Who to Give Thanks to This Season

Photo of Eric Aarseth via his Instagram

This post is in memory of my friend Eric Aarseth, a firefighter, who passed away in September, 2018.

Thanksgiving is coming up shortly, and this season always encourages me to reflect on everything I’m grateful for. After you say goodnight to a day well-spent, and you’re left to think about how you too are grateful, you may wonder how you can give back to those who didn’t spend this holiday with their loved ones.

First responders will forever be my heroes as they face tragedy and triumph every day, and proceed to wake up and do it again. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, rescuers and countless other individuals risk so much in their line of work and they truly never get a real day off. This is why I’ve created a list of five nonprofits you can donate to that directly impacts first responders.

National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

The name speaks for themselves as they are a nonprofit that helps the families of the fallen financially, while also remembering the hero themselves. They hold several events throughout the year, with the most recent one being a tree lighting for fallen firefighters over the last year.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was created as a support system for the families of the fallen and is there to let them know they aren’t alone through their tragedies. The Foundation helps connect family members with counselors who specialize in grievance, along with several interactive programs to encourage families to bond among themselves, or with other families suffering similar tragedies. If you would like to hear more about their mission, I’ve attached a video below.

Video provided by The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Code Green Campaign

Bracelets by Code Green Campaign

Code Green’s mission is to raise awareness of the mental state of first responders, specifically EMT’s and paramedics. They often suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety following many years of rescue in their career, but they feel as if they can’t talk about it. Code Green is trying to eliminate the current suicide rates from those within this profession and end the stigma of asking for help.

Since being established in 2014, this incredible organization has received over 700 stories of how first responders struggle to show that they are never alone in their fight and they have given out over 150,000 mental health resources cards. You can donate to Code Green here and support their mission of de-stigmatizing the mental health of first responders.

Devonshire PALS

Photo by Devonshire PALS

PALS stands for Police Activity League Supporters, and they are a nonprofit that partners with members of the LAPD. Devonshire PALS is a community effort to provide at-risk youth with a safe environment and encourage character development. They also work towards creating a positive relationship between youth and police officers so they are more aware and likely to see law enforcement as helpful and not something to fear.

I found this organization to be especially relevant given today’s political climate and it’s important that at-risk youth foster relationships with authorities at a young age to diminish mistrust. You can help youth and local police officers develop a relationship by supporting their mission here.

Gary Sinise Foundation

Photo by The Gary Sinise Foundation

The Gary Sinise Foundation is for first responders in a general sense. All donations go towards supporting police officers, first responders, medics, military, paramedics and any other hero in the community. The Gary Sinise Foundation has several programs that help disabled heroes with housing modifications or relocations, those affected by 9/11, children of the fallen, community outreach, and more.

The foundation works to provide selfless individuals with resources following their career and it works to reflect the gratitude so many of us feel for our first responders. You can read more about their incredible range of programs here.

This goes as a reminder to give thanks not only this holiday season, but every day. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice, have had to leave their family at home for weeks, or continuously struggle with their mental health, and more, just to make us safe. Consider donating or share these organizations because together, we can give so much more support and appreciation to our community’s heroes.

Mental Health Within Americans

November is the mental health awareness month for men. However, the recognition of mental health should not only be a designated month out of the year, and it should acknowledge the struggle for all genders. It’s time to have the hard conversations and to encourage help for those who need it.

For my public relations class, we were told to design an infographic about something you find important, and after a few days of pondering what I would like to bring more attention to, I came up with the topic of mental health.

Now, today we are luckier as there are more resources and a greater conversation regarding mental health, but it hasn’t always been that way, and there is still quite a way to go.

How Many Americans Face Mental Health Issues?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), roughly 43.8 million Americans are impacted by poor mental health. Putting things into perspective, that is roughly 1 in 5 Americans. So, when you think about how many people are negatively affected each year, one would think there would be more support, research, or social acceptance–but unfortunately, that is not the case.

What is the Relationship Between Age and Mental Health?

