Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World

Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World


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Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World by Carrie Morgridge

Charitable giving is on the rise in America. Despite the lingering effects of the economic downturn, Americans continue to give generously of their time, talent, and money – more than $335 billion in 2013, a 4.4% increase from 2011. What’s more, the bulk of that charitable giving – 72% – came not from large foundations or corporations, but from individuals making small gifts. For those with passion for a cause and a generous spirit, it’s vitally important that they leverage their gift in the right way in order to have the greatest impact possible.

In her first book EVERY GIFT MATTERS (Greenleaf; May 2015), Carrie Morgridge shares inspiring stories of powerful gifts in action showing readers how to turn the act of giving into a vehicle for positive change. Drawing on 15 years of experience supporting causes that align with her passions through gifts, Morgridge demonstrates how a smart strategy, high expectations, a deep network, and hands-on personal involvement will ensure that one’s gift is compounded over time to have the biggest impact possible.

“Each person and every gift can make a difference,” writes Morgridge. “Whoever you are, no matter how much or how little you have, your gift matters. The smallest, seemingly unimportant, donation can transform a life. And the best news is that giving transforms two lives: the one who receives and the one who gives.”

Through her role as Vice President of The Morgridge Family Foundation, Morgridge has learned what works – and what doesn’t – when it comes to giving. She argues that in order to ensure meaningful and lasting change, a gift must be more than simply a grant of money. The giver must assess whether the program is the right fit, work hand-in-hand with the key leaders on strategy, develop a plan for making the endeavor sustainable, and ensure that their gift can be leveraged to have a bigger impact on the community. By sharing real-life stories of how this hands-on approach to giving has transformed lives – including her own – Morgridge inspires others to believe that they can also make a difference in their community, no matter the size of their gift.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626341821
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 625,567
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Carrie Morgridge is vice president of the Morgridge Family Foundation and has completed multiple Ironman competitions. She and her husband, John, have headed the Morgridge Family Foundation for fifteen years.

Read an Excerpt

Every Gift Matters

How Your Passion Can Change the World

By Carrie Morgridge

Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2015 The Morgridge Family Foundation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62634-183-8


The $7 Miracle

A boy walked along the shore at low tide. With each step, his small feet left a perfect imprint behind in the sand. A line of seaweed, shells, and sea foam marked where the water had lapped up onto the beach, depositing whatever it carried there along the margin between land and sea.

As the cool waves rushed in over his toes, the boy looked down and saw a starfish half-buried in the sand. It had been washed ashore and was now stranded, baking helplessly in the morning sun. Looking ahead along the beach he saw dozens, maybe hundreds, of other starfish in the same predicament.

He bent down and picked up a starfish, throwing it as hard and as far as he could back into the life-giving water. Reaching down for the next starfish, he threw it back, too. Then another, and then another.

The boy's mother, walking some distance behind him, called out his name. He turned to look. "Why are you working so hard?" she gently scolded, her voice lifted loud enough to be heard above the surf. "There are too many starfish. What you're doing doesn't matter."

And of course it was true. For every one he could rescue, many more would perish in the scorching heat.

Yet he picked up another starfish and held it high for her to see.

"It matters to this one," he said determinedly, and heaved it as far as he could into the ocean.

The boy couldn't save every starfish. But he could save the one in his hand and as many as he could toss back into the water.

This is a wonderful picture of philanthropy. Each person and every gift can make a difference. Whoever you are, no matter how much or how little you have, your gift matters. The smallest, seemingly unimportant, donation can transform a life. And the best news is that giving transforms two lives: the one who receives and the one who gives. Some would even say that the giver receives much more than the recipient

This is a book about giving. About celebrating the joy of doing what you can for people who are truly in need. It's a book filled with stories and experiences that my husband, John, and I have shared about making gifts both large and small: how to turn your gifts into investments that grow over time, compounding the gift to others. How to leverage a gift of either time or money, regardless of size, to make it work harder, work smarter, and have a bigger impact on your community. How the gift of time can be one of the greatest gifts of all—volunteers are some of the most successful and respected philanthropists I know.

You'll discover that the effect of your generosity on others isn't the best part. The best part about giving is the irrepressible happiness that comes from having a generous heart—the enjoyment and fulfillment that giving can bring. Showing compassion for others is a great way to reenergize your own spirit. It's a natural high I never get tired of experiencing.

