8 Ways To Give Back To Your Community

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Volunteer!

This one seems obvious enough, right? There are always lots of places looking for volunteers. From working with kids at an after school program to helping to facilitate an event, the opportunities to help out and volunteer a few hours of your time are plentiful. Even if you don’t think you’re particularly talented, you may be able to help a someone (or several people!) learn a new skill, It just takes a phone call and a little patience.

Double Your Next Batch

Next time you’re baking for a family or work event, consider doubling your batch and bringing the extras to a local police station, veteran club, senior home or soup kitchen. You’re already baking your specialty anyway, and all it usually takes is a few extra scoops of flour and sugar! There are plenty of places out there filled with hard-working people who will appreciate your skills!

Make New Friends At The Shelter

Animal shelters are almost always looking for extra help, and volunteering has never been so cute or rewarding. While there might be some unglamorous tasks, on occasion, you’ll also get to spend some quality time with some loving, adorable animals, and nothing beats that!

Organize A Clothing Sale

Ask locals to donate clothing and accessories, and re-label them for reasonable resale prices. Donate all the proceeds from the sale to a local charity and then give any of the remaining unpurchased clothes to a local shelter.

Paint A Mural

Consider organizing a mural painting somewhere in town. There’s bound to be a blank wall that could use a little beautifying somewhere along your daily route. Gather a few friends, approach the owner with your idea, and see about making a masterpiece that everyone can enjoy!

Share Your Pet

Your pet makes you smile and can be very therapeutic, so maybe they can make someone else happy too! Consider bringing your pet to a local senior center, veteran’s club, or hospital to bring some joy to the residents. Of course, this may not be the right choice for every pet or every location, so be sure to consider the demeanor of your pet, the needs of the patients, and the policy of the site before you try giving back in this way.

Tutor The Community

We’ve all got something we’re good at, and if you’re lucky enough to be good at long division or skilled in Spanish conjugations, consider sharing your smarts with local students. Many schools and afterschool programs would be happy to take on a volunteer to help students improve.

Visit Local Seniors

Senior Centers will almost always take volunteers, and usually, all they ask of you is to give your company. It’s often as simple as saying hello and listening to some beautiful stories. Maybe a fun round of cards or bingo? You can also read to them, run a dance or art class, give residents manicures… whatever! It’s all about spending time together, that’s what matters.

Responding to Natural Disasters

The American Red Cross is an internationally-known nonprofit organization that provides care to help those in need. Whether it be from a natural disaster, military families who need support, health and safety services, blood donation, among various other humanitarian aid across the globe, the American Red Cross is does everything they can to prevent and relieve people from suffering. Through an extensive network of volunteers, donors, and employees, this nonprofit organization has made life-changing impacts on people from all over the world.

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One of the Red Cross’ primary duties is to respond to natural disasters. Each year, the Red Cross responds to around 70,000 emergencies in the United States alone – which can range from a small house fire to devastating earthquakes that have wiped out millions of people from their homes. When these disasters occur, the Red Cross responds as quickly as they can to provide shelter, food, water, health services, mental health services, and any other assistance a community (or country) may need to help get people back on their feet.

Instead of Nepal’s most recent devastating earthquakes that have displaced millions of families from their homes and inhibited their access to food and water, the American Red Cross has worked closely with the global Red Cross and the Red Crescent network to deliver services to aid those affected by the disaster. These organizations respond to natural disasters like the earthquakes in Nepal by deploying disaster experts to assess humanitarian needs, organizing relief distributions, and providing shelter for those whose homes have been destroyed.

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Also, relief supplies are mobilized directly to the site of the disaster, no matter what part of the world it occurs in. Amounts ranging tarps and blankets to hygiene supplies and cooking items are delivered from disaster experts who are sent to those specific areas. Helping out financially by supporting local shops and businesses is another way the American Red Cross helps people suffering from a natural disaster.

For more information on ways, the American Red Cross responds to natural disasters and other information concerning their relief efforts, visit their website here.

“Extreme” Poverty Findings

According to a recent article published by Philanthropy News Digest, “A report from the World Bank estimates that the percentage of people living in extreme poverty around the globe will fall below 10 percent by the end of the year,” (World Bank Sees ‘Extreme’ Poverty Falling Below 10 Percent).