According to a survey conducted by the National Institute for Mental Health, you are more likely to develop a disorder or imbalance at a younger age. Individuals aged 18-25 reported that roughly 25.8% struggled with their mental health, while 22.2% of people aged 26-49 also face challenges with their mental health, and 13.8% of individuals ages 50 and older reported struggling.

Also in the study, it showed that although adults 50 and older are the lowest group to report struggling with their mental health, they were the highest percentage to seek treatment, as 44.2% do.

How Does Gender Impact Mental Health?

It goes without saying that we live in a society where men are told to be “tough” and aren’t expected to struggle with the same issues as women. However, surprise! They do. Men and women reported to struggle with the same three disorders on a high scale, those being: anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. In addition, of the 43.8% of Americans who struggle with mental health every year, 40% of men do not seek help, and 25% of women do not seek help.

When I think of this it’s sad because it doesn’t surprise me. I know several men and women in my life that struggle in silence. But why? When did society decide that asking for help is a bad thing? Also, looking at the difference between genders, I found myself wondering and asking the rhetoric question of, if the issues are so similar, then why are the solutions so different? Why aren’t men able to ask for help too?

So, What is There to Do?

Regardless of whether or not you struggle with mental health, I can guarantee you know of those struggling around you. If you don’t, then make sure you’re checking on your loved ones because many struggle in silence. As I said earlier, we’re becoming luckier because there are resources for getting help with mental health.

One organization I chose to focus on for my research is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI provides free counseling, information, and further treatment for those who seek it. It is a nonprofit whose mission is to have a conversation regarding mental health and help all individuals receive the help and support they need, and they truly do good. You can read more about this incredible organization here.

Four Possible Careers Within Nonprofits to Consider

Photo by City Watch

So you’ve reached a fork in the road, and we’ve all been there. You ask yourself “what do I want to do when I’m older?” But, surprise! You’re older and the time to decide is now. You know you have a passion for working for a nonprofit whether it be from personal experience, past jobs, or maybe you’re just fresh out of college and entering the workforce. Regardless of your situation, it can be scary to scroll through job postings and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the options.

However, this is a blessing in disguise because these options are opportunities, it’s just a matter of finding out what you want to pursue. On that note, I’ve developed a short list of four possible careers you could enter within nonprofits within several sectors and what to expect for working conditions and a potential salary.

1 . Donor Relations Manager

If you’re interested in being hands on and are highly capable of multi-tasking then a career as a donor relations manager may be the right choice for you.

Working as a donor relations manager, you can expect to juggle a few things. A few being, anything related to fundraising, creating volunteer opportunities and spreading the word about them, event planning, and other informational outreach around your nonprofit. According to PayScale, donor relations managers have an average salary of $49,000 but it fluctuates depending on years of experience.

2. Administration

I wanted to especially shine light on this career path to show that although you may work in nonprofits, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some of the same roles as there are in the business world. Not every job title is donor relations, fundraising, or nonprofit specific. You can still maintain a job within human resources or other administrative work.

For the sake of keeping things short and sweet, I’ll focus on working in human resources. Similar to other businesses, working in nonprofit HR, one could expect handling pay and benefits, employee relations, the training process for new employees and more. HR is essential to nonprofits and it, along with other roles within administration, are all a part of the formation for effective teamwork within an organization. According to PayScale, a nonprofit HR manager is likely to make around $55,000 to $60,000 per year.

3. Community Outreach Coordinator

A community outreach coordinator is responsible for several tasks in regards to connecting the public to their organization. They focus primarily on relationship building, creating sponsorships, and communicating with other nonprofits. Community outreach coordinators also can work within fundraising or help with other special events for the organization.

If you find business to consumer communication to be one of your strong suits, this could be a great career for you. In addition, according to PayScale, the average salary for community outreach coordinators is roughly $41,000.

4. Program Director

A program director is one of the higher positions you can obtain while working in nonprofits, especially if you are working for an established one. This positions oversees the organization as a whole and works to ensure that any and all objectives of the nonprofit are met.

A program director is organized, flexible and works with most areas within the organization. It can take up to 15 years in the industry to work up to being a program director, and when you do, you can expect a salary around $62,000 depending on the type of organization you’re working for.

