Tag Archives: Charitable organization

The Summary Post – New Years

Over the last month, eight of Embracing Ambiguity’s authors took the time to reflect on the past year in each of their lives. 2014 seemed to offer hills and valleys for each writer – from transitions and changes in the physical spaces they lived in, to the internal turmoil of life changing decisions. Throughout the month, each author reflected on the question of “Where were you one year prior?”

The resulting blog posts are filled with a variety of emotions, but all take an honest and challenging look at the 365 days that made up 2014. In case you missed any of the posts, we’ve compiled them all here.

Happy reading!


ON MILESTONES | Author: Jon Farmer

“2014 was a year of transition and learning, and looking back, some of the best parts of the year were things that I couldn’t have predicted on January 1st. That realization calms me down and gives me hope. A year ago I didn’t know how many friends I would make, places I would travel, or things I would learn. I had no idea how the projects I was working on would turn out or how much fun graduating would be. I didn’t know my sister would get engaged or that we would spend Thanksgiving together in her home in Alberta. I had no idea that I would work beside a glacial lake in the shadow of Rocky Mountains or that I would find a new sense of calm somewhere in the 3 months of travel that followed. I entered 2014 with things to do but some of my greatest growth appeared in the unplanned spaces.”

Read more here.

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ON SAYING YES | Author: Stefan Hostetter

“If anything, what changed was how I saw myself and how I understood the nature of work. In 2014, I began to see employment not only as something you can go out and find, but also as something you can build given the right opportunities. I spent the year saying yes to nearly every request made of me, rarely knowing if it would end with me being paid for anything. Often it results in a bunch of work and not much else, leading to a friend stating that ‘Stefan works for free’. But in the end, it proved to be a surprisingly effective tactic if your goal was to only get by…Saying yes to work showed me that I could create value in this world and gave me the opportunity to prove it to others.”

Read more here.

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ON BLANK CANVASES | Author: Jeff Ku

“From entering 2014, furiously wiping clean of what remained from the year before, I had produced a blank canvas, and I had started putting pencil to paper; sketching and outlining what I wanted to start seeing my life to look like.  The image isn’t totally clear yet, but there are shapes taking form.  It is just a matter of adding colour and seeing if looks right.  Let’s be honest, I’ll probably have to paint over some parts, and redraw lines and maybe even change up the medium.  But it’s a start, and that blank space doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did.”

Read more here.

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ON SAYING SO LONG | Author: Maya Fromstein

“2014 was a hard year. It brought many of my demons to the surface, despite my best efforts to have kept them hidden for the past 13 years. I learned, and am still learning, to differentiate between myself and these demons. To call them out when they act up, and to distance the blame, shame, and guilt that they bring with them…The struggle, tears, and relief all tangled together in one terrifying and new and strange and comforting bundle. I learned that vulnerability is distinct from weakness. That self care is different from selfishness. That depression is not only sadness, and anxiety not only stress. I learned that I am worth fighting for.”

Read more here.

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ON WAITING | Author: Molly Grove

” I am waiting for some big change that will alter my not only my day to day life but also my future…Not idle waiting, though I do watch more than my fair share of Netflix. Not inaction. It is a lack of control over outcomes. It is doing all that you can and putting that out to the universe and waiting to see what returns to you. You can do the best you can to bring things into your life, but in most cases, we cannot control what is coming for us, and that is scary. So you do everything you can, and then you wait.”

Read more here.

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ON A HEART BROKEN WIDE OPEN | Author: Mica McCurdey

“And so this year, I admit, my frailties often got the best of me. But (and this is a very large and important but) I like to think my heart, somewhere along the way, began to break wide open. Maybe it happened in the unexpected last minute drives from Toronto to my hometown; in dancing without care at a best friend’s wedding; in stuffing ourselves with Indian food on my living room floor; or in getting on a plane to land on an island with open arms. I can’t say if the year was overwhelmingly good or bad, as both certainly existed, but I am sure that somewhere along the way I changed.”

Read more here.

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ON THE ROAD TO EL DORADO | Author: Tyler Blacquiere

“For the last few years I’ve raced along the Road to El Dorado and after this mythical concept ofadulthood; something I naively assumed I’d see glimmering in the distance, a golden city on the horizon line, once I had figured it out, once I knew what I was doing. But I think the most adult thing I’ve been able to do these last few years, specifically, in the darkness of these last few months, is admit and accept that I have no fucking clue. Accept that my El Dorado is filled with fool’s gold.”

Read more here.

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ON MY 4-STEP PROGRAM TO FINDING MYSELF | Author: Michelle Reeves

“But that newfound solitude lead to more introspection than I had ever experienced. I feel like I know myself much better than I did last year and I am more confident in my independence now. In that sense, the Year of Michelle successfully reached its initial objective. My personal growth curve has been getting steeper and steeper every year and I hope that trend keeps up for a long time.”

Read more here.

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On the way we think about non-profits

I am overhead.

If you work for any non-profit organization, it is guaranteed that one of the top 5 questions you have to answer relates to your admin costs. This question comes in various forms. The educated: “Tell me more about your organization’s funding structure.” The blunt: “So how much money ACTUALLY gets spent where its needed?” And the downright offensive: “How much do you make doing THAT?”

I also spend a lot of time fielding other ridiculous questions (“Does your CEO ride in her own private jet?”) and ridiculous statements (“I don’t donate because your organization funds abortions!”).  But admin costs are the biggie. Every year prior to our big fundraising push, an anonymous email circulates throughout our city, literately titled, “The Best and Worse Charities!”

Aside from featuring a truly remarkable abomination of the concepts of spelling and punctuation, the email is also one of those that remarks plaintively that 99% of people won’t forward it, which, in my opinion, is probably the only accurate statistic in the whole message.

It also has the nerve to call organizations that purportedly pay their executives a competitive wage “offenders”:

“Keep these facts in mind when “donating”. As you open your pockets for yet another natural disaster, keep the following facts in mind; we have listed them from the highest (worse paid offender) to the lowest (least paid offender).”

Honestly, I’m SICK AND TIRED of this attitude. And no, I’m not sick and tired because I sacrifice all of my worldly possessions, health, and sanity to help people by working in a non-profit. I have GREAT health care and benefits; my employer sees to that. I have had amazing training, experiences, and treatment because my workplace sees me as an asset, one which if invested in can bring back exponentially more to the organization, and subsequently, to those we serve.

Why is it that a millionaire who gained his wealth at the expense of others can be lauded as a philanthropist for making a charitable contribution to an organization, but a social worker at that organization who makes in a year what the millionaire makes in a few days can be criticized for even having a salary? Surely anyone who sets out the majority of their adult life to help those in need shouldn’t be rewarded! Surely there should be no incentive other than martyrdom to do this kind of work!

We need a paradigm shift. We need to start investing in non-profit the way we would invest in a business. We need to change the rules of the game so that there is incentive for the industry of helping humanity to grow and to innovate. Nobody makes this argument more succinctly and more convincingly than Dan Pallotta, who can be seen here in a TED Talk entitled “ The way we think about charity is dead wrong.”

If you have, do, or will ever give money to a charitable cause, I strongly encourage and downright urge you to watch this video. Watch this video, and read everything you can get your hands on about your organization of choice. And before your open your mouth, read the organization’s latest Annual Report. In its entirety, including the financials. If you want to invest your dollars – because truly, donating to a charitable cause is exactly that, investing in our collective future – you need to be just as informed as if you were making a business decision.

With this new attitude and in-depth knowledge, you will be equipped to invest your money in something you believe in. And believe me, the staff of that organization will love you for it.

 

P.S. Still don’t believe me? Read this article.

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