Why Should I Pay it Forward

It was seven years ago; my husband and I had only been married a few years and we lived with our baby girl in a rented basement house with a roof that started at ground level and chipping concrete walls that had been painted green. We affectionately called it the gnome home because it looked like the kind of house magical little people might occupy. Well, we never saw any little people while we lived there, but we did experience a bit of magic.

Finances were tight. My husband had just passed the test to be a Licensed Practical Nurse and was in school to become a Registered nurse. With little experience, and several years shy of any nursing shortage, the only work he could find was part time. I helped with a few work from home jobs, but mostly I took care of the baby. We watched every penny that came in and out. It helped that we were healthy and young with no medical bills or dietary restrictions. I honed my skills at infusing dry beans with flavor and my husband picked up extra hours whenever he could.

But one month, my husband couldn’t pick up any extra hours. We tried to be as frugal as possible, but at the end of the month, my heart sank as I pounded numbers into my calculator. We were exactly one hundred dollars short. 

The next day my husband and I took our daughter to visit family in an attempt to forget our stress, but we were both anxious knowing the same thing could happen the next month too. That’s when the magic happened. 

We made our way to the entrance of our home and were shocked to find several new Easter dresses sized perfectly for our daughter. Then, when we went to open the door, an unmarked envelope fell to the porch. Inside it was 100 dollars in cash. 

I held my husband’s hand as we stared at the two fifty-dollar bills. We were not open about our financial situation. No one knew what had happened, and yet here was the exact amount we were short.

Looking back, that hundred dollars didn’t keep us from starving, without it we could still pay rent, and our daughter wouldn’t have known the difference between the sweet new dress we were given and the second-hand one we would have found her. We would have survived without it, but with it, we thrived, with it we felt loved. We were amazed that someone had been watching us close enough to realize what our needs were. Someone had given us hope during a time when we felt so downtrodden and helpless. 

After that, my husband and I made a goal that we would give back in the same way as soon as our finances allowed it. Years later, we have experienced both lean and plentiful moments in our lives, but never have we been so close to the edge as we were in the days when we lived in the gnome home. We’ve made it our personal mission to pay it forward and recreate that magic for others. We can only hope that some of the people we’ve left anonymous gifts for have done the same thing we did and are making their own magic right now.

Author:  Amber Mae

What is a Worthy Cause?

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

–Maimonides

Similar to a good cause, a worthy cause is something that leaves you better than you were before. In fact, the term “worthy cause” has been defined as “a cause that merits attention, aid, or action due to an inherent goodness of values or intention”. Based on this definition a worthy cause is simply a synonym for a good cause. But I think there is more that distinguishes the two, making them not just a synonym but a term that complements or plays off of each other.

I believe that the biggest difference between a good cause and a worthy cause, is that while they both help others, one provides services and aid, whereas the other not only provides services and aids but teaches the recipient how to improve their life as well. Giving aid and resources to those in need is important, but for many people that is where the help stops; not many causes go the extra steps to teach recipients to pay it forward or how to improve their life moving forward. It is this distinction that I believe takes a good cause and moves it up to being a worthy cause.

I believe that a worthy cause is three-fold: giving and receiving, learning and teaching, and paying it forward. When all three components work together, both the benefactor and the giver of a worthy cause benefit, along with many others whom the benefactor will then go on to bless and help in the future. Creating a never-ending circle of giving, teaching and paying it forward.

Giving and Receiving

At the root of any cause is a need—financial assistance, volunteers, disaster relief, medical or school supplies, etc. In order for this need to be addressed and the help received, it requires the benefactor to overcome their fear of asking for help, and letting it be known that they need assistance. When someone is able to admit that they need help and can’t do everything on their own, shows great courage; shows that any help received will be going towards a good or worthy cause.

Asking for help from others is not a sign of weakness, it is actually the opposite, it is a sign of strength. Not only are you opening yourself up to generosity from others, but you are providing givers with an opportunity for those who are willing and able to donate to give of their time and talents to those who are less fortunate or in need.

A worthy cause is something that allows for both parties—givers and receivers to be blessed and benefit from the act. Those who donate money to a worthy cause, experience many benefits associated with their generous donation. A few proven benefits that come from donating to a worthy cause include:

·         Experience More Pleasure and Joy

Studies have found that those who choose to donate money to a worthy or good cause, benefited from activated pleasure centers in the brain. Essentially, studies have found that when you donate money, you feel better, regardless of how much or how little you donate.

·         Bring More Meaning into Your Life

Donating and helping a worthy cause that you believe in, provides you with the opportunity to meet and connect with others who also believe in the same causes that you do. In addition, to meeting others who you share a common interest with, donating can also establish a sense of meaning in your own life; especially if you find that you are stuck in a rut, donating can reignite the spark in your own life.

·         Improve Personal Money Management

There are so many financial experts out there, all teaching individuals to set a budget and stick to it in order to get on top of their finances. Setting a set amount of money to donate to a worthy cause each month, can really help you to improve your personal finances as you are then committed to donating money to a charity or cause that you believe in every month. When you’ve decided to donate a set amount of money each month, people are generally more inclined to pay attention to their monthly bank statement, so they can stay current on their financial contributions.

·         Get a Tax Deduction

When you make a financial donation to an IRS-approved charity, you are then able to write off your donations on your tax return. Keep in mind, certain restrictions do apply, check out the IRS website to learn more and see if a particular charity or cause that you are considering donating to has IRS approval.  

All of these benefits bless the giver’s life, while the benefactor’s life is also blessed in the fact that their needs are met, they are able to pick up and rebuild their life, afford to pay for medical or funeral costs, or any other need that they might have. The beneficiary would not be able to do any of these things, if not for the generous donations of those from the givers.

Learning and Teaching

Now that we have learned a little bit about how the giver and receiver benefits from generous donations to worthy causes; it is time to take those lessons and teach them to others. It is easy to see the benefits for yourself when you are the one who is donating and benefiting directly, but what about your friends, family members or the benefactor? It is one thing to see others donate and bless others lives, or be the benefactors; it is entirely different when you learn and can experience those same benefits in your own life.

I believe that this is one of those instances, where the feeling is contagious. You feel good, therefore you want everyone you know to also experience the same feeling for themselves. The best way to do that is to teach them to donate and give to worthy causes. For those, who are just starting out donating and giving to worthy causes, might still be learning just how impactful giving can be, and how richly blessed their life can become. For others who have been giving and donating time, money and talents for a while may already be teaching and instilling these principles in others.

·         Realize that Every Little Bit Helps

Arguably, one of the most important lessons that anyone can learn when considering donating or contributing to a worthy cause, is that any little bit helps. You don’t need to be a millionaire with large sums of money ear-marked for various charitable donations in order to make a difference in someone’s life. Even the smallest of donations can add up to making a difference, helping the benefactor to reach their goal. Even then, when you donate to charitable organizations that go to help underprivileged countries around the world, a few dollars can go a very long way in purchasing food, medical supplies, or educational material. When making a donation, don’t think of it from an economic standpoint, when the effect will have far-reaching effects that you will not even begin to comprehend.

·         Motivate Friends and Family to Donate

You’ve probably heard it said before that “kindness is contagious”, the same goes for donating and giving to a worthy cause. When your friends and family see that you are donating, volunteering or giving to a worthy cause, they are more likely to do the same. To make a significant difference in the world, it is going to take a village, which is why motivating friends and family members to donate and give when and where they can, adds up to making substantial changes in people’s lives and the world.

·         Promote Generosity in Your Children

agoodcause - Young volunteers and children with box of donations outdoors

Your children are watching you, whether you think they are or not. When they see you giving your time, money and talents to various charities and worthy causes, it instills in them the importance of donating and giving when they get older. Teach them at an early age the importance of giving, and how rewarding it can be to give to others who are less fortunate than they are. You’ll be surprised that by teaching them young, these are values that they will take with them as they get older and move into adulthood.

The more you learn about giving, donating and volunteering to help others, the more you’ll want to share the joy you have with others. Teaching by example is a powerful tool to motivate and inspire others around you to adopt the same behavior into their own life. Regardless of their age, you can teach by example those around you to be more generous and to donate to a worthy cause that you believe in to make a difference.  

Paying It Forward

Another aspect of teaching is that those who are the beneficiary of generous donations and acts of service, then learn how to pay it forward and bless the lives of others. This is achieved through teaching them to be self-sufficient moving forward, teaching how to plant and garden and harvest food, how to make and sell items to make money, and most importantly how to pay it forward and give back to others in need.

Depending on the individual needs and situation, the way in which they are taught and learn how to pay it forward can and will be different; but teaching how to pay it forward is essential to keeping the circle of giving back going. The old saying of “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish you feed him for life.”, embodies this philosophy of teaching others to be able to stand on their own, so that they are then able to give and bless others.

Other ways in which individuals can be taught the importance of paying it forward, include teaching them about the benefits that come from giving, the joy that comes from giving, and how even though they might feel as though they have a lot to give or offer; any offer, big or small helps.

