Following Your Donor Dollars: How the Money You Donate is Spent

Something catastrophic happens in the world and your first reaction is to want to help by whatever means you can. Most often, this means donating money to a relief fund or nonprofit organization so that front line work can happen at the location of the tragedy. Once the dollars leave your plastic card in your wallet, do you know exactly where they go? The truth is, there’s a lot more to the path than a direct flight from your pocket to the scene of the disaster.

Separating Emotion from Thought

Sometimes it can be difficult to separate thinking from emotion during traumatic times. People most often relate to others in hard times through sympathy and empathy, which are not tied to cerebral brain function. Conversely, investing money has lots to do with practical thought. Before you donate, do your best to take a second for critical analysis of whichever charity or vessel your money will travel through to get to the people who need it. “Is this organization healthy and functional? Does their mission resonate with me on a deep level?” If both of these questions are answered with the affirmative, proceed to donate your heart out.

Undesignated Funds for the Win

Pro tip: If given the option, let your donation stay undesignated rather than choosing a specific job for it. For example, if there are multiple projects as options for donating and another pool that says the foundation can do as they see fit with the money, choose the latter. By entrusting your donation to the organization, they can direct it toward whichever program is in the highest demand at that moment. Allowing this freedom means that your dollar will go as far as it possibly can.

Advantages to Donating Money vs. Supplies

Once the organization receives your money, it is turned into a grant and utilized for project purposes. Often, especially if you allowed your donation to stay unrestricted, your dollar goes a lot further than it would if you had spent it and donated physical supplies. Nonprofits and charities often get special discounts at stores that allow them to purchase much needed supplies cheaply in bulk so that they can be re-packaged and distributed to people that need them.

Thanks to people like you, victims of tragedies can get the support they need following an unfortunate event. By understanding the process of donation, you maximize your contribution.

The Most Influential Nonprofit Organizations

In the wake of the natural disasters that have occurred over the last few months, nonprofit organizations are important. These organizations strive to make an impact by helping people. If you are looking to donate your time or finances, here is a look at the top nonprofit organizations in the World.

National 4H Council

4H is one of the most historic land grant universities in the World. 4H has a large mentoring and development organization. National 4H Council emphasizes public service and strives to help out communities. The National 4H Council has positively impacted millions of young people through its large network of volunteers.

PBS

The Public Broadcasting Services have reached multiple generations of people through their intriguing, high quality programs. PBS hopes to positively influence people regardless of their gender, socioeconomic status, or race. The famous home of Reading Rainbow, Barney, and Sesame Street, PBS Kids is available to everyone free of charge.

TED

The Technology, Education, and Design nonprofit organization was founded by Richard Wurmah. TED was originally a conference for people who wanted to establish new relationships. Today, TED strives to increase awareness about commerce, innovation, and society.

The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation is made up of many volunteer organized projects that strive to help communities. The Rotary Club is actively backed by more than a million people. The Rotary Foundation uses their funds to create grants that start neighborhood cleanups, among other initiatives.

United Nations Children’s Fund

UNICEF is committed to the health of every child in the World. UNICEF strives to make sure that every child receives the proper education and nutrition. The organization sets aside billions of dollars to go towards medical supplies and services to make sure that every child receives the necessary vaccines.

Human Rights Watch

The Human Rights Watch is made up of hundreds of lawyers, journalists, and other experts around the World who investigate information about the global outlook. The Human Rights Watch issues multiple reports and briefings throughout the year. The Human Rights Watch works with different financial institutions, government officials, and corporations.

Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is one of the most famous environmental organizations in The World. The Sierra Club promotes clean energy, and has helped pass the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

What is the Center for Disaster Preparedness

If you are like millions of people around the world, you watched in horror as Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath tore up Texas and Louisiana. Many individuals were moved like the members of the Cajun Navy to move into the area to provide immediate help while thousands were moved to donate their hard-earned money to help victims. Most of the giving came within a week of the disaster and almost 80 percent of donations will come in the first month. Yet, recovery is a long-term process. As of September 12, 2017, 692,030 people had applied for federal emergency disaster help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Who is the Center for Disaster Preparedness?