Regardless of what you choose to do, the chances are, you will switch your career several times given the amount of opportunities there are within the nonprofit sector. The nonprofit sector is a key component to the U.S. economy and there will always be a high demand for jobs within the industry.

Insight to the Nonprofit Industry

Finally, this video is aimed more at those who are unsure if they would like to get involved with nonprofit work. I found this video a few years ago after debating my interests in nonprofit and I found her to be helpful as far as insight to the industry goes.

Video by It’s Radish Time

How to Build Relationships with Donors for Your Nonprofit

Photo by iStock

Creating a positive and strong relationship past, current and future donors is very important to running a successful organization. Not only is it important because they are the ones who are progressing your nonprofit with their funding, but also it’s important that your mission matches your actions. Nonprofit Quarterly explains the importance of an organization being “donor-centric” above all else because this is how you resemble and create trust.

It can be hard to know how to converse with donors, so I’ve developed a short list of tips on how to create and pursue positive relationships with donors to keep them involved in your nonprofit, and make them understand that your organization is “donor-centric.”

1 . Create a Good First Impression.

Creating a good impression is important in most situations, but it’s especially important when communicating with donors. Right off the bat they need to understand what your organization stands for, and how their involvement is going to progress your mission. Your first real connection with a donor at times is through donor letters, and this is where you need to be transparent about your mission and what you want from them. Curate your messaging to always be respectful, touching, and show the impact of your organization.

2. Show the Donor the Impact of Their Donation.

Donors feel especially compelled to donate to a nonprofit when they are able to see that their donation made an impact. Nonprofit Hub recommends showing donors their impact either visually, by breaking it down into common terminology, or by incorporating emotion to increase connection with the donor. Donors want to be able to feel good about putting their money towards a cause, and its best for them to see who and how they are benefitting someone with their finances.

3. Make Them Feel Apart of Your Mission.

Along with showing the donor the impact of their donation, it’s important to make them feel involved. Invite them to events you’re holding, fundraisers, or keep them up to date on new things within your organization if they show interest. This helps donors feel more like people and they are recognized as more than a piggy-bank; it shows your organization values them and their presence.

By keeping them involved, you are giving them more opportunities to build a personal connection to the organization, if they don’t already have one. This in turn will benefit both of you: they will continue to fund your nonprofit, and you both are able to have a genuine relationship.

4. Thank Them.

Thanking your donors might be the most important tip of them all. Although we were all taught the politeness behind a thank you at a young age, it’s especially vital to relationship building in the nonprofit world. A thank you, in many ways, is necessary if you would like to continue building a relationship and have any hopes of further funding. A thank you helps reinforce that their donation has made a difference and is a personal way to let the donor know they are appreciated for their time, money and thought about your organization.

A study conducted by the Philanthropy Centre found that organizations that do not effectively use thank you’s are seen as saying “We don’t have the time, and it doesn’t make a difference.” Or, “Thank you’s weren’t worth the money.” Please take this advice when interacting with your donors, because for your organization it’s a small effort, but to a donor it could be everything.

5. Get to Know Them on a Personal Level.

Do they have a personal connection to your nonprofit’s mission? Often donors become involved because of personal experience and they feel connected to your organization. Channel that connection and let it be known that they are more than a donor to your organization. This will encourage them to want to be apart of your mission in future events, fundraising, or just positive word of mouth about your nonprofit.

As an Organization, Why Should You Care?

Donor retention. Donor retention is a measure of how many donors consistently donate to your organization. As I’ve said, when you build strong relationships with your donors and prove to them their importance for your nonprofit, they likely going to want to continue to support you. Below, I’ve attached a short video on how donor retention directly impacts the funding of your nonprofit.

Video by Bloomerang

The most important thing about building a relationship with donors is making sure that it is genuine. Make them feel special. Make them the superheroes of your nonprofit–because they are. Without their funding and general support, your organization could not be what it is. The least you can do for your donors is appreciate them and build a sincere relationship.

Five Nonprofits Supporting Women

Women have been at the center of discussion, especially in recent years, and rightfully so. As a woman myself, I support any organization that is for the well-being, success, educational advancement, and general support of girls and women.

