Thursday, December 09, 2010

Giving the gift of Tranquility to Teen Girls

Here's a note from my friend Kimberly Wilson, of the Tranquil Space Foundation (I'm on the steering committee for the Foundation). Please consider the Tranquil Space Foundation in your year-end giving plans!

Dear friend,

During this hectic holiday season, sometimes we have to remind ourselves to pause, reflect, and take a breath.

Tranquil Space Foundation and its Tranquil Teens program give the gift of pause, reflection, and breath to teenage girls. Girls like Michelle*, whom we learned more about from an adult who is working with her:

Michelle is an amazing survivor. Ridden by anxiety following a lifetime of sexual abuse, she vacillated between periods of depression and violent rages. The sexual abuse left her bereft of self-esteem, so much that she could scarcely make eye contact during conversations. Her emotional and behavioral instability resulted in repeated psychiatric hospitalizations and eventually residential treatment. 

When I learned about the Tranquil Teens workshop, I immediately thought of Michelle. In her fits of rage, she hardly knew where she was. Her breath was absent. She was ungrounded. Tranquil Space Foundation gracefully agreed to come to our long-term residential treatment center in Maryland. 

Michelle kept a quiet, attentive gaze as the facilitator led her through breath work and relaxation exercises. She eagerly opened her journal to note what she was thankful for—to feel safe and to be protected from her abuser. Beginning with the Tranquil Teens workshop, Michelle began journaling about the horrors of childhood abuse. She used breath work to calm herself when she wanted to hurl her anger at innocent bystanders.

As a therapist and yoga devotee, I see the amazing blend of leadership skills, yoga, and creativity that Tranquil Space Foundation offers to girls across the DC metro region. On behalf of Michelle, I would like to thank Tranquil Space Foundation for their incredible work. Namaste.

You know that calm, euphoric feeling you get after a yoga practice, a great run, a round of golf, or a walk among autumn’s changing leaves? That’s the feeling that your donation to Tranquil Space Foundation can help bring to teenage girls at a vulnerable time in their lives. Through its curriculum of yoga, creativity, and leadership, Tranquil Teens helps girls find their breath and their voice.

Tranquil Space Foundation also makes micro-grants to organizations that help women and their families struggling with HIV/AIDS, women artisans in developing countries, homeless women in the DC area, and a host of other women-focused causes.

Your support will help Tranquil Space Foundation continue to lead workshops for teens like Michelle and continue to support organizations that enrich the lives of women and girls.

Please visit to learn more about what we do, and please consider Tranquil Space Foundation in your year-end donation plans.

Wishing you a bright and joyous holiday season,

Kimberly Wilson, and the Tranquil Space Foundation Team

* Name changed

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

One more reason I love Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons, a.k.a. the Godfather of Hip-Hop, a.k.a. co-founder of Def Jam Records and creator of Phat Farm clothing line, a.k.a. major philanthropist and yogi, a.k.a. my entrepreneurial idol, put the following post on Facebook today, re: extension of tax cuts for the wealthy:

As part of the 2 percent, I need my tax cut extended like I need a hole in my head. Whether it's through taxes, philanthropy or service, I always want to give. I wish the wealthy(and the repbulicans doing their bidding) would realize that they can't take it with them and in fact they would be much happier if they would stop trying to hold on to all thier money. it only makes them sick....

I love a celebrity and thought leader who calls it like he sees it. Preach!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ring My Bell

OK, I'll admit it. I find those Salvation Army bells outside of grocery and other stores mildly annoying. (Not nearly as annoying as constant Christmas music, boring into my brain like a worm with an insatiable appetite, but that's a post for another day...)

But limiting their time from 10 hours per day over 32 days, to 4 hours per day over 12 days? Seems kinda Scroogey, Giant Foods...

Of course, for those of us who are gay rights activists, to give or not to give to Salvation Army comes with its own moral dilemmas.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Entrepreneurs are Givers!

As an entrepreneur, I was thrilled to read about this study in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (released by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and Ernst & Young).

According to the study, entrepreneurs give twice as much of their profits to charity as do more-established companies. 70% of survey respondents said they donate their time as well, with more than 50% sitting on nonprofit boards.

Nearly 70% said they started their charitable habits while they were still building their businesses - they didn't wait until their businesses were successful, but rather made giving a habit along the way.

Did you know that this is National Entrepreneurship Week, complete with a Presidential Proclamation? Mere coincidence that this week also includes National Philanthropy Day? I think not!

Looks like there's something about the entrepreneurial spirit and the giving spirit that just goes together!

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's National Philanthropy Day!

November 15 is National Philanthropy Day!

