In the next few days Americans will begin to receive economic stimulus checks that are intended to jump start the U.S. economy. Home Depot and Walmart have been salivating at the thought of you plunking down your whole check for a new flat screen TV or a nice shiny stainless steel refrigerator. Some stores are even offering bonuses if you convert your entire check into a store gift certificate. My personal belief is that overspending got our country into this mess and overspending is not going to get us out but the checks are coming so it's time to do some real thinking about how to have the greatest impact with this windfall.
Jaclyn Schroeder is a community minded person that I work with that decided that the greatest way to improve the economy would be to donate her stimulus check to job training nonprofits. I heard this idea and realized that not enough people have been talking about how this stimulus check can be invested in our local communities to have the greatest bang for the buck. Nonprofits are really an economic engine and they have a long term positive impact on our community. Donating to nonprofits that you care about is one way to improve the economy but you could also purchase goods and services from nonprofits to stimulate the economy as well. We have some home remodeling to do and I am planning on purchasing some of the supplies from the Habitat for Humanity surplus store and the ReUse Center, which are both great nonprofits that employ hard to place community members like ex-felons and people with no job history. They also keep excess building supplies out of the waste stream.
Think about if you have the capacity to donate a portion of your economic stimulus check to nonprofits that you are passionate about or if there is a great nonprofit in your area where you can spend some of your stimulus check. Then think about how you can spread this message in your circles of influence. Our foundation's communication's director has been working on developing key messages and getting this idea out to media outlets but I think there is a lot of power in ideas that are spread from friend to friend and from colleague to colleague. I talked to my extended family about this idea recently and I shared the idea with CNN when they asked readers how they were going to spend their stimulus check. The idea will probably have more traction with my family because they (sometimes) trust my judgment and CNN readers don't know me from Eve. So if this is an idea that you can get behind, think about who you can bring along with you. Our communities will be much stronger for it.