In my experience, when someone is the recipient of service, donations or charitable acts, they then want to give back, as a way of expressing their gratitude for what they have been given. It’s amazing to see how someone who had the courage to ask for help, then freely and willingly gives help to others who are seeking help.

Any cause or belief that connects givers with receivers, can be deemed a good cause. But it is these causes that go beyond connecting them, to teaching and inspiring others, and encouraging others to pay it forward that it then becomes a worthy cause.

If you’d like to donate to a worthy cause, but aren’t sure where to find a worthy cause, check out agoodcause.com today! A Good Cause provides a safe environment for groups and individuals to ask for help from generous donors who are seeking to do good in their communities and the world. Together givers and receivers through A Good Cause are creating worthy causes that you can feel good about supporting. Once you find a cause that you believe in and want to support, you can be part of the movement of giving and receiving, learning and teaching and ultimately paying it forward.

I challenge you to find a good and worthy cause that you can get behind and support, and then do it! If you can’t find a worthy cause that you believe in and want to support, I challenge you to start one and start making a difference in your community and the world. When you give to others, and support a worthy cause, you will be amazed at how you are blessed by serving and giving to others and seeing the ripple effect that starts with you.

Author: Ashley Christensen 

Sources:

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/worthy+cause

What are Some Good Causes?

When doing a quick Google search to find out what some good causes might be, you’ll see lists that include: food pantries, child and family services, shelters and homeless services, crisis services and more. Although all of these are “good causes”, dictionary.cambridge.org defines a “good cause” as: a socially useful organization or activity that is not managed for profit. I’d go so far as to argue, that a good cause can be defined as anything that will improve or help an individual, group or organization to achieve a goal, lighten another’s burden or make a difference in the world.

Under this definition, you can find many different causes in which groups and individuals are striving towards a common goal, lending a helping hand, and trying to make a difference in the world. Many of these good causes require financial donations to make their goals and dreams a reality.  

Similarly, there are organizations who are committed to improving the quality of life for select groups of people. This can include but is not limited to organizations such as, Ronald McDonald House Charities, American Red Cross, Fisher House Foundation, and United Way. Each organization has a different mission, but at the root of it, they are in support of a good cause that will bring relief and aid to those who are in need.

Now that we have identified what some good causes are, let’s look into each one and see what makes a good cause a good cause based on the definitions given above.

Ronald McDonald House Charities

As a parent, when your child gets sick and ends up hospitalized, the last thing you need to worry about is where you’re going to sleep or where your next meal is going to come from. This is especially true for parents who are far from home, or where a child will be hospitalized for an extended period of time.

It is this mentality that the Ronald McDonald House Charities was built upon—nothing else should matter when families are focused on the health of their child. When staying at a Ronald McDonald House, families are able to enjoy home-cooked meals, private bedrooms and playrooms for kids.

According to the Ronald McDonald House website, the Ronald McDonald Houses are funded and made possible thanks to generous donations from supporters—individuals, organizations and businesses. For those families that need to stay at a Ronald McDonald House, are able to do so for little to no cost, depending on their situation. Their stay can be anywhere from one night, upwards to several months or even a year or more; once again the length of stay will be dependent upon each family’s unique situation.

So, what is it that makes Ronald McDonald House Charities a good cause to support? The fact that families who have a child in need of medical treatment, can stay at a Ronald McDonald House, regardless of their ability to pay, for the duration of their child’s hospitalization or treatments. By not requiring families to pay for their stay, families can focus on their child’s health. Ronald McDonald House Charities believes that when a child is hospitalized, the love and support of their family can be just as powerful as the strongest medicine doctors prescribe. This is why Ronald McDonald House Charities are committed to providing a place for families to stay, where they can be close to their child, during hospital stays and treatments.

A friend of my dad’s is involved with the Ronald McDonald House Charities in his community, and he has invited my dad and others to get involved in raising money. He asks that friends and family members collect and save the tops to their aluminum pop cans. He is then able to take these tops and turn them in for money that is then donated directly to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. It is something that most people are going to toss out as soon as they are done with their drink, something super simple that most people wouldn’t think of, can be used to raise funds and support a good cause. 

American Red Cross

American Red Cross, Disaster relief text on the side of trailer - San Jose, California, USA - 2019

During any natural disaster, one of the first groups to respond and render aid is the American Red Cross. That is because the Red Cross offers a wide variety of services that are intended to provide relief and support to those in crisis; to help individuals be prepared in order to respond to emergencies that may arise.

In fact, according to the American Red Cross website, they respond to an average of 60,000 disasters every year, which is approximately an emergency every eight minutes. When responding to a disaster, 95% of disaster relief workers are volunteers. The types of disasters that they respond to vary from home fires to large natural disasters and everything in between.

There are five main areas the American Red Cross focuses their resources on: disaster relief, lifesaving blood, training and certification, military families, and international services. In response to natural disasters, the American Red Cross is able to provide those affected with clean water, safe shelter and hot meals when they need them the most. Following the initial disaster, the American Red Cross stays on, to assist those affected with recovering and lingering community needs. Through their efforts and working closely with community leaders, government and relief agencies, the American Red Cross is able to help organize and implement financial assistance both for immediate needs and longer-term.

Another huge component of the American Red Cross is blood donations as there is no substitute for blood. Everyday there are people across the globe who are in need of valuable blood transfusions, these can include individuals who were in an accident, burn victims, patients undergoing heart surgery or organ transplant, and cancer patients. According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the United States is in need of blood. This valuable service is only possible due in part to generous donations through blood drives. Donating blood is something that any healthy adult is capable of doing.

Other services provided by the American Red Cross include certifications and training to prepare for an emergency situation. This includes first aid training, CPR training, AED (automated external defibrillator) training, babysitting and caregiving training, swimming training, CNA (certified nursing assistant) training, and BLS (basic life support) training for health care providers. The American Red Cross is also proud to support America’s military and veteran families. This is accomplished through providing support to military families during deployments and emergencies, providing home comforts and critical services on bases and in military hospitals located around the world. One of the biggest roles the American Red Cross plays with the military is by providing 24/7 global emergency communication services across the country and around the world.

What makes them a good cause is that they rely on their volunteers and generous donors to help make their mission possible. From blood drives held all across the country, where generous, life-saving, blood donations are made, to volunteers who respond to a disaster and render aid. The American Red Cross has numerous volunteer opportunities available for those who wish to get involved and lend a hand. These opportunities are listed on their website, where you can learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer.

Fisher House Foundation

The Fisher House Foundation is similar to the Ronald McDonald House, in the fact that they provide lodging for families who have a loved one in the hospital. What makes them unique and special is they provide lodging free of charge for military and veterans families. All Fisher House homes are located at military and VA medical centers around the world.

Although the Fisher House Foundation does get funding through a congressional trust fund, they do also receive generous donations that go to help deserving military members, veterans and their families. The donations the Fisher House Foundation receives come in the form of monetary donations, frequent flyer miles, hotel reward points, and other charitable programs and partnerships that are in place. When frequent flyer miles and hotel reward points are donated, they are used to fly families to their loved one, or to put them up in a hotel to be close by where a Fisher House is not available.

Fisher House Foundation is an example of a good cause, because of the good they do for the numerous military members, veterans and military families who have given so much for our country. For those who’d also like to help military members, veterans and their families can make monetary, airline points, or hotel point donations to the Fisher House Foundation. Any individual or organization that would like to make a donation, can learn how to donate frequent flyer miles, hotel reward points or monetary donations through the Fisher House Foundation website.

aGoodCause.com

In addition to these different organizations, agoodcause.com, has ongoing campaigns to help support other good causes in our communities and around the world. These campaigns include: veterans aid collation, ending cancer, alleviating world hunger, children and youth impact, disaster relief, and animal cruelty. For more information about these different causes that agoodcause.com has for ongoing causes, or to make a donation, please visit: agoodcause.com.

There are many different groups, organizations and foundations that provide goods and services to others—all of which are a good cause. All of these different organizations and groups are working and committed to improve and alleviate hardships from those who are suffering or down on their luck. Even though they have similar goals, they each have a different group they cater to, each of which are good causes that benefit others. 

I believe when you do anything with the right intention and the right frame of mind to help others, during a time when they need it the most, is a good cause. Whether you donate to a national organization, such as, the ones mentioned here, or to your neighbor’s daughter’s soccer team fundraiser, it is a good cause. When you hear of a cause that seems to speak to you, or moves you to take action or to make a change in your life, it is a good cause, one that you should consider donating time, talents or money to helping the good causes you come across.

