"True Happiness Is Giving It Away"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

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? 


    1. You know what's weird? I just joined the One Percent Foundation last month. I'm part of their San Francisco Circle beta program!

    2. Oh, good! I met the president of it yesterday, actually, & am looking
      forward to getting more involved. What a funny coincidence!

    3. I've never heard of One Percent Foundation, but I will have a look at it now!

      I sponsor three children with World Vision (two in Albania, one in South Africa). I also sponsor an orphan in China through the orphanage that she lives at. Those are regular (monthly) donations.

      There are some organizations that I try to donate to a few times a year. I donate to Room to Read, which builds schools and libraries in developing nations. When I can, I support the American Cancer Scoiety, the U.S. Humane Society and a few others here and there...

    4. Autism Speaks and Planned Parenthood are the most regular receivers. HRC will be getting its first check from me within the month. Autism, women's right, gay rights ... I think that about covers it for this gal. I told myself after I got my first job that I would not be allowed to donate to more than one or two because there are SO MANY worthy organizations, and I would rather locate a few near-and-dear ones and stick with them. Though I guess Elim Christian Academy -- my brother's school, for developmentally disabled kids -- got a big ol' chunk through Joey's Auction last year. Though I hardly count that -- I organized the auction and sent them the money, but I didn't bid on anything.

    5. Wow, you are very generous! I give here and there, nothing really on a regular basis, I guess. But the places I do regularly give are:

      - the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (uh, duh)
      - the Diabetes Research Institute (again, for obvious reasons)
      - the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (for my cousin)
      - Children's International (I sponsor a child)
      - World Vision (Erik and I sponsor a child together, and he has an additional one. We're not even married yet and we are already supporting 3 kids!)

      And then I usually donate whenever a friend is doing a walk or has some kind of fundraiser, so I donate to various cancers, suicide, animals, etc.

      Erik has his own list of charities he gives to, and I don't even know what they all are!

    6. I won't go into details, but in the past year I've realized how much I have that I just do not need--and it's made me realize more and more that the point of things is to share them. That's how happiness and love exist. So I am so happy that you do this, and are aware of what is important and what you can do to help.

    7. GREAT posting!!!!!

      Ok. So my money goes to support my kids' school and three area synagogues. Plus, I contribute regularly to Sharsheret (a support/information organization for Jewish women with breast cancer) and a number of Israeli charities. There's more that goes to support some other local Jewish causes... Plus, I let my kids empty out their piggy banks and help them decide where their money should go.

      P.S. Just read your comment on Chaviva's site... you bought a tichel?!!! :-)))) I can't believe you didn't bring it to show me. Can't wait to see you again!!!

    8. I absolutely love this post! We primarily give to local charities {pet shelters, homes for battered women, & local children's programs} because we see exactly where the money is going, but we also give to Komen, the Red Cross & Hospice.

    9. For right now, the only thing I habitually donate is my blood. My wife and I only occasionally donate money toward causes, and that's not likely to change until we feel we can give enough to make a real impact.

    10. My two biggest (or heartfelt... or is that strong-felt?) donation responsibilities: Planned Parenthood and my local animal rescue shelters.

      Also, piggy-backing on Matt's comment below (which, giving blood is an INCREDIBLE way to give back, regardless of your financial "comfortability"): ORGAN DONATION.
      I know there are some religious restrictions to that for some, but if you are able, please consider registering as an organ donor.

    11. Love this, Kate! I regularly contribute gifts-in-kind and volunteer at my local animal shelter, and while, in the past, I've donated to many cancer and literacy organizations, it's the animal rights, mental health, and Alzheimer's awareness foundations that have intimately affected me, so I regularly advocate for their causes.

      Thanks for bringing these organizations to light -- I'm a huge proponent of awareness, so this is awesome to read and learn more about the many organizations that are out there, namely Hopeline, which I'd never heard of before. Thanks for that, thanks for this.

    12. Wow! I can't tell you how much I needed to read this post this morning. Lately I've been feeling a little...I'm not sure of the word I'm looking for...woe is me, maybe? Living in the WashMetro area on one salary sucks. I keep thinking how much better it will be when Jer is done with school and can work a full-time job. But the fact that I can afford to pay my bills means I have so much to be grateful for and that I should giving to those who could really use it. Thanks for getting me thinking. :)

    13. I donate to the Humane Society & Doctors without Borders on a regular basis. In addition to that, I donate to my college for the scholarship fund, and we do a lot of charities at my office, like Susan G. Komen, Shoes for haiti, nurses for newborns and other local STL ones.

    14. Last year, the big donations went to the Asian Women's Shelter in San Francisco, my high school and college. I also support the California state parks, the national parks, and various arts programs around San Francisco. When it comes to disaster relief and health organizations, it's usually a one-time thing.


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