Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty if You Can’t Afford to Donate

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty if You Can’t Afford to Donate

Jul 06

A lot of people find themselves asking, “When is the right time to donate?” The answer is simple: when all of your needs are taken care of first. If that sounds selfish, allow us to explain why it’s not. As a society, we’ve been conditioned to put others’ needs above our own. But when you sacrifice your personal necessities in the name of others, you’ll end up feeling stressed, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled. Generosity is not supposed to make you feel that way. Giving to others is supposed to make you feel inspired, joyful, and exuberant. And the only way you’ll be able to experience those positive vibes is to give from a place of love rather than guilt. If you’re not doing well financially, chances are you already feel bad about your situation. Don’t compound those feelings of guilt by giving away money that you don’t have. And for the record, there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first. In fact, in survival situations, it’s a necessity. Just think about how airlines encourage passengers to put their own oxygen masks on first before helping others. Put another way, think about this quote from Eleanor Brownn: “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve others on an empty vessel.” If giving is your passion even though it’s not financially feasible to do so now, then use your current misfortunate as motivation to earn more income. In other words, it’s time to set some goals. Ask yourself the following questions: How much money do I need to be making in order to cover my own basic expenses? How much money would I like to give to charity? What are some ways that I can increase my earnings? What is a realistic timeline that I can set for myself to accomplish my financial goals? Remember: just because you cannot donate now doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to. Your current predicament is not your permanent predicament. There’s always room change, grow, and donate in the...

How to Use Philanthropy as a Means of Marketing

How to Use Philanthropy as a Means of Marketing

Jun 29

In today’s competitive market place, it’s becoming harder and harder to promote one’s name, brand, or business. One unique and underused marketing strategy involves making a sizeable charitable donation. If that sounds a little unethical, it’s not. There’s nothing with capitalizing on the opportunity to self-promote and do some good in the world­­­ at the same time—two birds, one stone. No, seriously, it’s done all the time. In fact, it’s proven to be an effective strategy for celebrities, politicians, athletes, and business leaders alike. Take, for example, this headline featured in The New York Times: Chance the Rapper Donates $1 Million to Chicago’s Public Schools. Is Chance the Rapper legitimately passionate about education and the arts? Absolutely! But was he also doing it as a means to garner positive press around his name? Probably. But again, there’s nothing wrong with that. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the donation, the more press it’s going to get. But in some cases, a person or a company may not need to make national headlines. This is especially true of localized businesses whose target audience resides in the immediate area. In that case, a $20,000-$50,000 donation is enough to make the local papers or news stations. But if the goal is to reach a wider audience, the donation will need to be substantially larger. How large? At least $100,000. But there are other factors to consider as well. The type of charity that one gives to matters just as much (if not more) than the amount of the donation. Going back to the example of Chance the Rapper, his donation was particularly noteworthy due to his own personal background. Chance the Rapper, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, is a Chicago native who grew up in the West Chatham neighborhood. He decided to give to schools that are located in financially ailing districts—schools that coincidentally have a lot of minority students. Being African American, his donation made for a great story about how race intersects with money, education, and access to resources. That’s why the news of his donation made headlines. Businesses looking to promote their services should seek to emulate this type of philanthropy. The best way to ensure that the donation will capture the media’s attention is to look at it through the eyes of the press. In other words, businesses should ask themselves this key question: is...

The Most Costly Mistake That Charities Make

The Most Costly Mistake That Charities Make

Apr 26

As the nonprofit sector grows increasingly competitive, charities cannot afford to make too many mistakes. Unfortunately, there’s still one mistake in particular that charities are making, and it’s costing them both donors and resources. The mistake is inundating donors with unwanted solicitations, whether that’s in the form of snail mail, e-mails, texts, or phone calls. It’s costly because it takes up time, money, and assets and in the end it only annoys donors and makes them less likely to donate in the future. Part of the reason it’s still so commonly committed is because once upon a time, it was considered a best practice. But it is now 2017. People live busy lives. The average American is already swamped with junk mail; the last thing they need is more spam. Do this instead: ask donors if they would like to receive newsletters and other information pertaining to the charity. Better yet, leave a checkbox on their donation form so that they don’t feel compelled to say “yes” when asked in person. Believe it or not, there are literally thousands of people who just want to make a one-time donation… and that’s okay. It’s unrealistic to think that sending tons of mail will convert this demographic into life-long donors. If anything, it will have the reverse effect. Not to mention, due to technology, most donors refer to an organization’s website for all the latest news and updates. Heavily invested donors can also follow the organization on social media as a way to stay current. In the end, if the person cares enough about the charity and the cause, they will continue to donate. It is the charity’s responsibility to ask donors whether or not they would like to receive additional news or information pertaining to the organization. It’s all about respecting the wants and desires of...