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/good-cause
https://www.rmhc.org/home
https://www.redcross.org/
https://fisherhouse.org/

#GivingTuesdayNow

Chances are you’ve heard of “Giving Tuesday”, which occurs annually on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States. In response to the current pandemic and unprecedented times that we currently find ourselves facing, Giving Tuesday Now was born. On May 5, 2020 will be the first official Giving Tuesday Now day, as a response to the unprecedented needs that have evolved as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have all found ourselves trying to juggle a new normal within the past month, whether that be working remotely, homeschooling our children, or suddenly unemployed, we are all dealing with uncertainty. Plans have been cancelled or postponed, birthdays and anniversaries can’t be celebrated how we envisioned them to be; yet we still have so much to celebrate and be grateful for.

It is with this spirit of gratitude that we can participate in Giving Tuesday Now, and give back to our communities, neighbors, friends, and others who are currently struggling. With many people now out of work and a significant number of businesses having to adjust their business model, it is now more important than ever to find ways to give back and support those whose way of life has been drastically impacted. Here are a few ways you can participate in Giving Tuesday Now that doesn’t require a lot of time, money or effort.

$10 and 10 Friends

Going out to lunch with friends, just to go, was a luxury that I enjoyed doing. I’m sure there are a lot of other people who also enjoyed this luxury as well. Currently, being unable to go out to lunch, or gather with large groups of friends has meant I am sitting at home instead of spending money on lunch. As a result, I have the ability to take ten dollars, or however much I typically would spend on lunch and I can donate it and do something good with it. I can donate it to a good cause, I can donate it to my local food pantry, the possibilities are endless. A challenge on Giving Tuesday Now would be to take that ten dollars and do something good with it, and then challenge ten friends, or more to do something good with the money they are saving from not going out to lunch.

Donate to Your Favorite Cause

Everybody has a cause they believe in—ending homelessness, veterans aid, ending child abuse and so much more. On Giving Tuesday Now, take what money you can afford and donate it to a cause or group you believe in or are passionate about. Not sure where to donate or who to donate to, check out all the good causes that are available on agoodcauses.com. When you donate to a cause you believe in and are passionate about, you are helping to create good in the world, especially now during a time of uncertainty.

Order Take Out

Another great way to get involved on Giving Tuesday Now is to plan ahead to order take out from your favorite local restaurant. Everybody has to eat, and while we might not be able to go and sit down inside our favorite restaurant any time soon, many restaurants have implemented takeout options, allowing for patrons to order and receive their menu favorites. This not only gives you an excuse to not cook that night, but you are also doing good by helping a local business keep their doors open.

Adopt a Senior

May typically indicates that the school year is coming to an end and for high school seniors it means that graduation is on the horizon. Unfortunately, due to the current situation, many schools have cancelled in-class learning and substituted with all online classes. This also means many seniors are missing out on their senior prom, spring sporting events, and so much more. Additionally, many don’t know if high schools will be able to hold a typical graduation ceremony that many have become accustomed to. As a result, there are many communities around the country who have implemented “adopt a senior” program. This allows for members of the community to adopt seniors who are graduating high school this year, to provide them with support as their senior year is different than they ever could have imagined. The idea behind “adopt a senior” is to send high school seniors a note, card, gift card, snack or anything to help them feel loved during this challenging time.

Show Kindness

Kindness can go a very long way, especially during these times of fear and uncertainty. No gesture is too big or too small, as the recipient will notice and appreciate your kindness. If you have elderly neighbors or family members, offer to pick up groceries for them and drop them off at their doorstep. If you know someone is struggling with fear, anxiety or loss of a job, send them a note letting them know that you are thinking of them. Offer to take a neighbor or friends pet for a walk. We are all at home, take this time to call family members or friends to chat and see how they are doing. Use this time to spread kindness and joy to those who mean the most to us. Additionally, write encouraging notes on your driveway or sidewalk using chalk, or hang an encouraging note in your front window. There are so many different ways in which you can show kindness and love to those around us, which is critical during times of uncertainty and fear.

aGoodCause - Show kindness around you

Giving Tuesday Now is the perfect opportunity to think of others around us and around the globe, and give a little extra to bring a smile to someone’s day or to help lighten their load. These are just a few ideas of things that you can do to participate in Giving Tuesday Now, or any other day when you have the opportunity to give back to others. Think of those around you who could use a little pick-me-up during this pandemic and think about what you can do to help them. Or think of ways that you can give back to your community and make a difference.

During these times of uncertainty and fear, we can all use some extra kindness and generosity, whether we are the giver or the receiver. When we give, we are blessed and experience just as much joy, if not more joy than the receiver. I challenge you to find ways that you can give back to those around you on Giving Tuesday Now, on May 5, 2020 and see how much better you feel after giving back.

Author: Ashley Christensen

How to Fundraise While Self-Quarantined

Many of us have been self-quarantined for almost a month now. And with no sure end date for staying home in sight, our way of life is quickly changing.

Now more than ever, those around you are needing extra funds in their lives. Maybe you want to raise money for an economically challenged student in your class to provide them with the technology they need to do their school work at home. Maybe your neighbor is one of the millions of individuals who are recently unemployed due to the economic downturn. Maybe you want to help a family member pay their medical bills after being hospitalized with the virus.

Though our Amazon orders have increased and our favorite restaurants only do curbside pickup now, we all still need a way to fund our projects and charitable aspirations. Now that the traditional ways of raising money by selling chocolate bars door-to-door or throwing big festivals at schools are outdated and unsafe, our way of fundraising is also quickly changing.

It’s important to note that our fundraising efforts have been in need of a makeover for a while now. Traditional fundraising has had so many downsides for years and it’s important that we address them.

Outrageous Quotas and Low Returns

For starters, how many boxes of cookie dough do you want me to sell? I remember when I was fourteen, I was on a volleyball team and we were required to sell forty boxes of cookie dough for a fundraiser. FORTY BOXES OF COOKIE DOUGH. I don’t even know that many people, let alone that many people who want to buy a box of cookie dough. Our team had about fifteen girls, so in order to raise the funds we needed, we needed to sell a total of 600 boxes of cookie dough. Why did we need to sell so many boxes? Because we only got about 40% of the profit from each box. This wasn’t a school fundraiser. This was a low-cost distribution model for a cookie dough company. It really wasn’t worth all the effort every girl (and their parents) had to put in in order to reach our lofty goal.

Shaming and Punishments

Which brings me to my next point: these types of fundraisers often come with built-in consequences or shame for individuals (often young students or team players) who do not reach these outrageous quotas. For this volleyball team, we would have to run an insane amount of laps after practice if we didn’t sell forty boxes of cookie dough. My parents thought this goal was also ridiculous, so instead of selling cookie dough, they just wrote a check in order to pay for my new uniform that we were trying to raise funds for. Guess what, my coaches still made me run those laps, even though 100% of that check would go straight towards my uniform, unlike the money from those cookie dough boxes.

agoodcause - covid19 student schoolgirl raising funds for school project

I remember in elementary school, we were all given catalogues of items we were supposed to sell to raise money for the school. If each member of the class sold at least one item, the entire class got to go to the fundraising party. We had a poster board (provided by the fundraising company) that the teacher wrote each person’s name on. Once we showed our teacher that we sold one item, we got to put a big smiley face sticker over our name. This allowed the class to know exactly who’s fault it was if we didn’t get to go to the fundraising party. Inevitably, our teachers always bought several items on the last day of the fundraiser so those few kids who couldn’t sell anything wouldn’t be socially ostracized by the rest of the class.

Unsafe Selling Environments

Because the quotas are high and the pressure is even higher, young students and players may turn to selling door-to-door in order to sell enough product. Even before the self-quarantine and stay at home guidelines, this created a dangerous environment for students and players trying to raise money. Especially when their time could be better employed by doing their homework or participating in their extracurricular activities.

It Requires A Lot of Work From Parents

From making home goods for bake sales to volunteering at fundraising festivals, traditional fundraising efforts require a lot of time and energy from parents and teachers. Which can make juggling home and work life even more difficult. In order to support their children and help them avoid the built in shame and punishments that come with traditional fundraisers, parents are often stretched thin, whether by exhausting their resources and buying fundraising items themselves or begging their coworkers to.

A SOLUTION

Having considered all of these problems with the way that fundraising is currently done, a Good Cause has created a fundraising solution that addresses these concerns.

High Returns

It’s our goal to have the highest payout for online fundraising, which is why our users get back 92% or more of the funds they raise for their campaigns. With such a high return, outrageous quotas are no longer necessary.

Shame-Free

The aGoodCause platform doesn’t provide any incentives like cheap toys or parties for individuals who sell a lot of products. We don’t even have a product to sell! Our fundraising solution is simple and centered around getting you the funds you need; no fluff attached. When creating campaigns, teachers, coaches, and club advisors get to set their fundraising goals. With this flexibility, they can set realistic goals for their students and players, helping to eliminate shame that is normally associated with fundraising.

Safe Environment

Our fundraising platform is entirely online, so there is no need for door-to-door selling or hosting big events. This is especially important during the current virus outbreak, when practicing social distancing and staying home is critical for everyone’s health. Families, schools, and teams can still raise the funds they need while following safe practices outlined by government and health officials.

