corporations are now calling people who can look at groups and organizations with new eyes — “disrupters.”

Recently, Pepsi’s CEO stated his company needs more disrupters and less ad execs, less conferences in Florida, less meetings about commercials where his staff implore him, “Wait, just wait, it will get good in a minute.” I love this. If the message isn’t compelling in the beginning, if we have to be told to wait for the good part, the branding is ineffective. That is what is going on in some of our biggest institutions in town. They are telling us, “Wait, wait, the good part is coming.”

As you approach the end of the tax year, when you find yourself scrambling to find agencies and people you want to support, that really shake things up, that touch real lives, that aren’t just supporting big buildings, old ideas or has-been branding, who should you give your end-of-the year donation to?

I have been behind the curtain of many of Greenwich’s nonprofit organizations. I have watched when they thought I was not watching. I have read their 990’s, I have re-read their annual reports even when they don’t make them available on their websites–as they should.

Here are the organizations that I feel are disrupting the status quo in Greenwich in a good way.

1) The United Way.  Have you seen its building on Lafayette Avenue? Simple is an understatement. Sole Sisters is one of its outreach fundraising muscles. Join them, they look like they are having fun and they are–what I like the most–looking at the whole of the Town. Assessment of Human Service Needs in Greenwich is a spot-on document that reflects the worries, discrepancies in services, achievement gap, solutions to all of the above, unlike any other agency in town. The United Way doesn’t have a flashy name but it is a comprehensive, grass-roots, bold and human-scale organization that has its soul on the heartbeat of what is keeping Greenwich from being all it can be. It potentially disrupts much larger institutions lack of response and focus on these matters.

2) Garden Education Center of Greenwich. This is an organization that is not afraid to evolve, to question, to insist that the best education pedagogy respects hands-on, outdoor learning. They are devoted to the values of truth and beauty and stewardship of our resources for future generations. They are not afraid to bring on board folks with bold vision that we will likely only catch up to in five years. Have you seen their budget? It is lean and mean. Have you seen their grounds, programs and staff? In one year, this organization has implemented summer enrichment programs for at-risk youngsters, redefined nature-based learning in public schools, opened up its programming beyond its traditional base and increased the publics usage of its grounds by 100%.

Call them now before December 31.

203-869-2221 United Way of Greenwich

203-869-9242 Garden Education Center of Greenwich

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