Intentional Living

What is Intentional Living and Why Should You Want to Live an Intentional Life?

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

–Nora Roberts

At the beginning of a new year, many people take the time to set New Year’s Resolutions and goals for ways they can improve themselves and be better in the coming year and into the foreseeable future. Although, goals and resolutions can be made at any time, they are most commonly made and talked about at the beginning of the new year. While many resolutions and goals are made with the best of intentions, many are merely words on a page with not much thought given a week into the new year, or a few days after being made. In fact, a majority of people go so far as to forget their resolutions and goals entirely, never to look at them again after they are written down.  So, why is it that so many people take the time and effort to make and write down their resolutions only to forget about them shortly thereafter? Many, myself included, like to write down goals and resolutions as a means to try and find a way to give our life purpose, to improve and become better; yet shortly thereafter we return to normal life, not giving a second thought to the goals and resolutions we made for the new year.

One way to improve and to structure your goals, with the intention of giving your life purpose is to implement the idea of intentional living. If you are like me, and many others, you might be wondering, “what is intentional living?  Why should I try to live intentionally?”. I am so glad you asked! There are many reasons and perks as to why you should consider implementing an intentional lifestyle. The idea of living an intentional life, is very freeing and exciting, as it helps you to find and provide direction and purpose to your life, all while living your best life. It helps you to remember your goals long after the new year has passed, making your goals and resolutions more than mere words on a page.

The concept of living an intentional life is meant to help you be more aware of what you do and why you do it. This can apply to every aspect of your life—education, career, family, relationships, etc. All of this is intended to help you to be more aware of your choices, ultimately helping you to live the life that you want. Whether you have short term or long-term goals, living intentionally can help you achieve these goals and stay accountable to yourself and others.

What is Intentional Living?

Intentional living has been defined countless different ways, by more people than you can count. The way in which I found, intentional living defined, that resonated the most with me, at its most basic definition is: “intentional living is being able to answer why in regards to why you do things in your life and being happy with the answer”. Sounds simple enough, but there is actually more to it. Intentional living is being aware of what you do in your life and why you do the things you do. This enables you to live your life with purpose, instead of just going through the motions; living with no direction or purpose.

This can pertain to every aspect of your life, from why you work where you work to why you socialize with whom you socialize with, and every other aspect of your life. Developing an understanding of your why, generally stems from your core beliefs and values. It also comes from the desire to live a life that is full of purpose. Be the author of your own story, and write a story of your life that you are proud of and leave behind the legacy you want to be remembered for.

It is not all that uncommon for young adults to find themselves at a crossroad where they aren’t sure what it is that they want to do with their life. It is at these pivotal moments that they have a decision to make regarding how they are going to live their life these decisions are vital for what direction their life will take and affect their future. Are they simply going to drift through life or are they going to live with purpose and intention? Although, it is most common among young adults, older adults who are going through, what is commonly referred to as a “mid-life crisis” also experience similar feelings of not knowing what to do with their lives. In these instances, there are a few things you can do, to determine the best course of action for moving forward. 

Start by thinking about and describing what a perfect day would look like in your life. Be sure to include every tiny detail, accounting for every second from the moment your eyes open up in the morning to when your head hits the pillow at night. What would you do to fill the time during the day? Who would you spend the day with? Where would you be, at home or on an exotic island?

While this might seem like a simple, almost too simple idea, but it does serve a couple of different purposes, to help you establish an intentional lifestyle. First, when you take the time to imagine every tiny detail of your perfect day, you are helping to clarify your priorities, values and dreams. You are able to determine the specifics of your perfect day, which provides you with direction to work towards. For example, if your perfect day consists of you traveling around the world—what exactly will that look like? Will you work hard while you’re younger so that you are able to travel the world without having to return to the office in between trips? Will you travel alone or with a significant other or friend? Knowing the specifics of your perfect day, will help you understand what it is exactly that you are working towards, while providing you with valuable motivation.

Secondly, when you picture your perfect day, use it to compare to your current “everyday” situation. How are they similar? How are they different? Are there any small changes that you could make now that will help you to work towards your ultimate perfect day? Are there things that you could let go of that will make it easier for you to achieve your perfect day? Use the idea of comparing the two days as motivation to help you get started making the changes and setting goals to work towards where you ultimately want your life to end up.

What You Need to Know About Living an Intentional Life

When you live your life with intention, you have direction and purpose to help you achieve the life that you want to live. This way of living also creates an environment for growth, peace and happiness. It forces you to reflect on your current life and make the necessary changes to get you living the life you want.

Intentional living does not mean you have everything for your whole life figured out at this very moment. Even though you probably don’t have every detail of your life figured out, living an intentional life does mean that you live with purpose; having purpose behind your daily actions. When implementing an intentional living lifestyle, it is good to keep in mind that you can choose to be intentional about the direction in which you want your life to go, without knowing what the final destination is going to be. Having an idea of where you want your life to go and what you want to achieve in your life, can give you a starting place, a jumping off point so to speak, even if you don’t have all the details figured out. This enables you to start working towards your ultimate end goals, while all the small details along the way work themselves out.

The driving force behind intentional living is your core values, which dictate how you choose the direction your life is going to go. Essentially this means that while you don’t need to have your entire life figured out, you do need to know what is most important to you. Every one’s core values are going to be different from one another. For most, their core values stem from society, their family, religious beliefs, and even television and media ideas of what is most important. Examples of core values can include loyalty, honesty, commitment, open-mindedness, and dependability. For me, my values include my relationships with others, family and furthering my education, just to name a few. Knowing what my core values are, has helped me to live my life with purpose. Ensuring that my choices lead me to achieving the goals  I have set for myself and for my future.

If you are unsure as to what your core values are, take some time to think about moments and times in your life when you experienced happiness or felt proud. Use these moments as jumping off points and dig a little deeper. Think about the things that are most important for you in your life. Are you concerned with building and maintaining relationships with others? What about honesty, integrity or loyalty—are they important to you? What traits would you consider yourself to possesses? For most people, when we are living and acting in accordance with our core values, we experience joy and pride, which help us to align our lives with what we believe to be of most importance. Using this as your guide, you can align your decisions when navigating your life to ultimately reach your goals in life.   

Once you have determined what your core values are, you are able to start living an intentional life. Using your core values and beliefs as your moral compass that provides you with valuable direction, focused on what is most important to you in your life.

How to Live an Intentional Life

There are a few easy steps you can incorporate into your daily life, to enable you to start living life with intention. These steps include:

·         Taking Responsibility

·         Making the Decision Daily

·         Embrace the Process

Taking Responsibility

The biggest part about living intentional is taking responsibility for actions, and outcomes. Because life can and is unpredictable, even the most well laid plans don’t always turn out the way we intended, anticipate or hope that they will. It is at these times that it is important to take responsibility, regarding how you will respond to instances beyond your control. Such as, the dream job you applied for but didn’t get, are you going to let that hinder you from applying for other jobs and turn you into a couch potato living in your parent’s basement? Or are you going to learn from it and apply for other jobs; keep putting yourself out there, ultimately discovering the end result is better than what you were originally seeking.  Once you learn how to take responsibility and learn how to adjust to the different hiccups, twist and turns life throws our way, the easier it will be for you to be able to adjust to the hiccups that come up and disrupt your plans. The easiest way to respond and take action to the various curveballs that life tends to throw our way is to take responsibility for your life.

Make the Decision Daily

aGoodCause - man bare feet in the sand and arrows

The whole idea behind intentional living is making the daily decision, the daily effort to live the life that you want to live. To live the life that pleases you and brings you the greatest joy. In order to achieve this, it will require you to consciously and subconsciously make the decision that will keep you focused on the bigger picture. Make decisions that will get you closer to achieving your ultimate goals for life; personal, professional, educational, etc. When you start to question the reason for why you make the decisions that you make, you will begin to see a change in your life as your life aligns with your goals.

Embrace the Process

After deciding to adopt an intuitive lifestyle it is important to remember that it doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a process, a personal journey that will take time, but yields tremendous results. Although there is no final destination, no finish line to cross, it is all about making and implementing small improvements throughout your life, adjusting your way of thinking so that it is in line with the life that you want to live.

For me, the idea and practice of living an intentional life came about after I hit an especially low point in my life. I was in my mid-twenties, I was happily married and had graduated college with my undergraduate degree. I had all these hopes and dreams for the future—career, family and life goals in general.

It wasn’t until I found myself without a job for the first time in a decade that I was forced to reevaluate my life and what it was that I wanted out of it. For about the first week, I found myself not really eating, hardly sleeping; I was barely surviving from day to day. It wasn’t until I realized that I had the power within myself to change my situation. I couldn’t wake up the next day and miraculously have my dream job, but I could do little things that would help me work towards finding and landing that job.

I started by doing small things that I knew I had control over, simple things such as making my bed, doing laundry and even deciding what to eat for dinner. It was these small acts that gave me the motivation I needed to look beyond my current situation and plan for my future.

I knew I needed to find a job, even if it wasn’t a job I necessarily wanted to work at for the rest of my life. What ended up happening is that I was able to find a temporary job, and through that job I made connections that helped me to eventually land a job in the future that was similar to the job that I had originally been striving for.

This was all possible because I asked myself, “why”. Why was I in my current predicament and why did I want out of it? Once I knew the answer to these questions, I was then able to develop a plan of living intentionally so that I could change my life to what I wanted it to be. It started with me recognizing what my core values were, and what I ultimately wanted out of my life.

Learning to live an intentional life isn’t difficult, but it does take some time and work on your part. You have to be willing to make a change or multiple changes, and live with purpose. Stop doing things just to do them, do things because you have a reason to do them. For me, it was making my bed every day because that was one thing in my life that I was in control of at that moment, and it set the tone for the rest of the day.

Implementing an Intentional Lifestyle

 Implementing an intentional lifestyle into your daily life is quite easy to do, once you make the decision to do so. It all starts with having the desire that take your current life, and elevate it to what it can be, what you ultimately want it to be. Start by asking yourself the hard questions about why you do what you do with your life, and what you want to do and achieve. A common question that everyone hears all growing up, and into adulthood, is “where do you see yourself in five years?” ten years?”. Using this type of questioning, ask yourself, where you picture you and your life to be. Do you picture yourself to be retired, living on a private island, or perhaps you see yourself as the CEO of a fortune 500 company that you started?

