This month, I am returning to a theme that has intrigued me in the past and one which I’ve written about before in our newsletter Chair’s Report.

Did you know that August 17th was National Nonprofit Day in the US? According to the National Day Calendar, “Through nonprofits, awareness, research, and aid reach the people who need it most. Nonprofits also generate tremendous benefits to their surrounding communities and the broader world.”

The tradition of having commemorative days devoted to particular causes is not limited to one country. Many countries celebrate their independence from colonial powers, dates of important victories or armistices, and birthdates of key historical figures.

Some days in August are dedicated to issues that seem amusing to me. For instance, August 5th is officially the International Traffic Light Day. What do people do to celebrate? Drive around the block, hoping to hit repeated green lights? No, actually, the National Day Calendar provides this advice: “This is a great day for government officials to discuss how well traffic lights keep traffic flowing in their community. To participate in this day, ponder what this world would be like with no traffic lights. Teach your kids how traffic lights work and what the colors mean. Count how many traffic lights you encounter on the way home from work.”

Here are some other commemorative days that surprised me:

August 6th was International Beer Day – which is apparently celebrated on the first Friday of August annually. And then, not surprisingly, August 7th was International Hangover Day – which is celebrated on the Saturday immediately following International Beer Day each year.

One of my own personal favorites is August 13th, which is International Lefthanders Day. Being a lefty myself, I am very pleased to know we have our own special day.

August 28th is quite busy because it is often when people celebrate International Read Comics in Public Day as well as International Bacon Day (the last Saturday before Labor Day in the US).

Several commemorative days in August are related to animals:

There are also many memorial days in August which are dedicated to quite serious causes.

At this point I want to return to the quote with which I began: “Through nonprofits, awareness, research, and aid reach the people who need it most. Nonprofits also generate tremendous benefits to their surrounding communities and the broader world.” I believe part of this statement aptly describes some of TIRF’s efforts. We try to raise awareness of language education issues and support research. We believe we are having a benefit in the broader world. In order to continue our mission, we work diligently to keep costs down and maximize our efficiency.

Here is what one long-term TIRF supporter had to say about TIRF’s strategy:

“I have so many requests for money, some from organizations I have donated to and others from some I had never heard of. I also stop giving to organizations …which send out literally hundreds of glossy requests for more money after one donates. [One organization] wasted so much on asking for more money that I sent them a letter saying that, although I support them, they had spent so much more than my donation on trying to get me to give more, that I thought my donations were an overall loss to them.” 

This person added that she’s “so glad TIRF doesn’t do glossy brochures!” To this point, we do as many things as we can think of to save money and make sure donations do serve the Foundation’s goals. For instance, the Trustees are never paid. Their service is purely voluntary. (In fact, they are expected to donate to TIRF.) When we have face-to-face meetings, the Trustees are not even reimbursed for any travel or lodging expenses. We provide them with one dinner and one lunch – other than that, their service to the Foundation is free.

Other specific cost-cutting measures are that we seldom use photocopies or send information via paper mail. Six years ago, we stopped sending paper donor acknowledgement letters to those who give to TIRF, which helped to save not only paper and envelopes but also the cost of a stamp. These letters are now sent electronically. Meeting and event space has been donated to us by TESOL, the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and other organizations in the past. All the authors and editors of the books in the TIRF-Routledge series agree to forego honoraria/royalties so that any profit realized through the sale of the volume can go toward advancing the Foundation’s programs.

I could continue to list the many ways in which we maximize our donors’ funds, but I’ll stop here and finish with a request for your help. TIRF’s year-end fundraiser will be commencing later this fall. Along with TIRF’s Board members, I hope you will consider supporting a cause that affects all of us worldwide. Language education, including English language education, has a profound effect on individuals, their ability to communicate with others, their ability to empathize with others through a deeper understanding, their upward social mobility, and so much more. Via our programs and operations, our nonprofit organization – TIRF – is helping others, and with your assistance, we can continue to have a great impact on the world.

Best wishes,