3 Tips for Getting a Job in the Nonprofit Sector

3 Tips for Getting a Job in the Nonprofit Sector

Feb 15

The nonprofit sector is notoriously hard to break into. But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With a few helpful pointers, nearly anyone can find a career in the field. Tip #1: Research How Nonprofit Organizations Function Ideally, employers are looking for candidates who already have experience working in the nonprofit sector. But younger job seekers, particularly those fresh out of college, may not have this experience yet. A quick and easy way to overcome this obstacle is to research how nonprofit organizations function. Candidates should know how organizations get their funding, what the requirements are for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and be familiar with common terms that are used in the industry. Tip #2: Volunteer The sooner, the better. No, seriously. Volunteer experience leaves a lasting impression with any employer, but this is especially true for those in the nonprofit sector. Candidates will have a hard time convincing employers that they are passionate about giving back to the community without the experience to back it up. Often times, college students make the mistake of waiting until after they graduate to volunteer. With only a few months of volunteer experience under their belt, it often looks like a last-ditch effort to secure a job. Tip #3: Attend Events The same old, worn out, cliché advice about networking holds true for the nonprofit sector just as much as it does for any other industry. A great way to start building those connections is by attending events, whether that’s a fundraising event or a conference. Not only does it show a high level of interest and engagement, but it also shows dedication. Plus, nothing beats being able to talk to someone face-to-face. In a world where an average of 118 people apply for a single job, it’s critical that applicants set themselves apart in some...

The Double-Edged Sword of a Celebrity Spokesperson

The Double-Edged Sword of a Celebrity Spokesperson

Jan 12

A celebrity spokesperson can be a huge boon for a nonprofit organization, but on the other hand, they can also be a huge roadblock. Take Tom Hiddleston, for example. Hiddleston recently earned the wrath of the Internet for expressing pride that a show he worked on was appreciated by medics from Doctors Without Borders. Twitter users accused the actor of being a “white savior” because he was trying to bring attention to humanitarian efforts in the South Sudan. The whole debacle was taken out of context and blown way out of proportion. But that’s not the point. Because he now has some negative press about him, so does the United Nations Children’s Fund (the nonprofit organization that he was serving as spokesman for). It goes to show that high-profile allies can and will be criticized for everything they do, and any affiliated organizations will have to suffer those consequences as well. Angelina Jolie is another good example. She has done a great deal of good work with the United Nations since 2001. However, if social media worked then like it does now, that career would have been cut short because at some point she probably would have said or done something that the Internet could jump all over. Social media is a powerful tool, but it’s far too often used to bully people, famous or otherwise. When a nonprofit teams up with a celebrity, they have to carefully consider what kinds of social media fallout they might have to face. While there are some celebrities who are obviously not worth working with, there are others who would make for excellent spokespeople. The downside is that it’s impossible to predict the future and what could happen down the line at an awards show or red carpet event. In considering whether or not to partner up with a celebrity, it’s important for nonprofits to have an eye on social media, which is where any little mistake is going develop into a full-blown scandal. The cult of celebrity status is much more fragile now that news spreads like wildfire. It’s important to think ahead, and be ready for “damage control” should something go wrong. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore at Flickr Creative...

Nonprofits Need to Think about Security

Nonprofits Need to Think about Security

Dec 14

Preventing fraud in nonprofits is sometimes just a matter of actually thinking about accountability. The Lumberton High School band’s booster club had one person handling the mostly cash donations that they took in, which is how that person managed to steal over $70,800 dollars from the group. If there had been even one additional person responsible for that money, that theft could likely have been reduced or even prevented. The nonprofit sector is so vulnerable to fraud because, unlike the for-profit or public sectors, there are far less security measures in place, either required by law or simply put in place by ethical practices. While there are certainly more security minded nonprofits out there, most are small organizations with few employees that, though they mean well, can easily succumb to relatively simple fraud schemes. So how do we fix this? By becoming, as an entire sector of the economy, more security conscious. This means more checks and balances. Everything from writing ethical guidelines to tasking multiple people with keeping track of donations and expenditures should be included. For some nonprofits, it could even mean not taking cash donations at all, or at least making it a rule that two people have to be working together when accepting such donations. The needs of an individual organization are going to vary, of course, which means that the security concerns will vary as well. But the first step has to be realizing that security is a concern, and then sitting down to address it. Even if an organization has no history of fraud, that doesn’t mean it will never be subject to it in the future. In the case of the aforementioned Lumberton band booster club, that theft was happening over several years, so its possible to have a history of fraud without even knowing it. Why should an organization wait until after they’ve been victimized to put preventative measures in...