Not only do you need to determine the direction that you want your life to go, you need to figure out the “why” for the ultimate vision you have for your life. Why do you want to retire on a private island? Why do you want to be the CEO? Why do you want your company to be a fortune 500 company? Why do you picture yourself, where you ultimately want to be in the future?

In addition to being able to answer the “why” in regards to the choices and decisions that you make for your life. It is important to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think regarding the way you are living your life. Most people are too busy trying to make a life that others will approve of, instead of trying to live their best life. When you focus on your own life, you don’t have time to worry about what others are doing or thinking; instead you are able to achieve your own goals.

Challenge

Now that you know a little bit more about intentional living, hopefully, you like me, are now inspired to implement this practice into your life. Set goals for your life, determine what your “why” is and what you can do to achieve what you want out of life. Figure out the “why” for your life and make it happen!  Set yourself up for some small wins, little things that you can accomplish with minimal effort daily. This helps to boost your confidence in deciding to live an intentional life and knowing you can reach the goals you have set for yourself.

Remember living an intentional lifestyle is not a list of checkboxes that need to be checked off. It is a continual process, something that evolves and changes as your ideas and goals for life change. Keep asking yourself “why” you do or want things in your life, and be happy with your answers.  This will lead to you living an intentional life with purpose that is unique to you and what you want out of life.

Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources:

“4 Creative Exercises to Inspire Intentional Living.” Simply Fiercely, 14 May 2017, www.simplyfiercely.com/4-creative-exercises-to-inspire-intentional-living/.

“The Helpful Guide to Living an Intentional Life.” Becoming Minimalist, 25 Sept. 2014, www.becomingminimalist.com/the-helpful-guide-to-living-an-intentional-life/.

“An Intro to Intentional Living: 7 Things You Need to Know.” Simply Fiercely, 28 Mar. 2019, www.simplyfiercely.com/an-intro-to-intentional-living/.

“Intentional Living: What It Is and How It Works • Simple & Soul.” Simple & Soul, 23 Feb. 2017, simpleandsoul.com/intentional-living/.

“3 Simple Actions You Can Take To Live An Intentional Life.” Life Goals Mag, 29 June 2017, lifegoalsmag.com/3-simple-actions-can-take-live-intentional-life/. 

Real Life Philanthropist: Angel Locsin

Recently, Forbes Magazine released their “Heroes of Philanthropy 2019” list for Asia. On this list were various individuals ranging from CEO’s to actors and singers to foundation heads and other reputable positions. Everyone who made it on the list, is a citizen of countries or territories in the Asia-Pacific, or are a long-time resident of the region.

In order to make it on this prestigious list, Forbes considered dozens of various different candidates, taking a close look at their monetary contributions, the level of their involvement and the reach of their philanthropic efforts.  Among those who made this prestigious list are: China’s Jack Ma, a recipient of the Malcolm S. Forbes Lifetime Achievement award following his resignation as chairman of Alibaba in order to be able to devote more time to philanthropy. Australian billionaire Judith Neilson, who established an institute dedicated to supporting independent journalism. Also, on this year’s list, is one of the Philippines’ most famous actresses—Angel Locsin.

Locsin has been recognized for her generous donations and the aid she has rendered to those affected by natural disasters and violence. Following the devastating earthquakes that hit Mindanao in October, Locsin donated 1 Million Pesos towards disaster relief. In addition to her monetary donations, Locsin also helped to distribute truckloads of relief supplies to those who were affected by the disaster.

Photo by : Rappler

This is not the first instance in which Locsin has demonstrated philanthropy characteristics towards those in the Philippines. In 2017, when the Philippine military and the Islamist rebels in Marawi, Locsin “joined the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in donating and distributing food packets and school supplies to tens of thousands of displaced victims.”. In response to her efforts to render aid, Locsin was quoted as saying: “These are urgent times when we have to act as fast as we can to save lives and rebuild communities, and we don’t even have to think why”.

Another example of the philanthropy mindset that Locsin possess, is back in September 2019, prior to attending the annual ABS-CBN Ball, Locsin donated the money that she would have spent to purchase a gown to wear to the event to the Bantay Bata.  

Over the course of the last decade, Locsin has donated over 15 Million Pesos to support various causes, including educational scholarships for students, supporting economic and political rights of indigenous people and ending violence against women and children. It is reported that her philanthropic efforts have helped roughly 500 different families that have been directly affected by some of the Philippines largest disasters—Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009, Typhoon Habagat in 2012, and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013—one of the deadliest storms on record, leaving 6,300 dead.

Aside from all of her monetary donations and charity work, Locsin has also worked to inspire many of her millions of followers on social media to also give back to others in need. Locsin is quoted as saying, “It’s like taking little steps towards substantive, holistic change for the future of the next generations. The only motivation we need is being part of humanity.”.

Even though, Locsin is a famous actress and has been able to donate millions of Pesos to aid those of the Philippines, it just goes to show that everyone can be a philanthropist. Whether it be through monetary donations, service of time and talents, or showing compassion to those less fortunate than us, there are ample opportunities in our own communities where we can be a philanthropist and make the world a better place.  

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gracechung/2019/12/02/asias-2019-heroes-of-philanthropy-catalysts-for-change/#1cd8934f6d98

https://news.abs-cbn.com/entertainment/12/03/19/angel-locsin-hailed-as-one-of-forbes-asias-heroes-of-philanthropy?fbclid=IwAR0_2tf62hbEmj1Bh_UxVb4HtbHecONlvYQTss2DOgc9l6P5rDWiUG8HAK0

https://m.inquirer.net/entertainment/109067

The Sixth Sacrifice

During the holiday season, we often think more about heavenly things; looking beyond the wrapping paper and the decorations.  We turn to the Bible, and we ponder the stories of Jesus. In Luke, chapter 2 of the King James Version, we read about one incredible account,and we  recognize it for what it really is; A beautiful moment in history ushering in a change in sacrifice, and ushering in a higher law of love! The birth of Jesus Christ and the miracle that it was, give us moments to reflect and celebrate. 

This is a holy story of both the life of Jesus, and also of Mary and Joseph.  Indeed every person whose life was touched by Jesus shares a part of the tale I am about to tell.  

Before I begin, please note the use of the word “Sacrifice.”  It dates back in history to ancient times, as both what we know as a noun, and a verb.  As a noun, in the late thirteenth century, sacrifice meant “offering of something (especially a life) to a deity as an act of propitiation or homage;” mid-fourteenth century., “that which is offered in sacrifice,” from Old French sacrifise “sacrifice, offering” (12c.), from Latin sacrificium, from sacrificus “performing priestly functions or sacrifices,” from sacra “sacred rites” (properly neuter plural of sacer “sacred;” + combining form of facere “to make, to do”. Latin sacrificium is glossed in Old English by ansegdniss. The “act of giving up one thing for another; something given up for the sake of another” is first recorded 1590’s. 

To use the word as a verb, you may read as early as the beginning of time.  In the book of Moses we read that Adam built an altar unto the Lord for a sacrifice.  He sacrificed. “To offer something to a deity, as a sacrifice, meaning “surrender, give up, suffer to be lost.”

And now, let me begin our tale. It is one you have heard parts of.  I call it, The “Sixth Sacrifice.”

Long ago, a fair maiden, betrothed to a man both kind and of noble lineage was visited by an angel of God.  This Angel, Gabriel by name, told her to not be afraid. She had a special calling in life. She was to be the mother of the Savior of the world.  We know her name as Mary. Mary was asked to be a sacrifice. In those moments of reflection, it surely must have crossed her mind the overwhelming task before her.  As a young woman, her life would change forever. According to Jewish law, she should even be put to death for carrying a child out of wedlock. She knew that Joseph, her betrothed had every right to have her stoned.  What was her response? “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

Young Mary, merely a child herself, submitted to the scrutiny of a woman of “ill-repute” and faced divorcement, and death from her betrothed in order to fulfill her sacrificial role.  Imagine the strength of her heart! Mary was the first sacrifice for the lamb. She gave her will.  

Joseph we know, was to be Mary’s husband.  When he found out what had happened his immediate thought was to take her privately away and divorce her.  They were legally husband and wife through this period of time, even though he had not yet paid the bride price.  Joseph was then visited by an angel, and was told that he should take her as a wife. Immediately Joseph followed the council of God.  He too accepted the sacrifices that were to come to them. Joseph was the second sacrifice for the lamb. He gave up his pride. 

We know the rest of the story.  It is found in the book of Luke.  The Savior of the world was born into the world.  What you may not know is how our view of the story dims parts that made it all a truly symbolic experience. 

Stone is the most common building material in Jerusalem.  We associate the birth of the Savior with a wooden manger filled with hay.  This is most likely NOT the case. The manger would have been made of stone, and the Judean hills are grass covered.  There is no need to store food, because the animals are put out to eat. Thus, the manger was probably a stone slab, slightly indented to hold water.  But, for the sake of argument, we could include the hay. It adds to the concept that we too must go to him who was laid in a manger, to give us spiritual food.  

aGoodCause - Mary with baby jesus

Jesus was wrapped in swaddling bands.  This too is no coincidence. These bands were lovingly prepared by Mary, and as any young woman of her time, would have been embroidered with the lineage of the two families.  At the marriage of Mary and Joseph these bands would have been wrapped around their hands to symbolize the joining of two families. Mary’s lineage bands would have represented the house of Judah which was symbolized by the lamb and the lion or the tree of life.  Joseph’s bands would have represented the royal house of David, and contained the royal colors of blue and white. The symbolic significance of swaddling bands was so important that the embroidery on each side of the swaddling bands had to match exactly, with “right” and “wrong” sides indistinguishable. This symbolized the complete harmony of inner and outward life, which was appropriate for the child that they would be wrapped around. 

The birth of the Son of God was the third  sacrifice, which came as a gift from the Almighty, wherein he [sacrificed] His Son to come to earth and be not only a leader, but our literal Savior.  Jesus Christ would spend his life learning the skills of a carpenter, and caring for those around Him. He would spend the last three years of His life ministering and preparing the way… to be a sacrifice for all.  In the end, even the Almighty, God the Father, had to turn away, that He might not witness the agony of the Savior. He gave His Son completely as His perfect Lamb. 