One of the most important lessons I've learned is that life-changing gifts can be small. Most of the money donated to nonprofits in America comes from households that give a total of $2,000 a year, on average. Even though John and I give large gifts through our family foundation, I've seen a $7 gift change a child's life forever. Every dollar truly can make a difference. I'll prove to you from my own experience that this is true.

I must admit that writing about philanthropy (or anything else, for that matter) takes me out of my comfort zone. I'm doing it because two wonderful friends would not take "No" for an answer. The first was Mark Hayes, a successful investor and entrepreneur who is also the education program director at Lake Nona Institute, near Orlando. This is part of a huge community centered around Florida's Medical City—where there are plans to build fifteen new schools. The developer there invited me to be their educational advisor for pre-K–12. I jumped at the chance because foundations rarely get a chance to partner with new schools. We generally go in after a school is already failing and hope for the best. It was Mark who first said to me, "You can't keep all this knowledge in education bottled up. You need to write a book!"

My second cheerleader was Geof Rochester, managing director at The Nature Conservancy, one of the most important conservation organizations in the world. Together we launched an interactive website for kids called Nature Works Everywhere (www.natureworkseverywhere.org), a fun, hands-on learning site used by more than three million children. Geof told me I should write a book in order to share what I'd learned about giving by rolling up my sleeves and getting involved. I've made some successful grants and some unsuccessful ones, and learned a lot from each. Every time I saw Geof, he would needle me in a friendly way, "When is your book coming out?" I can scarcely wait for the day I put a copy of this in his hand.

Any conversation about giving eventually comes around to money. The money itself isn't the solution. It's a tool. In the right hands, in the right situation, it can literally work miracles. And, like any tool, you have to know how to use it to get the most out of it. Side by side with the conversation about money, the discussion has to include how to make a program sustainable, how to attract volunteers, and how to leverage the gift to fully maximize its value.

There are millions of people out there that need your support, just like the starfish on the shore. Sometimes it is a hand up; sometimes it is a restart on life. They may need a fresh start, a second chance, or temporary help getting over a rough spot. Life leaves us all stranded at one time or another. We shouldn't be ashamed to ask for help when we need it, and we shouldn't hesitate to offer help when we can give it. No one person or organization can identify every need or fill every gap. This is why an ongoing spirit of giving is so important for you to nurture.

The more you know about how to give effectively, the bigger impact your gift will make—regardless of size—and the more joy and satisfaction it will bring you in return.

We are a nation of givers. In good economic times and bad, Americans give about 2 percent of the gross domestic product in contributions to nonprofits, churches, and other causes. It can be intimidating to hear about foundations making very large donations. Those big numbers can reinforce the notion that small individual donations don't matter. Well here's a surprise. For every dollar American foundations give each year, individual donors give $5. In other words, all together, individual American households donate five times as much to charities and other nonprofits as all the foundations in the country combined. According to figures published by the National Philanthropic Trust, the total of charitable contributions from American households in 2013 added up to more than $241 billion. That's a lot of happy givers.

I don't have all the answers when it comes to giving money, but I have a lot more experience than the average person. Over the past fifteen years I have volunteered more than ten thousand hours of my time with organizations I feel passionate about. As Malcolm Gladwell explained in chapter 2 of his book Outliers, at ten thousand hours you become an expert at whatever you've invested the time in. I still have plenty to learn about giving, but I've gotten really good at identifying a great program from a not-so-great program. In all those hours there are many experiences that illustrate key lessons that I've discovered about smart philanthropy. I'll be introducing you to some awesome people and organizations that taught me so much and that mean so much to me as a donor.

My hours of volunteering have reinforced the crucial point that every gift matters. The idea that "my gift is too small to make any difference" is a self-defeating notion. It's time to blow up that idea for good!

Remember earlier I shared with you that $7 could change a life? One example of how a small gift can make a huge difference is a program called Book Trust. This is a nonprofit organization that inspires kids' passion for reading by empowering children from low-income families to choose books that they will own. Students get a $7 allowance per month to order books from the Scholastic Reading Club, which will buy two or three books of their choice.

Access to books is a leading predictor of a child's success in school. The average middle-income child has thirteen books at home, while in low-income communities there's an average of one book for every three hundred children! According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has supported disadvantaged children around the country for more than sixty years, a child who can't read by the third grade is four times more likely to drop out of school than a child who can read at grade level.

