Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Red Cross Disaster Fund is Depleted

According to an article the Washington Post:

"The American Red Cross said yesterday that it has depleted its national disaster relief fund and is taking out loans to pay for shelters, food and other relief services across seven Midwestern states battered by floods... On the cusp of hurricane season, Red Cross executives said the charity has raised just $3.2 million for the Midwest floods and painted a dire picture of its overall disaster relief finances. They said many donors are giving less because of rising gasoline and food prices and the collapse of the housing market. Also, the absence of a major U.S. catastrophe since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has made it difficult to galvanize donors."

If you are trying to think of someplace to give funds, The American Red Cross could be a great recipient!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why so urgently in need of urgency?

I heard a great segment today on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, a public radio show that is broadcast here in the DC area on WAMU 88.5 FM.

One of Kojo's guests today was Shankar Vedantam, National Reporter and "Department of Human Behavior" Columnist at The Washington Post. The subject of this section of the show was altruism and charitable giving as a reflection of theories of human behavior (trust me, it gets interesting). The guest referred a number of times to the ideas of Peter Singer, a Princeton University professor and philosopher.

A few random ideas that came up during the broadcast:

  • Lots of people would be willing to jump into a pond to save a drowning child, even if they were wearing $200 shoes that would get ruined. But most people would be reluctant to write a check for $200 to feed a starving child on the other side of the world.
  • People lined up in droves to donate blood after the 9/11 attacks - so much so that many blood banks where overwhelmed and had to throw away excess blood that had been donated. However, today, many blood banks are facing critical, life threatening shortages of several blood types.
  • A typical American would be more likely to donate to a flood victim in Iowa than to a flood victim in southeast Asia, because the person in Iowa is perceived to be a part of the same group, or "tribe." However, both people are strangers! So what's the difference?
Two key ideas that came out of the broadcast - people are generally more likely to give in response to a crisis, even if ongoing needs are just as dire (but may not be perceived as "urgent"); and, people are generally more likely to give to others who are perceived as part of their group or "tribe."

I invite you to listen to the broadcast yourself by going here and clicking the links next to "Dept. of Human Behavior."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Money and values

I taught a class recently where we talked about money and values - specifically, the way that you can use money to express your values. So many people think "community, friendship, spirituality = good. Money = bad." But, as we discussed in the class, you can infuse the way you use your money with your values and your unique spirituality.

Of course, donating to charity is a big part of this, but there's so much more to it... What kind of choices do you make with your money? From where do you chose to buy things, and from whom? Where do you invest your money? Do you pay people (employees, vendors, etc.) on time, out of respect for the work that they do for you? Do you treat yourself from time to time, showing yourself some kindness? Do you treat others from time to time, for no particular reason?

This weekend, whether you're running errands, grabbing a latte, or celebrating Dad on Father's Day, I invite you to think about the ways that you use money (no matter how much you have) as an expression of your values and spirit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

SixDegrees.org was started by Kevin Bacon and Network for Good about a year and a half ago. Lately, I've been researching ways to fundraise through social networking sites (like Facebook, MySpace, etc.), and through my research, I've come across SixDegrees.org once again.

I love it! As an avid celebrity watcher and enthusiastic philanthropy promoter, I say... kudos to Kevin Bacon! Way to take a little joke and then (1) make it your own, and (2) do something that benefits everyone.

I'm thinking of creating a badge to add to my own blog and web site. Has anyone out there created badges and had any success with them?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Your Mission Statement

I recently came across this page on the Franklin Covey web site: It's a tool for writing your own Mission Statement. Personally, I like the "Kickstart" Mission statement exercise, but the site includes a few other ways of writing your mission statement, plus some inspirational quotes.

I invite you to spend a few minutes today using this site to reflect upon what is most meaningful and valuable to you ... and then think about how you can volunteer or donate money to manifest those values in your community and our world!

(note: the site involves a "pop-up" box, so if you have pop-ups blocked on your computer, you might need to unblock them)