Archive for the ‘Charity’ Category

The Gift of Giving Back: Handmade Global Design at NY Now

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

 

Aid Through Trade “Coral Reef”

Charity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of NY Now, the former NY Gift Show. This August I visited a different section than in previous seasons: Handmade Global Design. Giving back was a recurring theme for many of these exhibitors. In some cases they donate money to charities; in others, through their efforts, lives of poverty and hopelessness are transformed by work, education and access to global markets.

Some were members of the Fair Trade Federation. It describes itself as “part of the global fair trade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty…by continually and significantly expanding the practice of trade that values the labor and dignity of all people.”

Meyelo’s Fynn Rucksack

I call out two of its some 50 members listed in the directory: Aid Through Trade, one of the Federation’s founding members, and Meyelo.

The original creator of the Roll-On® Bracelet made with glass beads, Aid Through Trade employs 200+ women from Nepal. Founded in 1993 by former Peace Corps volunteer Damian Jones, he recognized that women’s lives changed dramatically when they have an income.

As I passed by Meyelo’s booth, I heard one of the sales staff say to a customer, “Our for profit gives back to our nonprofit.” Eighty women from Kenya make bags, earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, scarves and sandals sold through Meyelo. On its website: “Every purchase provides our artisans with a source of fair trade income, support for their community, and a global platform for their work.….We work in community development with Maasai villages and provide access to education, water, farming co-ops and medical needs. We empower women, girls and their communities with sustainable programs.”

Bella Tunno’s Giraffe Pacifier Lovie

A striking poster caught my eye in the Bella Tunno booth filled with collections of children’s accessories. It touted: “You buy one product, we give one child a meal.” Founded by Michelle Tunno Buelow, the website reports that “A portion of every Bella Tunno product sold is donated to the Matt Tunno Make a Difference Memorial Fund.” To honor her brother Matt, Michelle Buelow’s fund supports drug and alcohol abuse education, prevention and rehabilitation and programs for at-risk children and teenagers.

Aid to Artisans

Aid to Artisans creates opportunities for low-income craftspeople and designers in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Central and South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa “to build profitable businesses inspired by handmade traditions.” According to its website, it offers “access to new markets, business training, eco-effective processes and design innovation through a network of partners to promote sustainable growth and community well-being.” The artisans make a range of products from decorative pillows and children’s accessories to desk accessories, ceramic vases, shawls, jewelry, home furnishings and decorative pieces, glassware and ornaments.

“Comfort for a Cause,” is The Elephant Pants Company’s slogan. Founded in 2014, it donates 10 percent of its net profits to save elephants. “Thanks to you, $145,615 has been donated to charitable organizations dedicated to saving elephants,” it declares on its website, as a result of selling over 400,000 pairs of what it says are “The most comfortable pants that anybody had ever worn.”

For a company to combine help for impoverished foreign artisans or to donate a percentage of profits to charity is nothing new but it appears to be a successful approach given the numbers of companies doing it. Do you favor such products when you buy gifts and decorative pieces for your home?

The Elephant Pants Company’s harem pants

Service of It Must Work Because I Keep Hearing It

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Some commercials have always irritated me and they don’t get better with time. The adverts must do well or they would either be pulled or changed. For me they cause one action: I change stations.

I never again want to hear about My Pillow. While clearly a great success—bloomberg.com reported that Michael Lindell has sold 26 million of them at $45 or more each and has a workforce of 1,500–I’m not tempted and I’m clearly alone. According to Josh Dean in “The Preposterous Success Story of America’s Pillow King” “…a huge number of them [are sold] directly to consumers who call and order by phone after seeing or hearing one of his inescapable TV and radio ads.”

FortuneBuilder seminar Photo: pinterest

In the Flip This House commercial you learn that the company is looking for “a few good people,” to join them. By now, in the NY Metro area alone, they must have found thousands or, based on years of hearing the same ad, they are really selling something else, like classes, which they are. FortuneBuilders is the name of the company that produces free 90 minute seminars offering the opportunity for more that you pay for. The Central Texas Better Business Bureau president Bill McGuire, with 22 years as a banker under his belt, told Brooke West, a reporter at theeagle.com “‘if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Most of the folks [who will attend the seminars] are regular people interested in making money, and that’s what their focus is,’ McGuire said. ‘But these [FortuneBuilder representatives] are going to get into their back pockets.’” ‘Nuff said.

