One of the most memorable donations for Brett Befus, associate vice president for development at the University of Wyoming Foundation, was when a longtime donor gave $800 after his wife died.
“He delivered a check and there was a letter in there,” Befus said. “It said $800 represented the proceeds from the sale of jewelry he had gifted to his late wife for big wedding anniversaries.”
The couple had been loyal donors throughout their relationship, and the man knew his wife wouldn’t want her jewelry just sitting around collecting dust.
“He sold them and told us to put it in her scholarship,” Befus said. “I could tell even though he’d made much larger gifts in the past it was a very meaningful gift to him.”
Through Befus’ job he meets with people who are interested in donating to the University of Wyoming.
“I help them figure out ways to make gifts that are meaningful to them and purposeful to the university,” he said.
His work this year is especially important because the college is facing some massive state budget cuts.
The university is funded by federal, state and private money.
Many nonprofits are feeling that same pressure. Those that are supporting arms of a government agency are likely looking for creative and bigger funding streams to compensate for pandemic-related government budget slashings.
“Anytime a funding bucket gets adjusted it makes the other two even more important,” Befus said.
When helping potential donors decide how to give Befus encourages them to think about the organizations that have had an impact in their lives.
“If it’s been meaningful for them personally that means they can do that over and over again for other people,” he said. “If you have benefited or know someone who has benefited from an organization, consider investing in it.”
With so many charity organizations to choose from in Teton County Befus said it’s important to prop up the ones that you already know are making a difference for people.
“There are more folks in Teton County who have those wealth factors. ... and they aren’t using social services or connected to people who are using them,” he said. “Sometimes people support educational or social security charities because their grandparents benefited.”
Befus said another thing for donors to keep in mind is cash isn’t the only option.
“People shouldn’t limit their charitable giving to just writing a check or giving cash,” he said. “There are more options out there: a gift via will or a gift in kind, a gift of tangible property or gifts of real estate.”
Another way to shape the future of giving, Befus said, is to get your kids involved.
“For young people, think about giving to those organizations where they can be personally involved or engaged,” he said. “Young people can benefit in having personal involvement in the charity.”
Teenagers should also be encouraged to give what’s feasible.
“It doesn’t matter the amount,” he said. “The engagement will make it meaningful.”
That advice goes for people of any age, actually.
“If you give from the heart no gift is too small,” Befus said. “Those gifts will always be rewarding.”