The Kid That Only Calls Home When They Need Money

A while back I blogged about a conversation that I had with a donor that was concerned about the impact that our new tax code would have on nonprofits, particularly the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation. I was asked if I thought that fewer people would donate to OLSHF since doubling the amount of the standard deduction could take away the motivation for some to make charitable contributions over the course of a year.

It’s a great question and one that I recently posed to a number of financial professionals around the state of Oregon. I reached out to estate planning professionals, CPA’s, and financial advisors and asked a few questions, among them  “Have your clients expressed any change in their plans for charitable giving for the 2018 tax year?” and “What do you see as the #1 factor in whether a past donor continues to support a nonprofit organization in the future?”

Here are some of the responses that reflect the common themes I heard:

  • “Yes, they’re motivated by tax breaks, but they have to believe in the organization first.”
  • “(Donors) have asked about strategies like skipping a year of donations and then doubling up every other year (stacking donations in one year to get over the standard deduction and then just taking the standard deduction every other year).
  • “Charities will be scrutinized differently now that the tax benefit has been largely taken away from most folks.”
  • “Motivation for gifting is primarily for the mission and the tax break seems to put the icing on the cake.”
  • “Donors gift to organizations with the right mission and strong leadership showing progress for the mission.”
  • “The vast majority (of donors) are motivated by the mission of the organization.”
  • “The donor must have a positive and continuous relationship with the nonprofit AND he/she must believe in it.”

This last response went on to say, “I liken it to (the nonprofit) not being the kid that only calls home when they need money.”

This is exactly why OLSHF enjoys sharing stories with our donors – and with the general public. We’re proud of how we help people and we want to share with you these success stories. We enjoy staying in touch and – unlike that kind of kid – we don’t want to be in touch only when we’re asking for your support. We believe you enjoy hearing about the people who you help us help and we’ll continue to share stories on Facebook, in the Oregon Lion Magazine, on our website, and here on my blog.

So, yes, we’ll still reach out to you a few times a year for your support but we’ll also stay in touch to let you know how much we appreciate you.

And we’ll never show up unannounced expecting you to do our laundry.

The Meaning of Spring

“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.” – Victor Hugo

Every April brings spring fever, baseball, more rain, and the start of OLSHF’s annual Keep the Promise (KTP) Campaign! 2018 marks the 6th year of our campaign to raise critical operating funds for our sight and hearing programs that help Oregonians in need.

Our campaign theme Keep the Promise evokes the special history Lions share with deaf-blind activist Helen Keller. In 1925, she challenged the Lions International Convention audience with these words: “Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness, no little deaf, blind child untaught, no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you Lions, you who have sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knight of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?”

As Lions, we made a promise, and we’ve kept it for almost 100 years.

Every year as we prepare for various KTP events around the state, I meet and learn about the people we serve and help through the efforts of Lions Clubs and partnership with OLSHF.

Recipients who share their stories are a constant reminder of the need that many people face day to day that others take for granted – the struggle to see or hear clearly and the lack of access to resources for help. Though I had severe vision issues as a child (congenital cataract, lattice degeneration, and partial blindness), I often forget the feeling of the struggle because I benefitted from access to high-quality healthcare.

Recently I met a Patient Care and LEAP recipient named Harold Jean a sweet man from Haiti who has lived in Oregon for over 5 years. His eyesight had rapidly declined due to Salzmann’s nodules and pterygia, conditions caused by UV light and exposure to chemicals after years of his working in agriculture. He couldn’t balance or walk well. Thanks to Leah, a caring neighbor, Harold found the Springfield-Mohawk Lions Club and started the process to receive sight-saving surgeries and eyeglass assistance. This week he visited OLSHF to receive and get fitted for his new trifocal eyeglasses, made by our LEAP Optical team. We’re proud that Harold’s eyeglasses were edged right here in our own finishing lab!

Harold was soft-spoken, and he repeated “merci” quietly. He smiled widely and I noticed a twinkle in his eyes. I happily spoke to him in French, “Tout le plaisir était pour nous!”

He walked out into the sunlight with Leah guiding him carefully, ready to adjust to seeing, walking, and living life.

At that moment, I felt the words of Helen Keller resonate anew: “Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness?”

The Keep the Promise Campaign brings us together to learn more about the work of OLSHF, the Lions of Oregon, and our impact upon communities. Our KTP events are an invitation to gather to remember Helen Keller’s work and generously support our shared mission.

To learn more about our KTP events and to make a secure gift online, please visit

Turn Your Tax Refund Into A Sight and Hearing Investment

Tick tock… Tax Day is fast approaching on April 17th.

Have you filed your federal and state returns yet? (Confession: I haven’t!)

If you are expecting a state income tax refund for 2017, we hope you will consider investing it (or a portion) in your Foundation.