I haven’t heard lately the incessant jingle for “Kars4Kids.” This might be related to recent publicity. I read on nonprofitorquartely.org Ruth McCambridge’s article “Kars4Kids: What the Jingle Leaves Out,” that first appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She wrote “…. how many among the general public know that Kars4Kids is directly affiliated with—and sends 90 percent of those proceeds that go to charity to—Oorah, a single youth charity in New Jersey which, according to tax forms, is “a Jewish outreach organization for the purpose of imparting Jewish education, values, and traditions, as well as guidance and support, to Jewish children who lack access to these fundamentals?” Key words in this quote are “that go to charity.”

Photo: youtube.com

McCambridge continues to share the findings of a 300 page report by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. For example: “out of $3 million raised in that state from 2012 to 2014, less than $12,000 went to children’s services in Minnesota…. She additionally found that though Kars4Kids reports spending 63 percent on mission, in actuality, of the $88 million raised nationally from 2012 to 2014, only 44 percent was given to charity, with $40 million going to Oorah. (When it comes to car donation programs in general, that 44 percent probably puts it on the high side, actually.)”

Do some commercials that you’ve heard for years drive you up walls? Have you bought anything after you heard or saw an ad for the billionth time? Does Genucel’s Chamonix cream really remove those bags under your eyes?

Photo: parenting.com

Service of Canaries in the Coalmine

Monday, June 29th, 2015

 Homeless in NYC

I am seeing more beggars in my travels around NYC and increasing numbers of people sleeping on the street such as the men in the photos above and to the right. They are hard to see in these poor images taken within a few days of one another. One is tucked beneath steps in Katharine Hepburn Garden on 47th Street off First Avenue and one is on steps up the street from my office on East 45th near Second Avenue.

One panhandler who disappeared for years reemerged near Grand Central Station the other week, much plumper than her younger self but with a similar cardboard sign asking for help. Was she OK all those years or hanging out elsewhere?

I was astonished by a man in his 60s who was also begging one rush-hour outside of Grand Central. He was well groomed, wore a gray business suit, white shirt and necktie and held a sign that said he was going on job interviews and was looking for work and to please help. Who knows whether he was in trouble or a creative conman? Tragic whether he so desperately needed money that he resorted to the streets or was taking money from kind people who couldn’t afford to help but did anyway.

homeless in NYC 2To confirm my anecdotal observations I looked for statistics but was unable to come up with the number of panhandlers in NYC [or anywhere else] at any time.

I found a recent one about homelessness in a New York Daily News headline from an article by Harry Stevens and Greg B. Smith from February: “Thousands of New Yorkers living in dangerous ‘cluster units’ as homeless population tops 59,000, a record high: The homeless count represents a 10% jump during Mayor de Blasio’s first year in office.”

So that addresses why I’m seeing more people sleeping on the street, but it’s not proof of an increased number of beggars. Michael S. Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, Inc. and clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School wrote: “Contrary to common belief, panhandlers and homeless people are not necessarily one and the same. Many studies have found that only a small percentage of homeless people panhandle, and only a small percentage of panhandlers are homeless.” Scott’s article, “The Problem of Panhandling,” was on his organization’s website.

Editorial written by people involved with charities that help indigent citizens urge the public not to give money to panhandlers but instead to donate to legitimate organizations funded to address ways to earn legitimate income and where to get food and shelter. I’ve always heard this.

Have you noticed more panhandlers and homeless people lately where you live or work? Does this situation indicate an economy more troubled than publicized or that charities have fewer funds to help people in need or that your city or town isn’t doing its job to help the underserved?

Photo: i09.com

Photo: i09.com

Service of Auctions: Charitybuzz Says A Lot

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Auction

You don’t need to have skin in the game to find the sport of following auction sales thrilling; though to covet something and watch what happens to its price is exhilarating and nail-biting. Look at EBay’s success.