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The report, entitled Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies, consisted of 83 pages and projected that the number of people living below an updated international poverty line would fall 9.6 percent this year. With an international poverty line standing at $1.90 a day, the number of people living in these circumstances will drop from 902 million in 2012, to 702 million this year.

This decrease in “extreme” poverty, according to the report, is mainly due to strong economic growth and a multitude of investments in education, health, and social safety nets, which have collaboratively assisted around a billion people out of poverty starting early in the 21st century. However, it’s important to note that:

“At the same time, extreme poverty has become more concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly half the global poor live, even as the extreme poverty rate in the region fell from an estimated 56 percent in 1990 to a projected 35 percent in 2015. Another third of the globe’s extremely poor are concentrated in South Asia, where the extreme poverty rate is projected at 13.5 percent, down from 50.6 percent in 1990,” (World Bank Sees ‘Extreme’ Poverty Falling Below 10 Percent).

It is vital in determining whether or not poverty levels have dropped significantly or barely at all through the use of statistical data processed over the years.

Further improvements to aid in the decline of extreme poverty will be catered towards sustainability and the development of how and when to reach specific goals. Also, more statistical analysis will be used to see unevenness in shared prosperity, disparities in dimensions of development, and access to health services and quality education. Though we have seen a somewhat significant decrease in extreme poverty globally, certain target areas will need further improvements.

In conclusion, we, as a global nation, are making significant strides to eliminate the amount of poverty in the world today. This is a big deal. As World Bank president Jim Kong Kim said, “This is the best story in the world today – these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty,” (World Bank Sees ‘Extreme’ Poverty Falling Below 10 Percent).

 

Saudi Prince Donates Billions to Charity

Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, an investor, business man, and Saudi royalty, announced last week that he will donate all of his fortune ($32 billion) to charity within the next few years.

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According to the Huffington Post, Alwaleed recently stated, “‘It is a commitment without boundaries. A commitment to all humankind,’” (Saudi Prince Says He Will Donate $32 Billion to Charity). Alwaleed is the CEO of Kingdom Holding Company, an investment organization located in Saudi Arabia, and also has made significant investments in Apple, Twitter, Citigroup, GM, Euro Disney, and many other well-known companies.

At 60 years old, Alwaleed plans to donate billions to Alwaleed Philanthropies, his nonprofit organization that supports a wide array of causes, such as disease and poverty eradication, intercultural understanding, women empowerment, and disaster relief. At a recent press conference, the prince spoke about his plans to allocate the money, saying, “‘It will be based on a strategy that is supervised and managed by a board of trustees headed by me to ensure that it will be used after my death for humanitarian projects and initiatives,’” (The Huffington Post, Saudi Prince Says He Will Donate $32 Billion to Charity).

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Furthermore, according to the Huffington Post, “Gender, race or religious affiliation will not factor into which humanitarian issues are addressed,” (Saudi Prince Says He Will Donate $32 Billion to Charity).

To read more about Alwaleed’s business and philanthropic life, check out the Huffington Post’s article here.

 

Fundraising for Philanthropy

Scot UlmerWhether you are an active member of a philanthropy or you run one – there are many ways you can contribute to fundraising for your cause.

Fundraising for philanthropy is a great way to not only connect people throughout your community, but to educate those around you about your charity – that could be as specific as raising money for hospital funds that will go to one of your relatives in need, or for a widely-recognized philanthropy such as the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation.

Here are some helpful tips you can use to raise money for whichever philanthropy you are passionate about:

First, whenever you are raising awareness for a cause, make sure to be creative. Nobody ever wants to be harassed in the middle of the street in New York City on their way to work. Instead, be appealing and use your resources.

Making an announcement at work, or sending out an email to those you think would be interested is a great way to let people know that you want them to attend your fundraising event – but only if they want to. Never force somebody into donating money, because chances are they won’t want to donate to your cause again.

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Next, try to get children involved in your fundraising event. There’s nothing that people love seeing more than innocent children (though they may not always be so innocent) making an effort to learn and care about a certain charity. Try hosting an arts and crafts session for children that helps children learn about a cause while simultaneously giving them creative freedom to have fun and partake in the arts.

For example, if you are an advocate for heart health and cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States, host an arts and crafts project where children (parents) donate 5-10 dollars and in turn get to make paintings of hearts – these could even be donated to a nearby hospital!