But I get ahead of myself.  

The shepherds on the hillside were the fourth sacrifice.  They were visited by the angel of the Lord, and they were told to spread the word of the birth of the Savior.  These shepherds witnessed the heavens open, and they said amongst themselves, ”Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” They went immediately, and found the little family.  The shepherds sacrificed their time and livelihood. They left their flocks– to witness their own introduction into the flock of the Lamb of God. What beautiful mirroring this is. 

The fifth sacrifice came from the wise men from the East.  These “magi” as we may know them as, had studied the heavens, and the books of the earth to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.  When they saw the star appear in the East, they set out to seek the Christ child who should come. There quest would take time. It would lead them to a wicked king who sought to destroy the child. It would also bring them visions by angels to travel home another route, and it would bring their sacrificial gifts to the Christ child. 

Gold, a gift for royalty, or for presenting to a King.  Frankincense was also a significant gift. It was used in temple worship. It was mixed with the oil that was used to anoint the high priests of Israel. It was part of the meal offerings that were offerings of thanksgiving and praise to God. In presenting this gift the wise men pointed to Christ as our great High Priest, the one whose whole life was acceptable and well pleasing to His Father.

Myrrh was meant for royalty in the case of death, and used for embalming .  Presenting the young child with Myrrh was symbolic that the wise men were giving up their sins, to be cleansed. It was a gift of faith. We do not know precisely what the wise men may have known or guessed about Christ’s ministry, but we do know that the Old Testament again and again foretold His suffering.

The sixth sacrifice brings us to modern time, yet spans the eternities.  Look to the symbols we surround ourselves with at Christmas time. A fir tree, representing unending life.  A star, or angel atop– in remembrance of the heralding in of our Lord’s birth. Lights upon the branches, reminds us that Christ should be the light of our life, and that we should look to Him to light our way.  Candy canes are shaped like a shepherds crook, and swirled with red and white, representing purity, and the atoning blood of the Savior. The gifts placed under the tree become symbols- not merely toys and accessories to our busy lives.  They represent another gift. Precious. Life giving. One which cannot be bested or improved upon. The sixth sacrifice is the one of the lamb, and we surround ourselves with it each year at the end of December. The sixth sacrifice gave all.  The lamb. The Son of God. Jesus Christ was meant to come as a sacrifice, [noun] and BE sacrificed. His love for all mankind is what we feel at this season. In his life, and in his teachings Christ showed us how to sacrifice of our pride, our will, our time, our all, and to do it with a heart full of mercy and love. Just as a firstling lamb, taken before the high priest to be sacrificed, his was a life unblemished.  

The perfect sixth sacrifice. 

The story does not end here my friends.  There is another beautiful seventh sacrifice.  It is the one we lay before the feet of the Lord.  Our sacrifice to try to be better people. To love as He would love.  To treat all men with kindness and respect. To better the lives of the less fortunate.   That we may turn around and bless others, thus continuing the story of the Lamb.  

In the end, the “Sixth Sacrifice was the Lamb” is one of perfection. We desire the carols, the tinsel, the family gatherings, the presents under the tree.  What we NEED is to find our place in the story of God. My friends, happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and let’s make this New Year one where we love ourselves and others as the Savior would.    

Author:  Katie Stevens

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacrifice

www.lds.org/study/scriptures/pgp/moses/5?lang=eng

https://theisraelboutique.com/what-is-jerusalem-stone.html

https://www.lds.org/callings/music/savior-of-the-world/historical-and-cultural-background?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/study/scriptures/nt/luke/2?lang=eng

Giving Tuesday: Making a Difference in Your Community

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.”

–Kathy Calvin, CEO & President of the United Nations

This time of year, can be busy, stressful, expensive, and for some hard and depressing. It is also the time of year, when people feel inspired to bless and help others around them who aren’t as fortunate as they are. You will often see people donating spare change to Salvation Army’s Santa, Angel Tree’s, Sub for Santa projects, and Giving Tuesday campaigns. Additionally, top fundraisers, philanthropists, and nonprofits select aGoodCause.com to champion their Giving
Tuesday and other fundraising campaigns.

It is with this spirit of giving, that the idea of “Giving Tuesday” was born. According to givingtuesday.org, Giving Tuesday is defined as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world”. Simply stated, the idea is to inspire people to make a difference in their own community through generosity, giving and collaborating with others.

The idea behind Giving Tuesday, was simply to encourage people to do good. Officially created in 2012, Giving Tuesday has grown into a global idea that motivates and inspires people from all across the globe to give and contribute to making a difference.

Studies conducted by givingtuesday.org, state that those who participate in Giving Tuesday, 82-percent are inspired to be more giving throughout their life and not just on Giving Tuesday. It is this ripple effect that the Giving Tuesday movement envisioned from the very beginning.

About Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year. So, Giving Tuesday 2019, is December 3, 2019, starting at midnight, local time and running for a full 24-hours. When millions of people work together to give and make a difference through generosity, kindness and giving. Although, the Giving Tuesday is celebrated after Thanksgiving annually, generosity and kindness can be spread and shared through everyday life and actions.

The idea behind Giving Tuesday is to provide a positive response to the hyper-consumerism idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, by lifting those around us, instead of emptying our bank accounts on material things for the holidays. Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to make a real difference and kick- start the charitable holiday season by doing something small, kind and generous for someone that you may or may not know, so that they too can enjoy the holiday season.

Here is how it works: find a charitable or non-profit organization that you support and make a monetary donation on Giving Tuesday. If you can’t afford to make a financial donation, find another way in which you can support an organization of your choice. One thing that makes Giving Tuesday different from many other organizations, is they have nearly 200 community campaigns that are organized all across the United States, and growing across the globe. These community campaigns are organized either geographically or are a coalition of nonprofits that come together on Giving Tuesday to rally around a cause to garner community-wide support.

aGoodCause - Volunteer sharing food with poor African child outdoors

Giving back to others does not have to cost a fortune, or put you in financial ruins. In fact, giving back and making a difference can be as simple as saying “Hello” to someone you come across, giving someone a smile to brighten their day, or dropping spare change into a donation jar. Participating in Giving Tuesday 2019 doesn’t have to cost you any money either, simple acts of kindness, such as, paying someone a compliment, holding open the door for someone, smiling and saying hello are all ways in which you can participate, spreading kindness without spending extra money this holiday season.

Giving Tuesday Participation Ideas


One of the best parts about Giving Tuesday is that every person, regardless of age or where they live can participate. Getting kids involved in Giving Tuesday is a great way to introduce them to service and kindness at a young age that they can carry with them throughout their entire life. On givingtuesdaykids.org website, there is an entire page dedicated to different ideas and ways in which kids can get involved in Giving Tuesday, often inspiring their peers and adults in their lives to participate as well. In fact, givingtuesday.org states that “younger generations are the ones most likely to participate in Giving Tuesday”, with a whopping 67-percent of those who participate being between the ages of 18 and 34.

Participating and giving back as part of the Giving Tuesday movement is fun and rewarding all on its own, but it is even better when you are able to participate with your friends and family. Create a post and events on your social media accounts, inviting and encouraging your friends, family and followers to participate as well. The more people who participate and contribute to Giving Tuesday the more
successful it will be. One person alone can’t make a huge difference, but together, we can all work to change the world!

There are many different ways in which you can get involved and participate in Giving Tuesday, with a majority of those who participate, doing so in more than one way. One of the biggest ways in which people participate in Giving Tuesday is through a registered Giving Tuesday 2019 campaign. Since its founding in 2012, Giving Tuesday has raised over $1 Billion in online donations in the United States
alone. Top fundraisers, philanthropists, and nonprofits select aGoodCause.com to champion their Giving Tuesday and other fundraising campaigns.

With Giving Tuesday 2019 coming up shortly, I challenge you to find a way that you can giving back to your community. How are you planning on participating in Giving Tuesday 2019?

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:
https://www.givingtuesday.org/
https://www.givingtuesdaykids.org/

Infinite Vision

In all locations, places, and spaces around the world there is without a doubt tragedy occurring. If there isn’t anything occurring now, then there has been in the past or there’s a high possibility that there will be in the future. Tragedy is many things and doesn’t always have to be big events like the ones you may be thinking of now. They can range from things like the devastating disaster that’s happening in Hawaii to a 7-year-old little girl getting a broken ankle from a bike ride. Here are three stories of people that turned their underlying disaster into something good in hopes of making the world a better place.

Haircuts for The Homeless

This is a story that surfaced and rotated around the internet at a quick pace but was never something I personally learned the full story about. Once I did, I felt even more inspired by the act of pure selflessness coming from this man. Nasir Sobhani is a Melbourne barber that takes his days off and gives free haircuts to the homeless to encourage them to build a clean start. Moving away from the surface and looking underneath that act of kindness, he’s also a man that struggled with drug addiction. He found an inspiring love for giving haircuts and states that it turned into his new outlet away from drug use. He urges the homeless people he meets to get clean and shares his own story with them on what can happen when you find something you truly love doing. Now there are several stories of other barbers doing the same thing for the homeless and it’s hard to know which came first, but they all have their own individual inspiring stories.

Positive Impact for Kids

A 12-year-old girl started her own non-profit in the wake of her own tragedy. Leanne is diagnosed with a heart condition that requires regular hospital visits. However, one specific hospital visit inspired her to start something that children all over the world can benefit from. While attending her visit, two teenage volunteers at Duke Children’s Hospital offered her a gift. It was this act of kindness that encouraged Leanne to see the good in the world and feel deeply enough to create her own way to give back. She created the non-profit, Positive Impact for Kids, that buys items to fulfill wish lists for kids in the hospital. Her ultimate goal is to improve the lives of children and adolescents in hospitals and bring them simplistic happiness whenever she can. 