I wanted you to know about another online auction—Charitybuzz–that I became charitybuzz try thisintimately familiar with as part of a New York Women in Communications [NYWICI] Foundation committee to grow the scholarship fund. Charitybuzz is a brilliant business concept providing a seamless way to raise money for nonprofit organizations around the world from the African Rainforest Conservancy to the Zimmer Children’s Museum. The lots generally offer experiences rather than objects.

The partnership with NYWICI works well as the organization knows industry personalities–broadcast celebrities, editors in chief, CEOs of international marketing/advertising/PR agencies and cutting edge corporations for example—who generously give of their time. Wealthy bidders fly thousands of miles–and pay–to meet a star or business guru over lunch, breakfast or coffee for an hour or two or to give their son or daughter the experience of counsel from the C-Suite in their offspring’s dream industry. One of the lot headlines offers to “Jump Start Your Career With a Summer Job at Publicis Worldwide North America.” A gift for the woman who has everything is a ticket to the Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year event. You have until May 5th to bid on the lots in the NYWICI Foundation auction.

NYWICI Foundation logoLast year this committee made $80,000 for the scholarship fund, after Charitybuzz took its percentage. It earns every cent. The staff introduced us to some top lots; kept meticulous records from past and current auctions to save us time; informed the 100,000 high net worth bidders in its database about our auction and continues to promote it—and that’s just for starters. Our contact was Logan Holzman, auction specialist, who is smart, responsive, and incredibly quick. She’s an unmatched multitasker and has a great sense of humor. We tossed hundreds of balls at her with hard deadlines looming and she didn’t drop one.

farm auction 1The first auctions I ever attended were on the prairies of North Dakota where it didn’t take long for me to learn that the fellows in overalls, when overalls weren’t fashionable, were millionaire farmers. I was an apprentice to a secondhand furniture dealer who took me with him to find the pieces he’d refinish and sell. There were no TJ Maxx stores at the time. The cheapest new furniture available was badly made, ugly and overpriced. Newly married with no budget for furniture, the solid oak chairs and tables were a good option. I left behind the last of my North Dakota Farmhouse Collection—the 50 cent chair–on a move two months ago. That name for the chair was a misnomer if you add the cost of the stain, sandpaper, steel wool and sweat applied to spruce it up.

Sotheby's auctionWhen I was an editor at Art & Antiques Magazine I went to countless auction previews and for years haunted auction house exhibits to see remarkable art and furniture destined for private hands. Along the way I’ve also bought art and antiques at my share of auctions—both silent and standard.

The first auction item I bid on and wanted so badly to own–but that got away–was a pew from an old church that looked a little like the one in the photo below. I also remember buying some amazing bargains and incredible furniture and accessories. How about you?  Have you followed, participated in or attended a thrilling auction?

The "fish" that got away.

The “fish” that got away.

 

Service of Opening Wallets for Charity

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

 

Give generously

In Anna Prior’s Wall Street Journal article “How Charities Can Get More Out of Donors,” I learned that the emotional ask—sharing heartwrenching descriptions of people in dire need–isn’t as effective as it once was. What is? “Trumpeting the fact that the charity got a gift from a big-name donor.” Experiments cited in the article proved the point. Bill and Melinda Gates open checkbooks. Why? “Because it’s so hard for individuals to evaluate charities these days,” Prior wrote.

The issue of the effectiveness of public recognition–even for smallish donations–show that the probability of giving was 13 percent + for alumni who were told their donations over a certain amount would be published in a newsletter vs. 11 percent for those who weren’t. Further, contributions were $8 more on average with the former group.

high end office designFor those who resent paying for overhead–large executive salaries, meetings at resorts or fancy office furniture for example–a study showed that those told that every penny they donated was going to the cause, as overhead had already been covered by previous gifts, tended to give more.

“As part of the research,” wrote Prior about a study conducted by Uri Gneezy, Elizabeth Keenan and Ayelet Gneezy at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management, “they sent 40,000 solicitation letters to people, divided into four groups. One group received a standard letter asking for money, the second got a similar letter saying a private donor had already given seed money to the cause, and the third group’s letter noted there was a matching grant available. But the fourth group got a letter telling them that the charity had already secured donations to cover its overhead costs, so every subsequent dollar donated was going directly to programs.