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Another great way to help raise money for your philanthropy is to promote good health by holding a sports competition or race at a local high school or infamous landmark in your town. A basketball tournament is always a great way to get the community together for friendly basketball games. Plus, who doesn’t love watching the local dentist get called for a double dribble?

In conclusion, there are many ways you can help raise money for your philanthropy, but having fun with it will always end in a better turnout and outcome for your event. Good luck!

What is Watsi?

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As our society develops into more and more of an online, tech-savvy world, often, we get distracted by the likes and notifications and forget to notice the true beauty of how technology can help save lives. Online websites and profiles have helped people around the world get the medical attention they need through various funding efforts and awareness. One platform that comes to mind is Watsi, but what is Watsi?

Watsi is an online platform founded in 2012 by Chase Adam, a Peace Corps volunteer, that helps provide medical care to individuals who need it, despite their income or medical situation. Adam came up with the idea of this technology-driven philanthropy when he was traveling through Watsi, Costa Rica, by bus and was witness to a woman on the bus asking for donations to help pay for her son’s medical care – which as we know, can be extremely expensive. When Adam returned to the states, he used Kiva, a crowdfunding website, as a model for creating an online platform that was easily usable and accessible to help low-cost, high-impact medical treatments for people who need the help.

Often used by citizens of underdeveloped or developing countries, the web platform caters to a wide range of needs – from setting broken bones back in place, to removing a complex brain tumor. According to an article published by Philanthropy News Digest, “To be considered for funding, a patient must have an injury or condition that, if left untreated, will severely affect his or her quality of life,” (Watsi). Once a patient is considered for funding, the Watsi team (which is based in San Francisco) helps find a doctor, donor, or anything related to the specific injury, that can help the patient out. Over the years, Watsi has partnered with the African Mission Healthcare Foundation, Project Medishare, and the Children’s Surgical Center in Cambodia, along with other highly recognized web platforms like Google, Dropbox, and Periscope to help assist with funding and medicinal needs.

Since September 1st, 2015, more than 13,400 donors have provided assisted healthcare for over 4,800 patients around the world. Also, according to Philanthropy News Digest, “The Watsi team offers a guarantee that 100 percent of any donation will support the procedure toward which it has been given” (Watsi). Watsi is an incredible example of how our predominantly technologically-driven world can be used for the benefit of humanity. Other online platforms should look to Watsi as an example of a well-thought-out, and well-received, web source that points to where the future of technological innovation should be heading.

 

9 MOBILE APPS THAT SUPPORT CHARITY

1. I Can Go Without

I Can Go Without allows people to swap a WANT, for someone else’s NEED. It is an app that encourages users to pledge to make lifestyle changes (such as giving up a cup a coffee each week) and then enables users to donate the money that they save to nonprofits. It is a social giving platform that allows its’ users to participate in philanthropic work by connecting causes and donors in a fun, engaging way.

2. HelpBridge

HelpBridge lets you notify your friends and family by text, email, or a message to your Facebook wall that you are okay when a disaster happens. Those messages can include your location, too. It also allows you to browse volunteer opportunities during crises.

3. Google One Today

Give a little, change a lot. One Today lets you donate $1 each day to causes and nonprofits that inspire you. It’s a community of generous people doing one good deed a day. It allows you to create a culture of giving every day, which in turn, can make you feel like you’re making a consistent positive change in the world!

4. Check-in for Good

Check-in at the places you love, raise money for the causes you care about. This is an app that enables users to check-in on their device to participating retail locations to generate micro-donations to nonprofits. It is also free for businesses to create an open Check-in for Good Cause page, which can help you realize your vision by increasing awareness, mobilizing supporters, building partnerships, and raising funds.

5. Charity Miles

An app that enables users to earn money for charity when they walk, run, or bike. Donate without dipping into your bank account, and become a sponsored athlete? That’s a beautiful thing. Charity Miles is the easiest way to integrate philanthropy into your daily workout by earning money and raising awareness for charities each time you exercise – turn on the app, choose a charity, and press start.

6. Instead

“You don’t have to be a billionaire to change the world. You can do it $3 and $5 at a time,” Instead’s website reads. This “micro-donations, macro impact” app is all about tapping into our everyday choices. For example, instead of spending $15 a week on buying coffee every morning, you decide to make it home and save the $15. Each time you brew a coffee at home, you can log in to the app and donates a few bucks.

