On a Friday this month, when I checked my mailbox at home, I found I had received 13 letters! My initial enthusiasm quickly faded, however, when I saw that none of them were personal letters. Furthermore, none of them were bills, and none of them were checks written to me, or announcements that I had won the lottery. (Of course, that would be hard to do, since I’ve never even bought a lottery ticket!)

In fact, every single piece of mail I got that day was a solicitation for money. The requests came from environmental organizations, political groups, religious or health-related institutions, animal welfare groups, and so on. Those envelopes represented a wide range of diverse interests, but they all had one thing in common: They were all asking me for money.

I thought this particular batch of mail was just a fluke, but the very next day the mailbox contained 12 envelopes. There were no personal letters – and not even a bill for me to pay. (How weird is it that I was actually disappointed to not get a bill?) Once again, every single piece of mail was a request for donations to one worthy cause or another.

Getting so many requests for money in two days made me speculate as to the cause of this flurry of solicitations. The letters were all from U.S.-based organizations, so perhaps now that the country is beginning to emerge from the COVID crisis, the feeling in the philanthropic world is that people may be recovering from the economic difficulties caused by the pandemic. Or maybe the thinking is that people who have been maintaining social distance have money to spare since they haven’t been taking vacations, going to restaurants for meals, shopping for clothing, etc. Another possible explanation is that the organizations went through tumultuous times during the pandemic and are now ramping up their appeals. It’s no secret that many nonprofits struggle to maintain healthy financial positions. Certainly, the effects of a pandemic are far reaching, including their impact on charitable entities.

Whatever the reasons may be, requests for donations seem to have increased dramatically during the month of June. Now you are probably wondering what my personal mail drama has to do with TIRF.

The Foundation’s Executive Committee has agreed – as we decided in 2020 – that it is not appropriate for TIRF to run a mid-year campaign at this time. So many people have been affected by the pandemic, by the resulting economic upheaval, by disruptions to their work, by having to home-school their children (the list goes on) that this does not seem to be an appropriate time to ask for your financial support. Instead, we will launch a year-end campaign and seek your help at that time.

Of course, I am not implying that every nonprofit should follow TIRF’s lead. Inevitably, leaders at all organizations worldwide have had to make difficult decisions over the last year and a half.

However, I want to return to the COVID-related theme to make a suggestion. Now that businesses are reopening and people are traveling again, we are still being urged to be cautious. I don’t know about the situation where you live, but in California we are being encouraged to remember the “Three W’s” in the weeks an months ahead:

  1. Wear a mask.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Watch your distance.

This alliterative advice made me think of a parallel concept for TIRF’s stakeholders. Please would you consider the following “Three S’s”?

First, if you can do so either at this time or later in the year, please Support TIRF with a donation. You can do so by clicking here to make an online contribution, or you can send a check drawn on a U.S. bank to: TIRF, 177 Webster St., #220, Monterey, CA 93940.

Second, you could start a little TIRF fund and Save for your year-end contribution. If every person who cares about TIRF and benefits from the Foundation’s efforts could save a little money every month, by the time we launch our year-end campaign in time for GivingTuesday (November 30th), there would be several small but important gifts coming to TIRF at that time.

Finally, please would you Share information about TIRF with others? Please tell your friends, colleagues, students, advisees, and employers about what the Foundation does and what it has to offer. For instance, researchers and graduate students can certainly benefit from TIRF’s collection of reference lists – citations to publications on over 200 topics of interest to language teachers, applied linguists, test developers, curriculum designers, teacher educators, program administrators, and so on. Administrators and decision makers can learn about our Professional Services, including TIRF Talks, Program Reviews, and others. Teachers can gain access to many free resources as well. The website also provides links to information about research organizations, professional associations, conference opportunities, and academic journals in our field. You can also find information about TIRF’s publications, many of which can be downloaded for free.

As you can see, monetary giving is just one way we can all help nonprofits further their work. Along with TIRF’s other Trustees, I remain grateful for any support the Foundation receives. If it is within your finances, either now or toward the end of the year, we’d be delighted to accept a donation from you. Please continue to stay tuned to our newsletter, website, and social media outlets for further announcements. And please stay safe: Remember the Three W’s as well as the Three S’s.

Best wishes,