Nearly everyone who opened their Facebook and Google accounts to be confronted with a request for donations. Facebook even announced that they would match donors pledges up to $1 million. Those donations went to a Washington D.C.-based think-tank called the Center for Disaster Preparedness led by Bob Ottenhoff that has been in operation since 2012. In 2016, this organization operated on a seven-person staff with a $4.4 million budget. This is the first time that the organization will handle anywhere near the amount of donations they are likely to receive. In addition to providing funding for organizations working on hurricane relief, the group assists with disaster funding for lesser-covered events like the severe flooding in Asia.

What Does the Center for Disaster Preparedness Do?

Storm victims are unlikely to recognize this nonprofit in the immediate wake of the hurricane. In fact, they may never recognize the name because this organization is not aiming to do hands-on relief. Instead, it is a clearinghouse that will distribute funds to organizations that are providing relief now and far into the future. It is the goal of Center for Disaster Preparedness to identify unmet needs and encourage organizations to meet those needs. The center takes only 5 percent of donated funds to cover their administrative costs, and it allows donors to determine what disaster their donations will help fund. The first funds will not be distributed for two to six months after Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc as it came on land at Rockport, Texas.

Who Directs the Center for Disaster Preparedness?

Robert Ottenhoff is the Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Disaster Preparedness who is the former director of GuideStar. Regina A. Webster is the vice president of the center. In addition to working with FEMA, she has managed the emergency portfolio for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month & How You Can Help

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in their life. Such a prevalent condition deserves as much publicity and attention as possible. Take the initiative this October to donate, become a corporate partner, contribute to the Art of Hope Gala, or utilize social media to educate and share your story.

Donate

By donating to the cause, you help a multitude of different people. Educational resources are created and utilized as prevention tools to provide information about breast cancer to people who otherwise may not have access to it. Your donation helps provide free mammograms to members of the public who are in need, so that breast cancer diagnosis can begin early and coincide with effective treatments. Otherwise, the same individuals risk being diagnosed later on in the cancer progression and met with less probability of remission, or worse. Patient navigation programs to help people through treatment are another objective of donated funds. This sort of support is invaluable to patients and family members alike. Fortunately, eighty percent of funds go directly to programs rather than to administrative support or overhead. You’ll rest assured that your donation is making as big an impact as possible.

Corporate Partnership

By establishing a partnership to support breast cancer awareness, you are establishing trust in your organization. Most of the general public is likely to buy from a company with strong moral values. By investing in breast cancer awareness, you are proving exactly that. Employees will be inspired by your organization’s social commitment to the cause.

Art of Hope Gala

By sponsoring or attending the gala in March in Dallas, Texas, you are demonstrating support and commitment to an enormously important cause. Thanks to your participation, more people will have access to the medical and social supports they need to stay healthy and happy.

Social Media

Engage with your community on social media to educate others about the importance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Utilize images, text, and infographics to spread the word. Pink ribbons and inspiring messages are both symbols of the ongoing fight against breast cancer that are simple to work into existing conversations. Sharing a story about yourself or a loved one who is battling breast cancer or has survived it lets people know that the condition is real, serious, and beatable. Your words matter; use them to empower the people around you.

Truly, there are lots of ways to participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Take your pick, engage your audience, and teach people why October matters.

New App Looks to Put Philanthropy in the Hands of Mobile Generation

At a certain point in life most people feel the need to give back. Philanthropy plays a big part in the lives of many of the wealthy people, but there are also some young people that would like to give to others as well. Fortunately, this new generation of smart device users are going to be able to become philanthropists through their apps. They don’t have to write big checks for any colleges and make donations in this way. They can actually get connected to an app that allows them to do what they need to do without ever leaving their home.

A new app like Give 2 Charity makes it possible for people that have smartphones to convert their location into points for a donation. This is something that has become innovative over the years because it gives people the ability to donate to different causes as soon as they find out about something that is going on. The great thing about apps like this is that it provides people with the opportunity to give to lots of to organizations like American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, American Cancer Society and the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

This is where technology is going, and people can look forward to moving apps like this where technology plays an important part in communication and regular donations towards certain causes.