Donating your tax refund brings extra needed support to programs like Patient Care, ROAR Hearing Assistance Program, Mobile Health Screening Program, and the Lions Eyeglass Assistance Program.

Ways your refund dollars will further our mission to screen, treat, save, and restore sight and hearing:

*A new pair of eyeglasses for a person in need, edged in our own Optical Finishing Lab! Since 2015, 3,797 Oregonians have received new eyeglasses built by our lab.

*Subsidize the cost of a new surgical process – corneal crosslinking – that stops the progression of corneal thinning and eventual blindness.

*Support the cost of new or refurbished hearing aids for people in need. Typically, a new hearing aid retails for more than $1,000. OLSHF provides a hearing aid for a fee of $150 each.

Directing your refund is easy.

  1. Look for the Charitable Check-off section on your return – 2017 Schedule OR-Donate.
  2. Click on this link to access the form:
  3. OLSHF is listed as #21, under charity code #14. If you are filing electronically, select or enter Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation.

Thank you for considering to turn your tax return into a gift for someone in need of sight and hearing assistance!

“Thanks, It’s – um – Just What I Needed”

A good friend of mine recently received a Birthday gift that on the surface was very thoughtful, but from a practical standpoint was…not really needed.

“It was very generous and the spirit of the gift was much appreciated,” they said.


“But I already have five 2018 wall calendars.”

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to give someone for a Birthday, an Anniversary, to express congratulations or to honor someone for an accomplishment. Flowers are nice, but they don’t last. Candy or sweet treats are sometimes great, but who knows if they conflict with someone’s dietary needs, right?

With her Birthday coming up recently, Lion Betty Levenhagen of Salem recently came up with a great idea.

“I had people asking me about how to donate to the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation. And I didn’t need any new plants that I had to go outside and dig a hole for. So I put 2 and 2 together.”

Betty created a Birthday Fundraiser on Facebook and enough people honored Betty with gifts that her fundraising goal was doubled. “It was really cool.”

One doesn’t need a Facebook account to follow Betty’s lead with a Birthday Fundraiser. If you’d like information on how to create your own Birthday Fundraiser to support the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) we can help set one up in a way that works for you: On the OLSHF Facebook page, in the Oregon Lion Magazine, in an email campaign to OLSHF’s database or to your own contact list, there are many ways to do this.

The best part is you’ll be supporting critical sight and hearing services for those in need. Eye exams and new eyeglasses for those that can’t afford them. A hearing exam and affordable hearing aids for a senior on a fixed income. Vision screenings that identify children that could be seeing, reading, and learning to their full potential. Your fundraiser will help in so many ways and will help “Keep the Promise” that Lions made to Helen Keller back in 1925.

Oh, and one more thing:

You won’t have to go outside and dig a hole to bury all those wall calendars you don’t need.

For information on how to create your own Birthday Fundraiser and avoid digging holes, contact Doug at or call him at (503) 413-8385. And Happy Birthday!

Ugly Clothing Optional

A friend recently told me that when they think of golf, all they think of is rich old men wearing ugly clothing. They may be right about the clothing part, but the truth is – love it or hate it – golf is a great vehicle for helping people in need.

Charitable golf events raise over $3.9 Billion – BILLION! – for philanthropy in the U.S.each year. Last month I played in the Salem Leadership Foundation’s annual RainFest fundraiser and played a small part in helping my friend Sam Skillern’s organization raise over $100,000, a new RainFest record! These funds will have a real impact on the Salem-Keizer community, helping connect those in need with critical services to make their lives better.

At the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, we’re partnering with the KEX Kids Fund to host the Liberty Mutual Invitational on September 24th at Langdon Farms GC. This great event that will raise funds to help Oregon children receive critical vision screenings, eye exams, and eyeglasses. The proceeds will help kids see better and read at grade level, which will in turn help them succeed academically and keep them on track to be successful in life. Those that support this great golf event will help Oregon children have a better chance at having a great life.

Don’t play golf? There are plenty of ways to support the Liberty Mutual Invitational other than registering a team of 4 for $800. We have Sponsor Levels for every budget:

  • Supporting Sponsor – $5,000
  • Lunch Sponsor – $2,500
  • Team Sponsor – $1,000
  • Exclusive Tee Sponsor – $500
  • Hole Sponsor – $200
  • Sponsor – $100

Our sponsors receive visibility at the event and on social media and we also provide our sponsors with tickets to the WinCo Foods Portland Open at Pumpkin Ridge, taking place August 16-19. For every $25 in sponsor support, you’ll receive a ticket good for any round of the Portland Open – what a deal!!

Even if you don’t fancy yourself a Jack Nicklaus, a Michelle Wie, or a Rickie Fowler – my favorite – I hope you’ll consider supporting the Liberty Mutual Invitational.

For more info, Contact Doug at or at (503) 413-7399