Easy to Do

aGoodCause Fundraising was created with teachers, coaches, parents, students and players in mind. Our simple, easy to use fundraising solution saves everyone time. No more long hours baking cookies, knocking doors, and putting together prizes to auction off. Each student or player raising money can ask for donations from friends and families by simply texting or emailing a link to their fundraising campaign. There are no checks to collect, no inventory to deliver; everything is done online. Teachers, coaches, and families can post about their fundraisers on their social media, allowing more individuals to be reached with little effort.

It is our goal to help keep you safe while accessing the funds that you need. We want to eliminate outrageous quotas, punishments, and unsafe environments by providing a better fundraising solution. Click here and start your fundraising campaign today!

Author:  Brindisi Olsen Bravo

The Power of Laughter

 “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” 

–Charlie Chaplin

No truer words have been spoken, because laughter is such a powerful emotion that has far reaching effects. Not only do you feel better when laughing, those around you also feel the effects of a good, deep belly laugh leaving you with happy tears streaming down your face. We’ve all had these experiences with laughter. Especially when we are gathered with friends or family, enjoying each other’s company and before we know it, we are in fits of laughter over someone else’s embarrassing moments or reliving humors moments together. More often than not, one story elicits laughs then followed by another, then another and yet another until we are grabbing our sides, from laughing so hard and for so long. 

Other times, we enjoy watching something that makes us laugh—either a movie, TV show or even a comedian. Generally, we seek out comedic relief to relieve stress, for pure enjoyment, entertainment, or to enjoy a good laugh. Not only do we seek out entertainment that makes us laugh, more often than not, we share these experiences with those who are important in our lives. We want to share these moments and experiences with those who mean the most to us, because laughter is contagious and provides us with experiences to bring us closer together and moments to reflect back on later, experiencing more laughter and joy. 

It has been said countless times, there is power in laughter, or that laughter is the best medicine. Aside from enjoying a good laugh with friends reminiscing about times gone by, are there any other benefits that come from a deep belly laugh? You bet! Studies have found there are health benefits associated with laughing, even giggling quietly to yourself. 

Why Laugh? 

There are so many reasons or situations in which laughing comes naturally. There are other times where we might laugh because the situation is awkward, embarrassing or we don’t know how else to react. There are also situations where laughing is the farthest thing from our minds, as it is deemed inappropriate or too depressing for laughter. It is in these instances and many more like them, that remind us that there is more than one way to view a situation. 

There is a reason, why most people consider laughter to be the best medicine, in fact people believe it so much that they will go out of their way to find ways to bring laughter into their daily lives. 

If you are looking for a way to bring laughter into your day, here are a few ideas: 

  • Read a funny book 
  • Read or tell a joke
  • Watch a comedy 
  • Spend time with funny people 
  • Practice laughter yoga 
  • Watch your favorite comedian 

When you practice laughing and actively seek out humorous things that encourage you to let loose a little bit and laugh, you will find your ability to create laughter becomes easier. So, when hard, difficult or challenging times come your way, you’ll already have mastered the skill of laughter. This will prove to be a valuable skill in times of distress as you won’t have to work as hard to find the lighter side of any given situation. 

agoodcause - happiness and laughter

Learning to harness the power of laughter, doesn’t need to only happen during hard and challenging times, laughter can be found and harnessed during times of joy and happiness as well. Have you ever noticed that during reunions of family or friends, weddings, parties and other joyous occasions elicit bouts of laughter from those in attendance? This is because, when we are surrounded by those whom we have something in common with or that we enjoy being around; we are comfortable and enjoy reminiscing and reliving joyous occasions from the past. Additionally, during these times, we are generally carefree and happy for the occasion, therefore, we are more apt to let loose and enjoy a good laugh than we are during hard times. 

Health Benefits of Laughing

Studies have found there are numerous benefits associated with laughing. Whether you are laughing at a TV show or giggling over a joke, your body reacts in a positive way. Some of the benefits of laughter include: stress relief, lower blood pressure, internal workout, hormone release and more. 

We know laughter feels good, but it has far reaching effects that aren’t always as obvious. According to Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan from the Loma Linda University, there are amazing benefits to be had from laughter. Here are a few of those benefits:

  1. Lower Blood Pressure. Individuals who have a lower blood pressure are at a reduced risk of serious health complications throughout their lifetime. Dangerous side effects associated with high blood pressure, include an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Those with lower blood pressure are consequently at a reduced risk. Therefore, laughter not only reduces your blood pressure, but subsequently reduces your chance of heart attack and stroke. 
  2. Reduces Stress. Stress can wreak havoc on a person’s body, which is why it is going to be in your best interest to reduce stress levels as much as possible. Additionally, when your body is under excessive amounts of stress, your immune system is compromised—not functioning at its peak efficiency. Next time you enjoy an office joke with your coworkers, or end up rolling on the ground laughing with your family, remember that you are not only reducing stress but helping boost each other’s immune system as well. 
  3. Works Abs. For individuals who are working to tone their midsection, can benefit from incorporating a round of laughter into their day. When you laugh, your ab muscles are engaged, contracting and expanding, similarly to when you target that muscle group during an exercise routine.  While your ab muscles are engaged, your other muscles groups are able to relax. Laughter is a more enjoyable way to tone your mid-section than sit-ups or crunches! So, whether you are intentionally trying to work your midsection or not, try incorporating a good, deep-belly laugh into your routine. 
  4. Improves Cardiac Health. Similar to that of working your abs to tone your midsection, a good hardy laugh also provides an alternative cardiac workout. This is especially good news, for those individuals who have had an injury or other condition that prohibits them from participating in a traditional cardiac workout. Laughing gets your heart pumping, ultimately burning a similar number of calories as if you were walking at a slow to moderate pace.  
  5. Boosts T-Cells. T-cells are cells found inside your body. They are special cells within the immune system, that are lying in wake, awaiting to be activated. When you laugh, your T-cells become activated, immediately working to fight off any sickness or infection that might be within your body. So, next time you start to feel a little under the weather, try adding laughter to your health care regiment to hopefully ward off the impending illness.  
  6. Endorphins. In the famous words of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, “Endorphins make you happy!”. Not only do endorphins make your happy, they are also your body’s natural remedy to pain. Endorphins are released not only when you are exercising and are physically active, but laughter can also trigger your body to release endorphins. 
  7. Overall Sense of Well-Being. When you laugh, you feel better about yourself and your current situation, if even only for a brief moment or two. Those who feel better about themselves, tend to have a more positive outlook on life and their situations. Research has found that those that are more optimistic and have a more positive outlook tend to fight diseases and other ailments better than those who tend to dwell in the negativity. 

As you can see, the benefits of laughter extend far beyond the four walls of the room in which you enjoy a good laugh. Engaging in a good, hearty laugh will improve not only your current outlook, but will reap drastic and immeasurable health benefits as well. So, next time you find yourself, rolling on the ground laughing or enjoying a silent chuckle to yourself, remember that your physical health is benefit from the experience as well. 

Benefits of Laughter Backed by Science

Scientific studies are often performed to learn or prove ideas that we can only speculate about. As a result of a thorough and extensive study science can provide us with valuable information. Learning the full power and benefit of the power of laughter is no exception. Even though there have been few studies conducted on the power of laughter, what studies have been done provide us with valuable information about the power of laughter. 

While most individuals have experienced the power and benefits that come from laughing in our own lives, a study published in Psychology Today found that in addition to having health benefits, laughter is also an important social tool. 

In this study, researchers observed 1,200 individuals, laughing in their natural environments. As part of this study, researchers observed laughter in a variety of locations. Each time they overheard laughter, they would take note of the gender of the individual who was speaking prior to the laugh, the audience, who all laughed (speaker and audience, just the audience, just the speaker), and what was said immediately prior to the laughter. 

Throughout all these observations, researchers discovered that what was said immediately prior to the laugh didn’t necessarily trigger the laugh, so much as another person. This suggests that laughter is stimulated from another person and not necessarily from what is being said. Thus, leading to the conclusion that laughter is a social language that we all speak. Because it is a social language, people are more inclined to laugh in social settings than they are to laugh when they are alone. 

Researchers went on to further analyze the social nature of laughter through the use of laughter diaries through students. In these diaries, it was observed and confirmed they earlier observations, that laughter was 30 times more frequent in a social setting than it was in a solitary environment. Very few individuals recorded laughing to themselves in private, where as they were more apt to laugh out loud in social settings. 

Researchers in this study also determined laughter is hard to control and can’t be forced. When commanded to laugh, it will generally come out sounding forced or insincere, whereas, a natural laugh will come easily and sound genuine. This simple discovery, proves we can not dictate the brain’s mechanisms for genuine expression.  