I'll be "officially" celebrating on Thursday at the Association of Fundraising Professionals' DC Chapter's National Capital Philanthropy Day. But I'm happy to celebrate today, as well, by encouraging you to make a gift to charity today.

You are a philanthropist. Yes, you! Whether you are giving $5 or $50,000. So make a gift today and honor the tradition of giving back.

Here's some charities that have been on my mind over the last couple of days, in case you are looking for places to give:

My friend Sharon is participating in Walk For the Homeless this weekend, which supports DC area organizations that help the homeless.

I've definitely thinking about the crisis in Haiti and the tragic cholera epidemic that is sweeping through the country. Doctors Without Borders is doing lifesaving work there.

I'm proud to be on the Steering Committee for the Tranquil Space Foundation, which supports programs that help women and girls find their voice through yoga, creativity, and leadership.

I'm also proud to be on the board of DC Council BBYO, a GREAT organization for Jewish teens. I was an active member of BBYO as a teenager and am thrilled to see BBYO continue to do such great work with teens on leadership, service, and Jewish identity formation. DC Council BBYO is having its annual gala on December 9.

I went to the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery a couple of weekends ago and LOOOOVED the Elvis portrait exhibition! Seriously, even if you are not an Elvis fan, you should check out this photography exhibition. It's a real slice of American life. And seriously... the Smithsonian... what could be better!?

Feel free to add any charities you like by commenting, below. Happy National Philanthropy Day!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Americans retain their post as not-quite-nicest people on the planet

Such an inspiring blog post about Canadians the other day... and, unfortunately, a less inspiring post about Americans today.

According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, the number of people who plan to give nothing, zip, zilch to charity doubled this year (12% in 2010; 6% in 2009). The good news is, numbers on volunteering are slightly up - 11% in 2010, 9% in 2009. 13% of those surveyed report that they give neither time nor money.

24% of those surveyed said that they feel a responsibility to "make the world a better place by being actively involved in various issues." This number is down from 31% in 2007. In addition, the survey found that "just under half (46%) feel that people can get involved in different causes but shouldn't necessarily feel obligated to do so, which is up from the 40% who said this three years ago."

The sample size of 2,620 seems a bit small to me, but the results are still interesting. Now that times are tough, we are giving less, volunteering slightly more, and feel less of an obligation to make the world a better place.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Canadians retain their post as nicest people on the planet

A retired Canadian couple won $11.3 million in the lottery... and they are giving almost all of it away. Mr. Large is a retired welder, and Mrs. Large is retired from retail and currently undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Judd Apatow does it again!

Check out this hilarious VIDEO by Judd Apatow, promoting a great humanitarian aid organization, AJWS.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time to step up, single dudes

Despite commonly held beliefs to the contrary, a recent study has found that most women give more to charity than men do. A recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article, reporting on a study released by the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Center for Philanthropy, found that "Women at [almost] every income level give to charity more often than men do — and they tend to donate more money on average than their male counterparts."

More specifically - most studies of women's philanthropy in the past have included married couples, which makes it hard to separate women's giving from men's. This study included 8,000 households headed by either single women or single men. Highlights:

* At the lowest income level in the study (people earning $23,509 or less), 35.2% of women gave to charity, compared to 25.7% of men.
* Among people who made more than $103,000, 96% of women gave to charity, compared to 75% of men.
* Never married ($783) and divorced or separated ($641) women gave more on average than never married ($498) or divorced or separated ($483) men.
* Men's giving outstripped women in one category, those earning $23,510 - $43,499; authors of the study plan to investigate this anomaly further. Widowed men also gave more to charity than widowed women.

Conventional fundraising wisdom has long held that men give more than women. This study matters because it demonstrates that this isn't true, and that fundraisers (and non-profits in general) should pay closer attention to their female donors, or potential potential donors.

What else could be going on here? Do a lot of men not give to charity until they get married, and their wives encourage them to do so? Or, once they get married, they feel like it's time to take up "grown up" responsibilities, like philanthropy? Hey guys, what's your take on this?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wanna know what happens to a girl living in poverty when she reaches the age of 12?

To find out, watch this amazing video from The Girl Effect, a project sponsored by the Nike Foundation, in partnership with The United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. You can also connect w/ The Girl Effect on Facebook.

Don't forget to watch the video HERE.

The next time I complain about my life, please remind me to be grateful that I was born into a middle class family in the United States...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wanna win $100,000 for your favorite nonprofit?