This past week I have been reflecting on nonprofits that serve women, and I’ve decided to share five missions I would deem important and meaningful. I’ve also included several quotes from trailblazing feminists that encourage women to recognize their worth.

Built by Girls

Photo by Built by Girls

Built by Girls is an organization that supports young women and girls who are entering the STEM field. Built by Girls stands alongside She’s the First, and Girls Who Code which encourage young women to not only seek higher education but also pursue fields that are dominantly male.

Built by Girls focuses on careers in technology and they help girls get connected with tech professionals, offer mentoring, connect them to internships, scholarships and more. Since February 2017, Built by Girls has provided 11,000 hours of one on one time between a young girl and a mentor within the tech field.

Careers are not meant to be exclusively based on gender; whatever a man can do, a woman can too. I applaud this nonprofit for standing by a mission that supports women to realize brains are beauty too. You can read more about their mission here.

“There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.”

Rihanna

Movemeant

Photo by Movemeant

Movemeant was created by Starcycle to make fitness more accessible while also shifting the perspective of body image to self-love. In a world filled with messages about lifestyle, health and general well-being, Starcycle wants to provide women with the right education, and encourage them to be confident and love their bodies for what they are.

One of Movemeant’s main missions is to target middle school girls who are facing some of the most impactful years of their life when it comes to their confidence. Movemeant created a middle school curriculum that incorporates talk of self-love, information on healthy habits, discrediting of society’s beauty ideals and overall resilience. Along with the conversation, girls are given the chance to explore hip-hop dance, kickboxing, yoga, and more.

Confidence and self-love are the most beautiful traits a woman can have, and Movemeant takes the time to educate young girls on how to obtain just that. Support their mission and read more about the community outreach they do for women on their website.

“I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.”

Emma Stone

Planned Parenthood

Photo by The Cut

Planned Parenthood is most likely an organization that you are already familiar with considering today’s political climate. Planned Parenthood is an organization that provides affordable reproductive health care to women. It’s reported that one in every five women in the U.S have chosen Planned Parenthood for health care at least once, myself included.

Planned Parenthood provides women with several services including sex education, birth control, STD testing and treatment, screenings for cervical and breast cancer, and more. Planned Parenthood has a non-judgmental staff and fully supports women taking care of their reproductive health. If you’d like to support women through Planned Parenthood’s mission, you can do so here.

“No woman should be told she can’t make decisions about her own body. When women’s rights are under attack, we fight back.” 

Kamala Harris

Girls Not Brides

Photo by Girls Not Brides

Girls Not Brides addresses the global issue of child marriage and this nonprofit takes preventative measures in making sure young girls are able to stay children. On a global scale, roughly 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year, and there are 650 million women today that were married as children.

You can help support this mission in several ways. You can personally donate, spread their message of educating people on the issue, or you can donate your own wedding registry to support a campaign throw their VOW fund. Children deserve to stay children and not exploited to be child brides and this organization takes large strides in raising awareness for this issue.

“I feel now that the time has come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

She Should Run

Photo by She Should Run

She Should Run is an organization that’s inspiring women of all colors and backgrounds to run for office. It connects women with resources, connections and education to be informed about politics and gives them a starting point in politics. It has several programs to encourage the talk of women in politics. One being a set of online courses where women can develop leadership skills, network, find their voice and get answers to the many questions that they might have.

Through their organization, they have found that more than 26,000 women have since considered running for office. Their current mission is to get 250,000 women to run for office by 2030. Help share their message on social media by using the hashtag #250KBY2030 and inspire women to run for office.

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made… It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supporting women can be shown in many different ways. Do your part and support businesses that support women. Donate to your local charity. Treat women kindly. Be apart of the mission that encourages badass women.

Social Media’s Impact on Nonprofits

By Marketing Land

Right now, we live in an era where social media rules communication through messaging, posts, likes, and shares. Whether you are a fan of social media or not, it’s a relevant platform for business.

Social media receives a lot of backlash for how much people depend on it, but the reality of it is, from a business standpoint, it has the ability to spread information to many hard to reach audiences and is a platform for nonprofit fundraising. Social media especially speaks to younger audiences through its convenient links that may lead users to donate.

