Change Gangs: Virtual Giving Circles Turn your small donation into a BIG deal! Mon, 04 May 2015 02:05:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Change Gangs Considers Emergency Donation To Help Nepal Recover From A Devastating Earthquake Mon, 04 May 2015 02:05:12 +0000 On April 25th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. The latest official death toll as of Saturday afternoon has surpassed 7000, the vast majority in Nepal, but also in China, India and Bangladesh. The number of injured in Nepal alone is more than 10,000, and the earthquake has displaced an estimated 454,769 people.

This event has taken an incredible toll on both the people and the environment of Nepal. Take a look at these before and after photos of Nepal landmarks. They are shocking. And here are some photos of the human toll.

We Can Help

But we can do something to help. Our giving circles set aside a little bit of money every month just to help out in emergency situations, because we know that there is never a good time to donate to an emergency but there will always be emergencies.

But We Must Be Careful!

During a crisis, extra caution must be taken when making a donation. Charities with the best of intentions will raise money, but they are not equipped with the knowledge, expertise, and even access necessary to make a difference with the money they’ve collected. And unfortunately, disasters bring out the con artists who capitalize on your desire to help.

But we know our small donation is a big deal, but it’s only going to make a difference if it gets to the right charity.

Votes Due By Tuesday, May 5th at 12pm PST

Our members have nominated different charities they heard were helping survivors of the earthquake. These charities have been thoroughly researched, and I’ve provided our members with complete reports on these charities. After reviewing those reports, they will vote for either Doctors Without Borders, Save The Children, or SEVA Foundation.

That’s the beauty of our giving circles. It is possible to know that your donation is going to the right charity, that it’s going to be used in the right way, and it’s going to make a big difference.

You can join a giving circle around the cause you are most passionate about, too. Pets? Vets? Poverty? Find out more here.

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Our First Donation of 2015 Fri, 03 Apr 2015 20:07:28 +0000 Every three months, we research a bunch of charities and then choose which one we are going to donate to. Here are short descriptions on the charities our giving circles chose last month.

Please note, our giving goals and values may be different than yours. You should always conduct your own analysis before donating to a charity.

Download the 4 Level Charity Evaluation System for help discovering the charities that are right for YOU!

Pets Giving Circle: It’s A Tie! Companion Animal Advocates And Lucky Dog Rescue

Companion Animal Advocates keeps pets out of shelters by providing pet food to food banks so that those who are struggling to feed their families can feed their pets, too. They provide 391 bags of food every month to 3 local food banks and operate on $61,000 in funding. They also have a low/no cost spay/neuter effort, and since it costs $500 to spay/neuter a pet in their area, low/no cost spay/neuter is sometimes the only way a family could afford to have the procedure done. They also supply pet sized resuscitation equipment to fire departments. Almost every single fire dept in Bergen county has the pet size masks. So now they are expanding to other counties.

The Lucky Dog Rescue’s mission is to help unwanted dogs find forever homes and to be a leader in Colorado Springs community educating the public on the importance of spaying and neutering, advocating for animals that have no voice, offering training and other resources as alternatives to re-homing, and preventing cruelty to animals. Although they are a small charity with less than 50k in revenue, they’ve saved 450 total dogs as of 1/17/14, since 7/13/10

Poverty Busters: Hephziba Children’s Association

This charity helps children thrive and families flourish through innovative, community-based programs. There aren’t a lot of resources out their for children in and out of the foster care system, so I’m especially glad to see a donation support their important work.

Here are a few examples of programs they provide:

The Diagnostic Treatment Center which provides abused and neglected children a 90-day period of stabilization and evaluation. It is the only diagnostic shelter for children between the ages of 3 and 12 in Illinois.

The Residence at Hephzibah Home which provides long-term (1 or two years) therapeutic support for severely traumatized children.

Foster Care Program that trains foster parents to provide the love, constancy and additional support needed to help traumatized children heal and learn to trust again.