The app displays the impact of your choice — so instead of your regular store-bought coffee, those few dollars could provide a South Sudanese child with clean water for a year.

7.  Budge

Budge is a great way to spice up any friendly challenge. With the Budge app, you can create a problem with your friends or family, and the loser has to pay an agreed-upon donation. This can be a fun motivation tool when training for a sporting event, losing weight or keeping on top of your most recent goals.

8.  VolunteerMatch

Tapping the most popular volunteer network online, the VolunteerMatch app lets you search for volunteer opportunities by your location, learn about what is involved, and share with your network. So, the next time you’re sitting around wondering what to do on Saturday, open the VolunteerMatch app.

9. JustGive

The JustGive app is possibly the easiest online app for making traditional donations. Just browse or search listed charities and make a donation quickly and easily. It really is THAT easy!

Philanthropy Demographics

When you understand participant demographics, you can optimize your organization for success— and philanthropy is no different. A report by Forbes took a closer look at the habits of donors across several generations, and the results are pretty encouraging.

But before we get into the actual breakdown, consider that over half of the adult Americans are giving to charity— 60% to be exact, according to this 2013 article by Care2. So right out of the gate, it’s clear that most Americans have no problem with giving.

The question is, how are they giving, and to whom? That’s where the Forbes article comes in. While religious and social service organizations constitute the majority of donor recipients across all generations, the runner up varies widely between demographics.

Gen X’ers and Millennials tend to allocate their gifts toward children’s causes, while Boomers are more likely to give to veterans’ organizations. Just as impressive is the method by which donors prefer being approached. Across the board, donors from all walks of life appreciate it when a friend or loved one (or their kids!) contact them with a request for donations. However, Gen Y donors didn’t respond kindly to telephone solicitations; Boomers, on the other hand, were increasingly giving online.

There is a wealth of information out there, and it’s a no-brainer that your organization should take a hard look at it in its path to optimize how they reach others!

 

Breaking the Cycle: U.S. Homeless Shelters That Are More Than Just a Place to Stay

Homeless Shelters

On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were considered homeless, living on the street, in their cars, or a homeless shelter. It’s easy to let the issue of homelessness in America slip into the background of our lives. If you live in a city where homelessness is a real epidemic, how many times have you walked past that person on the corner without dropping anything into their donation bucket or offering so much as a smile?

As much as we’d rather ignore the issue of homelessness plaguing our nation, the statistics don’t lie. The main reasons people become homeless are due to poverty and a lack of affordable housing. The lucky ones can find shelter for an extended amount of time and maybe even enter into a rehabilitation program where they can connect with employers and get back on their feet. The less fortunate ones, the 83,170 individuals (15% of the homeless population) considered to be chronically homeless, have a disability, or have been homeless for a year or longer. These individuals often don’t seek out the help they need and may fit your more traditional image of homelessness of the person camped out on a park bench shivering under a mound of ratty old blankets in the dead of winter.

Luckily, there are a number of saints out there who are not immune to the suffering of the homeless, who see them as regular people and not an invisible nuisance. Many of these people can be found working at homeless shelters where they provide vital, life-saving services to the homeless population. All homeless shelters offer an essential service by providing a warm bed and respite from the harsh outdoors. Still, some all-star shelters around the country go above and beyond, offering more than just a place to stay to the homeless people that come through their doors. Here are just a few of the ones that stand out:

  1. N Street Village: Washington, DC

N Street Village in Washington, DC, is so much more than just a homeless shelter. On its website, the shelter describes itself as “a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C.” In addition to offering emergency services, the shelter realizes that homelessness is an ongoing struggle for most, so they take a holistic approach to homelessness and also address long-term needs through a variety of services including housing, income, employment, mental health, physical health, and addiction recovery. The shelter was awarded the Washington Post Excellence in Nonprofit Management Award, as well as several other awards. They’ve also hosted famous visitors such as the Dalai Lama and White House officials- celebrity chef Sunny Anderson even hosted a cooking class there and competed in Chopped to donate her winnings to the organization!

2. The Action Center: Lakewood, CO

This shelter certainly lives up to its name! Its mission is to “provide an immediate response to basic human needs and promote pathways to self-sufficiency for Jefferson County residents and the homeless.” In addition to offering food, clothing, and shelter, The Action Center also provides programs to address the root of the problem and help residents obtain self-sufficiency. “We don’t want to just put a band-aid on issues,” the website states. “We want to get to the root of what is causing their financial instability, with the ultimate goal being self-sufficiency.”