In Loving Memory

aGoodCause - Girl taking donation for fundraising

A fully developed dream was on the edge of seeing its end when a son and friend of many passed away due to suicide. That dream was quickly picked up and spread worldwide with the loving grace of his family to help him finish what he started. The brand Taylor created is continued on by his family and now donates 15% to suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Taylor’s family wanted to continue this legacy for him and make sure that Taylor will always be remembered for who he was and what he loved to do. His brand is set to truly bring awareness to the tragedy that can happen within all families and the company now hopes to be completely community minded. He always wanted his brand to be philanthropic and his family continually carries that out for him in his loving memory.

Author: Shylee Wheeler

References

“Badass Barber Gives Free Haircuts to Homeless While Battling His Own Addiction.” Bored Panda, boredpanda.com/homeless-haircuts-drug-addiction-street-barber-nasir-sobhani/.

“Get Involved.” Positive Impact for Kids,
positiveimpactforkids.org/.

“Mission Statement.” Infinite Vision Clothing, ivclothing1.myshopify.com/pages/mission-statement.

Unity in Love and Purpose

Many great novels end with a happy come together. The girl next door gets the rugged misunderstood boy after their many tribulations. The dysfunctional family on the corner of Parley Avenue suddenly seems not so dysfunctional with a climactic heartwarming speech to profess a grander love. So, why is that happy ending so unknowingly satisfying to the audience? Is it a common place script? Is it because we’re socialized into expecting that happiness is at the end of all entertainment? A more accurate possibility is that it’s human nature to feel that happiness is a true piece of life. Or chocolate cake, humorously.

It’s understanding where that happiness comes from that’s important. People are hardwired into the knowingness of interrelationships; we’re just not quite sure what that means. In this context it means that we can’t have one without the other. We all, on some scale, relate to hardship and we hopefully relate to overcoming those hardships. This in a sense creates a safe, fuller community for all of us. It allows us the opportunity to thrive in tandem with one another.

Everyone sees those videos of people doing deeds out of the kindness of their hearts. I always think of that video of the grandma that brings two cans of Coca-Cola out to the two garbage men every day. There is no self-interest for her to do that. They’d still get her garbage whether she was there or not. In that moment they were so fully engaged in her thoughtfulness for strangers that I could feel it just by looking at my phone screen across the country. Without any of us knowing the full extent to any of our lives and them not even knowing I exist, we all shared in a growing sense of love and peacefulness for each other. In a way, that’s this sense of happiness in life without knowing why. That’s this sense of interrelationship. 

aGoodCause - Thinking of purpose

Every day, this can be even more powerful. We can start becoming better people than we were the day before and that’s a truly magical thing. We aren’t always gifted the opportunity to become someone better, but here it suddenly is staring you in the face. The value of purpose doesn’t have to be handing over money to cure cancer. Even though that is important and you’re more than welcome to. It can be in the smallest things like helping someone that lost everything in a natural disaster or helping a single mom fund her daughter’s college fee after she had to use the money to support her family. 

The idea of supporting someone you don’t know can be scary and with limitation, but if there’s even a small chance that you can get that house rebuilt or that girl to college it should be an easy choice. We all want that happy ending, right? Any good cause you choose to invest your time, money, or thought into is your chance to give someone that happy ending. In tandem, also giving you the ultimate happiness. Or chocolate cake, humorously.  

See how you can make a difference by contributing to a good cause today:  aGoodCause.com.

Author: Shylee Wheeler

Animal Care Initiative: How You Can Help and Why You Should

If you are anything like me, your pet is more than just a pet, they are a member of your family. Your fluffy little companion becomes a part of you; you take them everywhere with you. You find yourself splurging on new toys and treats because you can and because you love them that much. 

For me, I took my little fluff ball to “puppy classes” as a way for us to bond, training and a fun thing to look forward to besides going to the dog park. At the end of each “puppy class” when she graduated, I would splurge and purchase new toys for her to play with. 

My puppy means more to me than just being a pet, she is a valuable member of our family. She is always there at the end of the day when we get home, she is always good for a laugh and someone to cuddle or play with. I could never imagine mistreating her, because she isn’t just a pet, she is a member of our family, which is why we treat her as such. 

Unfortunately, not all animals get this kind of treatment. In fact, many are neglected, abused or even abandoned. Think of the Sarah McLachlan animal shelter commercials, with her song playing along with facts about animal abuse accompanied with images of abused and neglected animals. At one point in the commercial McLachlan comes on with the sad song playing that tugs at everyone’s heart strings, trying to entice and appeal for the audience to donate money and help rescue animals from abuse. She informs those that do donate, that their “monthly gift” will help to rescue animals from their abusers, medical care, food, shelter and love. As a way of saying “thank you” for donating, the particular organization that McLachlan is advocating for, will send donors a picture of an animal in a shelter that their contribution is going to help. This tactic works for a couple of different reasons. One being people get attached to their pets that it kills them to see any animal hurt or suffering and two the music choice appeals to people’s ethos. 

Aside from appealing to people’s ethos, commercials like McLachlan’s bring attention to a big issue that is often overlooked by many, as it is upsetting and difficult to talk about. The hard reality is that many pets are often neglected or abused by those who are responsible for taking care of them. According to humanesociety.org, it is difficult to accurately calculate how many animals are abused as animal abuse cases are not compiled by state or federal agencies. 

While it might be difficult for some to comprehend the fact that people would ever neglect or abuse their pets, it happens more than you might realize. Abuse and neglect of a pet extends beyond physically harming an animal, it includes failure to provide basic care required to thrive, neglect, puppy mills, hoarding and malicious killing of animals. 

Although some people do intentionally injure and hurt animals, others do so unintentionally. When animal cruelty is done intentionally, those doing the harm generally are knowingly depriving the animal of food, water, shelter, socialization or veterinary care in minor cases. In more extreme cases of animal abuse and cruelty, those perpetrating the acts can intentionally torture, maim, mutilate or kill animals for pleasure or financial gain. 

Having a pet comes with many responsibilities, including financial responsibilities in the form of veterinary expenses, food, and other miscellaneous expenses. When we first brought our puppy home, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the financial costs that were associated with having a new puppy. We now had another mouth to feed, on top of getting her spayed; if we wanted to leave town, we would either have to take her with us and find places that allowed dogs, generally with a fee, or pay to board her somewhere. Having a pet is an important responsibility, with many aspects that people don’t realize when they first take on a new pet. As a result, some inadvertently neglect their pets simply because they cannot afford to care for them. 

Aside from neglecting an animal, by not being able to care for them; many animals are treated cruelly by their owners. Similar to neglect, animal cruelty is the result of many different reasons according to humanesociety.org, the most common of which being a person feeling powerless, unnoticed or under the control of others. As a result, a person may choose to be cruel and mistreat animals by simply copying acts that they have either seen or experienced themselves. For others, they view harming an animal as a way to seek revenge against or to threaten someone who cares about the animal. 

Reasons for Animal Abuse, Neglect and Cruelty

There are an immeasurable number of reasons as to why animals are abused and neglected every day. These reasons range from either a deliberate action or in some cases a lack of action that results in harm to an animal. According to wildlife-rescue.org, there are two main categories in which reasons for animal cruelty can be broken down into: active and passive. No matter how you classify the reasons for a person’s cruel behavior towards a helpless animal, there is no justification for the mistreatment and abuse of an animal. 

In instances where the abuse and neglect are the result of ignorance on behalf of the owner, education can be used to mitigate future abuse and neglect. For those who need education, will often receive follow up visits to ensure that the situation improves and no further abuse and neglect of their pet occurs. In more serious cases, where actions are intentional, the animal is often removed immediately and taken to receive urgent medical care. 

agoodcause - Man holds a stick in hand and he wants to hit the dog - dog abuse

Intentional acts of violence, acts of commission, and cruelty towards a helpless animal is the result of a person’s deliberate intent to cause harm. Often, the perpetrator is using the animal as a way to assert authority or fear over another person. This can happen via threats to kill a family pet, to assert authority, intimidation, threaten someone to remain silent about a current or previous incident or to simply assert their power over their victims. 

On the other hand, passive actions of abuse and neglect are often the result of a lack of action on the part of the pet owner. While lack of action or lack of knowledge can sometimes be the reason, it does not erase the fact that animals who suffer as a result often go through extreme amounts of pain and suffering. The most common examples of passive abuse include starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, inadequate shelter during extreme weather conditions, failure to seek veterinary care when an animal requires medical care. 

An example of animal abuse through a lack of action occurred in my hometown. A few years ago, there was an individual who had in their possession heard of horses, all of which they were not feeding. The individual was reported to authorities, which then allowed for the state veterinarian and state brand inspector to step in and assess the situation. Due to the severity of the starvation of the horses, it was advised that they not be transported to a new location as it was likely they would not survive. Volunteers through an informal rescue group were collection donations to feed the horses.

Although, I felt as though I lived in the perfect community, this just goes to show that animal abuse can happen anywhere and to any animal.

Types of Animal Abuse

Now that we understand some of the reasoning behind why animals are abused, it’s important to know what abuse looks like to better understand how to stop it from happening. Abuse and cruelty can take on many different appearances, some more obvious than others. Because some animal abuse occurs on a large scale, involving animal testing and fighting; and others occurs in our own neighborhoods, animal cruelty can be classified into several different categories. 

Animal Abuse

In most cases of animal abuse, there is a deliberate action involving the harming of an animal. The hardest part of being able to stop animal abuse, is that is often does not occur in the open; most instances of animal abuse happens behind closed doors or with no one around to witness the abuse. As a result of not openly seeing abuse happen, it is easy to overlook the fact that it does happen. As a result, most areas have animal control officers who are responsible for enforcing and investigating cases of animal abuse, persecuting the perpetrator and rescuing the animal from the abuser. Although they do help the animal who is being abused, they rely on the abuse being reported to be effective. 

Animal Neglect 

Neglect of an animal often stems from ignorance or a lack of interest in the animal. When a pet is injured or sick, as an owner, you are morally and legally obligated to seek out the appropriate veterinary care for your pet. Unfortunately, for some pets, their owner is either unwilling or unable to spend the time and money that is required to heal and treat their sick or injured pet. 

Neglect of an animal includes more than failing to seek out veterinary care, it also involves failing to feed or provide water for a pet. Some claim that they “forget” to feed their pet, which is not an excuse for neglecting your pet. 