Veterans: Horse Rhythm Foundation

Horse Rhythm Foundation helps veterans and first responders heal from physical or emotional trauma (including PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma) through Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), Equine Driving Facilitated Learning (EDFL), and Therapeutic Riding.

Last year, 350 men and women went through their program. You can read some of their testimonials here:

They are in the midst of an exciting research project that involves doing brain maps of participants before, during, and after horse therapy. This research will allow them to put science behind what they do. If spending time with horses is not just a warm and fuzzy effort but has real, measurable impact, then it is easier for insurance companies and the VA to pay for the treatment. Their medical director is from Mayo Clinic and they have multiple persons with medical backgrounds on their board, so their study has been carefully designed to meet the accepted scientific study requirements. This means that the research will be accepted by the scientific community and can be used by other organizations doing similar work.

I am very excited to learn about the results of this study. If it turns out that this type of work does not help veterans recover, then we need to know that so we can direct our donations to the programs that do work!

Thanks To The Members!

They make it possible, and I thank everyone who is the change they want to see in the world.

Are you walking your talk? If so, thank you! If you want to make a big deal out of your small donation, I’d love to welcome you to the giving circle that is right for you. There is no someday. There is only today.

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Movies, Books, and Speakers Oh My! Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:42:42 +0000 Heart and MindEducation is an important part of what we do through our giving circles. The more we understand our cause, the better we can direct our donations to the charities and the programs addressing the root causes, so that fewer people and animals ever have to suffer. We want to solve problems at their roots, so that maybe someday, we’ll don’t have to donate!

We use our hearts AND our minds.

Each quarter, we read a book, watch a movie, or hear from an expert on our favorite causes. This time, we have a little something different for each circle.

Check out the educational item we’ll be discussing at our giving circle meetings in April.

People for Pets: Teresa Shively

Join us to hear from Teresa Shively, founder at Second Chance to Dance Dachshund Rescue, who has many years of dog rescue under her belt, and she’ll share with us some of the lessons she’s learned over the years.

Poverty Busters: Girls Rising

Join us for a discussion of the documentary Girls Rising.

“Travel the globe to meet nine unforgettable girls- striving beyond circumstance, push past limits. Their dreams, their voices, their incredible stories are captured in a film about the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world.”

Available for rental on ITunes for $4.99.

Veterans: The Evil Hours

Join us for a discussion of The Evil Hours.

“Just as polio loomed over the 1950s, and AIDS stalked the 1980s and ’90s, posttraumatic stress disorder haunts us in the early years of the twenty-first century. Over a decade into the United States’ “global war on terror,” PTSD afflicts as many as 30 percent of the conflict’s veterans. But the disorder’s reach extends far beyond the armed forces. In total, some twenty-seven million Americans are believed to be PTSD survivors. Yet to many of us, the disorder remains shrouded in mystery, secrecy, and shame.Now, David J. Morris — a war correspondent, former Marine, and PTSD sufferer himself — has written the essential account of this illness. Through interviews with individuals living with PTSD, forays into the scientific, literary, and cultural history of the illness, and memoir, Morris crafts a moving work that will speak not only to those with the condition and to their loved ones, but also to all of us struggling to make sense of an anxious and uncertain time.”

Available at Amazon.

Your Suggestions?

If you know of a person, book, or movie we should check out, leave a comment and let me know!

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You Can Help Us Choose Fri, 13 Mar 2015 14:03:33 +0000 Every three months, Change Gangs: Virtual Giving Circles donates our pooled donations to charities. We love that we each give only $25, but together we donate THOUSANDS!

And we’re not content to donate, cross our fingers, and hope our donation makes a difference. Nope, these charities have been thoroughly researched and the members receive the full reports. Are these charities efficient? Are they making a difference? These are the answers we want to know before we send our hard earned dollars. We use our brains and our hearts.

Below you’ll find a brief description of the charities we are considering. If you join now, you can help us choose the charity!