The 2011 Social Impact Business Plan Competition is open until December 10. Qualified nonprofits can win "up to $100,000 in financial and consulting awards." The Competition is sponsored by Social Impact Exchange, which is backed by some heavy-hitters, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation. Find more information HERE, and spread the word!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tranquil Space Foundation Charity Soiree 10/14/2010

Please join me for this fun event to celebrate four years of bringing yoga, creativity, and leadership training to women and girls. See you at Darlington House (in Dupont Circle) on the 14th!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Give to Pakistan

This story in today's Washington Post is gut-wrenching: A Pakistani flood victim was forced to give birth in a graveyard that currently is filled with hundreds of thousands of flood victims. According to the article, she is one of 500,000 women impacted by the floods whom the United Nations expects will give birth over the next six months. The article goes on to describe the challenges of delivering aid to 8 million (that's right, 8,000,000) flood victims in Pakistan.

An article in last Monday's Chronicle of Philanthropy compared the $10.6 million that 22 US aid groups had raised so far to help the victims of the Pakistan floods, versus the $560 million that 40 aid groups had raised to help Haiti's earthquake victims two weeks after that disaster. There are fewer aid groups working in Pakistan than in Haiti, which explains part of the fundraising gap, but still... we can do better than this.

I'm making my first donation to help Pakistan today. (I'm donating through the American Red Cross,, but there is a big list of places where you can donate at the end of the Chronicle of Philanthropy article). Will you join me?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Washingtonians - open your wallets!

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, giving by Washington area charitable foundations dropped in 2009 by more than the national average. Giving by Washington area foundation dropped by 9.6%, while the national average was 8.4% (and 8.4% was the largest drop ever tracked by the Foundation Center).

So... if you live in the Washington area, please consider giving a little extra this year! Need some ideas? You can always make a gift to the Neighbors in Need program at the Community Foundation for the National Capitol Region - which provides for basic needs like food and shelter during these tough economic times. Or you can give to your favorite park, museum, school, homeless shelter, faith community...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Very small nonprofits - heads up!

If you are involved in a very small nonprofit - a PTA, a little league, etc. - heads up! You may not have had to file with the IRS in the past (if you had less than $25,000 in revenues), but there is a form you have to file now, and if you do not do so by May 17, you may lose your nonprofit status.

The IRS is concerned that word has not gotten out about this new requirement, and as many as 300,000 nonprofits may lose their status. I've heard/read stories about this in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and NPR over the past couple of days, so I'm doing my part to spread the word! You can find more information HERE.,,id=222668,00.html?portlet=6 is a link to the IRS site with more information on this easy-to-file form.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

400 hours!

Last night I went to the volunteer appreciation event at Georgetown University Hospital, where I have been volunteering for four years. I was thrilled to be presented with my 400 hour pin! Meaning that I have given more than 400 hours of volunteer service to the hospital. (I volunteer in an area called Oncology Infusion, where the patients are primarily cancer patients who come to the hospital on an outpatient basis to get chemotherapy).

Volunteering at G'town Univ. Hospital is the highlight of my week. Literally. So here's my unsolicited advice: find a place to volunteer, and make a commitment to volunteer there on an ongoing basis. You will get so much out of it, by forming longterm relationships with the "clients" and staff.

What are your volunteer commitments? Or what commitments would you like to make?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Focus on What's Working

I am a fan of the Heath Bros. (kinda like the JoBros, but without the skinny jeans and screaming pre-teen fans) Chip and Dan Heath wrote Made to Stick, one of my favorite "work books," which focuses on which message are "sticky" and which ones don't stick with you.

In a recent article in Fast Company Magazine, they talked about one of their theories: don't just focus on what's broken and trying to fix it; look at what's working and try to do more of it. Chip Health recently spoke about this idea at a Council on Foundations meeting, and sighted a great example from the nonprofit community. Read about his talk HERE.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My new favorite word: Slacktivism

In the May issue of Fast Company, Nancy Lublin turned in another great column, this time on the benefits and pitfalls of "Slacktivism" - thinking you can change the world by just clicking your mouse, sending a text, or posting the color of your bra on your Facebook profile (anyone else remember that one?!). Turns out, Slactivism has done some good, but is it really encouraging ongoing activism and philanthropy? Read Nancy's column HERE.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Twitter Tampon Trend and Nonprofit Fundraising

Finally, a real use for Twitter!

Check out this article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. When people on Twitter starting making fun of the new iPad, calling it the iTampon, a resourceful nonprofit staffer saw this as an opportunity to bring attention to a project at her organization, GlobalGiving - providing eco-friendly feminine products to girls in Uganda.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Narcissistic Praise Hounds"

Interesting article in today's Chronicle of Philanthropy about charitable giving among Generation Y (born 1981 - 1991) and Generation X (born 1965 - 1980) donors.