Throughout the study, researchers also studied the laughing habits of males vs. females and contagious laughter, also known as the laughter virus. It was discovered that on average females laughed more than males, in fact, on average females laugh 126% more often than their male counterparts. What this translates to mean, is that females primarily do the most laughing while males do the most laugh-getting—they instigate the laughing rather than doing the laughing. This is also demonstrated in online dating profiles as many females listed “good sense of humor” as a trait they look for; and men listed “funny” or “humorous” as a personality trait. 

Finally, laughter is contagious. Chances are if you’ve ever seen someone doubled over in a fit of laughter, you’ve joined in.  Research has found that laughter is contagious. Which can explain why when someone around you starts laughing, others soon join in. Laughter is not only contagious, it is also powerful. 

To read more about the research conducted on laughter in this study, visit: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200011/the-science-laughter

Bringing it Home

I recently went through some pretty serious health issues that were long and extensive. Prior to receiving my diagnosis, I had countless doctors’ appointments, referrals to other physicians, tests, procedures, biopsies and surgery all trying to determine what was wrong. With a diagnosis finally reached, I began down a long and time-consuming treatment plan. My days were instantly filled with countless doctors’ appointments (on top of the ones that I had already had), daily hospital visits, regular blood draws and so much more. 

When I was first diagnosed, I thought I would be relieved to finally have answers and know what was wrong with me; instead I sat and cried. I knew with my diagnosis would come a long road to recovery, one that I wasn’t sure I wanted to embark on. I spent the first couple of days, feeling sorry for myself, having my own “pity party”, thinking just how unfair life was. I kept thinking I was much too young to be going through this, and asking the infamous question of “why?”. Why this? Why now? Why me? The list goes on and on. 

I quickly realized I could sit at home, or stay in bed all day and feel extremely sorry for myself and my current situation. But, no matter how depressed I was, it was not going to change the facts and I was still going to have to go through the long treatment process. My other option was to laugh at the situation and learn from it. The first couple of days, I chose the former. I stayed in bed, thinking that I could sleep the next couple of months of my life away. Quickly I realized that was not a healthy way to handle the situation. I then worked hard every day to find something about my situation to laugh about. 

When something changed or didn’t go according to plan, instead of getting upset about it, I learned to laugh about it. I honestly believe that it is through the power of laughter that I have been able to endure all that I have been through. Still to this day, I laugh at the absurdity of all that I have been through, joking that it is just my luck that I have been through all that I have. 

Just the other day, I was completely blind-sided and received some devastating news regarding my current health issues and situation. While in the moment, it took everything within me, not to burst into tears in the doctor’s office. Since I have had a couple of days to process the news and reevaluate my current situation, I have been given the opportunity to take everything that I have learned about the power of laughter and try to find ways to apply it to my own life, and my current situation. While it hasn’t been the easiest to find the humor in the situation, or to even find something to laugh about; I have noticed a change in my demeanor and overall mood by looking for something to laugh about. 

For example, for one of my treatments I had to make a daily trip to the hospital. While there I noticed the other patients, who were there for the same treatment that I was. Initially, I was not thrilled to be there, especially when I observed that all the other patients where two to three times my age! I felt so out of place. One day, I walked into the hospital and there was a new nurse there for training, she took one look at me and said, “You are much too young to be here!”. I laughed and told her that I felt a little out of place! It was through this experience that I made friends with some of the other patients and learned that even though I was “too young” to be going to the hospital every day, I made a joke about it and began to look forward to my daily treatments. 

I am still amazed at how powerful of an impact laughter can have on any given situation. Whether it is something minor such as an awkward moment in public or something more serious, such as health problems, laughter can help you get through it. There is such power in laughter, I know this because I have seen this to be true in my own life. There is power in laughter which I chose to harness and use to my advantage to work through an especially trying time in my own life. 

Challenge

Everyone goes through hard and difficult times, it is a part of life. It is what we do during these times that define who we are. Because hard times will come, it is important to know how to get through them. I believe it is important to feel all the emotions that you might experience, but it is equally important to find something to laugh about to help you get through.

So, my challenge to you is to learn to laugh through the hard times, laugh through the happy times. Always find a reason to laugh, as there is a profound power to be harnessed through laughter. Try to find different ways in which to view each situation in which you find yourself. Whether you find yourself in a hard, scary, funny or happy time, there is always going to be another way to view the situation than how it appears on the surface. Challenge yourself to find the different views so that you can find ways to laugh when the situation deems it appropriate, and harness the power of laughter. I promise that as you do so, you will be happier and have more joy in your life.  

Depending on the situation, finding something to laugh about might seem impossible or inappropriate. During these times, find an outside source—comedy, entertainment, etc. that can help you to escape and find joy for even a few moments. As you do so, not only will your outlook and perspective of your current situation change, but your overall demeanor and health will improve as well. Challenge yourself to find something to laugh about and see how your attitude and situation improves with the power of laughter being implemented into your daily life. 

I promise that there is power in laughter, that if we only try to find that power and harness it in our own lives, we will benefit from it. Learning to find something to laugh about takes time and practice, but it is possible if you are determined enough to try. Once you have learned the power of laughter and how to harness it for your situation, you’ll have a fresh new perspective on life and every situation that you are currently in. Give it a try, I dare you! 

Author: Ashley Christensen

Resources: 

White, Rob. “The Power of a Good Laugh.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 20 June 2014, www.huffpost.com/entry/happiness-tips_b_5496790.

“Lighten Up: The Healing Power of Laughter.” The Chopra Center, 27 Oct. 2016, chopra.com/articles/lighten-up-the-healing-power-of-laughter.

Gaiam. “7 Health Benefits of Laughter.” Gaiam, www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/7-health-benefits-of-laughter.“The Science of Laughter.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200011/the-science-laughter.

5 Things to do Before You Start a Fundraiser

There are countless reasons for needing to start a fundraiser—emergency, medical cost, school team, etc. Regardless of the reason for needing to start a fundraiser, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind prior to asking others around you to support you through financial donations.

We know that you have options when looking for a fundraising platform, but at A Good Cause, we are committed to helping your fundraiser be a success, from initially setting up your fundraising campaign to seeing the largest percentage of funds, compared to other fundraising platforms, deposited into your bank account.

Here are five things that you’ll need when starting your fundraiser with A Good Cause:

Information About Your Cause

Step one of creating a successful fundraising campaign with A Good Cause is to provide information about your cause. People aren’t going to donate money to a campaign that simply says “Please Donate”. You’re going to need to give potential donors details and facts, explain to them the situation and why you (or the beneficiary) needs their financial help.

What is the reason for your cause? Why are you trying to raise funds? This is the information that potential donors and supporters are going to want to know; they need to know this information. Before you start a campaign, think about the “why” of your campaign. What is the motivating factor that is driving you to seek financial support from outside donors?

This is the area, where you should include as much information and specifics as you can. State what the fundraiser is raising money for (i.e., national soccer championship, or emergency medical bills), how the funds will be used (including any excess funds that are raised). This is your chance to appeal to potential donors’ emotions and generosity by essentially “selling” your campaign. The more information and specifics that you can provide, the better.  

A good example of including information is by telling the story behind the fundraiser one such story is of a remarkable young woman from a small community in my home state. This young woman was the victim of a horrendous act of violence, which has left her with physical and mental disabilities, that she will have for the rest of her life.

As a result of her injuries, she has had dozens of surgeries performed to improve her quality of life and provide her with the ability to live as normal a life as possible. Due to the nature of her injuries and how they were sustained, those in the community and around the state know and are invested in her story. People want to know how she is doing, how her recovery is going and how life is for her now that some time has passed. Different news outlets have done stories on her, documenting her recovery.

In a recent news interview, it was brought to light that the family had been paying for all of her medical expenses themselves; and now she is turning to fundraising to help her get devices that will drastically improve her quality of life and allow for her to live a more independent life. Because her story is so well known around her community, providing additional details, such as, the cost of the devices and how they will improve her life were critical to having a successful fundraiser.

Images

The second step in creating a fundraiser with A Good Cause is to include an image. We’ve all heard the saying before that “a picture is worth 1,000 words”, and it is so true! A Good Cause allows for you to include up to two images with your campaign, so that you can not only show who the campaign is for, but also why. When donors are able to link an image with a cause, it then becomes real. It is no longer just words on a website, it is a real, live person or group who is asking for help.

Images are such a powerful marketing tool, there is a reason why there are images included in news stories—the people and stories become real when images are included. The same can be said of your campaign on A Good Cause, including images that allow for potential donors to see who will directly benefit from their monetary donation. Some people have an easier time donating money, when they can see who will directly benefit from their donation, rather than an anonymous benefactor.

A good example of including an image with your cause, would be a fundraiser that brought my entire community together. It was my senior year of high school, and one of my classmates had been battling a brain tumor and things were not looking good. As with most major illnesses, medical bills mount quickly and can feel insurmountable. Thankfully, I lived in a community that was eager to rally around those around us and help those in need. For this particular individual, a fundraiser was organized where his picture and story about his battle with a brain tumor was shared all around the community. Those who organized the fundraiser provided information about the individual, his diagnosis and treatments up to that point.