Click here to find and join the giving circle you care about most. You will love being a part of our giving circles and making small donations that make a BIG impact.

People for Pets

We’re deciding between

Companion Animal Advocates whose primary mission is pet retention, and they keep pets out of shelters by providing pet food to food banks so that those who are struggling to feed their families can feed their pets, too.

Kindness Ranch who provides a sanctuary and place of rehabilitation for animals who have previously been used in laboratory research.

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue who helps unwanted dogs find forever homes and is a leader in Colorado Springs in educating the public on the importance of spaying and neutering, advocating for animals that have no voice, offering training and other resources as alternatives to re-homing, and preventing cruealty to animals.

Poverty Busters

We’re deciding between

Care International
whose mission is to end poverty by focusing on women’s education, rights, health, and economic opportunities.

Hephziba Children’s Association helps children thrive and families flourish through innovative, community-based programs. For example, one of their programs is a Diagnostic Treatment Center which provides abused and neglected children a 90-day period of stabilization and evaluation. It is the only diagnostic shelter for children between the ages of 3 and 12 in Illinois.

Liya Kebede Foundation
who focuses on training, community education and safe birth service delivery priorities.

Veterans Giving Circle

We’re deciding between

Growing Veterans who helps veterans transition into civilian life, create healthier lifestyle habits, build relationships with other veterans and civilians, build leadership skills, and even find employment opportunities through farm work.

Horse Rhythm Foundation helps veterans and first responders heal from physical or emotional trauma (including PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma) through Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), Equine Driving Facilitated Learning (EDFL), and Therapeutic Riding.

My Favorite Part

Making these large donations to the best charities is my favorite part of what I do.

I hope you’ll join us!

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Giving 2.0 Review Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:50:00 +0000 Last week, I was honored to have a mention in an article at the Stanford Social Innovation Review. In this article, The Disruption for Good, the author looks at how “rapid advances in technology are changing philanthropy in fundamental ways—making it potentially more rational, effective, collaborative, transparent, and democratic.” We are mentioned as one of those leveraging technology to create communities of people joined by a common cause. We are a disruption for good! But you already knew that didn’t you?

Let’s set aside how cool it is to be mentioned in an article in this prestigious publication (and it is really, really cool!). I’m especially honored because the author, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, has been fundamental to my own development as a philanthropist.

I picked up her book Giving 2.0 as I was starting to work on our giving circles. I appreciated this book immediately for its thoughtful approach to philanthropy. Often times in this type of genre, there are prescriptions for the right way to give and the right kind of charities to support. But from the beginning, she asked questions and proposed scenarios designed to get the reader to think deeply about what they have to give, the kind of causes they want to support, and how to choose charities.

As she wisely notes, “Online ratings systems are a starting point rather than a comprehensive solution to philanthropic due diligence”, and as I developed our own strategy for due diligence, her insights guided me. The “Charting A Course” chapter, lists 50 questions to ask a nonprofit before making a donation. These questions along with her “Warning Signs” raised my awareness of the intricacies of evaluating and choosing the non-profits that meet our own goals.

This book is packed with useful information. In fact, it might have too much information, so when she put together an online course, I eagerly signed up. I was not disappointed. The format of the course allowed her to organize the material in Giving 2.0 into lessons that greatly expanded their content and usefulness. Plus, she introduced a new framework for engaging philanthropy called Reflect, Assess, Decide, Act, Reflect. (R.A.D.A.R.).

The common thread throughout her book and her online course is her emphasis that philanthropy is a deeply personal effort that evolves as the giver becomes more experienced and more connected with what their giving means for them. Mistakes will be made. Lessons will be learned. Priorities will change. Fortunately for us, she shares her own lessons and processes in the hope that we can start our own philanthropic journeys a little more thoughtfully and a lot more effectively.

Giving 2.0 the book and Giving 2.0 the MOOC are both musts for the person interested in mastering charitable giving.

