Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"True Happiness Is Giving It Away"

I have a soft spot for ABC's new show, Secret Millionaire (the eight-episode season ended last month). Every Sunday night, I repeatedly choked back tears as I watched undercover rich folks volunteer with non-profits in cities that are experiencing hard times - before making massive donations to help the people they befriended continue to make differences in their communities.

I am, quite obviously, not a millionaire. But when I secured my new job this January, I committed to donating some portion of it - with regularity - to charities with missions I believe in. I remembered the One Percent Foundation, founded in part by someone who used to work at the office where I used to work, though not at the same time (a coworker of coworker, if you will, which is the grown-up version "a friend of a friend"). Their motto is "Philanthropy is for everyone!" which I really dig. The gist is this: You donate 1% of your annual income to OPF, & at the end of the year, they pool all of the money together & their board chooses deserving non-profits to be the recipients of the combined funds.

I trust OPF to donate my money wisely (& liberally), but I still make donations on my own, too. Places I've chosen to contribute to in the last year or plan to contribute in the coming months include:

  • Love146, which works to end the modern-day slavery of child trafficking
  • GirlUp, a UN Foundation campaign that teaches American girls to advocate for the rights of girls worldwide
  • Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights advocacy organization in the country
  • Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, which advocates for progressive Jewish values in public policy
  • The American Cancer Society, which is near & dear to my heart, as my dad & three grandparents have all died of various forms of cancer
  • Planned Parenthood, which doesn't just perform abortions but also provides STD & cancer screenings, birth control, contraceptives, family planning, crisis counseling & so much more
  • The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, which funds & sponsors research on the debilitating disease that took my friend Zach in 2006
  • Hopeline, which runs 1-800-SUICIDE, a 24/7 hotline for people battling suicidal thoughts. This is one that means a great deal to me.

Now it's your turn: I want to know where your money goes. Do you make an effort to forgo the occasional latte or new pair of shoes to send your hard-earned dolladolla bills to causes that you care about? What causes rev you up? 
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