App users have a lot to think about when it comes to the development of apps. It has always been stated that there is an app for everything, and this joke has taken life and become reality. It is possible that there are apps for just about everything that people would like to engage in, and philanthropy appears to be the newest thing that is getting buzz in the app community.

The thing that has managed to make this app spread is the attention that it gets from social media. There are a lot of people that are tweeting about it and posting likes about it through Facebook. That allows even more people to become connected with this type of app and the possibilities that exist for giving through a philanthropy app like this. No longer do people have to complain that they do not have the possibility to give. This app is putting the concept of giving into the hands of those that have smartphones. This shows how app software is evolving.

Charities: The Good, The Bad, and The Questionable

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the country as a whole has felt an overwhelming need to give back to those who have had their lives devastated by the tragedy. With the overwhelming need to help, comes unscrupulous characters who feel an overwhelming need to rip off those who only wish to do good. With thousands of charities ready and willing to take your donations, one must do some homework before making a donation and here are some things to consider when considering a donation to a charity organization.

Are they known?

This one is a no brainer. If you are nervous about where your funds may end up then consider a charity with a long held reputation such as the red cross or the salvation army. The well-known charities are safer investments for your generous gift.

Unknown Charities

As previously stated, there are many thousands of charities out there all wishing to do go and just because we haven’t heard of them before, doesn’t mean they are not deserving of our donations. If you are unsure of the charity, search the internet for their name and the word scam. That is the quickest way to ascertain the validity of a charity. What’s more, see if they have an official website or ask them for their registered charity number or use the IRS search function for a list of registered charities.

Door knockers and phone calls

Nowadays the internet has curbed the need for door knockers and phone calls asking for donations to charities. In general, most charities set up donation pages on their websites and have numbers for you to call. They may advertise in the media, but it is a rarity to see them approach the public. That doesn’t mean they do not still employ such tactics but you still need to be leery. If someone knocks on the door asking for a donation to the red cross or the salvation army and they are not in uniform, then that should set off alarm bells. If in doubt just go to an official venue for the charity to make a donation. Phone scamming is also a problem and a good way to figure out if you are speaking to someone from the charity is to put the phone number from caller id (if you have it) into google and see if the number matches up with the charity. If caller ID is blocked ask them for a call back number. If they are reluctant then hang up the phone and save yourself a headache.

Those are just a few tips for your safety when it comes to charitable donations, and as always if you are in doubt go directly to the charity to make your donation.

How a Little Can Do a Lot

Charity pictureRecently, billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates started something called the “Giving Pledge”, promising to give at least half of their substantial fortunes to charity.  For the small-time philanthropist who doesn’t have untold billions to donate to causes, this can feel a bit discouraging.  However, there are plenty of opportunities to contribute small amounts of money to worthy causes, and that money can go a long way.  This is particularly true in the age of social media, where like-minded people from around the world are able to seamlessly connect with each other.  Here are four different ways that you yourself can make a huge impact with a small donation, taken from the personal finance blog bankrate:

Join a “giving circle”: These groups will pool their money and then share the task of selecting which causes they support.  Since the funds are pooled, they can make a much bigger impact than an individual donation.  There are hundreds of these across the country, but if you can’t find one you like, you can always start your own.  

Microphilanthropy: The site pledge4good.com allows users to set up “pledging systems” for friends and family to give small amounts of money to a specific cause.  They allow individuals to easily raise funds from various people to magnify the impact of smaller donations.  

Make a microloan: “Microlenders” don’t actually have to give their money away to causes, they simply lend it.  A $25 loan, for instance, can empower an impoverished entrepreneur in a third-world country to start and maintain a business.  Nonprofit microlender Kiva, for instance, has awarded millions in small loans to impoverished people in remote parts of the world since launching in 2005.  

Toys For Tots: This is a pretty well-known and well-recognized charity, which allows you to make a huge difference without too much money.  The Holiday season is a long way off, but it’s a great way to make a difference for a child without having to pay too much.  

Serve a soldier: The USO Wishbook allows you to make a small donation to help an American military member.  A donation of $15, for instance, will provide a care package for a service member to get through the initial days of deployment.  And $25 provides a calling card for a phone call home.  Small gifts, but ones that make a huge difference.  