So here is a belated thank you to Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen for her wonderful advice and timely thank you for mentioning us in her recent article!

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What Is Your Giving Style? Fri, 13 Feb 2015 13:26:02 +0000 ]]> 0 Do You Know A Great Charity? Sat, 31 Jan 2015 13:32:42 +0000 We have money to give, and we’re on the look out for exceptional charities.

Our nomination period is officially open, and for the next month, we will identify possible candidates.

Can you help us?

Pet Charities

Let me know about a great pet charity by going to this link:

Poverty Busting Charities

I’d love to hear about your favorite poverty busting charity, and you can let me know about it at this link:

Veteran’s Charities

Our veterans need so much support right now, and they deserve it! Do you know of a charity make a big difference in the lives of our veterans? If so, go to this link and let me know about it:

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The Year in Review: 2014’s Donations Fri, 02 Jan 2015 17:48:45 +0000 It’s been a wonderful year here. And it was made possible by YOU– our members! It’s your commitment to putting your money where your heart is. It’s your willingness to walk the walk. Your $25/month is making a big impact, because TOGETHER we choose great charities implementing great programs.

Please note: If you are not a member of our giving circles, we recommend that you choose charities that match your donation values. We thoroughly researched these charities according to what is important to us. We would love to welcome you to a giving circle so you can also make small donations that make a BIG impact, too. We can be YOUR donation team. We make sure you’re giving to the right charity, that your donation is going to be used in the right way, and that’s it’s going to make a big difference. Join us!

Rollover images not working?

Watch a slide show of our charity recipients instead.

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How to Survive Holiday Giving! Sat, 29 Nov 2014 14:35:05 +0000 ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when I said to my spouse,
“We’ve done too much again, just look at this house.

But we haven’t done enough this year to care
for those for whom Santa Clause will not be there.

Our children are nestled all snug in their beds,
But what of those kids with no roofs o’er their heads?

Charity requests are stacked high on our desk.
And the thought of them there is causing me stress.

There’s Heifer and Good Will and Green Peace and Red Cross
Or Kiva or St. Jude or Smile Train or Livestrong?

There’s too many choices, there’s too little time.
There’s now way to know the best use of our dime!”

My spouse drew me close and whispered to me,
“Of course, there is dear, but not under the tree.

The answer exists in an e-book online
And will answer your questions as it answered mine.

The Holiday Giving Survival Guide

Holiday Giving Survival GuideRelax! Holiday giving just got easier. Find out…

* What to do instead of donating canned food!
* How to do better clothes and toy drives!
* How to create a Family Giving Plan!

Plus, discover

* A 4 Level Charity Evaluation System you can use to quickly and confidently evaluate ANY charity.
* How to build your own donation team!
* Why you should ignore overhead ratios when evaluating a charity!

Click on the image or use this link to get your very own copy of the Holiday Giving Survival Guide!

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Ebola, Doctors Without Borders, and An Emergency Donation Sat, 01 Nov 2014 14:29:28 +0000 Is there ever a good time for an emergency?

No way! That’s why we set aside $25 every month into an Emergency Relief Fund so that we can make a donation to help people going through a crisis. We are prepared to help out in an emergency!

Last year, we donated to help the Philippines recover from the Typhoon, and now, we have another situation where we could help.

Ebola: The Crisis

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are facing a massive health crisis, and it’s making headlines in the U.S.. Liberia has suffered most in the Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 3,800 people. Cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could rise to between 550,000 and 1.4 million by January if there are no additional interventions, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report warned.

Let’s start with breaking down WHAT Ebola is.