“According to the study, 8.55% of people in the fourth group donated, compared with 4.75% in the second group and 4.41% in the third. And total donations for the fourth group were $23,120—almost triple the first group’s $8,040, and nearly double $13,220 in the second group and $12,210 in the third. ‘The average donor doesn’t seem to care about the size of the overhead, as long as they aren’t the one paying for it,’ says Mr. Gneezy.”

solicit outside storePrior also covered what’s most effective for in-person solicitation. No surprise that those outside a store got more when they asked for it than those who silently stood by a bucket. The question charities need grapple with is: when does aggression become an annoying turnoff?

There’s also pressure for people to announce their gifts via Facebook, such as offering incentives via matching grants of from $1 to $5 in the donor’s name if givers promote their donations on their Facebook walls. People preferred doing this via Facebook than sending email messages to friends.

Have you been convinced to donate money to a charity based on correspondence; seeing on social media that a friend or colleague donated; via requests from friends or colleagues or promises that your name would be publicized as a donor? Do you have your list of charities from which you never waiver? Do you like others to know you are a donor? What inspires you to open your checkbook and what turns you off?

write a check

Service of Charity IV

Monday, March 17th, 2014

 

collecting money at church

I turned on the radio on a recent Sunday just as Monsignor Kieran Harrington said that he’s criticized by some for making repairs to the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Explained the host of “In the Arena” on WOR Radio, who is also the cathedral’s rector, naysayers suggested he should use the money to cover Catholic school tuitions or give the restoration money to charity. [The program also airs on NET, a faith-centered, Brooklyn-based TV network on Time Warner Cable channel 97 and channel 30 on Cablevision.]

Monsignor Harrington, [photo right], has his hands full and is a person who thrives on keeping busy. In addition to his rector duties and the program, he is associate publisher of The Tablet; the Diocese of Brooklyn’s vicar for communications and Monsignor Kieran Harringtonpresident/chairman of Desales Media Group. He explained that by hiring painters and plasterers, contractors and others, he’s paying them so they, in turn, can cover their expenses—tuition, food and shelter–which he thought had merit.

I agree.

About the same time the “Greater New York” section of The Wall Street Journal featured a photo of a workman leaning from a scaffold up high in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He was adjusting something in a stained glass window. According to the caption, the estimate of this three year project is $175 million. Worker salaries will pay for plenty of food, shelter and education. Meanwhile, a NYC landmark will stand tall.

Christ Episcopal Church

Christ Episcopal Church

 

Apart from the service of maintaining a place of worship so that it’s a pleasant place to visit and shows appropriate respect, don’t we also owe it to future generations to preserve landmark buildings whether or not they have a religious history? I’ve visited US cities where downtown looks like Europe after World War II. They have destroyed all but a few paltry buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Not a pretty sight.

Do you think those responsible for the budgets of places of worship should direct all funds to charity? Are they accountable to preserve the buildings in their charge?

Monsignor Harrington in Cathedral of Saint Joseph. Photo: The Tablet

Monsignor Harrington in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph. Photo: The Tablet

 

Service of Dreaming

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Dreaming 1

I’ve written before about luck and the lottery; that it’s a tax on the poor and how winners often become paupers but it’s again time to dream because the Mega Millions jackpot is $550 million and may even be more as I hear ticket sales were brisk over the weekend.

Raining moneyAfter paying off bills, buying a few gifts for yourself and loved ones, and salting away enough so that you don’t have to worry about how you’d pay for rent, food, clothes and healthcare for the rest of your life, there would be plenty left over. The hardest thing would be to decide where to put the money–all in one spot or a little here and there–whether to address starvation, disease, education, the arts or causes—or to keep it all.

Do you already know where the extra would go or would you first study the subject? Would you give money to existing foundations, start a foundation of your own or keep and then spend all the winnings on houses, boats and cars? Would you keep on working?

 

 

Frank Sinatra singing "Luck be a Lady Tonight"

Frank Sinatra singing “Luck be a Lady Tonight”

 

 

Service of Charity III

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Charity2

I’ve covered the dark side of this topic—you could call it a gift that keeps on giving–countless times from gorilla charity fundraising and scare tactics to people who support charities for all the wrong reasons. I’ve written about retailers who ask customers to buy products thereby benefiting twice: They increase sales and look saintly by giving away what they’ve collected and not paid for.

