4 Ways to Give Back Without Giving Money

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It’s a common misconception that the only way to give back to your community is by donating money. The fact of the matter is, there are many ways to be philanthropic on a microcosmic level for little to no cost. Think about it like this: if donating money helps a cause on a high-level by providing an organization with the funds to start philanthropic programs, for example, then acting philanthropically without giving money consists of helping other people on more of a one-to-one basis, instead of in the abstract. Here are 3 ways that you can be charitable in your day-to-day life without breaking the bank.

1) Spend time volunteering: Whether you have a free afternoon or a free 30 minutes, there is always time to support a local cause. From reading a story to the kids at the library, to serving food to low-income communities, to simply picking up trash in the park, it not only helps to make your community a better place, but it also makes you feel good.

2) Donate blood: Donating blood is a simple and effective way to make a difference. Blood products are used by hospitals every day to save lives, so there is a constant need for new donations regardless of where you live. Research your local hospital’s blood donation program and find out what the process is for becoming a donor – not only will you feel better for having contributed a valuable resource to your hospital, but you’ll be helping members of your community in the most important way you can: by helping to save their lives.

3) Bring baked goods to your local firehouse: The men and women who fight fires across the country put their lives on the line each and every day, but much of their bravery and nobility often goes unnoticed. Bringing homemade cookies to your local firehouse is a great way to show that you appreciate everything that firefighters do to make your community a better and safer place to live, and it will mean a lot to them to know you’re thinking of them.

4) Talk to strangers: The next time you see someone eating alone at a restaurant, consider asking if you can sit with them while you eat. It’s easy to forego social interaction at the end of a long day, but sometimes, all it takes is a conversation to make someone feel less lonely. This plays into the idea of helping on a one-to-one level: small gestures of kindness can often mean the most.

There are many more ways to help your community philanthropically without spending money, and if you start by doing these three things, you’ll undoubtedly find that opportunities for making a difference present themselves more regularly than you ever realized before. Good luck!

Charity Spotlight: The Children’s Aid Society

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The Children’s Aid Society is a truly impressive program that works to give every child in the New York City public school system an opportunity at success. Children’s Aid knows that children in New York’s lower income neighborhoods are not always given the foundation needed to reach academic success and therefore acquire a top notch career. This great organization offers a number of volunteer opportunities. Volunteers can help out by being a member of the associates council, working on corporate volunteer projects, or working directly with the children and families. This organization thrives largely thanks to the help of its volunteers. Volunteers help young people in New York City schools by mentoring and tutoring in addition to giving clerical assistance and homework help. Here are a few successful stories from the Children’s Aid Society.

Manny Torres is a 22 year old employee at Children’s Aid, who once benefited from the amazing programs when he was younger. He was a participant in two Children’s Aid after-school programs: P.S. 5 and P.S. 152. When he reached the age of 15, Torres was eager to work, so he enrolled in the The Children’s Aid Society’s Summer Youth Employment Program, where he was an assistant facilitator at his former school of P.S. 152. He is now the aquatics director and has gained a number of skills that he intends to use in the future when pursuing his dreams of becoming a physical education teacher.

The Children’s Aid Society also helps children stay on track academically during their summer break. Studies show that many children suffer from summer learning loss. It’s also been shown that young people who live in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to fall behind academically in their summer than their peers in more affluent regions.

At the Children’s Aid summer camp, reading is a key part of  each child’s experience. The biggest celebration of reading is Reading Leaders Day, an event held at the Goodhue Center of Staten Island every August. A number of elected officials and public servants join Children’s Aid to read to the young people and enjoy the festivities. The children enjoy the event immensely. Getting children excited about reading is a key part of getting them on track for success.

Another touching Children’s Aid success story is that of Betty Sanchez. Sanchez arrived in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic ten years ago not speaking a word of English, though she was able to read and understand it. She then found Children’s Aid and joined the adult education program at Salomé Ureña. She enrolled in an English-language learners class and got a part-time job organizing supplies from the adult program. She then began to work for students at the after-school program, the majority of whom spoke Spanish. She is now the data specialist coordinator, part of the Salomé Ureña Campus’ Data Information Outcomes Unit. Sanchez attended Hostos Community College when an opportunity presented itself through a Children’s Aid partner. She earned professional certification in after-school programming, as well as an associate’s degree. She then enrolled at Boricua College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in childhood education and was the only summa cum laude in her class. Betty Sanchez hopes to be an inspiration for other children and parents in her community.

