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?


Writing About My Writing Process


Chris Carter, my good friend and the inspiring writer behind The Mom Cafe, recently tagged me in a blog hop thingy (pretty sure that’s the technical name for it) that’s all about the writing process. Bloggers are sharing a bit about why and how they write and then they ask a few of their favorite bloggers to do the same.

You can read about Chris’ process here. I love how thoughtful she is about her posts. The work she puts into her writing shines through every time I read her words.

While I don’t usually do these sort of blog hops thingies, I think this is a really fun one. I’ve enjoyed reading about the process behind some of my favorite bloggers’ writing. And it has made me think about my own process, if you call it that.

Before I answer the four questions about my writing, I’m going to go ahead and tag two bloggers whom I would love to share their own writing process. Alexa at No Holding Back and Katie at Pick Any Two, are you up for the challenge?

Here goes nothing.

Why do I write what I do?

I write a lot. It’s what I do for a living. So I guess it depends on the day. Sometimes it’s for a client and sometimes it’s for me. This blog and my work in the nonprofit sector has inspired me to explore the topic of philanthropy in particular. Over the past few years, I’ve looked at what it means to give back from every angle. I’ve connected with and interviewed those who give back in creative and unique ways. It’s been an amazing exploration.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

When it comes to my writing about philanthropy, giving back and social good in general, I think my perspective as both a donor and someone who works in the nonprofit sector makes me somewhat unique. My professional experience allows me to observe the ways in which people do, want and can give, while my personal experience allows me to test out what it means for me. I’m big on research and action. Talking about new concepts while also trying them out. My Nicaragua trip is the perfect example of this. I try to dig deeper into those concepts, so that I can fully understand how things work. I love to interview social entrepreneurs, for example, because I get a fuller story for my posts and I can get a sense of the passion for their work. I hope that shines through.

How does my writing process work?

I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about my writing process. I have to admit that I’m a last minute kind of writer. I’m the kind of person that does great under deadline. If you don’t give me one, I’ll drag my feet. It’s not that I don’t want to do the work, I just might not be inspired. Put me under the gun, however, and I write like nobody’s business. I’m the girl that could crank out 20-page research papers the night before (on a word processor, no less!) and still get an A in high school. To get myself motivated and inspired, I often have to take a walk or do something completely different to clear my head. I always come up with my best writing ideas when I’m doing something else. This is why I always at least have my phone nearby to jot down writing ideas when they pop into my head. I might be shopping or outside with the kids. If I don’t note my ideas, I’ll never remember them later!

What am I working on?

This is where I have to be a bit secretive. I’m working on something pretty big, but I can’t say what it is quite yet. I will say that it’s something I am very passionate about. I’m also working on a presentation for an upcoming conference and lots of stuff for my biggest client. Of course, I’m always looking for new stories to share for my Philanthropy Friday series. (Drop me a line if you have a lead for me!)

What is your writing process?

Philanthropy Friday: Daily Giving and The Pollination Project

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. You can view past posts from the series here.

The Pollination Project

The Pollination Project believes in the power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  Co-founded by Ariel Nessel and his sister-in-law Stephanie Klempner, The Pollination Project seeds $1,000 grants to “individual change makers” every single day of the year. 

I had the opportunity to talk with Ari, who is also the president of The Pollination Project, and Alissa Hauser, the executive director. Both are as passionate about philanthropy as I am. And they are dedicated to a daily giving practice.

How does The Pollination Project fund grants every day? Ninety-five percent of the funding actually comes from Ari himself. The other 5% comes from donations, though The Pollination Project does not do traditional fundraising.

But Ari’s not just writing a check every day. In his words, simply writing a check would not nourish his soul. The Pollination Project came about because he realized how powerful money could be after making charitable donations for a number of years. He saw what a dollar could do and how he was more engaged when he felt like he was making a difference. But there was still a disconnect. He knew he had the capacity to give financially, but he also knew giving time and effort is equally important. He wanted to find those people who were doing the work in the world without being a cog.

Alissa, who had run nonprofits for 20 years, was tasked with manifesting Ari’s vision. As Alissa tells me, The Pollination Project is all about believing in people. “It’s about believing in every applicant’s goal to change the world, whether they get the grant or not.”

The issue areas The Pollination Project funds include environmental stewardship, animal protection, social justice, community health and wellness, and arts and culture. The organization enlists the help of teams, which often include past grantees, to review grant applications to ensure applicants meet the specific funding guidelines. Alissa says approximately 31% of the applications are funded.

The Pollination Project grantee map

Click on this grantee map from The Pollination Project to see where their grantees and projects are located. When you click on the stars, you’ll get a short description of the project.

As you can see from the grantee map, The Pollination Project has “planted seeds” all over the world. Grantees include people like Elle Morgan, who created a magical campground for adjudicated teenage girls in the Appalachia region of Pennsylvania. And Vincent Atitwa, who provided starter plants to 25 families in the Matungu Sub County, Kenya, teaching them to grow their own food and then pay it forward to others in the form of new seedlings. You can read more about past grantees on the website.

Ari says The Pollination Project’s model augments the more traditional funding model that typically includes larger organizations giving to larger groups. His vision is for The Pollination Project to manifest a place where everyone can relate to being a philanthropist, where we all support each other, roll up our sleeves and do the work.

Watch this video to hear more about this vision.

Here are some simple ways to get involved with The Pollination Project (or to plant your own seeds):

 Are you a change maker?

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