A Holiday Gift That Reflects the Spirit of Giving

By Nancy Burkhart

December 2008

Once again the advent of the holiday season brings the same old questions: What do I buy for my husband, father, brother, mother, sister, son, and daughter? Frank and Jennifer Callahan believe they have found the answer.

In July, the Callahans started a website, www.thegiftofgiving.com as the basis for a nonprofit organization, called The Gift of Giving. The website gives people throughout the United States an opportunity to give a gift to a loved one by donating to a charity of the recipient’s choice.“I think the inspiration built over a number of years,” Frank explained. The spirit of the season was buying so much stuff and year after year buying more.

“Jen’s dad was the kind of guy who had everything he wanted, and we were struggling with things to get for him for Christmas or any other occasion,” Frank said. “He really didn’t want anything. One year we discovered theWorldWar II Memorial Fund, and we decided we would make a donation to that cause because he was a WW II vet.We received a letter in his name and wrapped that as a traditional present.When he opened it, it brought a tear to his eye.”

“It became fun to decide what charity we were going to pick,” Jennifer said. “We had found a gift that was really appreciated and found the mark,” Frank agreed.

One day, Jen presented Frank with a gift of a day of guided fly fishing. All he had to do was go to a website, enter the number of a card and set a date. The website was simply a provider that connected people with companies who offered experiences.

“It was a light-bulb moment for me,” Frank said. “This wasn’t about fly fishing. It was about That Reflects the Spirit of Giving TheGiftOfGiving.org, along with a sample gift charities. That was two years ago. Since that time, I’ve been spending time figuring out logistics.”

In March, Frank left his full-time job to become a consultant, which has given him the freedom to start the non-profit and its website. The 501c3 designation is pending, but will be retroactive to July, he said.

For the time being, Frank is president of the non-profit. He and Jennifer provided all the start-up costs, most of which have gone into graphic design and web development, he said. “If someone makes a $100 donation, I deduct $4.95 from that donation that goes to the administration of The Gift of Giving,” Frank explained. “I also deduct the credit card processing charges associated with that payment. If someone pays by check, there won’t be a fee. If someone pays by wire transfer, there may or may not be a fee.”

“My goal is that it’s self-sustaining,” Frank said. “I would love for it to reach the level where it would warrant a staff and office. I don’t know how quickly people will gravitate toward it.”

Today, there are eight charities listed under Colorado on the website. They include: Community Foundation, The Children's Hospital Foundation, Denver Rescue Mission, The Denver Scholarship Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, Safehouse Denver, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and The Children's Hospital Foundation.

Not all states have charities listed yet. Frank says he is in the process of researching charities.

“I encourage charities to contact me to be on the website,” he said. “I’m not trying to list every charity out there. I’m listing charities that are unique, and I want to become educated about charities that I don’t even know about.” The Gift of Giving’s Board of Directors will look over new charities to determine a good balance for the website.

Original article posted at http://web.me.com/fineprintco/FrontPorchArchive/FrontPorchArchive_files/2008_12Dec.pdf

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