As a result of their efforts, a fundraiser dinner was organized, where members of the community could come out and eat dinner with donations and proceeds going to this young man and his family to help cover medical expenses. At the fundraiser dinner, this young man and his family were there, talking to all those who came out to show support; expressing their love and gratitude to all those who were there to help lighten the load they were carrying. If his image and story had not been shared, the fundraiser and the impact would not have had as far reaching of an impact as it did.

Media

The third step in setting up your A Good Cause fundraiser, is not a required step, but is highly recommended, and that is to include a video of some sort. In addition to adding images to your campaign page, consider adding a video to your campaign. While this is not a requirement to set up a campaign with A Good Cause, it is strongly advised. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth more! Videos can help you to tell your story through images, voice and music. Let the recipient speak for themselves about how financial donations will be used to bless and help their lives.

When I think of including media in a fundraiser campaign, I think of videos following a natural disaster that show supplies being organized and shipped to those in need. I also think of videos of necessary supplies being passed out to those who were hit hardest following a natural disaster. Small video clips such as these can have a huge impact, while appealing to people’s emotions, enticing them to donate.

Another example of the power of including a video clip in your fundraising efforts is one that I saw recently. There was a young woman, who I followed on social media. She had been battling an extremely rare form of cancer and was showing her followers the power of living and making life beautiful despite your circumstances. A couple of years ago, she began working with a videographer to document her story, so that when she was gone her story would continue to bless people around the world.

Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer a few months ago, leaving her documentary team with the task of finishing her story and producing it for the world to see. Prior to her passing, she had filmed a little video explaining why it was so important to her that her story be documented and shared with the world. She had a desire to leave a legacy of faith, fight and strength for her daughter, husband and other family members.

By sharing this small video clip, the necessary funds required to finish and produce her documentary were raised in a short amount of time. To me, this was a powerful example of how having a short video, explaining how funds will be used and the purpose behind the fundraiser can work to move mountains and make fundraisers a success. 

Campaign Creator

Fourth, you’ll need to include a mini biography about the campaign creator when creating a campaign on A Good Cause. Campaign creators will need to include an image of themselves along with providing a small biography. This is your opportunity to talk about why this fundraiser is important to you, whether you are the benefactor or are creating the campaign on behalf of someone else.

For campaigns that are created for a team or club, a biography allows for you to tell facts about the club, i.e., accomplishments, upcoming schedule, awards, etc. Allow for potential donors to get to know you and your cause a little bit more.

Most people, won’t just give their hard-earned money to just anybody, when doing a fundraiser, many will want to know who the fundraiser is for, how the money will be used, and any other facts that are relevant to the cause. This is why including a biography when creating your fundraiser with A Good Cause, is recommended as it allows for donors to get to know you and who they will be handing their hard-earned money over to. This is especially important if you are creating a campaign on behalf of someone else, be sure to include how you know or are related to the benefactor.

agoodcause - bank/credit card information

Banking Information

Final step is to provide your banking information. You’re going to want to have a way to collect all the donations that your campaign receives, so you’ll need to provide A Good Cause with your banking information so that the funds can be securely transferred to your account. Without providing this information, you will not be able to access your funds.

You can rest assured that your banking information is safe with A Good Cause who has teamed up with Stripe to offer users a safe, secure way to have funds deposited into their account from their fundraiser.

By following these five steps you are more prone to have a successful fundraising campaign through A Good Cause.  These steps are simple and small but have rewarding effects on the people who see, hear or read about your fundraiser. Be sure to implement all five steps in your next campaign fundraiser with A Good Cause and you’ll be amazed at the results it will bring.

Author: Ashley Christensen

Why Is it So Hard to Ask for Help?

“Sometimes asking for help also means you are helping yourself.”

–Renuka Pitre

It is only natural to want to try and handle things on your own, without having to ask for or rely on others for help and assistance. Although, this is something that most of us strive for, it isn’t always possible to do and handle every situation on our own. Sometimes, we must admit that we can’t do it all, we are only human after all. Therefore, we need to ask for help from those around us, those who are in our tribe.

The old adage, that “it takes a village”, is especially true in times of trial, disaster, hardship and grief. It is also true in times of joy, happiness and celebration. For example, when a couple is getting married, they generally will be the recipients of “bridal showers” where they are given gifts for their new home, and starting their life together. The same goes for expectant moms, who have a “baby shower”, where they receive items that will be needed once the baby arrives. Often times, these showers are for friends, family members and neighbors, i.e., their village. In addition to receiving gifts at a shower, expectant mothers may receive meals that are brought into their home, following the birth of their baby.

In times of trial, disaster, hardship and grief, individuals closest to those directly affected and involved, will rally around them, offering support, meals, transportation, a place to stay, or a shoulder to cry on and anything else that they might need. During times of hardship and grief, it is not uncommon to find that fundraising efforts are started as a way to alleviate the financial burden on top of everything else the family is facing. 

Even though we all know that we need help from others from time to time, it can still be difficult, if not impossible to ask for help. Why is that? Why is it so difficult to ask for help, when we know that everyone is going to need help at some point in their life? Surely, we aren’t the only ones who’ve faced a hard time and needed to ask for help, and we definitely won’t be the last either. Yet, it can still be difficult to give voice to our struggle and let the world know that we can’t do it alone. Here are a few reasons why I believe it can and is difficult to ask for help from others.

Fear

The number one reason, I believe people have a hard time asking for help, regardless of the reasons or circumstances, is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of feeling like a burden to others, fear of talking to other people, or fear of others knowing you can’t do it alone. Ironically enough, some people are even afraid of being successful in asking for and receiving help. Regardless of the reason behind the fear, justified or not, fear is a powerful emotion, that can make it difficult if not impossible to move forward.

Forbes.com published an article in 2016, which listed fourteen different ways in which you can overcome fear. Among the ideas listed, were the following:

·         Understanding Your Fear

·         Educate yourself

·         Visualize Success

·         Get Outside Help

·         Have a Positive Attitude

Now that we know a little bit about some of the reasons for fear, let’s dive a little deeper into them and learn how we can move past, and turn that fear into action. Before we can move past fear, we must first understand the fear and educate ourselves—what exactly are we afraid of? Why are we afraid of it? Knowing and understanding the fear, allows for us to know how to combat it and overcome it, so that we can ask for the help that we need. Remember that education and knowledge is power, and knowing all that you can about your fear is going to help you—not only with your fear of asking for help, but any fear you might have.

Once you have learned all that you can about your fear and have educated yourself, it is now time to visualize yourself succeeding. Depending on what your fundraising goal is, envision yourself achieving it. If your goal is to help a family member pay their medical bills, or your son’s soccer team making it to a national competition, envision achieving that goal and the joy that you will experience. Envisioning your success can be half the battle, once you can see it, you now have a visual goal to work towards.

Depending on the root cause of your fear, you may need to seek help from others, who can help you to work and overcome your fear. If you have a fear of talking to people, practice what you want to say and rehearse it with someone you know and trust. The more you practice and rehearse what you want to say, the easier it will be for you to talk to others whom you aren’t as close to. This is one of those instances where practice makes perfect!

Most importantly, when it comes to overcoming your fear is to have a positive attitude. This can go hand-in-hand with envisioning your success, as the more positive you are about the outcome, the more likely you are to have success. Not only will having a positive attitude change the way that you think about asking others for help, it will also be apparent in your actions, which others can see. When people see how positive you are despite your circumstances and needing extra help, they may be more inclined to help, just by you being positive!

Wanting to do it on Your Own/ Embarrassment/ Pride

It is natural to want to do things and take care of things in your life, on your own. When you fall on hard times as the result of things both within your control and beyond your control, it can be embarrassing and difficult to ask for help to get through these times. Some people even believe that when they ask others for help, it appears as if they are not in control of their life. Some also believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, or as being irresponsible.

Nobody wants to be perceived by their friends, neighbors, family members or community as being weak or inadequate to accomplish that which they need help with. As a result, many people will not ask for outside help from others, to eliminate the possibility of being perceived as less than what they are. Although these feelings and emotions are real and should not be ignored, they aren’t necessarily true either. Aside from wanting to do things on our own and not rely on others, pride is a strong emotion that can also hold people back from asking for help.

There have been many instances throughout my life where, I wanted to give off the illusion that I was in control of my life and I knew exactly what I was doing. This wasn’t always true, yet, I let my pride and embarrassment of asking for help get in my way of allowing others to help me, and in turn help themselves. Through these experiences, I have learned that when I allow others to help me, I am helping them in return. Some people need and want to feel needed and valuable, and by letting them help when and how they can, provides them with that validity that they need.

For some, their needs are very apparent, making it impossible for them to deny the fact that they need help, yet still refusing to ask for it or accepting it when offered. In these instances, there isn’t much you can do if they are refusing your help, other than offer and let them know that if they ever change their mind, you’re willing to help.

