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Should Only the Rich Give to the Poor?

give to poor
IMG: via Shutterstock

It’s easy to look at those with more money than us and think it’s their responsibility to help the struggling masses. They have more than everyone else, so they should give back, right? But are those of us who have tighter budgets to run excused from giving because we have less to spare?

But then there’s that sneaky little saying that always seems to come along: “Doing what is right is not always easy.” It can be said backwards and forwards, and it still seems to stay true. Getting into the mindset that we’re just middle- and low-income people, part of the 99%, and don’t have much to spare seems the popular option these days. It’s all true, of course—we don’t have much to spare. But don’t we have more than some others?

The Giving Pledge is a great way for encouraging billionaires to dedicate the majority of their money to charity. But the pledge is open to anyone, no matter their financial background. So why haven’t more non-billionaires joined the cause? We don’t have to be rich to give to charity. We don’t even have to have a “comfortable” lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be big—it just has to be for a good cause.

It’s hard to draw the line, though. Some people really do fall into the category of barely getting by. And though they might have a roof over their head and just enough food to get by, they probably don’t have the resources to give back—and that’s fine.

The question being asked here is different, though. It’s a question of those of us who think we have nothing extra to give but really do—we just use it for a little added comfort in life. A coffee, a treat, a mini-shopping spree. We’ve all been there. But perhaps we should examine ourselves at times, and rather than immediately dismissing the possibility of giving back, actually give it a chance. Isn’t it worth a little extra work on our part to help others?

Instead of buying your morning Starbucks, why not give a breakfast to that homeless person on the corner? Instead of sleeping in on Saturday morning, why not help out a charitable organization? Why not make a donation to a cause you believe in?

Why not?

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How To Start a Charity

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Start-ups are not an uncommon thing to encounter in this day and age, for-profit and non-profit alike. More and more, people are discovering that they have a passion for something—and it’s not the corporate world. In a country where the “pursuit of happiness” is viewed as a right, why not take your passion and turn it into something great?

Unfortunately, running a charity is not so simple as just having a cause and getting donations. Starting one is even more work. But if you have something that inspires you to make change, and are willing to put in the work, it’s certainly possible.

Every charity needs to know its vision and mission. Too often, missions are too broad and immeasurable, and visions are undeveloped. Your mission should be your specific, measurable goals. The vision should be a far off inspiration to aspire to.

Next, you should name the organization either after the cause of in memory of a person who inspired it. Keep in mind that there are millions of non-profits in the US alone. Find a way to make your charity somehow different and appealing to donors.

Make a 5-year plan. Outline fundraising strategies, operational structure, budget, and apply to be a 501(c)(3)—a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. This process can be lengthy and may require the advice of professionals.

Today is all about technology. Create a website to share your cause. Get involved in social media and update regularly. This can be a big help when seeking donations to fund the start-up. It can also help you find others with experience and interest in non-profit operation. You’ll need to put together an (unpaid) advisory board to act as resources and help establish operations.

Once you have raised enough cash to operate for a year or more, you are ready to begin operation. Remember, you’re a start-up, so be frugal. Most of your spending should go toward your mission, with only a small amount going toward operation.

Finally, good luck! It may take some time for things to get going, but remember, “Good things come to those who wait.”

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Porn For a Cause

Come4

Susan G. Komen is a name most people know and recognize as the symbol for fighting against breast cancer. Beginning in 1982, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is now the largest organization dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer. Nearly $2 billion has been invested in the thirty years since its conception.

The organization has been funded privately and publicly from a variety of sources. But one source was recently turned down. Why? The donation offer came from a pornographic website attempting to donate part of its proceeds to the cause.

This brings up an important morality issue when it comes to non-profit organizations and their funding. Is it okay to accept money from a source some would label as questionable? The line between what’s acceptable and not acceptable becomes a bit blurry here.

A new non-profit organization, Come4.org is challenging the idea that porn and charity can’t mix. Based in Italy, the new organization is planning to use crowd-sourced porn to generate revenue to be re-invested in charitable causes. The campaign’s concept is “porn with a heart,” and is attempting to not only be philanthropy-centered, but also challenge the current porn industry.

The site would like to see more artistic value in online pornography, and less macho-ism, violence, and artificiality. They hope to reconnect online visitors with human sexuality instead of offering the one-dimensional perspective that is consistent with porn today. The site also allows users to upload their own “artistic” videos and photographs for free.

Making thousands of dollars per second, the online porn industry could contribute a substantial amount to charity. Come4.org plans to assign each video on its site a specific cause, and then donating revenues to those causes.

So why can’t an industry like porn also be charitable? Some will indubitably be opposed to such an initiative—those who decry porn as immoral, exploitative, or sexist. But still, it offers the chance for public opinion on pornography to change for the better. If the site can successfully create an image of pornography as an artistic expression, it stands to impact the porn industry as a whole and be charitable at the same time.

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Olympians Take Philanthropy to New Levels

The Olympics are famous for the publicity they attract: companies fight to sponsor the games, cities compete to host them, and every media outlet focuses exclusively on Olympics coverage for weeks. Millions in revenue end up in the pockets of everyone involved, including the athletes. Some of these athletes have found a way to turn this new celebrity into something good: philanthropy.

Johann Olav Koss
IMG: via Right to Play

Johann Olav Koss is a Norwegian speed skater who, with 4 gold medals and a silver, is considered one of the best speed skaters in history. He has skated ten world records, and throughout his career he has amassed a collection of medals from Norwegian, European, and international competitions. After he retired from speed skating, Koss became an ambassador for UNICEF, a member of the International Olympics Committee, and he became the CEO of Right to Play, an international humanitarian organization  that uses sports and play programs to empower children and communities in disadvantaged areas and to foster peace.

 

mia hamm
IMG: via Global Sports Forum

Mia Hamm was the most recognizable  face in women’s soccer for more than a decade; she holds the record for most goals scored internationally for male and female players, and she has inspired an entire generation of young girls playing soccer. She led Team USA to Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004 before she retired among accolades. Mia Hamm has done more than play great soccer, however. In 1997, Mia’s adoptive brother Garrett passed away from a rare blood disease, and Mia was inspired to found the Mia Hamm Foundation in 1999. Her foundation is dedicated to her passions in life: raising funds and awareness for families of patients who need transplants, and continuing the growth of opportunities for girls in sports. Mia Hamm has been breaking records and making herself known throughout her entire career; today, she is using her position to help those around her.

 

Hannah Teter
IMG: GiroSportDesign via Flickr

Hannah Teter, an American snowboarder from Vermont, has taken Olympic philanthropy to new levels. After winning a gold medal in the halfpipe at the 2006 Olympics, Teter decided to found Hannah’s Gold, a charity that raises money for a rural Kenyan community through the sales of maple syrup from her home state. The funds from Hannah’s Gold have gone toward community projects like building schools and creating access to reliable, safe sources of water. In 2009, she donated all of her prize money toward her program in Kenya. Hannah Teter has also worked with PETA, Children’s International, and Boarding for Breast Cancer. In 2010, she launched an underwear line called Sweet Cheeks that donates 40% of its proceeds to Children International.

These three Olympians, past or present, set an example that all competing athletes should follow. Becoming an athlete at the Olympic level is an incredible feat; the world’s eyes are on you, and you have a responsibility to live up to millions of expectations. These athletes have the unique opportunity to use this publicity and fanfare for a bigger cause.