Last week when I reached for my checkbook to send money to help the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines, I hesitated. Should I instead risk sending cash in an envelope without a return address so that I don’t get a pile of subsequent requests for donations from the charity? It infuriates me to see the charity spend in paper and postage even five cents of the amount I donated for a specific cause.

StopI mentioned this to a colleague who has directed major marketing and fundraising initiatives for world-class charities. She said that I should look for the tiny type at the bottom of printed pieces that show how to opt out of receiving future missives. If there is nothing there, she advised, get in touch with the charity and demand that it take you off their list. “It takes time but can be done,” she said.

Why, I asked, do they send so very many requests when I’ve never sent in a penny after the first amount—at least until the next crisis? “A charity never knows when it might get a hit. In one instance, I heard of a donor who gave modest amounts over the period of a year–$10-$20–for years. When she died, she left that charity over $1 million.”

The marketing expert mentioned “permission marketing” where marketers ask for consent before sending something else, whether a newsletter or catalog or in this case additional ask letters. The concept works online–where it started. I don’t think that it’s as pertinent to printed outreach because it takes longer for the recipient to opt out than a click on a computer or smartphone.

phonebankIn many instances it isn’t the charity itself that harasses but a company that the charity hires to fundraise. These consultants with phone banks have only one thing in mind: To add to the amount they collect, the charity be damned. A friend and her mother send their donations to a well known children’s hospital during the week each year when a benefactor doubles the amount of money collected. Her mother got a call asking her to donate $19/month and she explained, several times, that if she did that instead the hospital would actually get less. Clearly the caller didn’t care and kept pushing for her to commit to the monthly amount. She hung up.

Can you share ways in which you’ve unhitched yourself from a charity’s donor list or do you send in money each time or toss the missives? Do you have any recent charity-related tales to tell–some positive I hope?

 Please give

Service of What Were They Thinking II? Gun Permits for Blind Applicants, Publishing Charitable Donations and Magazine Subscription Rates

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Huh

Seeing Straight

Did you know that Iowa grants gun permits to blind applicants? They fear that not doing so would be in violation of the Americans with EyeglassesDisabilities Act.

Giving for All to See

Publishing the amounts people give to charity is old as the hills and must work. Proud of my new last name I learned my lesson when newly married a thousand years ago. I put my name on the envelope I dropped in the basket at church only to see it listed in the monthly published donations at the lowest level.

charityRecently I almost offered a modest online donation to celebrate a friend’s father’s life when I noticed that the site was publishing each donation and name. As $100 wasn’t the amount I had in mind, I passed. There’s no way to tell how much charities don’t get because of potential donors like me though I’m sure they’ve worked out that public pressure ups totals.

How Dumb Are Their Readers?

One design magazine has dogged me to renew my subscription at $24/year or a “special offer” of $48 for two. A blow-in card in every issue boasts a $15 offer for new subscribers. Hmmm.

Can you add to this list? All three examples are head scratchers to me. Your thoughts?

writing a check

Service of Color When It Jars

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Pink garbage can

With paintings, furniture, ceramic tile, decorative elements, fashion—almost everything I can think of—all colors fly.

There are exceptions.

Last Sunday I drove by oversized pink plastic containers waiting for garbage pickup on a country road. A stylized ribbon on traditional green, brown or blue containers would have had the same effect of showing support for breast cancer research and patients and would not have looked so out of place—plain ugly–in a bucolic setting. [Actually, I don’t like to see any garbage pails hanging out on such a road but that’s a different subject.] Whose idea was it to associate a garbage can with a good cause? Just saying.

Turquoise houseI’m also not a fan of lavender or turquoise exterior house paint in northern climes

Speaking of color, what’s with all the blue nail polish? Nobody in New York is wearing pink, red or purple anymore. I like cerulean, sapphire, cobalt and aqua but I’ve not made the jump to my nails though I’m getting used to it on others.

Blue food? Nobody has trouble with blue tortilla chips.

pink hairTeens in head-to-toe tattoos are often the people with blue or unnaturally red/orange hair though I’ve also seen 50+ women so festooned. They don’t look ugly, just vying for attention yet some seem uncomfortable in their locks.  

Are there colors that seem out of place to you?

Purple carrots

 

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics