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.

 

How to Make a Meaningful Donation Without Spending Any Money

Charity Help Money Give Profit Donate Donation

As paradoxical as it may sound, you can make a meaningful donation without spending a dime. Monetary donations may be the most popular and immediate form of charity because of the universal buying power of money. However, if you’re someone who likes to give back even when you have very little money to give, do not despair. There are plenty of donations you can make that don’t require any money, and they’re just as meaningful. Here are some other ways you can give:

Rewarding Experiences

Volunteering is the most obvious answer to giving to charity without donating money, but it is also one of the most effective. Giving of yourself (your time, your labor, your skills, your compassion) is the most meaningful donation there is and will get you up-close-and-personal with the causes you support. Not to discourage monetary donations in any way, but with volunteering, you get to see the fruits of your labor. In contrast, with a monetary donation, you may feel good knowing that your money is playing a part in a more significant cause, but you don’t usually get to see it. It gets lost with all the other donations. Volunteering allows you to form a personal connection with a cause that’s close to your heart. If you’re passionate about helping the homeless population, volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, and see their faces light up when you treat them like a person. If you love animals, volunteer at the shelter. If you’re good with children, volunteer to read to children in hospitals or schools, or serve as a mentor through a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

The internet makes it even easier to volunteer, with sites like VolunteerMatch connecting people to volunteer opportunities in their communities. You can also give your time from the convenience of home by simply surfing the web. You may have skills that are in high demand, and you can employ them without even setting foot outside your house through the website Skills for Change, by helping nonprofits meet challenges they face through applying skills like copywriting and graphic design. It’s easy to implement charity into your everyday internet activity as well; for instance, conduct your searches using GoodSearch instead of Google, and it will donate a penny to charity every time you perform a search. Tabs for a Cause raises money for charity with each new tab you open in your browser. Apps like Freerice and Charity Miles make donating fun and empowering, as Freerice gives 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme for every question you answer correctly through their games. Charity Miles donates 10 cents to charity for every mile you run using the app.

Got Junk?

If you opt to donate that old jalopy, it’s nice to know that most centers offer free pick-up, running or not, from a location that is best for you. Instead of throwing away junk or letting it sit in storage, taking up space, and collecting dust, put your unused items to use and donate them to a charity such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Purple Heart, or a local nonprofit charity shop. Most nonprofits will be able to take just about anything you can think of, from clothes to books to appliances. It can be hard to part with anything that has sentimental value, but if you haven’t used it in over a year, ask yourself what good there is holding on to it and know that there is someone out there who could benefit from it.

Donating Blood

If you are healthy and able, donate your blood to someone whose health depends upon it. If you can, find a blood drive to go to, or if not, you can always make an appointment with a blood donation center. Some centers even allow you to donate platelets and plasma as well, which aid in cancer and organ transplant treatments. The need for blood exists all the time, so don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you. There are a few qualifications you have to meet to be eligible to give blood, such as weighing at least 110 pounds, and not suffering from any illnesses. But if you meet them, giving blood is a beautiful, selfless act of volunteerism that has the power to save lives. Health benefits of donating blood include good health and reduced risk of cancer and hemochromatosis. It also helps reduce liver and pancreas damage. 

Donating Hair

In my experience, donating your hair is a much more personal gift than sending a check. You’re sending a piece of yourself to someone who suffers from long term hair loss. You’ve probably heard of organizations like Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids that donate your chopped-off hair when you get a haircut (rather than throwing it away) to make hairpieces for patients suffering from hair loss due to illness or medical treatments. But, you should know that not all hair can be donated. Hair that’s been colored, bleached, or chemically treated can’t be donated, nor can hair that is more than 5% gray. The minimum length requirement to donate your hair is 10 inches, but if your hair is long enough, this is a great way to help someone in need with no additional cost.