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.

 

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!

Corporate Philanthropy

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Remember, when you were a kid, and your parents told you to do something? Even if you had every intention of doing whatever it was— cleaning up the dinner dishes, making your bed, putting on a hat in the cold— being told to do it just irked you a little bit.

Truth be told, that feeling rarely dies off in adulthood. Just ask Tom Gimbel, Founder, and CEO of LaSalle network. Gimbel realized that if corporations wanted to be actively involved in any charity, it was disastrous to force that participation on employees. Instead, leadership should take a hands-off approach and let their employees figure out precisely what it is they want to be involved with. In this way, corporate philanthropy becomes much more intrinsic— employees are helping because they want to help.

Gimbel realized this when an employee began circulating emails about a dance marathon for charity. At first, the CEO was reluctant to let such activity continue. After all, so many emails that no one is reading can be annoying. Or worse, it opens the floodgates for everyone to send their own related emails and gum up the system.

So Gimbel investigated. When he approached the employee responsible for the email that he saw, he quickly learned that she wasn’t blindly casting a net to her coworkers. That is, she wasn’t the only one involved. Five others were participating in the same activities. Soon the number was ten, and it only grew more from there. Thirty employees and what one can assume were several emails later, Gimbel joined in. The result was a fun and productive outing that mattered to everyone involved.

Too often, company executives pick their favorite charity and make everyone else pitch in. But it can be argued that a grudging giver may not as well give at all. Gimbel suggests letting your employees lead you towards your next charitable action to create a lasting culture of giving.

 

Why Volunteering is Good for YOU

Why volunteering is good for you

Spending time volunteering to support a local group or cause is not only an excellent way to give back to your community, but it is also proven to be right for you. 

Many people spend time wishing that they had more time to give back. Wanting to give back and do good is a great start, but finding the time is another story. It’s time to make volunteering a priority, and these reasons why should help give you some extra motivation. There are so many different ways that volunteering is right for you.

Think of the word “volunteers” and you might picture a group of people so generous that they put aside the fun things in life – say, relaxing at home or watching a movie on the couch – in favor of spending their time at soup kitchens and nursing homes. And yet, oddly enough, people who volunteer are often happier than those who don’t – whether they give their free time at a shelter or take on a prominent role in their town. So why is this?

Volunteering Is Good For Your Health

It might seem counterintuitive, but helping others can be a selfish way to spend time. Volunteers aren’t just happier than other people; they’re also healthier, with less likelihood of having some severe health conditions. Performing volunteer work could increase physical activity among people who aren’t otherwise very active. Even more surprising, people who spend time volunteering may feel they have more free time than those who don’t. They have learned the art of multitasking and get the self-satisfaction of feeling more efficient as a result.

Volunteering Is Good For Your Career

If more happiness and better health aren’t enough to convince you to take the time to volunteer, what about career advancement? For people who are unemployed or recent graduates who haven’t found a job in their field, volunteering can be a great way to get experience, make new connections, and even potentially turn it into a job opportunity. Few organizations will pass up free help with building databases, running fundraising campaigns, or designing marketing materials – all of these can be great resume enhancers. Even high-level professionals often find that volunteering on the board of a local charity teaches them new things about managing an organization. It also adds appeal to your resume! The desire to give back is an attractive trait in employees that any company would be happy to have more of.

How To Volunteer

Of course, not every kind of volunteer work is for everyone. But, fortunately, there is a vast range of organizations looking for free help, and they’re seeking a considerable variety of talents. Do you like building things? Find a local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Love animals? Your local animal shelter is probably looking for someone to walk the dogs or help with adorable cats. You’ll be a better volunteer, and more likely to keep at it if you find something that you enjoy!

For many people, volunteer work is an extension of other parts of their lives. Parents are especially likely to volunteer, and for many of them, that means helping at their kids’ school, coaching a Little League team, or leading a scouting troop. Many older volunteers – and plenty of younger ones too – join their churches in service projects in the local neighborhood or halfway around the world.