The 4 Most Charitable Businesses in America

American businesses rely on their consumer base for their profits and their livelihood. As a result, many choose to give back to those who’ve supported them and look for ways to better not only their community, but the globe.

 

There are some companies who have gone simply above and beyond in their efforts to effect positive change. The 20 businesses on the Fortune 500 list who gave the most in 2015 gave a total of $3.5 billion dollars to help fund various initiatives and aid certain groups. Here are the top 4 charitable donators ranking on the 500 list.

  1. Gilead Sciences
    1. This biotech firm based in California is an active participant in global philanthropy, working to promote better health and lives around the world. In 2015, the company reported that a bulk of their giving went towards working on HIV/AIDS treatments as well as liver disease. Just a few years ago the company was ranked 250th on the Fortune 500 list, but over the past two years, since it broke into the Hepatitis C market, it has now risen to the 86th spot. In 2015, Gilead donated $446.7 million.
  2. Walmart
    1. You know it as the supercenter that stocks just about everything you could ever need, but Walmart is so much more than just a corporation. In 2015, it pledged to help retail workers increase their economic ability with a $100 million commitment, $10.9 million of which went towards nonprofit organizations that specifically help those working in retail operations. Walmart continues to hold the top position on the 500 list, and gave $301 million in 2015.
  3. Wells Fargo
    1. This financial institution gets its employees involved with community work and volunteering by offering them two days a year to volunteer during paid leave. In 2015 they also donated $25 million to a nonprofit that supports financial education called NeighborWorks. Their aim is to donate between 1.2% and 1.5% of its total profits each year, and in 2015 Wells Fargo donated $281.3 million. They’re currently holding the 27th spot on the Forbes 500 list.
  4. Goldman Sachs Group
    1. Goldman Sachs’ giving has increased over the past decade largely in part to the efforts of Dina Powell, former member of the George W. Bush administration and current Deputy National Security Advisor to President Trump. She joined their team in 2007 to take charge of the corporation’s philanthropic endeavors and social investments. Goldman Sachs is currently 74th on the Forbes list and gave $276.4 million in 2015.

How to Get Your Business Involved in Giving

As a business, you exist in a symbiotic relationship with the community that surrounds you. The community supported you and assisted you as you were in the process of growing, and eventually it’s your turn to return the favor. There are countless ways for your company to get involved; it’s up to you to decide how to best give back in a way that will make your employees feel more connected to the business and the community as a whole. Here are just a few ways to get your team involved.

  • Employee volunteer days.
    • Plan large events and gatherings that will bring your employees together in pursuit of a common goal. Take a day once a quarter to go clean up up an overgrown cemetery in the community, rake leaves in the park, volunteer at a nursing home, or find another way you can best help your community.
  • Clean up the roads.
    • Although the littering rate has dropped 61% over the past 40 years here in the United States, we’re still producing more than a quarter million tons trash each year. While it’s unlikely you and your staff alone have the time and resources to clean the entire ocean or reduce your city’s carbon footprint, you can make a difference at home by helping to clean up the litter and trash in your community. As a business, you could Adopt a Highway and take a day or two each year to walk alongside the road and clean up the trash gets tossed from car windows. You could also potentially save a fellow commuter a lot of financial burden and stress; just take a look at the damage bottles, cans, and plastic bags can cause.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
    • Food is one of the most basic human needs, but for some people constant access to it is a luxury that they do not have. That’s why community food banks exist; to make sure people who are struggling to make ends meet are able to put food on the table for their families. Have a day each week when employees go volunteer a few at a time on rotation. Organize food drives to collect more resources for the banks. Find ways that you can relieve the burdens the organization feels.
  • Sponsor a charity.
    • Do your employees have incentives for reaching their goals each month? Each quarter? Do you set aside money for company happy hours or bonding exercises? Why not set aside one quarter’s earnings to sponsor a charity? Have the employees decide collectively which charity to give to and set a goal to reach; benefiting a cause they’ve chosen to help will be their incentive to work hard and meet goals over the next three months.