3. Sunnyvale Community Services: Sunnyvale, CA

In addition to having a sunny name and being located in the sunny state of California, this shelter exudes optimism. “Sunnyvale Community Services is here for our neighbors in their time of need,” they state. They recognize that 96% of their clients have incomes under 200% of the poverty level, and 39% of the people they serve are children. To that end, their mission is not only to assist with the issue of homelessness but to prevent it. They offer financial services and monthly food programs in addition to traditional services.

4. The Lord’s Place: West Palm Beach, FL

This Florida shelter offers a nurturing environment for residents to live up to their full potential. They are “committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness” by providing their residents’ job training, transitional work experiences, and employment opportunities. According to their website, they provided supportive housing to 337 men, women, and children in 2015, and 96 formerly-homeless people found employment through their training and education programs.

5. Pacific House: Stamford, CT

Pacific House, formerly known as Shelter for the Homeless, in Stamford, Connecticut, is a men’s shelter with the mission to end homelessness in their community. They changed their name to reflect their aspirations that extend far beyond just providing food and shelter. In addition to providing overnight emergency shelter for homeless men in the region, it also offers a variety of support services thanks to donations, such as social services, clinical services, and vocational services.

6. Coalition for the Homeless: New York, NY

Founded in 1981, the Coalition for the Homeless is “the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children.” Much more than just a homeless shelter, they believe every New Yorker deserves a home, and they treat affordable housing, substantial food, and the opportunity to work for a liveable wage to as fundamental human rights. Therefore, they implement strategies to end mass homelessness in New York City. Programs offered include food, crisis services, housing, job training, youth programs, and advocacy.

If you go to the websites of any of these fine organizations (links provided), you can make a charitable contribution. If you want to make a difference but don’t have the means to donate right now, then take a little time to understand homelessness, and the next time you see a homeless person on the streets, don’t turn a blind eye.

 

How To Attract Employees That Like Doing Social Good

How To Attract Employees That Like Doing Social Good

In recent years, people are becoming increasingly interested in working for companies that make a difference in the world. To attract talent, many corporate executives have started, including volunteer campaigns in their business models. Several companies have even made positions dedicated to pro bono work and volunteer initiatives.

Pro-bono advocate group abillionpluschange.org states that more than 6,400 full-time employees from over 500 American companies are delivering $2 billion worth of pro bono service to help nonprofits meet their needs. The key is to create opportunities for skills-based service so that your employees can build their skills while feeling proud of the social good they are doing. So how exactly can you create a successful program that attracts these employees who want to make a difference? Here are a few tips for creating a volunteer culture in your company’s workplace:

1. Find the right projects for your employees.

To offer skills-based volunteer opportunities to your employees, you need to connect with a nonprofit. If you don’t have existing ties to a nonprofit, finding one to work with can be daunting. Instead of looking for the right nonprofit, you should encourage your employees to join volunteer networks that let them leverage their interests and skills. Through this process, you develop leaders while also doing good in your community and attracting more employees who are interested in making the world a better place. Additionally, this will keep your current employees happy so that they are more likely to stay with your company long-term.

2. Join a volunteer database.

It only takes a few minutes to join a volunteer database. Volunteers can sync their LinkedIn accounts to complete online profiles, or they can input their information manually. On a volunteer database, potential volunteers can search through a number of volunteer opportunities. A volunteer can express interest in a project invitation, at which time the nonprofit will email the volunteer to discuss the project further. If the project meets the needs of both the nonprofit and the volunteer, the two begin working together. These tools are a great way to build partnerships.

3. Make sure the volunteers are satisfied.

According to a 2013 study by True Impact, those who do skills-based volunteering are more likely to report high satisfaction than those who do hands-on volunteering. Skills-based volunteers can work on a variety of projects, from budget assistance to grant writing. They are also able to dedicate their time to helping some critical causes. It’s no wonder they feel rewarded. Still, you must check in with your employees to make sure they are satisfied with the work they are doing. Make sure they are doing a variety of tasks and exercising their skills in the best way possible. 

With the growing culture of corporate responsibility that is popping up at successful companies throughout the country, each company must do its part. This way, you can build a positive reputation for your company, increase employee satisfaction, and attract new employees, all while making a positive impact on your community.