Animal Exploitation 

As sad as it may seem, there are actually people who believe that they have a sense of entitlement towards animals and because of this entitlement they are able to use animals however they want. This is generally done in a way that will bring them monetary gain through exploitation. It is not uncommon for some circuses, zoos, aquatic theme parks and other animal centered venues to exploit animals, under the disguise of “entertainment”. When these animals aren’t out performing for a crowd, they are often kept inside tiny cages, forced into submission and are unable to socialize with other animals of their own species. Other examples of animal exploitation include starving animals, accidents as a result of insufficient exhibits, and abuse to get the animals to perform a certain way. 

Animal Testing 

Using animals to test new products is not a new thing, in fact it has been around for many decades. Although, scientific developments have proved that it is unnecessary and less effective than other methods of testing that are available, animal testing does still occur across the globe. As a result of animal testing, many animals are subject to chemicals and substances that result in itching, burning, chronic pain, lost body parts, and other horrific consequences as a result.   

A prime example of animal testing, comes form the classic 1992 movie Beethoven. In this movie, a family dog is seen by the vet, who quickly realized that they could use Beethoven to test products on. They device a plan to fake a dog bite, forcing the family to have to put the dog down. Little did the family know that the veterinarian would not be putting the dog to sleep, instead he would join other dogs in their possession and be used for testing. Thankfully, the movie has a happy ending where the family catches on to the plan and is able to rescue not only their beloved Beethoven but the other dogs as well.  

Common Issues Associated with Animal Abuse

Now that we’ve established some of the reasons behind animal abuse and cruelty and a few of the many different faces that abuse takes on, it is important to understand what abuse and cruelty looks like in the real world. 

Animal Fighting 

Considered to be one of the most horrific aspects of animal cruelty is that of animal fighting. Whether it is bullfighting, cockfighting, dogfighting or simply fighting between two animals, it is horrific to witness. Animal fighting occurs when one animal is pitted against another, resulting in the death of at least one animal. 

Animal fighting is defined as including social animals that, in the wild are able to coexist without any problems. Although, they might be able to coexist, there may be a sense of dominance of one animal over another, but they do not fight to the death. 

Those who participate or encourage animal fighting do so for more than just the entertainment aspect of it, animal fighting brings in copious amounts of money. Organizers may charge a fee to be an observer of the fight, and will often collect money and facilitate betting between attendees. Organized and non-organized fights occur all across the globe—in developed and underdeveloped countries. 

Prior to an organized event, animals are often kept in small cages except for when they are out being trained how to fight. They do not receive any veterinary care—preventative or trauma-related. The animal that “wins” the fight, often is missing body parts, has open wounds, broken bones among other injuries. Animals who are subject to animal fighting often don’t live long, as they either die in a fight or are destroyed when they are no longer able to fight and bring in money. 

A few years ago, while visiting another country on a humanitarian trip, I came across a cock fight, which is something that I do not condone nor agree with. The two chickens were showing signs of aggression towards one another and their handler, prior to being placed into the same pen. Once they were locked in the same pen, the aggression worsened, especially when the handler cheered it on. It was a horrific experience to see first-hand. Thankfully, those in my group, along with myself spoke up about the cruelty and asked for the fight to stop because it was something that we all viewed to be wrong and not something that we condoned nor wanted to witness for ourselves. The handler obliged and separated the two chickens before any serious injuries were sustained by either one. 

Puppy and Kitty Mills

Chances are, if you’ve ever wanted to bring a tiny puppy or kitten into your home and life, you’ve been advised to adopt from a shelter rather than buying one from a pet store or a breeder online. This is because of puppy and kitty mills, that systematically breed animals for the sole purpose of selling the babies at an inflated price. 

Many breeding mills, do not select grown dogs and cats based on their breeding characteristics or genetic health, they just look for an animal that will bring them a profit. As a result, many of the puppies and kittens that are born have congenital conditions that can have a negative effect on their quality of life. 

Not only are many not healthy when they are born, they are often kept away from other dogs and cats in tiny cages. This minimizes their playing with other animals and socialization. Because there are so many in a breeding mill, they are typically dirty, undernourished and terrified of humans and animals alike. In the most deplorable of conditions, some are even beaten or abused by those who are running the breeding mill.  

Animal Hoarding 

We all know someone who loves animals so much, and want to bring them all home with them. Unfortunately, having too many animals can be a form of animal cruelty even when done as an act of kindness. The reality is, those who have copious amounts of animals at home, believe that they are saving animals and are treating them kindly, when they can actually be inflicting harm on the animals unintentionally. 

Some of the negative repercussions that come from hoarding too many animals inside one home is that, when one passes away, the owner typically doesn’t realize it—at least not for some time. The smell of urine and feces can be overpowering that they are able to mask the smell of decomposition, which results in horrific and unhealthy living conditions for both humans and animals. 

Those who hoard animals, will often bring home more pets with little to no regard to having the animal spayed or neutered. As a result, there are often new litters born, increasing the number of animals inside the home. These new additions often do not receive any veterinary care after they are born. 

Just last month, I read a news article about an elderly woman who had more than 100 dogs, living inside her home. Authorities were first notified, when neighbors began to call city officials complaining of a foul smell coming from the home. It wasn’t until authorities arrived that they learned the source of the smell. No dead animals were found inside the home, while some were found to be in worse conditions than others. Authorities who responded to the home, were reported as saying that this was the worst case of animal hoarding that they had ever seen.  

Fur Farming

All across history, animal pelts and fur have been a luxury, a commodity that can bring in large amounts of money. In years past, settlers and Native Americans would use animals’ pelts and fur for clothing, hats, and blankets; along with eating the meat—not wasting anything. Nowadays, animal pelts are sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, or more depending on the animal in which it came from. This is especially true for endangered animals, in which there is a huge black market, which brings in vast amounts of money for a single pelt. 

Depending on the animal pelt, some are “field-stripped”, meaning they are skinned alive in the wild. Others, such as minks and foxes are raised in farms, for the sole purpose of harvesting their fur; in most cases the animal is killed prior to being stripped of their fur. Because things have changed so drastically over the course of time, animal pelts and furs are no longer required for human survival, as they have been replaced with synthetic fibers. But some still prefer the cruel treatment of animals to achieve their fashion statement of having “real” fur on their coats. 

How to Stop Animal Abuse

As you can see, animal abuse and cruelty can and often does happen all the time, for a myriad of reasons. Because some instances of abuse are done in private, it is hard to fight back and help animals to escape and survive. 

The best way to combat animal abuse and cruelty is to be a voice for the animals who are being abused. When you see abuse or animal cruelty happening, report it. Contact local authorities and report the abuse. Don’t try to confront the abuser yourself, as you may end up getting hurt yourself. It is best to report it to the authorities who have the power to do something and save the animals from any further abuse. Along with reporting animal abuse when you see it, it is equally as important to educate others about what to do if they witness any animal abuse or cruelty happening around them. 

On a bigger level, there are many anti-cruelty laws in place which include harsh penalties for those who are committing the cruelty. When penalties are couples with counseling as part of a punishment, there can be a decrease in repeat offenders. 

For those who lack the knowledge on how best to care for an animal can really benefit from informational sessions that discuss how to care for a new or old pet, when to seek veterinary care, and how to train a pet. Educating those who don’t know can go a long way to prevent future animal abuse, simply because they didn’t know any different. 

There are organizations, such as Human Society, Best Friends Animal Society, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that are committed to stopping and putting an end to the mistreatment and abuse of animals of all kinds. All of these charities have made significant strides in the right direction, yet still have a long way to go to end animal abuse. If you would like to donate to their cause of ending the mistreatment of animals, all across the globe, you can make a donation through the Animal Care Initiative campaign found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/animal-care-initiative/. Together with your help we can fight to end animal abuse and ensure that all animals are loved, well taken care of and enjoy the life that my sweet little puppy enjoys! 

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources: 

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-and-neglect-faq

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-facts-and-stats

https://aldf.org/article/animal-neglect-facts/

Top 5 Best Fundraising Websites

Top 5 Best Fundraising Websites

I recently completed an in depth research to find the best of the best in fundraising platforms.  There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five reported in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best.  The information I discovered proved to be very powerful. I am choosing to share this extremely valuable information for free – with no catches – because I wish someone would have done the same for me. 

I set out on this adventure, hoping to find a fundraising company that not only offered me the best value for my time and money, but also had superior customer service, a truly secure website, and some excellent “Wows” or extra amenities. I really was looking to see which platform would help me to be the most profitable.

In 2017, an online article was published on the top TWENTY-SIX sites for campaign donations.  While this information is readily available, it was disconcerting to unveil that this information was outdated; in fact,  some of the websites are no longer viable. Plus, it was difficult to determine which fundraising platform was the best for me.  So, now that I’ve done hours of research and I’ve found the top five best fundraising websites I am sharing this knowledge with you. Again, the main requirements that I wanted addressed were trust, affordability, reliability, and results!  

With this in mind, this article is dedicated to the top five current, trending and result centered organizations.  These, again, are the four elements that I used to measure my findings: 1) What are they doing to ensure the security of their users; 2) How they charge fees and what they use the fees for; 3) The effectiveness, professionalism, and timeliness of their customer service; and 4)  Any amenities offered to make the experience even better, easier, and all around more successful.

In each of the four categories, which I deemed most important to those that may use one of these fundraising websites, I ranked these businesses on a scale of 1 to 5.  One means that the company is the worst in that category; and, five means that the company has earned a serious “Wow” and is the industry standard in that category. This linear model allowed me to think objectively about the criterion and see how these leading companies truly compare.  I hope that as you read this, and you critique for yourself, that this will come in handy!


A Good Cause Global

A Good Cause Global, LLC was not the first company I investigated, but it was by far my favorite. This Utah-based company is a growing start-up with lots of promise!  I believe, through my findings, that “A Good Cause” may be the next big name in fundraising!

A Good Cause – Security

At the bottom of the A Good Cause home page, you can see that they have been secured by a third party cybersecurity professional called, Trust Guard.  In my book, this is the cherry on top of the web world. You can never be too careful about the information you put online, and knowing that this site is scanned daily for potential hackers and other malicious folk… well I feel like I can trust them with my funds!  Although this company is only about two years old, I see them quickly becoming a powerhouse in the fundraising industry.