The Children’s Aid Society is making a big difference in many people’s lives. If you want to be a part of this change, get involved with this groundbreaking organization today.

Non Profit ‘Concern Worldwide’ Makes BIG Mistake

Non Profit Quarterly covered the fiasco that occurred in early May, when the crowdsourcing platform Kimbia failed in the midst of a “day of giving,” leaving community foundations and nonprofits all over the country scrambling to save their relationships with donors.

This is absolutely the stuff that a nonprofit executive team’s nightmares are made of: A donor trusts you with their personal financial information, and are made sorry for it.

Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries, but right now, it’s spending considerable energy on damage control with 25,000 donors after it mistakenly took 100 times the amount supporters had pledged in automatic debit payments from their bank accounts!

Just to be clear about what this might look like, one supporter’s direct debit for May was $1,700, when she had only pledged to donate $17 per month……(yikes)

While Concern Worldwide sent emails to donors warning that the overcharges were forthcoming the damage was done. Presumably understanding that it had just managed to combine two of the financial things many people hate the most—having money taken without authorization and dealing with their bank—Concern Worldwide promised to pay all of the money back and to meet any additional charges its supporters may have been hit with as a direct result of the error.

There was no estimate on how much additional money the mistake will cost Concern if they did cover donors’ banking fees incurred because of the errors. The group also had to communicate that they would not be asking anyone for bank records to issue a refund, as they worried about scammers moving into the aftermath of the incident to prey on donors.

Sadly, the error will have its hardest impact on recurring donors who pledge monthly support rather than make one large donation every year. A real backbone in fundraising, these donors turn over their debit or credit cards to support the organization monthly.

The organization’s UK executive director, Rose Caldwell, said:

We are conducting a full investigation into this matter and want to reassure the public that we are putting robust measures in place to make sure this does not happen again. Without the support of our donors, Concern would not be able to deliver its life-saving humanitarian work to vulnerable people worldwide.

Live To Love

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I had the pleasure of meeting with the President of Live To Love, Carrie Lee, at an event a few weeks ago and it was a wonderful experience. She was inspiring and motivating and encouraged me to spread the mission of Live To Love:

Live to Love is an international network of non-profit organizations dedicated to creating lasting solutions to the world’s modern problems. Their name, “Live to Love” reflects the philosophy that positive actions creates positive results. “Live” refers to the life that we live as a member of this universe and “Love” is the positive attitude towards our life.

Most of Live to Love’s model projects are based in the Himalayas with satellite projects around the world including North America, South America, Asia and Europe. In a rapidly globalizing world, each community, no matter how remote, is interconnected. It is with this in mind that Live to Love is dedicated to sustainable solutions.

They have chapters and projects in the following regions: Bhutan, Brasilia, Darjeeling, Delhi, Canary Islands, Cusco, Geneva, Hamburg, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Ladakh, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Sikkim, Taipei, Paris, Plouray, Penang and Qinghai.

Carrie Lee is the President of Live to Love International. and she brings her cross-border legal expertise and her ability to build out institutional quality platforms to Live to Love. Her love of the Himalayas coupled with her love of empowering the next generation of leaders makes her a formidable advocate of the goals of Live to Love.

Creative Charities for Animals

Giving to charity has always been seen as an act of generosity and compassion. It is looked at as being responsible and extremely caring. Many people donate money to charities that have a mission that they hold close to them. Others will contribute their time to charity by completing volunteer work. However, in today’s world, with so many different kinds and types of charities at our fingertips, choosing the one or ones that we want to support can become a bit overwhelming.

This list represents charities who are not only focused on helping animals, but who are also trying to step outside of the box and take a more creative approach to the world of charities.

Jack D. Ryger: Pilots n PawsPilots N Paws – The Pilots N Paws site is intended to be a meeting place for those who rescue, shelter or foster animals, and volunteer pilots and plane owners willing to assist with the transportation of animals. Through the discussion board, foster parents and animal rescuers can connect publicly with pilots so they can set up the transport of each animal, as well as share all the necessary information to successfully accomplish each transport. This open communication platform allows other volunteers to offer their help if they see it may be needed to save an animal.