Ebola is a virus that can be spread from fruit bats and primates to humans when these animals are consumed for food. Once the Ebola virus enters a human body, it can take anywhere from two to 21 days after infection for symptoms to kick in, but once they do, the pain is excruciating. It starts off with a fever, muscle pains, vomiting and diarrhea. It also makes the victims so weak that it leaves them bedridden. As the virus spreads, it can shut down major organs, such as the kidneys and liver. And the infection can cause internal and external bleeding from openings in the body, including eyes, ears, nose, rectum and even pores. The peak of the illness is the first seven to 10 days, during which patients are most likely to die. Source

The Solution

Fortunately, Ebola is not a highly contagious disease. An infected person can only transmit the disease to someone else when they have started showing symptoms of the disease. As long as they are walking around and feeling fine, they can’t infect anyone. Once a fever and other symptoms begin, Ebola is highly infectious (please note, contagious and infectious mean different things), but it is only spread through close contact with infected blood, saliva, urine, stool and vomit. Source

Here is the important part… Close contact with infected blood, saliva, urine, stool and vomit.

Ebola can be quickly contained by isolating the infected so no one comes in contact with these bodily fluids. For this reason, the U.S. does not need to worry about an Ebola outbreak. Our robust health care system means we have the information and tools necessary to identify and respond appropriately to a patient with Ebola.

However, this is not the case in the developing world. In a community without health care facilities, the sick are cared for by their family who are then exposed to Ebola who get sick who are then cared for by other family members who get sick. The situation can be even worse if there are health care facilities that lack the appropriate tools. Nurses and doctors are especially hard hit, and in some communities, entire hospitals are abandoned after doctors and nurses begin dying and the rest are too scared to show up for work.

To contain Ebola, these communities need the services to identify, isolate, and treat people with Ebola so the disease stops spreading.

Ebola: The Cost

Unfortunately, an Ebola outbreak is part of a vicious cycle where a country is too poor to have robust health care and poor health care keeps a country poor. Make no mistake: Ebola is not just a human health crisis. It ‘s also an economic crisis.

Fear of the disease, the introduction of curfews and the difficulties of transporting food are expected to have a significant impact on production of food, iron, and gold. It has reduced labor force participation, closed places of employment, disrupted transportation, and motivated some government and private decision makers to close seaports and airports.

The World Bank estimates the current Ebola outbreak will cost Sierra Leone $163 million, or 3.3% of its GDP this year. If the epidemic continues to spread, the World Bank estimates it could lose as much as 8.9% of its GDP in 2015. For Liberia, the worst case estimates of cost are $234 million, or 12% of GDP. In Guinea it’s $142 million, or 2.3% of GDP. Source

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders has been nominated for our Emergency Fund Donation.

They have been on the front lines of the Ebola response since March 2014 and are active in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. They currently employ 270 international and around 3,018 locally hired staff in the region to operate six Ebola case management centers. They provide approximately 600 beds in isolation.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, they have admitted more than 4,900 patients, among whom around 3,200 were confirmed as having Ebola. Around 1,140 have survived. More than 877 tons of supplies have been shipped to the affected countries since March.

I really enjoyed researching Doctors Without Borders and have been impressed by two unique features.

1. In order to preserve their independence, they do not take funding from governments, pharmaceutical companies, extraction companies (oil, natural gas, minerals), alcohol and tobacco companies, and arms manufacturers. As part of their commitment to independence they often speak out against governments and corporations responsible for harming the populace. While it has earned them a number of enemies and has sometimes gotten them kicked out of a country, they received a Nobel Peace Prize for not just their efforts to save lives but for speaking up for those people.

2. After the earthquake in Haiti, they stopped accepting donations. They recognized that they reached their capacity and more money would not allow them to do more work. I’ve never heard of any other charity doing this as charities usually believe they’ll figure out something important to do with that extra money.

Members can access the full report to help them make an informed decision.

Yay or Nay?

Will our members vote to donate the $300 in our Emergency Relief Fund to Doctors Without Borders to help them fight Ebola?

I don’t know. But I do know that I love that we are prepared to help out. We don’t have to look at our current tight budgets and wonder if we can help. We know we can help. The question is, “Do we and how?”

What Would You Do?

Leave a comment below. Would you donate to stop Ebola? Have you donated to stop Ebola ]]> 0