Amy Friedman, executive director of Book Trust (www.booktrust.org), explains, "The more literate people we have in our community, the more likely we're going to have a highly productive and successful community ... Literacy is the civil rights challenge of our generation, and we have an obligation to ensure the success of our kids."

As with every giving decision, there were plenty of options to consider. Why did we select Book Trust when there are hundreds of nonprofits in the same category out there competing for funds? The first reason was that Book Trust does so much with so little. Seven dollars a month can work miracles in a young student's life. The second reason was that Book Trust was a local charity started by a family in Colorado, where we live. I like investing in an organization that is part of my community. It makes for easy access, freely sharing ideas, and getting to know the founders and staff. Several other characteristics spun off from those two reasons. They're things I always look for when I consider making a gift:

An atmosphere of trust and understanding: For us, the most successful philanthropic relationships are the ones built on respect, personal friendships, and mutual trust. Book Trust was founded by the Schatz family in Fort Collins after their daughter, Adrienne, noticed that not all the kids in her class were ordering from the Scholastic Reading Club each month. As we got to know the family, we began to feel these connections, and our funding grew with our trust level. Since the operation was local, we got to spend a ton of time with the staff as well, sharing our ideas on growth.

Shared goals and values: The Morgridge Family Foundation and Book Trust shared the same goals for giving—to impact as many students as possible by providing access to books of their very own. We saw the potential for Book Trust to expand on a national scale. As Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, would put it, the flywheel was already there to create a partnership between Book Trust and Scholastic. We wanted to accelerate their national expansion.

Immediate impact: As soon as we approved an initial grant, Book Trust put it to work to buy books for children that same month. The process and bureaucracy were minimal; the benefit came right away.

Leverage: For every Scholastic book children ordered through Book Trust, the teachers earned Scholastic Bonus Points, which they could use to get more free books and classroom supplies. This multiplied the buying power of every dollar we gave.

Ripple effect: I love it when a donation has additional benefits I never expected. In this case, the free books encouraged learning not only in the classroom but also at home, where children read to their siblings. Some—especially kids from families that don't speak English at home—even read to their parents. Book Trust classrooms saw a nearly 30 percent increase in the number of students reading at grade level by the end of the 2013–2014 school year.

Small gifts, big result: Though Book Trust has big goals, an important chunk of their support comes from very modest gifts. Scholastic Reading Club members anywhere in the country can donate to Book Trust by adding as little as $1 to their order forms. During the second half of the 2012–2013 school year, these $1 gifts totaled more than $150,000, enough to supply more than two thousand kids with new books for the school year. As a result, those kids are four times more likely to finish high school because they will develop the reading skills they need.

Compounded giving: Over time, modest gifts wisely invested can grow in an amazing way.

When a nonprofit is smart about spending they're likely to attract larger gifts. We started with an entry-level contribution to Book Trust. Once we saw the result, we gave more. Our ability to give is always limited by our annual budget, but over time our gifts compounded so that the total impact has been very rewarding to them, and a joy for us. Since 2007, the Morgridge Family Foundation cumulative investment in Book Trust provided for nearly 600,000 new books for almost 27,000 low-income students. On top of that, these young readers' teachers have earned more than eight million Scholastic Bonus Points to buy more books, supplies, and even iPads for their classrooms.

But the kids don't care about any of that. They care about the day the books arrive. As they crowd around excitedly, their teacher opens the big box and starts handing out its treasures. Eager hands reach out as each name is called. Finally all the boys and girls hold books that they picked out themselves, spontaneously breaking into circles and reading to each other. Excited shouts and beaming smiles fill the classroom. Teachers tell us that they now carve out time just for the students to read and share together—filled with the thrill of discovery and adventure the new books bring.

Wherever I find organizations to support, whatever amount I decide to give, it all comes down to partnering with people who share my passion and my conviction that every dollar can always work harder. This is my life—a small-town California girl with big dreams who is grateful every day for the path her life has taken and the chance to give back.


A Grateful Life

My day starts early. I'm up at 5:00 to feed the hummingbirds and take the dog out. My first conference call is usually around 7:15. There's a stack of mail on the table. I dig into it with joy because there are always thank-you notes from students and teachers across the United States expressing their thanks and appreciation for bringing technology into their classrooms—iPads, interactive whiteboards, connections with online learning sites, and other exciting new educational tools. Today's comments from a fourth grade class include

"The new iPads are fun to use even though I don't like math."

