Philanthropy Friday: Share Your Good Day

share your good dayShare Your Good Day is a micro-donation platform that allows you to donate $1 to outstanding charities in honor of anything good that happens to you.

When I spoke with founder / COO Jeremy Neil in November, Share Your Good Day was just four weeks old as a live company. He explained to me that the company was a family affair that came about after a brainstorm with his father-in-law around ways to give back. They were impressed by the ways people could collectively make their small donations bigger and more impactful through crowd funding. He also wondered what would happen if you put that crowdfunding idea together with gaming.

The purpose of Share Your Good Day, according to Jeremy, is to create a cultural shift into what happens when you do something good. As Jeremy notes, most people can afford $1. The website helps people think of others when good things happen to them. They share the good and donate $1 to a charity they choose on the website. People can read up on the charities to find out whom they want to support. At the end of the week, “votes” and donations are tallied. The charity that was chosen by the most people that week receives 50% of the week’s donations while the second and third charities receive 25% of the donations.

Right now, Share Your Good Day features three different charities each week, though this number may expand in the future. Charities are identified and researched using Charity Navigator. There are no fees for the charities and Share Your Good Day works directly with them to ensure a transparent process.

Also a 501(c)(3 )nonprofit organization, the purpose of Share Your Good Day is to give back and not to make money. Due to credit card fees, $0.85 of every dollar goes into the donation pot. The website is mostly run by friends and family members of Jeremy who volunteer their time. Your donations are also tax deductible at the end of the year.

Jeremy hopes that he will inspire a younger group of philanthropists to think about donating money when good stuff happens to them by making giving a game. He also hopes that his unique giving platform will also allow people to learn about new charities to support.

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

Yesterday I donated $1 after being invited by a local television station to talk about conscious holiday shopping on air next week. A good day indeed! The bonus is that Share Your Good Day is currently matching each donation dollar for dollar. They’ll even double donations that come from referring friends.

What good thing has recently happened to you?

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. Read past stories here

The Long Night: The Harsh Truth About Sex Trafficking in the US

“I’d kill the whole world to get my little girl back.”

I felt my chest tighten as I jotted this quote down, tears streaming down my cheeks. I absorbed every bit of this father’s pain at that moment, and yet my reaction couldn’t possibly be anywhere near the true agony this desperate man must have experienced.

The Long Night is a powerful, one-hour documentary film by Tim Matsui that gives voice and meaning to the crisis of minors who are forced and coerced into the American sex trade. The film weaves together the stories of seven people whose lives have been forever changed by this issue.

Natalie - The Long Night

“There wasn’t really much that I think I was running away from at home. I think that I just wanted to rebel. I think that I wanted to not have to listen to rules or have to worry about getting straight A’s for my parents.”
Within 36 hours of leaving home, Natalie was contacted by a ‘bottom girl’ and on her way to being pimped out.

Tom’s beautiful daughter Natalie ran away from home when she was 15 years old. She wasn’t a bad kid, just rebellious. Within days of arriving in Seattle, she was prostituting her virgin body in somebody’s basement.

Natalie returned home after 10 horrific days in Seattle where she was pimped out and raped. Confused and sad and unable to attend school, where her peers called her a whore and a slut, she soon found herself running away once again. And prostitution found her once again.

Tom - The Long Night

“The support that we thought we had with friends, that just stopped. It felt like they looked at us like it was like our fault, like it was something that we had done, as opposed to something that somebody else had done.”
Natalie’s father speaking about how their community responded when she finally returned from the hands of her pimp.

By the end of film, we see Tom driving around to massage parlors asking for young girls as he desperately tries to find his daughter, thoughts of killing pimps running through his brain. At this point, Tom is also an alcoholic. While the family is eventually re-united, it is clear they have a long road ahead of them.

We often think of sex trafficking as a problem in other parts of the world. Reality is that the sex trade is real and active in our own backyard. I recall hearing Cindy McCain, a strong voice fighting human trafficking, telling AYA Summit attendees that we’ve all seen victims, we just don’ realize it.

Lisa - The Long Night

Turned out by a pimp at 13, Lisa only knows one life. The heroin that makes her forget and the tricks she turns to survive.
“I feel like my skin’s crawling right now and it’s like it doesn’t matter how clean I try to get how many showers I take, it doesn’t go away. When I say I’m scared of being sober, I’m scared of the reality of things.”

Since watching the movie, I keep thinking of Lisa, a woman covered in track marks from injecting heroin and scars from cutting. Her addiction to heroin was the only thing that could numb the pain of her life as a sex worker, a harsh life that started when she was just 13-years-old.

I’ve worked in the substance abuse treatment field for 8 years now and Lisa’s story is not that uncommon. Years of abuse and pain have left her a shadow of the person she once was. Struggling to break her drug abuse and with very little support, the odds are stacked against her. Her own mother has pleaded with the public to watch the film so that other girls can be spared the life that Lisa has endured. A life that has no guarantee of continuing if drastic measures aren’t taken. (I believe Lisa is now in jail.)

You also get perspectives from the police who hear “the worst story I have ever heard” every single day on the job.

Joel - The Long Night

Detective Joel Banks on how his police work with trafficking victims affects him.
“It just gets really heavy. You actually kind of have to take a breath, and then we’d say, ‘Man, that’s the worst story I ever heard,’ and then tomorrow comes along, and it’s the next worst story you’ve ever heard.”

I’m not going to lie. I felt somewhat destroyed after watching this movie. It is heavy and hard to watch. Yet it is so important you do.

