Saturday, May 31, 2008

Supporting the third sector

I'm a strong advocate for the nonprofits. This sector is often refered to at the third sector, business and public being the other two. All of my 'real' jobs* have been with nonprofits and my Master's degree is for nonprofit management. Most nonprofits couldn't survive without donations. My last job had a multi-million dollar federal contract but relied largely on volunteers/donations to survive.

Knowing all of this I want to support the organizations I believe in. The problem is generating funds for donation when struggling to pay bills, pay off debt, and save for the future. There are a few ways you can support most organizations:

Supporting events: Attending low cost/free night's at restaurants or other community events with a donation to the organization. Getting discounts in exchange for donations

One time donations: Sending a check (or filling out credit card info) to the organization of your choice.

Recurring donations: Having a regular amount pulled from your paycheck or put on a card to support the organization of your choice.

Time: Volunteering your time, in person or at home, to support your nonprofit's mission.

I tend to the first and the fouth, because those are things I can easily fit into out spending plan. In my head I know no donation is too small, but I have a hard time sending a check for $20. Whenever nonprofits I like have events at restaurants or in the community I try to attend and support. Remember free cone night ? In the end I paid $5 for our two scoops, with the funds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I love events like these because I get to pair eating out with socializing while giving back.

I also enjoy volunteering. One thing that I've enjoyed watching over the past 10 years is how the ways you can volunteer have increased. Currently I am affiliated with an organization that offers a drop in calendar for nonprofits thorughout the city, helping an organization work on their mission (largely from home), and doing trainings/tutoring for foster youth. I like these opportunities because they offer flexibility that work around my schedule and/or give me the opportunity to work from home.

Once we've achieved a few more of our financial goals (or at least made a dent) one time, then regular donations will make their way into our budget. Until then I'll keep offering the support I can.

*The kind that give benefits where you have a career plan.

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