The best way to overcome feelings of wanting to do it alone, pride and embarrassment is to step outside your comfort zone, and ask for help and accept it when offered. No one person can do everything on their own, there will come a time, in everyone’s life where they are going to need help from someone else, whether they want to admit it or not. In fact, many highly successful people, realize that they can’t do everything on their own. Therefore, they utilize those around them who have different strengths than them, which help to make them successful.

If a highly successful person can admit that they need help, you can too!

Not Knowing Where to Turn for Help

Another big reason why people don’t always ask for help when they might need it, is because they don’t know where to turn for help. This can stem from the previous reasons mentioned above, but it can also stem from previous bad experiences of asking for help and being turned away.

When you need medical help, you know that you need to go and see a doctor. If you need help with getting food, there are food pantries and soup kitchens you can go to. If you need help with finding a job, there are ample resources available online. Some communities even have job services offices, where you can go to get help with interviewing, temporary jobs and resume writing assistance.

But, where do you go if you need help regarding a more personal matter, such as, counseling? Marriage therapy? Financial assistance? It can be harder to open up and ask for help in finding resources or asking for donations, when the issue is personal and private. This lack of knowledge, can create a sense of fear, which can prevent people from asking and seeking for help during these vulnerable and troubling times.

Yet for some others, depending on where they live, the resources and help that they need is not available to them. This is especially true, in under-developed and third-world countries. For these people, they have learned how to take care of themselves, or simply go without, because they have no other choice.

I have been privileged to go to Mexico numerous times, and perform various humanitarian projects. On each of these trips, I am always amazed by the families we help and their stories. A lot of the stories are similar in the fact that they fell on hard times, a family member became ill or disabled and they were no longer able to provide for them or their families. But despite their lack of resources and ability to provide for themselves, they were immensely grateful for our help in providing a home for them to live in, a roof over their head, and for some a source of hot water.

How A Good Cause Can Help

A Good Cause removes a lot of the obstacles that come from the above-mentioned reasons as to why people won’t or don’t ask for help. With these obstacles removed it is easier for those in need of help from others to ask and receive, and for those with the resources and ability to help to offer and lend their help.

As mentioned, fear is a huge reason why a lot of people don’t ask for help. With A Good Cause, individuals don’t have to ask for help in-person. Through the wonderful world of social media and the Internet, those in need of help can put a plea out on the internet with a link back directly to their A Good Cause campaign, where people can donate and help without ever having to speak in-person. Another great feature of doing fundraising and asking for financial help through A Good Cause, is that it also eliminates any awkwardness that might arise from asking someone who is unable to donate and having to say “no” when asked; eliminating the fear of rejection.

When using A Good Cause for fundraising needs, you are still in control of your situation. You have control over the goal amount you want to raise, and you have control over how and where you share your campaign. When creating your campaign, you can choose how much or how little information you want to share, you can decide what images you want to share with your campaign and you can choose if you want to offer the option of recurring donations or not. It is your campaign; you are in control!

In the event of a disaster, tragedy or emergency, knowing where to turn to find financial help to cover the unexpected, financial burden that has been thrust upon you, A Good Cause can help. With the highest payout in the industry, you are truly going to be blessed from the generous donations that you receive through your Good Cause campaign. A Good Cause takes the guesswork out of where to go for help when facing financial obstacles or fundraising needs.

Not only does A Good Cause remove and address the above-mentioned reasons why many people have a hard time asking for help, they also help you to be successful with your fundraising needs. Through social media tutorials teaching you how to promote and share your campaign, to inspirational stories and articles, you will be uplifted and edified when you receive help through A Good Cause.

Next time you are in need of help, financial or otherwise, don’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you and those around the world. Together we can all make this world a better place, lighten the burden of others and show that there are still good things and good people in the world. Break the mold, ask for help when needed and see how blessed your life and the lives of those who help you become. 

 Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2016/01/04/14-ways-to-conquer-fear/#2b1e1a4d1c48

The Evolution of Fundraising

Fundraising takes on many different names, faces and purposes. Some of the most common include, school fundraising, team, club and sport fundraising, medical expense fundraising, emergency/accident fundraising and funeral fundraising. Regardless of what you call fundraising, there is a common goal behind a fundraiser. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word fundraise is defined as “to engage in the organized activity of raising funds to support a cause, campaign, etc.”. But that is not all that fundraising is, according to Nonprofit Quarterly, quoting Business Dictionary, fundraising is “the process of soliciting financial support and is an essential way for most nonprofits to bring in revenue for their organization’s mission.”.

While the main objective behind a successful fundraising campaign is to raise funds for an end goal, many nonprofits and charitable organizations also rely on fundraisers as a means to build and foster new relationships, develop foundation support and as a way to attract and introduce new donors to their organization. Many school organizations and clubs use various methods of fundraising as a means to provide opportunities to their students.

Another popular type of fundraiser is that of emergency and medical needs. Often times, I have discovered fundraisers that fall under this category are the result of someone being involved in an accident, unexpected medical expenses as the result of an illness or injury; and unfortunately, I have also seen a lot of fundraisers, raising funds to help cover the cost associated with a funeral. These are just a few of the different types of fundraisers that I have personally seen, I know that there are countless other philosophies, organizations and reasons why fundraisers are created.

With fundraising so prevalent and easy nowadays, it can be hard to imagine a time when fundraising wasn’t the norm, or even a time when fundraising didn’t exist. This is because fundraising has been around for years in one form or another, with a rich history. In fact, the root of fundraising in America goes all the way back to the nation’s founding. During this time, the wealthy came to the aid of the new nation, providing financial support to boost their economy; ultimately resulting in the new nation gaining strength and confidence.

History of Fundraising

Although, there are accounts and reports of fundraising taking place during the colonization and founding of the United States; organized fundraising did not officially come about till years later. Organized fundraising that we know and are familiar with today, stems from the early 1900s. Charles Sumner Ward and Frank L. Pierce are credited as the ones who developed fundraising on a national and professional level; also referred to as the “Fathers of Fundraising”.

Ward and Pierce were responsible for raising funds for the YMCA building in New York City after the initial fundraising efforts failed to prove successful. The initial goal was to raise a whopping $350,000 to construct the new YMCA building. As they were nearing the deadline, the YMCA was nowhere near reaching their lofty goal. Despite having received a generous $50,000 donation from the Rockefeller’s, the campaign was still holding an $80,000 deficit. It was at this seemingly hopeless point, that Ward and Pierce were called upon to bring new life to the, struggling, lifeless project that appeared as though it was destined to fail.

agoodcause - history-of-fundraising

With limited time, Ward and Pierce had to be creative and develop new ways that had never been used before, in order to raise the necessary funds. Part of their strategy included hiring a publicist, and receiving the first paid advertisements from corporate sponsors. Ward and Pierce were able to secure underwritten advertising from WoodWard and Lothrop department store, which is credited as an early record of cause-based marketing in modern fundraising. As a result of their efforts, their fundraising campaign was highly successful. Some reports claim that they were able to raise enough funds that exceeded their initial goal; therefore, leading to their fundraising trend to take off and be adopted for other fundraising needs across the country.

Around the same time that Ward and Pierce were developing their fundraising agenda, Bishop William Lawrence, from Harvard University set out to increase professors’ salaries. He generated a “genteel” letter that was intended to entice university alumni to make financial donations to increase professors’ salaries. Upon seeing his success in receiving donations from alumni for things other than constructing new buildings, other universities followed suit raising money for various reasons. This particular fundraising method still continues today, with universities appealing to their alumni to make financial contributions that will benefit current and future students.

Along with the success of professional fundraising, came a few repercussions that could have been hard to have predicted. Among them, were the small, mom-and-pop charities that relied solely on donations throughout the early 1900s, soon found it difficult for themselves to obtain recognition and donations. Along with the struggle to be recognized, fundraising took off into a national movement that allowed for donors to have an increased option of how and where to donate their hard-earned money.

The need for organized fundraising really gained attention between World War I and II, particularly following World War II. It is recorded that the American people were feeling exceptionally charitable, but they were skeptical and hesitant about donating money to just any fundraiser, as national standards for fundraising had yet to be established or in place.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the National Society of Fundraisers (NSFR) was formed, and served as a source of research aid and instruction for professional fundraisers and for other organizations who elected to use their services. In the following years, different approaches to fundraising emerged; including the use of telethons, door-to-door solicitation, and others.

Nowadays, the ways that fundraisers are conducted has evolved even more. Rarely do you see individuals, groups or organizations going door-to-door soliciting funds, but more are selling goods and services in exchange for monetary donations. Food fundraisers have gained in popularity, whether it be in the form of tangible items to consume at home, or dining out to support an individual, group or organization.

In addition to fundraising evolving since its origins, fundraising has made it easier for donors to donate and individuals, groups and organizations to seek necessary donations. This is due in part to the ability to make donations and create fundraisers online through secure fundraising platforms, such as A Good Cause. Online fundraising has really taken off in recent years, as it is easy, fast and requires no inventory.

