The way I see it, some people are meant to do charitable work. And it’s up to the rest of us to ensure they have what they need.
To that end — cuz anonymous donations are bullshit — here’s a breakdown of our charitable giving in 2013:
- Donors Choose — $4,867 to local schools, specifically for reading, science, math, and cultural projects
- Fistula Foundation — $2,850 (or enough for 6 life-restoring surgeries, and a teeny bit left over)
- Philabundance — $1,500 to feed local families (wanna help? join our team here)
- Watsi — $325
- Project Night Night — $200
- Toys for Tots — ~ $135 (in toys & books)
- Southern Poverty Law Center — $56 ($14/mo; discontinued, see below)
- Misc medical funds, race for a cause, Movember, etc., type stuff — ~ $500
Employee donations (we gave our two awesome teammates, Devon & Cannon, $500 each to donate on top of their holiday bonuses):
Or, $931/mo. Or about 2% of our gross revenue this year.
(I don’t have the final numbers yet, but I expect our gross revenue to be around $550k, because we took a large & deliberate hit when we chose to forego the large 30×500 revenue in order to redo the whole program.)
How we give:
We prioritize local over remote, high impact over low impact, opportunities over niceties.
That’s why $6,501 of our donation dollars went to local classrooms, local bellies, and local kids.
Ours Donors Choose donations are typically for books, science equipment, and cultural experiences… because those are the things that help kids transcend shitty circumstances. (If you follow me on Twitter, you may be thinking: Umm, Amy, aren’t you anti-school? Nope. I’m anti-schooling. But these kids don’t even have a chance, when their classrooms don’t even have books.)
And that’s why our next biggest single donation, $2,850, went to the Fistula Foundation — because $450 pays for a surgery that can restore a woman’s life, after she’s quite often lost both her baby and the support of her family and community.
Project Night Night and Toys for Tots are “non-urgent” — they don’t save a life or support education, but my hope is that they help kids feel a little bit of hope and dignity. (Gift-wise, I picked out LaMaze baby toys, snuggly bears, good books for various ages like the Ramona Quimby series and The Graveyard Book, and card games.)
Why it’s important to do your research: I met a canvasser & signed up on the spot to donate a few bucks a month to the Southern Poverty Law Center, because they fight legal battles to further civil rights. When I had a moment and investigated them on Charity Navigator and general Googling, I discontinued my support. Turns out they don’t do a good job of using their money. We’re switching to the well-rated and uncontroversial Southern Center for Human Rights.
Our goals for next year
I want to double our giving. Full stop. Our revenue should be perking back up in 2014, thanks to the new 30×500, and so it shouldn’t be a problem.
We also don’t really have any kind of formal “program” for giving — it’s basically been me, picking things out. I’d like to make things more formal! A % of revenue, maybe. Some kind of volunteering program for us + our employees.
I’m also thinking about ways I can reach local kids with the 30×500 message: Look for opportunities, start small, serve others by solving pains they have, and make money by helping.
This spot reserved for… you?
Have you given to charity yet? If not, you’ve got 2 days left to make it happen in this fiscal year. Now’s a good time to figure out what’s special to you and how you can help other people have it, too.
If you do give… whom do you give to? Why?
PS — if you have NFI where to start, you can’t go wrong by donating to local classrooms with Donors Choose. Give them books & science equipment. And if that’s too much decision-making for you, set up a monthly subscription with Omakase.