"We are setting up a cool new lab. Thank you so much!"

"You are very kind for helping us."

"Thank you for this great gift, and may the galaxy be kind to you."

It's a busy world filled with decisions about where to focus my time and resources, but I love every minute of it. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to share what I have with others.

Yet it wasn't always this way. The life I have today is a long way from where I started.

I'm actually a very ordinary person. I didn't start out with any special insights or wisdom. What I did have from the beginning was a love of learning and a willingness to work. I still like to work hard and play hard. I love to celebrate successes and learn from my mistakes. I get excited when I see something making a positive difference in someone else's life. One of my greatest pleasures is knowing that people who are doing the best they can and want to do better are getting the support and encouragement they need.


Excerpted from Every Gift Matters by Carrie Morgridge. Copyright © 2015 The Morgridge Family Foundation. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


One The $7 Miracle,
Three Follow Your Passion,
Four Finding Common Ground,
Five Be a Difference Maker,
Six Full Circle,
Seven A Seat at the Table,
Eight Invest in Leaders,
Nine Clone Your Cash,
Ten Outside the Box,
Eleven Unintended Consequences,
Twelve Filling the Gap,
Thirteen Making an Impact,
Fourteen Take the First Step,
About the Author,

What People are Saying About This

Brian A. Gallagher

No single individual alone can tackle the complex issues our communities face today. People innately need to be part of something bigger than themselves, and most, by nature, are optimistic and hopeful. If leaders paint an aspirational and hopeful vision of the future, people will rise to meet it. Carrie Morgridge's book does its part in painting an inspirational picture—in fact, many pictures—of how every person matters and what a difference small and large acts of generosity and caring can truly make. --Brian A. Gallagher, President and CEO, United Way Worldwide

Salman Khan

Carrie Morgridge is a force of nature. From education to the environment, she has driven positive change well beyond the capabilities of a normal human being. Her energy is infectious. What's really amazing is that she's just getting started... --Salman Khan, Executive Director, khanacademy.org

Jackie Rotman

The majority of charitable donations come from households donating what they can, not large organizations giving hundreds of thousands of dollars. At Spark, our network of Millennial donors helping women and girls, we know that relatively small gifts can aggregate to create a big difference, gifts compound over time and can have ripple effects, and people are more likely to give when they feel an environment of trust and friendship. Beautifully capturing themes like these, Every Gift Mattersis a hands-on guide that teaches people how to maximize their donation so that even the smallest amounts make the most impact. --Jackie Rotman, Executive Director, Spark

Jane Goodall

Carrie Morgridge has written a very important book. So many people have told me they really want to help, but they give nothing because they feel a small gift cannot make a difference. But it can, as you will learn from the inspiring examples in Every Gift Matters. Philanthropy is for everyone, and giving not only benefits the recipient but the giver too. --Jane Goodall

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Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MaureenSilva More than 1 year ago
Carrie Morgridge is a teacher at heart, and through this book she teaches readers to find and follow their passions. Passion, she argues, is what helps ensure that every gift, no matter what size, can have a huge impact. Carrie teaches us how to find the organization that's right for us, how to make certain our gifts are having the impact we want, and how to make our gifts even bigger over time and through matching opportunities. An entrepreneurial philanthropist, Carrie shares the successes and joys in giving that she and her husband, John, have had through the Morgridge Family Foundation, where all book proceeds will go. Carrie even models for us how to fail—and demonstrates how those failures, while at times hard, become important lessons for our future giving. Because of her accessible, genuine, energetic writing style, people from all backgrounds and financial abilities will see themselves in pages of this book. I promise, you’ll be inspired to find your personal passion and start your joyful path to giving right away!
MargieS1 More than 1 year ago
Given To Me For An Honest Review Every Gift Matters by Cassie Morgridge is her debut novel. It is a book about giving back to those in need. It will help  you to set up and believe in how the power of donations and giving in any amount might be to help those who need it.  What you find inside will help you find and follow your passions. Make this a gift to yourself if you are interested in  personal charitable giving. I recommend this book to all. I look for more from Garrie Morgridge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone who has been involved with charities and non-profit organizations, this is a terrific book with great insights into the giving process.  For individuals who are donors, Carrie Morgridge's stories how and why she gives are very personal and moving.  For people who want to make a difference, and a better world, whether as a donor, a volunteer or a fundraiser, there are lessons in this book that are interesting.