Fundraising as We Know it Today

Fundraising methods have come a long way since their origins with Ward and Pierce. Fundraising has become more and more common in our everyday lives, as there are countless fundraisers happening all around us. Although there are new methods and ways to effectively fundraiser, there are still some old-fashioned methods that are utilized. While not as common as they once were, some non-profits will write letters seeking donations from individuals, organizations and businesses in their communities.

Schools continue to utilize fundraisers that promote selling food items, such as cookie dough, pizza punch cards and other such items to raise necessary funds. This method has a proven track record for success, which is why many schools continue with this type of fundraising, although there are new and even better ways that are more effective and less work for everyone involved.

Online fundraising through A Good Cause, allows for individuals, schools, groups and organizations to raise funds quickly, safely and easily through an online platform. Online fundraising removes the obstacle of geographical restraints as donors can donate from all across the globe. From humble beginnings of writing letters and hiring a publicist to ask for donations, to simply donating online in a matter of seconds, fundraising has come a long way; who knows how fundraising will continue to change and evolve in the coming years.

Sources:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundraise
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/what-is-fundraising-definition/
https://rallybound.com/charles-sumner-ward-frank-l-pierce-and-the-ymca/
https://topnonprofits.com/roots-fundraising-got/
https://www.getmovinfundraising.com/Blog/Blog33/The-Brief-History-of-Fundraising

The Science of Generosity and Giving

How Living the Law of Abundance Can Bless Your Life

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” -Charles Dickens

It has been said that it is better to give than to receive. I fully believe this to be true because the feeling we get from giving is so wonderful that there aren’t enough words to describe just how great we feel. When we give, we feel joy, love, and all of those warm “fuzzy” feelings and every cliche associated with them. 

 I think it’s important to graciously receive as well. If people don’t receive the gifts we give, then giving is useless. There is a two-way street there, for sure. But giving requires more of a sacrifice than getting and therefore the reward for giving is greater. When we sacrifice our time, our money, and our talents to help someone in need the sacrifice results in a greater reward. 

This is something I’ve found to be true in my own life. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and as part of our membership I have elected to donate 10% of my income to the Church. At times the sacrifice to donate that 10% is so great that it could mean the difference between having a roof over my family’s head or not and sometimes the sacrifice is as natural as breathing and doesn’t take anything from me. At times I make the sacrifice with little faith, hoping that all will work out. Other times I make it fully believing and understanding that my sacrifice will be rewarded. However, every time I have followed through on that sacrifice I have seen a blessing in my own life. Sometimes it’s only a small blessing, like just being able to live in our apartment for another month or having enough food to eat in spite of how close it comes to not having enough. But either way, when I make the sacrifice I find that my sacrifice is rewarded with a blessing.  

During a trying time for my family, we made the decision to pay that 10%, knowing full well that there just might not be enough to survive until the next paycheck. However, after that sacrifice we received a very great, very needed blessing. That sacrifice became the turning point in our situation that led to receiving that great blessing and many more that followed. This is usually how these things work. We receive great and simple blessings for our willingness to sacrifice. It’s not just a religious principle, it’s a scientific one as well. The blessings we receive for making those sacrifices are notable and profound. 

In a talk given at Brigham Young University, Arthur C. Brooks, an American social scientist, musician, columnist for the New York Times, and president of the American Enterprise Institute illustrates why living the law of abundance is actually beneficial to you, your life, and even your finances. In the talk, titled “Why Giving Matters” he shares a study that he headed which observed what happens when people give. In this study, they were able to find that giving actually created an abundance. He states, “Specifically, here’s what I found. If you have two families that are exactly identical—in other words, same religion, same race, same number of kids, same town, same level of education, and everything’s the same—except that one family gives a hundred dollars more to charity than the second family, then the giving family will earn on average $375 more in income than the nongiving family—and that’s statistically attributable to the gift.” Giving to others and living the law of abundance can bless your life in many ways even helping you financially. 

aGoodCause - Guy giving gift to old woman living happy, healthy, and live a more abundant life

However, money isn’t the only thing that we can become rich in. People have also been shown to be happier, healthier, and live a more abundant life all around. Brooks expresses that giving and generosity make people happier. He states: “It turns out that the data on happiness and charitable giving are beyond dispute. People who give to charity are 43 percent more likely than people who don’t give to say they’re very happy people. People who give blood are twice as likely to say they’re very happy people as people who don’t give blood. People who volunteer are happier. The list goes on. You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.” So not only can giving make you rich in money, but it can also make you rich in the things that matter most. Happiness can’t be bought but spending money on others can make you happier. Everyone can use a little more happiness in their lives. 

To add to Brooks’ research, there is also more evidence of how giving can bless our lives. In a book titled The Paradox of Generosity, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson state as well that by giving we receive and that this is not just a religious principle. They state, “Generosity is paradoxical. Those who give, receive back in turn. By spending ourselves for others’ well-being, we enhance our own standing. In letting go of some of what we own, we better secure our own lives. By giving ourselves away, we ourselves move toward flourishing. This is not only a philosophical or religious teaching; it is a sociological fact.” It isn’t just a religious idea, giving actually makes you live more abundantly. If you give, you will receive. 

This also works in the reverse, if we hold onto things we will lose them. Davidson and Smith speak on this as well, “The generosity paradox can also be stated in the negative. By grasping onto what we currently have, we lose out on better goods that we might have gained. In holding onto what we possess, we diminish its long-term value to us. By always protecting ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, we are affected in ways that make us more anxious about uncertainties and vulnerable to future misfortunes. In short, by failing to care for others, we do not properly take care of ourselves.” In other words, our success in a way is dependent on the success of others and if they fail, we fail. If we can’t take care of others, then we aren’t taking care of ourselves. 

This idea, the paradox of generosity isn’t new and shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. It has been a religious principle for centuries and also has been taught by many people. Just as Smith and Davidson point out. They state, “The paradox of generosity should not be surprising. Very many wise observers of human life across all of recorded history have taught different versions of the generosity paradox.” From a Hebrew proverb to Buddha, to a Hindu proverb, and even to Jesus of Nazareth, each in their own words has taught the principle of the generosity paradox. 

But even with the wise words of religious leaders, there is also the scientific evidence of it. Smith and Davidson conducted a study of Americans’ belief and practices of generosity. In this “nationally representative survey of Americans’ practices and beliefs about generosity,” over hundreds of interviews, they discovered this in summary, “What we have learned is the following. First, the more generous Americans are, the more happiness, health, and purpose in life they enjoy. This association between generous practices and personal well-being is strong and highly consistent across a variety of types of generous practices and measures of well-being. Second, we have excellent reason to believe that generous practices actually create enhanced personal well-being. The association between generosity and well-being is not accidental, spurious, or simply an artifact of reverse causal influence. Certain well-known, explicable causal mechanisms explain to us the specific ways that generous practices shape positive well-being outcomes. Third, the way Americans talk about generosity confirms and illustrates the first two points. The paradox of generosity is evident in the lives of Americans.” So the more generous we are, the more we share, the more we give, the more we will see in return. Our lives will be better, happier, and we will feel more fulfilled. 

The results of their findings, as well as other scientific findings, are clear and precise–the more we give the more we will be blessed. Brooks found the same finding in his study as well as Davidson and Smith. The scientific evidence is clear; when we give, we receive. As Davidson and Smith state in their book most succinctly, “Giving money, volunteering, being relationally generous, being a generous neighbor and friend, and personally valuing the importance of being a generous person are all significantly, positively correlated with greater personal happiness, physical health, a stronger sense of purpose in life, avoidance of symptoms of depression, and a greater interest in personal growth. Therefore, giving is a blessing for you and for me. 

So if you ever wonder whether it’s worth the effort to give, I would implore you to remember what Davidson and Smith say on the matter, “People may rightly wonder whether being a generous person and acting generously is a costly course of life. They might ask whether spending money, time, attention, energy, and emotions on and for the good of others proves to be a net loss in the overall scheme of things. The answer here is clear and compelling. Greater generosity is clearly, positively associated with many of the characteristics that most people consider essential to a good life: happiness, health, purpose, and growth. That is a significant finding with major implications for living.” “Major implications,” indeed. Living the law of abundance is a formula for a happy life. 

Homework: Study the blessings of living the law of abundance. Whether that’s actually looking at the science of giving or whether that’s just taking a study of your own life and how your life changes in a positive way after implementing the law of abundance. Either way, when you are looking at the evidence for how living the law of abundance can bless your life, the evidence is there. Living the law of abundance is about giving to others as well as giving to yourself. If we only live the law of abundance we will see the blessings abundantly in our lives. 

Author:  Ashley Christensen

BYU Talk – https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur-c-brooks_giving-matters-2/ The Paradox of Generosity: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QGvrAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=giving+to+receive&ots=3lY0XAoLE_&sig=1GoeYYGzEOxUBfCiew1trUVWhC0#v=onepage&q=46&f=false