Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is on #GivingTuesday

‘Tis the season for giving. Or so they say. It can be hard to give meaningfully when you are bombarded with constant advertisements of deals on items you (or your kids) may or may not need under your Christmas tree. (I’m guessing you don’t need most of that stuff.)

What if we took a day to stop shopping and just give?

That’s what #GivingTuesday is for. A a global day dedicated to giving back. A day where charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world come together for the one common purpose of celebrating generosity and to give.

Honestly, I have not given as much as I’d like to this year. I was conservative due to my divorce and new living situation. While I still stayed (mostly) true to my giving pledge, I was not perfect.

Still, I volunteered regularly, shopped consciously and donated as much as I could. I was aware, and that’s really what counts.

I am constantly updating and tweaking my personal giving strategy, as I think we all should. There’s no right or wrong way to give.

Today, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I’m donating to two organizations near and dear to my heart, Crossroads and WaterAid America.

WaterAidGivingTuesdayOn #GivingTuesday (December 2, 2014), your donation to WaterAid America will be doubled due to the generosity of WaterAid’s Leadership Circle and Go Green Environmental Services.

GivingTuesday2014From December 1 – December 6, Eventbrite is waiving their fees so that your full donation to Crossroads will go towards supporting its Children And Mothers Program (CAMP), the only program in Maine that provides on-site living arrangements to minor children of mothers in residential treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.

I’ve worked closely with both these organizations. I’ve seen their work firsthand, believe in their missions and know several staff members on a personal level.

It feels good to give these donations, as I know exactly where my money is going and how it will help.

Do you have an organization or cause you regularly support? Will you be donating on #GivingTuesday?

 

Philanthropy Friday: Scary Mommy Nation Thanksgiving Project 2014

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.

scary mommy thanksgiving project

The above image came across my Facebook newsfeed yesterday morning (11/6/14). A reminder of just how generous the Scary Mommy Nation is and just how much more need there still is as we head into the holiday season.

I wrote about the Thanksgiving Project last year around this time and how it was started:

The Thanksgiving Project started as a simple blog post from Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy) back in 2011. This post talked about how some people in the Scary Mommy community had a rough year and simply couldn’t provide a Thanksgiving dinner for their families. Some could barely afford a loaf of bread.

Jill had the idea of asking her large community of followers for help. Would they be willing to donate some money, even a small amount, to make sure everyone would be able to celebrate Thanksgiving?

The answer was a resounding Yes. Jill was overwhelmed with people who wanted to donate. She also heard from many others who needed help. The story received a ton of media attention, including on Good Morning AmericaNightline and the home pages of Yahoo and Huffington Post.

An average Thanksgiving dinner costs $50. In that first year of the Thanksgiving Project, the Scary Mommy community raised more than $20,000 and provided meals for more than 400 families.

After the success of the first impromptu Thanksgiving Project, Scary Mommy Nation quickly became a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization powered by mothers helping other mothers. As Jill told me in an email, “Once I saw the impact the site could have, I couldn’t not want to do more. I realized that people really want to help, they just need to be shown how to do it. Being official helped give me the structure I needed as well as a legitimacy that’s needed when collecting money.”

thanks

This project reminds me of how much impact a community of people – most of them mothers – can make in the lives of others. It also makes me proud to be a blogger. Collectively, we can use our blogs and our social media influence to spread the word about helping our peers.

These are families who are having a hard time making ends meet. Any of us could be there. Maybe some of your are. From an anonymous post written by a recipient:

Unless you’ve been in a similar situation, it’s hard to imagine the fear that day to day financial uncertainty can create. Sometimes I feel like I can’t take a deep breath. Sometimes I feel like if one more unexpected thing happens, the delicate facade I have created will come tumbling down and I will never repair it. Sometimes I feel like burning the idyllic picture of my family everyone sees and screaming “help us, save us.”

In the end, I keep going because the alternative doesn’t exist. Because my kids deserve better. Because there is no one to save us. Because no matter how bad things get, there’s always someone worse off than us.

And because I tell myself one day this will all be a distant memory. That day, the idyllic picture of my family everyone sees on the outside will reflect who we really are.

I made my donation yesterday. While applications to receive assistance are now closed, here’s how you can help:

  • If you are involved in blogging or social media, please help spread the word
  • If you can afford to help a struggling family, please donate via Paypal. Fifty dollars buys an entire dinner – you can, of course, give less and be grouped with other donors, or give more and sponsor multiple families. (You can also mail checks to: Scary Mommy Nation, PO Box 20866 Baltimore, MD 21209)
SMN

Bill and Melinda Gates: Debunking Myths Around Global Poverty

I’ve got a little quiz for you today. Answer true or false to the following statements:

  1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.
  2. Foreign aid is a big waste.
  3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation.

If you answered false to all three, you are correct! If you answered true, don’t worry. You are not alone. But after reading this post, I hope you will change any misconceptions you might have about helping those in poverty around the globe.

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Bill and Melinda Gates just released their annual letter and they are debunking the three myths mentioned above because misconceptions such as these often give people an excuse not to act.

From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

In fact, life is better for more people around the world than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives and poverty rates have been cut in half in the last 25 years. Child mortality is plunging. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. Bill and Melinda want to tackle these myths because too often they give people a reason not to act.

So let’s take a loot at these myths.

Poor countries are doomed to stay poor. In fact, many of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. Some of the so-called developing nations have already developed and many more are on their way. Progress in health and income and foreign aid has helped a lot. The percentage of “very poor people” has actually dropped by more than half since 1990. Bill Gates explains in this short video. He also predicts there will be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035.

Foreign aid is a big waste. I hear a lot of people complaining about the amount of money the United States gives to other countries in foreign aid. In fact, less than 1% of the American budget is allotted for foreign aid, which is about $30 for every American. Foreign aid actually helps countries find the kind of economic and health progress explained in #1. This progress, of course, help countries to become less dependent on aid. Bill Nye the Science Guy explains more in this short video.

Saving lives leads to overpopulation. People have worried about overpopulation for centuries. If we save everyone, then how will we have enough food and resources to go around? It has actually been found that the countries with the most deaths are also the fastest-growing populations. This happens when girls are married off young, when couples have several children because they know some will inevitably die, and when there is lack of education around or access to contraception. Ending overpopulation actually starts with saving the poorest children, as Professor Hans Rosling explains in this short video.

I encourage you to take some time and read through the letter from Bill and Melinda Gates. While I pulled out some of the highlights, there is much more information included in the letter, and it may will open your eyes to several global issues. It’s a great read.

You can help #stopthemyth

I wrote this post as part of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls. 

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Inspired by Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter, I decided to donate to Save the Children this month, specifically to their Syrian Children’s Relief Fund. Save the Children is a partner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a partner of mine as well. My donation will provide a set of winter clothes to protect a child from the cold. You can read more about their work here.

Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.

another jennifer giving pledge

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