In 2017, Blackbaud reported that 51% of millenials donated to charity, and of that 51%, 43% gave through social media. From a millenial point of view, I can understand how this would be true. To me, I find it much easier to spend money online because of how businesses or nonprofits create an easy access, supply us with a conveniently labeled “donate” button, and they usually use messaging that’s short and direct. So, what are the ways in which nonprofits are impacted by social media?

What is it Like Now For Nonprofits With the Help of Technology?

Through the use of social media, businesses, including nonprofits, are able to spread their message through several channels. It’s so often that I log on to Facebook and I see that my friends have “donated their birthday” to a local nonprofit by posting a link to the organization with a statement that might say, “For my birthday I want to raise money for the Humane Society, please click the link below to donate.” This selfless action raises awareness and creates word of mouth advertising about certain nonprofits which can further drive their funding.

Digital fundraising is a way nonprofits benefit from social media; it’s quick and easy to share fundraising campaigns. Digital fundraising can also be supported through the use of hashtags. Hashtags generate conversation and can draw attention to a specific campaign or fundraiser event a nonprofit might be holding. 

Nonprofits are also at an advantage through the creation and development of their own accounts in general. On their personalized social media accounts they are able to visually represent the impact of their nonprofit on who it’s helping, what your donation provides, and this is most effective through storytelling. For example, if you see a malnourished dog but you then see how this dog shelter helped rehabilitate him enough for someone to adopt him, you might be more impacted to support their mission.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

There’s no telling what the future holds, especially in the technology world where every day is full of innovation and expansion. I can only expect nonprofits will get more competitive in reaching their audience and potential donors. I sense that technology will always be a helpful tool for nonprofits getting started, reaching their goals, and expressing their mission to potential donors.

Giving Back to Those Who Have Given Everything

By Visualize Pictures

Having worked at a counseling center for veterans and having a step-father who is a veteran, I have had the privilege to get to know some amazing and brave individuals. It makes me wonder: how one could give so much, voluntarily or not, and upon return to civilian life, get back so little for all they have sacrificed?

Luckily, several nonprofits have recognized this issue and taken it into their own hands to provide resources for returning veterans that is putting their “thank you for your service” into action. With Veteran’s Day quickly approaching, I decided to create a short list of three major nonprofits that work to better the lives of veterans and their families that you could consider donating to this year, and if nothing else, they deserve recognition.

Give An Hour

Give An Hour is a nonprofit for veterans rooted in caring for the mental health of returned veterans. One in three individuals that have served in the military experience PTSD, but many don’t have the resources to go about getting help for their mental health.

Give an Hour has a program called “Wounded Warriors” that provides veterans with the chance to have the hard conversations, numerous support groups, mental health specialists, a 24-hour crisis hotline, and even the chance to have bonding experiences with others who have served. Give an Hour does incredible work in providing a safe place for veterans with professionals about opportunities, what they’re struggling with and much more.

TAPS

TAPS stands for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and its mission is to help families who are grieving their fallen hero. TAPS has several programs to help families deal with the stage of “what’s next.” It provides individual counseling, suicide prevention programs, ways to get involved in their community, and connection to other resources. TAPS is there to let survivors know that they are not alone in their lowest of times. If you would like to give your time or donate money to a family who is struggling with the loss of a hero, you can find more information here.

Disabled American Veterans

Disabled American Veteran (DAV) is an organization that impacts the lives of veterans in more way than one. The nonprofit is most recognizable for their ability to get specifically disabled veterans back on their feet whether it be connecting them to job fairs, giving them rides to job interviews, and even providing them with connections to temporary housing.

DAV’s mission is to show that disabled veterans are just as capable of success as any other person, whether that success be personally, financially or socially. DAV is there to help reach the next step after being discharged from the military, which they have do successfully for over one million veterans each year. To learn more about services they provide or ways you can get involved, visit their website.

The Bottom Line?

Veterans put everything they have on the line when they are called to duty; it’s our duty as a society to provide veterans with better opportunities, less judgement, and more resources for their mental and physical health once they return home.