A Good Cause – Fees

In the category of fees, “A Good Cause” was amongst the lowest of all the competitors. They charge a fee for transactions using credit cards.  There is not a company in the world, that I’ve found, who doesn’t do the same.  They only charge 7.4% and $0.30 cents per donation as a payment processing fee.  This comes to a whopping $7.70 for a $100.00 donation.  A Good Cause has the best rates, with no hidden fees, and no request for an additional tip.

A Good Cause – Customer Service

I called their toll free number and was immediately put into contact with a real person.  It happened so fast, that I was truly shocked. They take customer service very seriously.  You can chat with a live person on the phone or via Live Chat. They use live chat services through Rhino Support during business hours, and a 24/7 online support to make sure that their guests have the best experience in the industry!  You can email directly or fill out a support ticket and someone will reach back to you within one business day. In all my years of working with businesses, I have not found a better customer support process.  Additionally, A Good Cause goes above and beyond by offering their guests the option of leaving a rating or review to help provide immediate feedback regarding the effectiveness of their service.  

A Good Cause – Amenities                                                                                              

A Good Cause had some great membership amenities, so I listed them below. I also enjoyed the articles as I perused their website!  They seemed to take a very personal approach, and they had several campaigns on their page that you could make a donation to directly!  It was direct and very simple to make a donation, and I wasn’t manipulated into leaving a tip! 

One area that I think this company should get kudos for is that among the services they offer, they TEACH you how to get the most from your social media platforms.  It’s the only fundraising site, that I have seen, do this! A lot of people might not know how to run a fundraiser on a blog, or on Instagram, or Pinterest. A Good Cause also provides instructions on using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!  They have earned four stars in the area of Amenities.

Summary for A Good Cause….  I get really picky about giving out high scores, but I just could not find a big fault with A Good Cause! Even as I was writing this, I kept going back to see if I could find some area to lower their scores; BUT I COULDN’T FIND MUCH OF ANYTHING!  So, Siskel and Ebert eat your hearts out. You would have to give A Good Cause a whopping TWO THUMBS UP! FIVE STARS! Scoring high in each of the four areas, A Good Cause got 90% with an 18/20 score on Security, Fees, Service, and Amenities.


The company known as FUNDly platform is easy to use, helpful and scales to any size fundraiser. Individuals can begin on Facebook, or non-profits can begin building their fundraisers on site.  You begin by telling your story and connecting with donors, which is the normal outline for almost every company you may choose. Every fundraising page has a video and photo gallery that’s front and center.  Add your content from Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook or your computer and you will have created an interactive slideshow for your cause.  Fundly has a free mobile app which you can get from the Apple store to make posts from anywhere so you can keep your story going.

One aspect that others don’t have is their Facebook OpenGraph integration.  It automatically broadcasts campaign activity and those who support or even “like” your page show up in activity feeds.

Fundly – Security

Every campaign at Fundly includes the ability to securely process donations through a payment processor called WePay. They also have a secure SSL certification.  They are about average in the area of security, so that’s why they earned three stars.

Fundly – Fees

Fundly offers a variety of payment plans depending on your needs.  Launching is NOT free, but begins at $75.00 per month.  

Fundly platform fee is 4.9% + credit card processing fee 2.9% (Total 7.8%) + $.30/transaction. If it wasn’t for their required monthly fees, Fundly’s fees would be reasonable – slightly worse than some of the other companies we’ve investigated – but reasonable. However, due to the monthly fee it just isn’t very sensible.

Fundly – Customer Service

In the area of service it was found that Fundly has no phone service.  You can email in a question and wait for a response. Compared to the other sites, this is a bit of a let down.  Emails are a slow and unpersonalized way of responding. Today’s patrons, like me and you, expect quicker more reliable way of communication.

Fundly – Amenities

On the website for Fundly there is a wide variety of services to educate and help you navigate the fundraising platform.  Tutorials will lead you step-by-step and they offer weekly podcasts. I couldn’t find another fundraising company with as many and useful amenities.

This gives Fundly an overall score of 13/20 stars, ranking it second overall with a 65% score. They have awesome amenities, but their fees and customer support were simply unacceptable.


The company called, Classy, made the top five list. It is a software company and an online fundraising platform focused on nonprofits. It was founded in 2006, originally to host fundraising events that benefit charities. They changed to a software and services company in 2010, and in 2011, began  focusing on peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, and marketing automation.

Classy – Security

One thing that stood out to me and was super impressive was that they, like aGoodCause, have Level 1 PCI compliance and security. However, I’m not sure about Malware protection, it does not make mention of this. Classy has earned four stars for Security. 

Classy – Fees

In this category, I believe Classy falls well behind.  I could find no transparency! Almost every page, although graphically eye-catching, asked for you to answer questions, and then be linked to people who would assist.  While this is nice for someone who may be ready to plunge right in, it is disconcerting that you don’t know what you will be charged for these services, let alone how much of a cut they will take from your fundraising.  In the area of fees, they are given only one star.  

Classy – Customer ServiceAs I opened up this site I was immediately drawn to the layout of the page, which shows on the right hand corner that you can request a demo!  I was immediately intrigued, but quickly disappointed that it led to a page where I was asked for a ton of my information and if I “would I like to be put on our blog”.  Then the company would contact me later to set up an appointment for a demo. Upon further perusing, I was drawn to the very bottom of the first page where Classy offered a FREE GUIDE to data-driven fundraising.  I liked how it really sold me on what I could learn! UNFORTUNATELY, clicking the link took me to a separate information collection site where you are encouraged to be contacted, and also to subscribe to their blog.

While looking through their pages, I got a pop-up for talking to a live staff member.  How nice! I asked a question about cost, and the lady that helped me was very nice and answered in a timely manner.  I was impressed that, like aGoodCause, Classy has a live chat service too. For Customer Service, I give them four stars! 

Classy – Amenities

Amenities were varied for Classy.  I was able to find educational support in their blog and archives, but it was not listed easily for viewers to find.

They have a variety of educational tools, but no mobile app, or any indication of updates or whether this is a risk-free site. 

Awarding stars therefore, will be a mix of what is missing and what they have. For amenities, they are given three stars .

Classy earned a total of 12/20 stars for 60%. Other than their fee structure, they were one of my favorites.


The company, Go Fund Me, was the most well known and have been around a long time, but I found several unsettling things that pushed them back to number four on the top five list.   This is probably the most used platform, but I think you’ll be surprised to learn about some of the things I learned about this less than favorable platform.  The Go Fund Me Campaign has been going strong since 2010. They have also acquired other companies such as “You Caring” and “Crowdrise.”

Go Fund Me – Security

Security is of the utmost importance while using online and mobile services.  Go Fund Me does allow you to submit a claim if there is a problem with a donation and offer a donor protection guarantee.  They also will return money to the person, should the claim be awarded. Go Fund Me has been around for almost a decade and processes more fundraising than any of its competitors.  However, for someone that is worried about the security of a business I could not find any sort of website security other than a basic SSL certificate. I would think a company of this magnitude should have a strong website security program, but I could not find any.

Again, I could not find any established security, but their longevity in the industry must mean they’re doing something right.  Overall, for a company that has been around as long as Go Fund Me have, I think they need to step up their game and get a few more stars in this vital category.

gofundme security score

Go Fund Me – Fees

Go Fund Me also claims on its website that it has no fees.  This is a little bit deceiving. Go Fund Me is a for-profit company. There is a 2.9% payment processing fee collected on each donation, along with 30 cents for every donation. That means if you donated $100, Go Fund Me would collect about $3.20. 

The site specifically states that, “Donors are able to leave a voluntary tip when they contribute to a cause on GoFundMe, and these tips allow us to maintain our free platform, continue helping those in need, and pay our dedicated employees.”  What it doesn’t say is that the voluntary tip is automatically defaulted to 10% or higher, and that all donors are asked to pay this. You thought you were making a generous donation, with no fees, for $100? Think again.  You only donated $96.80, but spent $110. That is a difference of about 12%. Its true that you do not have to leave a tip, but they should make you feel like you have to; and, if you’re not paying attention you will leave a 10% or more tip.

gofundme fees 3

Go Fund Me – Customer Service

They claim to have operators on call to advise you 24 hours a day, seven days a week; so that when you get that urge at 3:00 am to start a fundraising campaign, someone will be there to answer your calls.  This is not as pleasing of an experience as it is advertised to be – not by a long shot. Additionally, Go Fund Me has cleverly marketed their workers as “Customer Happiness Agents.” Is it snide to wonder if they had to get training at another giant mogul chain (whose name we shall not mentioned).  Happy meals? Happy agents? It’s just a thought. As I considered what a happiness agent actually does, I decided that I would need to venture out, and actually call the number listed on their website. The question I would ask? “Can you explain the donor program?” 

Here is what happened: First I was sent to a link like the one in the image below. I was hoping that perhaps there was an online chat, as I really wanted to say, “Hello” to one of these Happiness Agents.  The form I filled out led to a second page where I was asked if my question had been answered.

gofundme form
gofund me form

From here, I clicked that I still needed help. I was linked to the next screen, which allowed me to tell them who I was.  My selections dictate whether I got to speak to a live person or not. *Upon filling out the rest of the form, which I will not bother inserting here as I think you can see where this is going, I was sent back to a “did this answer your question?” link. Claiming that you can access their (and I quote this from their site) best-in-class “Customer Happiness” agents [who] will answer your questions, day or night is a far stretch from a computer prompted questionnaire.  Due to the serious headache their process gave me and the unending run-around, they did not earn a very good score. If I could I’d give them a negative score in this category, but that wouldn’t be professional.

gofundme customer service score

Go Fund Me – Amenities

Finally, the amenities of the Go Fund Me site were reviewed.  One thing that really stood out was that you could access the funds immediately.  This is a huge plus for me! As you will see on other sites, some companies don’t give out anything if the goal is not met!  Another bonus, they have an easy to access APP for your mobile devices. Plus, plenty of ‘self-help’ resources. I think this is their strength.  However, the endless emails after donating or creating a cause is way too much.

