Thurston County's Hidden Sector

It’s still August – so it’s Make-A-Will Month

This one-minute preview video shows the Up Up Up ensemble before and during a performance.
Courtesy of Up Up Up Inc.

When I started this column almost a year ago, I had a couple of intentions.  First, I hoped to help readers understand what nonprofits are, appreciate the sector, and to understand the dynamics of how a nonprofit operates (like what is the role of a board member).

My second intention was to identify new and different mostly local nonprofits to show the diversity of the nonprofit sector. When I identified this intention, I never thought I would be writing about a nonprofit circus!

Up Up Up

Last week, I learned about Up Up Up Inc. Founded in 2020, Up Up Up is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit touring circus ensemble that performed at Calliope Farm in Olympia on Saturday, August 20.

According to its website, Up Up Up brings “performances to small farms, tribal centers, immigrant communities, nursing homes, women’s shelters, and more to bring joy and levity into the air”. How do they do this? They utilize a flatbed truck with a hand-cranked crane for their aerial acts. They also have a 100-year-old baby grand piano for live music that, I understand, “flies!”

 Can you afford this show? According to the organization, “most of our shows are by donation (pass the hat) or free. Our goal is to bring the joy of the circus to anyone and everyone regardless of money”. They promise magic beyond magic, daring acrobats, opera divas, and all this in a one-hour show! If you see a convoy of bicycles, camper vans and a flatbed truck on I-5, you may want to follow them to their next performance. Or you could just go to their website.

 August is Make-A-Will Month and the Power of Planned Giving

I know August is almost over, but it is always a good time to talk about the importance of making a will or what we call in the industry “planned giving” as part of your philanthropy. Did you know that only one-third of all adults in the U.S. currently have a will? Many cite that they don’t have one because of time, or it’s not for them.

While it’s true that an individual’s wealth and assets may determine how long the planning process might take, it does not dictate the need. Every adult needs a will regardless of age or how many assets they have. Your will is an important and powerful document: it ensures that your belongings end up where you want them to go while providing your family with peace of mind and instructions during a vulnerable time. In other words, it’s the perfect tool to leave your mark on everything you care about.

How can you give through your will?

A will is also a powerful way to leave a legacy and contribute to the lives of people in your community. By leaving a gift to a nonprofit organization or foundation, you help ensure that the work you care about continues. There are many ways to participate in planned giving. While nearly all organizations accept cash donations, some are also set up to accept real estate, stocks, vehicles, boats and more. You can also set up your will to give a certain percentage of your estate to charity; even a 1% designation can create a ripple effect.

I don’t have a lot of money so why should I consider planned giving?

You do not have to have ‘a lot of money’ to participate in planned giving. Most organizations will work with you based on what you have to offer, and, in some cases, they might combine your gift with other gifts with similar goals to fund various programs or projects. Or you might also consider giving to a community foundation such as the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. This organization combines many donors’ gifts to fund our community’s needs and opportunities. The Community Foundation can advise you, whether you know exactly how you want to give or aren’t sure what you want to support. For more information on planned giving, visit its website.

Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at


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