So what can we do about sex trafficking and its horrific effects? Here are some very simple action steps you can take right now:

  • First, think about your sphere of influence
  • Then, watch The Long Night
  • Like The Long Night’s Facebook page
  • Like Leaving the Life’s Facebook page 
  • Invite your friends to do the same
  • Comment on the film. On your page or on the film’s. Tweet about it.
  • Share a story. Share your own Call to Action.
  • Host a living room screening of the film
  • Bring the film to your PTA  group
  • Integrate the into your schools
  • Call your city officials and ask that they watch the film
  • Get the film to your local police chief
  • Find local victim service providers and ask what they need; socks, meals, donations for their annual fundraiser, they’ll know. And then let your community know what you did, inspire them!
  • Have Leaving the Life come to your municipality to facilitate the co-creation of solutions in day-long convenings. This will take some work, even if you’re the mayor or the county executive.
  • Because it’s all connected, consider donating to your favorite nonprofit working on a social justice issue. This includes Leaving the Life

Will you spend an hour watching The Long Night?

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.

Philanthropy Friday: Q & A with Heifer International + The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World

Heifer_2

I’ve been talking a lot about gifts that give back on the blog lately. It’s the giving season after all. One of the classic examples of a gift that gives back is Heifer International’s catalog where you can buy things like goats and (you guessed it) heifers. You know the catalog I’m talking about, right? It’s The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World.

Heifer International is a nonprofit community development organization dedicated to helping end hunger and poverty while working to protect the environment and care for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Gifts through Heifer International go to families around the world living with hunger and poverty so that smallholder farmer families can feed themselves and their communities, women who never had a voice before find one and become leaders in their communities and children can go to school and realize their dreams.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Heifer’s Vice President of Marketing, Christy Moore, by email. I thought it would be fun to ask more about Heifer’s alternative gift giving catalog, the impact it has had and her own thoughts on giving. Following are my questions and her answers. 

Heifer_logo

1. Tell me more about alternative gift giving and how/why Heifer International started their Gift Catalog.

The original idea of alternative gift giving was developed in the 1970’s by a Heifer International volunteer. This idea developed into The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World, which was first mailed in 1990. The catalog was developed as a way to engage donors and their families. Through the catalog families can shop for meaningful gifts to give in honor of loved ones while also learning about the importance and impact the gift of animals and training has on small-scale farmers around the world.

Watch Heifer’s new holiday PSA

2. What is the most popular item in the catalog? 

We have several popular items including goats, heifers and chicks.

3. Can you give me a story or two about the impact these gifts have had on the recipients or the givers themselves?  

When I think about our small-scale farmers, Lovisa Wamukota from Eastern Uganda always comes to mind. She is a 72 year old grandmother who is caring for 12 of her young grandchildren, all orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Her story is one of courage, hard work and big dreams. Although her family struggled to find enough food, she was determined to send her grandchildren to school. After receiving a goat from Heifer International, and with a lot of hard work, Lovisa has been able to send four children to secondary school and five more to primary school. Lovisa’s story always moves me. Through her hard work and determination she is providing a better life for her grandchildren. She truly represents the spirit of women’s empowerment. SHE is empowering others and providing a brighter future for those she cherishes most.

Heifer_1

Photo Credit: Heifer International

4. How can everyday citizens give year round? 

We believe that only through working together as a global community can we end hunger and poverty – I believe that we can all make a difference whether it involves donating your time, resources or making a financial contribution. It is important for everyone to make a commitment to make the world a better place.

5. What does giving mean to you? 

Giving means that you find something you are passionate about and you do whatever it takes to make a difference. You lend your voice to the cause, you support financially, you donate your time and you recruit as many people as you can to help support the cause. Giving is something you do because you believe it will make a difference, not only to the cause you are giving to, but also to yourself.

6. What should my readers know about Heifer that they might not already know? 

The core of Heifer’s model is Passing on the Gift.  Every person who receives a gift from Heifer becomes a donor. Imagine the power in that. I have personally witnessed many Passing on the Gift ceremonies and I always feel overwhelmed and so thankful to be a part of something so magical. The pride and dignity that each person receives by giving is something that can never be taken away.

Thanks, Christy!

Have you ever purchased livestock from Heifer International’s gift catalog?

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. Read past stories here

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: Shop with a Conscience Today!

giftsthatgiveimageNov2014I’m not a person who shops on Black Friday. The mere thought of crowds of people fighting over the latest big thing everyone has to have makes me sick to my stomach.

In fact, the holiday season makes me question whether presents are truly necessary. Since the boys and I have downsized, we barely have enough room for what we already have, which is fine with me because it has given us the chance to cut out the excess.

We truly don’t need a whole lot. For that, I am thankful.

While others are shopping, I am contemplating how I will celebrate the giving season in a manner that lives up to the intention. (On a side note, I’d love to hear your alternative ways to send out holiday greeting cards, as this is on my mind right now.)

Eventually, though, I will purchase a gift or two. I will concentrate on my boys and the kiddos in my life that call me Auntie (not Antie), blood-related or otherwise.

I’ve been talking about #GivingTuesday and gifts that give back for the past couple of weeks. Today, I share with you my continually updated list of Gifts That Give Back. It’s a list that I manage through FavePages (formerly SkinnyScoop). It also has a permanent spot on my newly created page, Gifts That Give Back (clever title, right?).

If you are shopping today, consider a purchase that also benefits a cause you care about. All of the suggestions below give back in some way.

I also encourage you to read my post on GOOD from last year: Five Simple Ways to Shop With a Conscience This Holiday

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I’ll be celebrating my Black Friday baby, Biz, who turns 6 today!

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. Read past stories here