  • Mobile-Friendly Campaigns                              No penalties for missing goal
  • GoFundMe Mobile App                                     No deadlines or goal requirements
  • Expert advice, 24/7                                           Keep every donation you receive
go fund me amenities score

I had super high expectations for Go Fund Me, but their total score only equated to 12/20 or 60% overall rating. Their fees have hidden requests for tips, security is not clear, and their customer support was so horrible it was putrid.

Rank 4 gofundme overall score

Rank 5 Kickstarter

Kickstarter made the list, but ended up in fifth place out of the top five.   It comes up as one of the top sites, and it differs in it focus and functionality.  This is a funding platform exclusively for creative projects. If you can dream it, it can be financed through Kickstarter.  Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. These ambitious, innovative, and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others, which makes this aspect of Kickstarter wicked cool. One of the first things you’ll notice is that everything on this site must have a clear goal. Something will be made, and something will be produced if you are to receive funding. 

Funding is given by “backers” who decide what they want to support. They give a pledge to projects to help them come to life and support a creative process. To thank their backers for their support, project creators offer unique rewards that speak to the spirit of what they’re hoping to create.

Kickstarter – Security

Security for Kickstarter is low.  They have been subjected to many scams wherein people have pretended to work for the company.  There is a link directly on their site concerning this problem. SCARY! With no form of site security that I could find, but warnings from the FBI to contact the Internal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center the following rating was issued. 

kickstarter security score

Kickstarter – Fees

Because Kickstarter uses backers, they do not collect a fee until you complete your goal.  I see this as both a good and a bad thing. First, you will most certainly have put money of your own into the design or idea.  So, if your desire to make the world’s most fireproof engine fails, how much money did you lose? How many people will you have to pay out of your own pocket?  Supply costs? Time invested? That all adds up! If you do succeed, you will be looking for backers to invest in your product. The kickstarter company will then take out 5% for themselves, and their company that does payment processing will also take out 5%.  There is also a .20 cent fee for each donation. This equates to $10.20 for every $100 that is donated.

kickstarter fees score

Kickstarter – Customer Service

Kickstarter uses a similar, highly frustrating, customer service strategy to the one that Go Fund Me employs.  They too have a page where you send in your questions and you are asked if your question was answered based on the electronic responses that they determine.  Kickstarter; however, does not make any allusant claims that they have agents on site. So, at least I didn’t spend an exhausting amount of time hoping to communicate with an actual live agent.  They don’t make a claim to be anything more than what they have posted – still not very helpful.

kickstarter customer service score

Kickstarter – Amenities

In the area of amenities, Kickstarter offers a weekly newsletter showcasing “Projects We Love”.  In fact, that’s what the newsletter is officially called. All you need to do is give them your email and you are set. 

The Creative Independent is another amenity offered by Kickstarter.  This is a resource for creative people, and is BY creative people. It’s a pretty cool amenity which lets you read about them and also hear about their ideas and inspirations.  Stevie Nicks is currently on their site. As a singer, and lover of her band, I like this aspect! Unfortunately, these two things are really all I could see in the Kickstarter amenity page.  So kudos for the newsletter and the Creative Independent, but there was nothing for actually helping build the funding.

kickstarter amenities score

In summary, Kickstarter ranked a very low 10/20 for 50%.  They were barely at average in a few areas, with a scary low score in security.  Although it has a great idea behind it, I don’t think I would invest in an idea that may or may not have backers, especially with the security issues.

Rank 5 Kickstarter

In conclusion…. There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five discussed in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best. Based on a Five Star rating, in the areas of security, fees, service and amenities, you should now be able to make an educated decision on your own, as you navigate the world that is fundraising!

There are many more companies out there, some big and some small. This analysis should provide you with a good resource to narrow down the right fundraising platform for you. The world of fundraising is expanding, and I hope that you find the company that best suits your needs!

As a final comparison, based on my findings, please review the below charts to observe how each of the companies stack up to each other.

Author/Researcher: Katie Stanger


kickstarter, gofundme, classy, fundly, agoodcause extras
How much goes to cause if I donate $100
kick starter, gofundme, classy. fundly, agoodcause Ranking

I, Katie Stanger, thought it would be best if I gave this article to aGoodCause.com and let them post it on their website, associated sites, social platforms and/or how and where they would like. They have my full permission to use this article at their discretion.

Wise Words from a Football Legend

Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”  

I can think of no wiser statement, especially due to the nature of the work here at A Good Cause. We take the idea of building humanity through service seriously!  It is our passion and our intrinsic ideals that keep us ever on the lookout for those not only in need, but for those who are in a position to help others.  

Many people are familiar with the concept of a Go Fund Me campaign. People put their story online, and hope that friends and family will help them reach their goals.  While this is a good way to generate support, WE DO MORE!  

At A Good Cause you can be put in touch with men and women who know the true meaning of philanthropy.  Maybe YOU are one of those, and you would love to have someone direct your financial acumen. We here at A Good Cause work hand in hand with charities and organizations and we give you pertinent information to help you to make the best decision.  You can track your campaigns, as well as donations.  

Our motto, “Learn, Do, Share” says it all.  People from across the world can join, seek assistance, and be a source of good for all mankind.  Your individual commitment can bolster a team, your society, and the world we live in. Won’t you please join us at aGoodCause.com?  

Author:  Katie Stanger

Disaster Relief

 “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” – Abraham Lincoln

Imagine, sitting at home, relaxing after a long day at the office, when all of a sudden, your whole home starts to shake uncontrollably. Or, you are woken up in the middle of the night, to smoke and a shrieking fire-alarm, your home engulfed in flames. Imagine, knowing that a tropical storm is making its way towards land, and you live right in its path. You’ve done all you can to brace your home and prepare for it, but nothing you do will guarantee your home will make it without significant damage.

Disasters can strike at anytime, anywhere and come in any number of forms—fires, earthquakes, floods, and so much more, often with little to no warning. Since moving to a location where natural disasters are more common than I am used to, I have had to think about how to be prepared for the unexpected and what resources are available to me when a disaster does strike. Many resources are available on both a local and a national level, depending on the severity of the disaster and the number of people affected.

Being prepared for a disaster goes beyond having an evacuation plan in place, ensuring all family members know where to meet in the event of evacuation, and having food and water on hand. Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare for a disaster, you might need help from an outside source. Whether that help comes in the form of food and water, financial donations for repairs or starting over, clothing or shelter until you are able to return home, relief can come in many different forms.

Knowledge is power, therefore, knowing what to expect and knowing that you are prepared can go a long way in helping to keep you calm and thinking clearly when in the thick of things. Although, no one can prevent a disaster from happening, being ready can help to protect yourself and your family. At the same time, having the knowledge that there is going to be help and resources with disaster relief, can be comforting and reassuring knowing that you won’t be left alone to pick-up and start rebuilding your life.

While I believe in being prepared, and doing all I can to be self-sustaining in the event of a disaster, chances are there will be times when I’ll need help from outside resources to get back on my feet no matter how prepared I am or not. This point really hit home when my home felt the shocks of two large earthquakes within a few days of each other, something that I had never experienced before. Therefore, I believe it is important to know how to be prepared, how to help others be prepared and know what resources will be available to help following a disaster.

Different organizations, such as, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Delivering Good and Goodwill Industries are in place to help with disaster relief. Not only do they have the resources in place to help following a disaster, they also offer education on preparing for a disaster—kids and adults. Before you find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster, take precautionary steps now to prepare yourself, your family and your home.

While I’ve talked a lot about being prepared for a natural disaster, disasters can and often do occur in many other forms. This can include financial disasters, relationship disasters, family disasters, medical disasters and many other types of disasters. Often, when people experience a financial or life-altering disaster, they don’t know where to start to turn things around and get their lives back on track. The loss of a job, mounting medical bills, divorce, loss of a spouse or child an all have devastating effects on a person’s life.

Unlike a natural disaster where you may have some forewarning that it a disaster is coming; life disasters can be equally as unpredictable as a natural disaster. While many advise that you have a savings account for just such instances, savings might not cover all expenses or happen before you’ve been able to build up your savings. When these instances occur, it is important to know that there are resources available to help you through the hard times, and get back on your feet.

How to Prepare for a Disaster

Because disasters are nearly as unpredictable as the weather, it isn’t possible to be completely prepared for every type of disaster that may, or may not happen to you. It will be in your best interest to educate yourself on the types of disasters that are most common to your area, thereby, giving you a starting point for where you can begin to prepare.

Some general ways in which you can prepare for any type of emergency is to establish an evacuation plan for your entire family. Part of an evacuation plan includes designating a meeting place once everyone is outside of the home. This can be instrumental in helping to ensure that everyone is safe. In addition to having an evacuation plan, when possible have a storage of food supply, drinking water, first-aid supplies, and other essential items. Depending on the severity of the disaster, help can be days away from reaching you; which means that it will be up to you to survive.

Other items that aren’t necessarily required for survival, but can be nice to have include a change of clothes, flashlights or candles, a heat source, radio, toilet paper, and many other such items. In addition to having supplies that will become vital for survival, there are a few other things that you need to prepare ahead of time. According to ready.gov these things should include:

1.      Have a Plan

Things to consider when making a disaster relief plan, include knowing how you, your family members and household will receive and be alerted to emergency alerts and warnings. Are you going to rely on emergency alerts via your cell phone, local news stations, or neighbors? Establish a shelter plan that establishes a safe location for everyone to find a safe place to go or stay for extra protection.  Depending on the disaster, the safest location will vary. Be sure that you have a plan in place for the most common disasters for your area.

Don’t forget in situations where you are unaware of outside conditions, it may be best to simply shelter in place. In situations where you are unable to shelter in place and will need to evacuate as quickly as quickly as possible; be sure that you have an evacuation plan/route in place and that all members of your family are aware of the plan and know where to meet. Because there is an increased chance of evacuating and becoming separated from family members, establish a communication plan that everyone knows, to enable you to find and communicate with each other once you have safely evacuated your home.  

During an emergency, or quickly following one, it is going to be imperative that you know where and how to contact family members and who to call for help. This also includes having important numbers, such as gas and electrical companies, where they can be accessed and notified in the event of an emergency or a disaster.