Creative Artists and Rescue AnimalsCreative Rescue was created from the passion that two women share for rescue animals. Their mission is to utilize non-profit arts organizations to create products, with the proceeds of their sales benefiting animal rescue groups.

Free Kibble– Free Kibble is a website that was created by an 11 year old girl named Mimi, who wanted to feed the homeless pets at her local shelter. When you visit the site, you are asked a multiple choice question, and regardless of if you are right or wrong, you win! All you have to do to help provide food to animals who need it is click on an answer. Every day you click, Free Kibble will provide food to animal shelters to help feed their hungry dogs and cats.

The Providence Animal Rescue League– The Providence Animal Rescue League is a non profit animal rescue center who knows that there are lots of kids out there that care about the animals in our community. That is why they decided to create PARL Kids, a way to involve children who want to help support the animal rescue community. PARL Kids is a resource where children can come look for ideas to help animals in their community or even their personal pets. From creative art projects to fundraising ideas, thanks to PARL, kids are now able to involve themselves in the world of charity all on their own.

Adaptive Philanthropy

Philanthropy is more than the donation of funds, it’s a giving of self. Large or small, the act of caring for a group, cause, or community requires a great deal of the philanthropist. Determination and focus are the greatest tools when choosing where and how to direct your efforts. Though the task is difficult, the benefits are insurmountable. How can you put a value on changing a life? Where can you buy the satisfaction of helping those in need?

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Looking into your charity of choice is an absolute must, especially when you’re able to give more. Wealth can create a strange rift between donor and recipient, oftentimes leading to expectations where none are welcome. If an organization is attempting to illicit more money than a donor is willing to give, a major red flag is raised. Without proper research, your hard-earned and freely given charity could be utilized for less than reputable means. However, not all causes are fronts for darker dealings. With proper research, a donor can find the heart of an organization, and be sure their goals align.

Real change is made through tireless effort and ceaseless focus. If a donor wants to achieve this, treating philanthropic efforts as a business and less like a hobby is the only way to make it happen. Businesses have drive, goals and direction, something charitable efforts cannot function without. While causal giving is never wrong, a discerning philanthropist needs an ironclad grasp of their funds, and how they’re being allocated to various charitable organizations. Slipshod management of philanthropic efforts will cost time and money that could have been put to positive use.

If philanthropy is to be treated as a business, than its beneficiaries are the customers. Though motivations for selflessly giving vary from person to person, businesses often choose to engage in philanthropic pursuits for some level of positive return. Whether to enhance a public image or bring attention to their brand, by opening a forum for honest feedback and communication, a bridge between parties is established, providing a mutually beneficial middle-ground for discussion.

Adopt the process of adaptive philanthropy. Nothing is immune from the chaos of day-to-day life, and maintaining an outlook that recognizes this inevitability will keep your efforts from falling short of your goals. A clever philanthropist keeps his expectations realistic without overextending his capabilities. Nothing is served by crippling yourself in service of others. And if at all possible, ask for analytics on how your donations are being used. Ensuring the proper houses are receiving the necessary care is why philanthropists undergo such a emotionally powerful and costly venture. After so much legwork has already gone into choosing which charity deserves your efforts, it’d be silly to not continue following your investment.

Giving is so much more than allocating money for a cause. By committing such a selfless act, you silently agree to a promise of a better world. Change is never easy, oftentimes taking several like-minded individuals years of focused effort to affect. But by electing to become one of the few, a philanthropist, one more agent of change joins the fight for a better tomorrow.

Reasons You Should Volunteer

Though many people have busy schedules, especially if you live in New York City, you should always make time to volunteer. Finding something you are passionate toward and helping the people in that specific community will forever change the way you live your life and give you hope for a stronger, kinder future. You’ve probably thought about volunteering in the past, but haven’t quite made the strides to dedicate your time. The time is now – get out there, make a difference! Here are just few of the many reasons why you should volunteer as soon as possible:

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First off, it’s good for your health. This may seem a little selfish when speaking about volunteering, but it’s important for you to recognize the many health benefits that stem from helping others (it’s a two-way street). Not only does volunteering help reduce stress by having you focus on others instead of yourself, it also increases positive emotions in your brain – like optimism and joy, and can help strengthen your immune system.