In some cases, the ideal volunteer job may be one that happens only occasionally. That could be helping to organize a team for the American Cancer Society‘s available Relay for Life events or taking part in a holiday food drive. On the other hand, a regular gig like a once-a-week shift at a food pantry can help build lasting relationships with other volunteers and be less disruptive to your routine.

Speaking of routine, one great motivator for many volunteers is support from the organization that takes up the bulk of their time – their employer. Some companies encourage workers to support local organizations by offering a few paid days a year for helping out. Other companies will roundup employees in a significant annual push like local United Way branches’ Days of Caring. Bosses find these events are also excellent for team building because they bring people from different parts of the company together in a new setting. And local organizations like them because people who spend one-day volunteering are likely to come back for more.

It can be hard to get started, trust me I know, but people who have helped out with an organization a few times tend to see how what they’re doing is generous as well as helpful to themselves at the same time!

How to Create a Blog for Your Charity

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Not only does developing a blog help you to establish another platform for connecting with interested parties, but it also allows you to increase your SEO efforts. Familiarizing yourself with SEO, short for search engine optimization, is a staple for a modern website owner. When you incorporate a blog, you can move up the list on search engine results pages, and you can create a more favorable presentation of yourself to the public.

Choose a Reputable Platform
Starting a blog isn’t as simple as just writing a bunch of content and releasing it onto the internet. Instead, start your quest by selecting a reputable platform for your blogging. Opting for a platform allows you access to tools and features that can enhance the success of your blog. Proceed with a cautious eye at this point, however. Giving your money to a questionable service can leave you with some serious budget problems. Conduct research on different platforms, and select one that has a positive reputation in the blogging community.

Establish a Writing Stance
If you are only casually interested in starting a blog, you may sporadically put together pieces. However, those who are serious about blogging will assemble a team of writers. You may decide to cull from your current employees, or you might opt to put out an advertisement for new talent. In either case, ensure that the writers are professional and know how to properly employ grammar, syntax, and diction in ways that are compelling to your readers.

Create a Tone
Chances are, you will have different people blogging for you at various points throughout the life of the blog. Infusing different voices helps to keep the content exciting and engaging, but you do want a sense of cohesion among the posts. Sit down with your team of writers to decide what the overall aim here. For example, many companies decide that they want blogs written with a more casual tone. While academic research papers often shun contractions, many blogs welcome them because that is how people speak.

Update Content Regularly
Creating one blog post per day might prove impossible or arduous, especially when you are just starting or have only a small pool of writers. However, you do not want the content to grow stale. Old content does not tend to do well with search engine rankings. Also, people are coming to the blog because they want to read new information. If they see the same posts every time that they visit, they will likely eventually stop coming entirely.

Include Media
Content marketing is huge right now in the world of search engine optimization, and blogging is one avenue for accomplishing that goal, but you also need to incorporate visual media. You may wonder why ranking high in search engines is essential. The main reason is that when people want to support a charity, you want them to find and help you. Incorporating videos and images into your blogs can help to drive more traffic to the site and allow you to help people in need better.

Link to Social Media
Another powerful way to use your blog is to link to social media accounts. For example, maybe your charity recently held an event, and you want to detail it in the blog. Loading the page with too many pictures can slow it down, leading to fewer long-term visitors to your site. Therefore, you can find probably a couple of photos and then direct visitors to check out your social media pages for the rest. Consequently, they will find yet another venue through which they can connect with you.

Platform for Conversation
You do not want your voice to be the only one that has a presence on your blog. Instead, allow people to discuss the topics by opening up the comments section of your blog. Individuals can talk with one another about relevant issues. Make sure that you have a moderator for these comments. You want to ensure that inappropriate language or links do not find a way into the material; therefore, checking the blog comments regularly is necessary.

19Following these steps will allow you to take significant action into the world of blogging and make your presence known. Then, your charity can begin to receive more support, not only from the local community but also from the more global community.

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

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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.