For families that have small children, be sure that you include in your disaster plan where children can be found. This may be the name or their school or child care provider. For families, where both parents work outside of the home, include all contact information for both parents—cell phone and work contact information.

When establishing your emergency plan, be sure that no single person of your household feels as though they should be responsible for carrying out the plan. Assign different responsibilities to different members of your household, and develop a strategy of how you will all work together as a team to ensure everyone’s safety.

2.      Consider Your Specific Household Needs

No two households are the same, which means that no two-disaster relief, emergency preparedness plans are going to be the same. When creating a plan, take into consideration what supplies you’ll need to meet your daily responsibilities. Discuss what those needs and responsibilities are and how others can provide assistance during a disaster to ensure that all the needs and responsibilities are met.

Specific needs to consider include, dietary needs, medical needs—prescriptions and equipment, disabilities, language barriers, cultural and religious considerations, pets or service animals, school-aged children outside of the home. Because no one else will know your household’s unique needs better than you, it is going to be critical that you have a plan and are prepared to meet those needs until help arrives.

3.      Practice Your Plan

Having a well thought out plan is a good start but it isn’t enough. Once you have developed a customized, emergency/disaster relief plan, that will accommodate your family’s unique needs it is time to put it to practice. You’ll want to have a couple of practice runs with your plan to ensure that it is effective and covers everything you need. Don’t run the risk of being caught in an emergency situation only to then discover that your plan was lacking somewhere, or members of your family didn’t know what to do, who to call, where to meet, or how to contact each other. Although you won’t be able to practice every component of an emergency plan, it is advised that you practice as much as you can. Review it often and practice annually to ensure that any changes made to the plan are rehearsed and everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

Disaster Relief

Preparing for a natural disaster is only half the battle, relief and recovery following is when most will say the real work begins. Picking up the pieces, and working to put life back together following a natural disaster can be emotionally draining, financially crippling and even terrifying. Knowing where to find help to begin rebuilding your home and life, cleaning up and starting over, can make the daunting task a little lighter and easier to face.

Despite all of your best efforts, and your preparedness, there can come natural disasters that you are not prepared for. When this happens, there are organizations and resources in place that can help you get back on your feet and start rebuilding your life. These organizations include the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and many local and religious organizations that are ready and willing to lend a hand.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross has many missions that they provide resources and aid to, one of the biggest is that of disaster relief. According to redcross.org, they respond to an emergency every eight-minutes! In addition to responding to emergencies quickly, on average they respond to more than 62,000 disasters every year. Out of those 62,000 disasters, approximately ninety percent were home fires. 

Regardless of the type of disaster, the American Red Cross helps to provide those affected with clean drinking water, safe shelter, and hot meals. When multiple disasters occur at the same time, the Red Cross has the resources and personnel needed to go where they are needed, when they are needed. Part of the reason that the Red Cross is able to provide relief and aid to everyone when needed is because the Red Cross disaster relief workers are comprised of ninety-five percent volunteers.

The mission of the American Red Cross is to meet the immediate needs as a result of a disaster for individuals, families and communities. Whether the disaster is big or small, the American Red Cross is there to provide immediate disaster relief that can make a difficult situation easier to get through.

All of the resources and aid that the Red Cross is able to provide is only available as a result of the generous financial donations that they receive throughout the year. Whether it is a devastating wildfire, hurricane or a home fire, the Red Cross is there. Taking care of those who are hit hardest first, but providing relief to all who need it.

In 2017 alone, the Red Cross was able to respond to 242 large disasters across the world, opened 1,100 emergency shelters, served 13.6 million meals and snacks, along with distributing seven-million relief items. All of this was just in response to the large disasters that occurred. None of this, nor the hot meals, clean water and shelter would have been available to those in need without generous donors. Which is why it is so important that the Red Cross continues to receive monetary donations, where ninety cents out of every dollar goes to humanitarian services and aid. When you donate to the Red Cross through https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/ you are part of a movement of providing help, relief and aid to those in need.

Habitat for Humanity

The vision of Habitat for Humanity is to see a world where every inhabitant has a decent place to live and call home. As a global, non-profit housing organization, they work in all fifty states across the United States and in approximately seventy different countries across the globe. In order to achieve their vision, they work to build strength, stability and self-reliance among those families and individuals who are in need of decent and affordable housing. Those who qualify for housing through Habitat for Humanity, work alongside volunteers to build their home, therefore, establishing an affordable mortgage that they can then afford to pay upon completion of their home.

When applying for housing through Habitat for Humanity, there is an application process that each family must go through. Each local Habitat for Humanity’s family selection committee, convenes and selects candidates based on three different criteria. These criteria are:

·         The level of need for the applicant and their family.

·         Their willingness to partner and work with Habitat for Humanity to build their home.

·         Their ability to pay their mortgage, through an affordable payment plan.

These three criteria are taken into consideration, because every candidate that is selected, contributes and invests hundreds of their own hours towards labor and sweat equity into their home alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers. This is a requirement in addition to being financially able to pay an affordable mortgage and receiving financial education. Habitat for Humanity follows a nondiscriminatory policy when determining the family’s eligibility. Race and religion are not a factor when selecting homeowners for Habitat for Humanity homes.

Not only does Habitat for Humanity provide families with new homes, they also work in different ways to ensure that the needs of families are being met in different areas. This is achieved through renovating existing home, which is common in many urban areas. Following a natural disaster, Habitat’s Disaster Response teams work with local communities to address and meet housing needs. In addition, Habitat’s advocacy works tirelessly to raise awareness and support for decent and affordable housing around the world. Outside of North America, Habitat for Humanity works with partner organizations, so that they can serve and help even more families through innovative financing methods.

As a non-profit organization, all homes that are built are done on a not-for-profit basis; as a result, Habitat for Humanity depends on generous monetary donations to continue their work and bring their vision to life. With financial donations, families are able to build personal strength, stability and create independence by having a safe and secure place that they can call home.

While, Habitat for Humanity does rely on financial donations, they accept donations of reusable or surplus building materials, furniture and appliances to assist with building and renovating homes. In addition, Habitat for Humanity has local home improvement stores, called Habitat ReStores where they sell such items as, reusable and surplus building materials, furniture and appliances at a fraction of the retail price to the general public. All proceeds are then used to build strength, stability and self-reliance both locally and around the world.

When making a financial contribution to any organization, many might wonder where the funds go or how they are used. According to the Habitat for Humanity website, when donations are made the giver may designate their contribution to go in support of the U.S. affiliate, national organization or another program of their choosing. Others elect to have their donation be undesignated, which are then invested through the Global Impact Fund, where they are dispersed to areas where they will have the greatest impact.

If you would like to donate to Habitat for Humanity, you can do so through A Good Cause’s on-going disaster relief campaign, which can be found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/

Delivering Good

In recent years, more and more natural disasters have wreaked havoc across the globe, leaving a path of destruction and devastation behind. When a disaster strikes, relief is needed in every aspect in the lives of those affected. The idea of disaster relief, is to provide necessary items to help those affected by a disaster to rebuild their lives and bring hope for the future.

Delivering Good, is a non-profit organization that is committed to providing assistance and support to communities that are affected by a natural disaster in the days, weeks, months and even years following the initial disaster. Some of the products that they have been able to distribute include apparel, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, toys, books and other useful items that can help those suffering to achieve a sense of normalcy as they work to rebuild their lives.

One thing that makes Delivering Good different than most other disaster relief organizations, is that they unite retailers, manufacturers, foundations and individuals to provide relief to those who suffer from the effects of a natural disaster or poverty. This is achieved by the generous new product donations that they receive from companies in the fashion, home and children’s industries.

Since 1985, Delivering Good has been able to donate over $1.9 billion dollars’ worth of donated products, providing relief to individuals and families across the globe. With all the donations that Delivering Good receives, a whopping ninety-eight percent is distributed to those in need. This makes Delivering Good an extremely efficient charity.

In addition to the product donations that Delivering Good receives, they also accept financial donations that aid them in their efforts. If you would like to donate to Delivering Good’s mission, you can make a monetary donation through A Good Cause’s disaster relief campaign found on their website at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/

Goodwill Industries 

Goodwill Industries is a little bit different than the other organizations, in the fact that they provide training programs, assistance with job placement, and other community-based programs to help enhance people’s dignity and quality of life. This organization is geared towards those who have experienced a life disaster of some sorts and are struggling to make ends meet. Goodwill Industries was founded by Reverend Edgar J. Helms of Boston. He is credited with Goodwill’s philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out”, when he began to collect used household goods and clothing from wealthier communities in the Boston area. He then hired individuals who were poor to mend and repair the items, so that they could then be resold, or given to those who worked on them.

The work and mission of Goodwill Industries has grown beyond the Boston area, with a global reach. Regardless of the location, the mission remains the same—providing employment, education, and skill-building opportunities. In 2018 alone, Goodwill Industries was able to help more than 35.5 million people, according to the Goodwill Industries website. Being able to provide on-the-job training, gives those who have experienced a financial, job, or family disaster the ability to apply for jobs that they otherwise might not have been qualified for. Education often leads to a better job, which then leads to better opportunities, ultimately leading to an improved quality of life. Goodwill Industries is able to help turn a disaster into a blessing in disguise through education and training.

If you would like to donate to the mission of Goodwill Industries and help them to continue to help others, you can make a donation online through A Good Cause at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/

How You Can Help

Whether you’ve experienced a disaster yourself and have been blessed by the generosity and kindness of others through disaster relief; if you feel inclined to help others, donating to disaster relief to be very rewarding. Each of these non-profit organizations and many others are committed to helping communities and families rebuild following a disaster.

Some disasters come with some warning, that gives you time to prepare and get out of the way, others come very unexpectedly. Whether you have time to prepare or not, chances are you will need some outside help to rebuild, get back on your feet and keep moving forward. This help can come in the form of a hot meal to keep your energy up, safe shelter to stay until you can return home, or the resources necessary to start over.

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If you would like to donate to disaster relief, you can make a one-time or regularly scheduled financial donation to A Good Cause’s disaster relief campaign found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/ .

Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://www.ready.gov/

https://www.redcross.org/

https://www.habitat.org/about

https://www.delivering-good.org/

https://www.goodwill.org/