Volunteering also helps bring people together so you can all experience a sense of community. Regardless of your background or social status, individuals who are passionate for the same subject and are working together toward a common goal are united through philanthropic work. Not only can you meet life-long friends through volunteering, but you also learn the importance of teamwork, a skill that will be used in various fields, consistently throughout your life.

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Furthermore, when a community comes together, it gets stronger. By supporting families through daycare and eldercare, feeding the hungry, improving education, supporting youth programs, and beautifying the community, members are proud to be a part of it, and will become more and more willing to help out other members of their community.

Lastly, when you volunteer, you recognize you can make a difference – even if it’s small. Helping others gives you the opportunity to realize that small things have a great impact on the world around you. You learn to appreciate the power of single individuals working together as a whole, helping the world for the benefit of humanity.

About the UJA-Federation

Jack Ryger UJA Full Building CROP500The UJA-Federation (United Jewish Appeal) is a leading force in the fields of community and philanthropy for the Jewish community in New York.  The UJA-Federation was established more than 90 years ago, and has now pulled together over 55,000 donors to help those in need, along with inspire a passion and commitment to Jewish life in order to strengthen the Jewish community across the globe.

The UJA-Federation works with 100 network beneficiary agencies, synagogues, and various other Jewish establishments to help an astounding 4.5 million people from all around the world. Through hard work and organization, the UJA-Federation is able to carry-out services and provide resources in order to change individual’s lives for the better.

Through this nonprofit organization, volunteers learn the importance of helping those in need from their own city to halfway across the world. The UJA-Federation has helped Holocaust survivors in Kiev by providing meals at community centers, Ethiopian Jews by teaching skills they can use to support their families, and children with disabilities so they feel welcome into their Jewish communities.

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According to the UJA-Federation’s official website, http://www.ujafedny.org/, “Our caring hand extends to those living in poverty, the aging, Holocaust survivors, children and adults with disabilities and special needs, and the unemployed across the economic spectrum. We provide access to crucial human services to all New Yorkers, whoever they are, and Jews everywhere.”

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The three main goals of the UJA-Federation are: to establish a sense of community, especially for those who undergo crises and struggle at various tasks associated with daily living, inspire Jews by teaching them Jewish values and giving them access to high-quality education, and to connect Jews across the world, reminding each other that we are all part of one people.

Ways to Help Local Domestic Violence Shelters

One great branch of community service to get involved with is helping out at a local domestic violence shelter. According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Victims of Crime, 25% of women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime – that’s one out of every four women you pass on the street each day. Women are abused in different ways, ranging from financial situations to being abused mentally and physically.

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Unfortunately, it’s very hard for these women to flee their homes and get away from their abuser. But, domestic violence shelters have been set up across the nation for these women to feel safe, and with your help they can get even more of the resources and care that these shelters provide. Here are some ways you can help:

First, donate gift cards. According to an article published by the Pixel Project, “Women many times leave their homes very quickly without packing. All they take with them are their children and the clothes on their back. A great way to assist would be clothing or superstore gift cards…” (16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter). With these gift cards, women can buy the right size clothing for themselves and their children, along with getting professional attire to wear to job interviews so they can secure their finances independently.

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Next, volunteer to work at a hotline. Local shelters or even rape crisis centers have hotlines that are in need of volunteers since they are generally open 24/7. Volunteers usually have to go through certain training courses and commit to work a few days per week answering phones, so being willing to do these things even though they can be time consuming is key. Just remember, working for hotlines is extremely rewarding – you can save lives.

Lastly, think about writing a newsletter. Especially if you are a strong writer, using words to assist a local shelter’s quarterly or monthly newsletter can help the shelter out immensely. Writing articles about women’s rights and healthy relationships are two great topics to speak about and may even help women reach out about their own struggles. Keeping people aware and educated of the problem at hand (in this case, abuse) is the most important step towards eliminating it.

If you want to know more ways in which you can help your local domestic violence shelter, please read Pixel Project’s article here, where you can further learn about their previous campaign concerning women’s rights and domestic violence.