Individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. nonprofits in 2016. In addition, the largest source of charitable giving in 2016 came from individuals at $281.86 billion, or 72% of total giving; followed by foundations ($58.28 billion/15%), bequests ($30.36 billion/8%), and corporations ($18.55 billion/5%). It’s safe to say there is a lot of power in giving.
We often talk about the power of the individual and you can’t ignore those numbers. While difficult to believe at times, each of us has the power and ability to make a difference. We get it, it’s easy to think “why me” or “I’ll let someone else take this one” We’ve all been there.
Micro saving and micro investing, with applications such as Acorns, Betterment, and Robinhood, has been on the rise in recent years, and for good reason – it works and it’s powerful! The same is true for micro giving. The average donor contribution to nonprofits is around $25-$50 per individual, which goes a long way to power incredible work when you add up all the contributions.
Of course all nonprofits welcome larger donations, but our point is individual’s are incredibly powerful. DoTopia’s challenge to you is to incorporate giving into your monthly budget. Much like an investment portfolio, we strongly encourage our DoTopians to determine their giving portfolio. When asked what causes you care most about, how amazing would it be to have a running list of organizations you support regularly? Many of you can do that (kudos), but for those of you who need some direction, DoTopia created a tool to find nonprofit(s) you are passionate about. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
To spark some inspiration, here are are some of the DoTopia Team’s go-to causes:
Alzheimer’s Research Foundation
Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation
JDRF – Type 1 Diabetes Research Funding and Advocacy
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Join the giving movement today and stay tuned. We can’t wait to share with you what we have in store for June!
Today is #GivingTuesday, a national holiday that comes after Thanksgiving to encourage us to become the philanthropist we all are meant to be! The leftovers have been eaten, and we’re already looking towards the next holidays. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or just enjoy a few days off, we can agree that this is the season of giving. Before you fret over decorations or fill the stockings with care, let’s think about those in our community that needs our help.
#GivingTuesday is in its seventh year and is a social media movement. In this day and age, social media is vital to getting the word out to our communities and beyond. It’s easy now to learn more about causes that you care about, and it’s even easier to donate what you can.
Thanks to giving platforms like DoTopia, giving is now trending across the globe. People want to help by donating money, time, or resources to causes that they care about. The goal is to spread the joy that is giving, not to mention helping those in need. It’s easy to get caught up in your own bubble. #GivingTuesday is a reminder that we can all create the hope and change that bring all of us together. Be a part of the movement and give today!
How Do I Choose the “Right” Cause?
This part can be overwhelming. On DoTopia alone, there are over 1.6 million charities to choose from. Luckily we make it easy to narrow down choices so that you can feel good about your giving. Simply enter your zip code, choose the causes you are interested in, and DoTopia will show you non-profits in your community. You can find more about ways to give here. Additionally, if you want to register your non-profit, you can do that here. Now let’s get out there and make this the best #GivingTuesday yet!
Thanksgiving is here! For many, this means family gatherings, basting turkeys, and watching football. Thanksgiving is a beautiful occasion for loved ones to come together and remember why we have this holiday in the first place.
This holiday was established to remember the peaceful gathering of the early settlers and Native Americans, although historically it’s not that simple. Relations between colonists and Natives were usually met with violence, hate, and often death. For hundreds of years, colonists have been taking land and resources away from Native Americans, and this pattern has continued to this day.That’s why we thought it would be appropriate and timely to talk about the homeless encampment in Minneapolis, Minnesota, otherwise known as the “Wall of Forgotten Natives”. Not only that, but we want to provide resources so that you (yes, you!) can help.
According to the 2015 Wilder Research on Homelessness in Minnesota, Native American adults make up 8% of the homeless population, while only 1% of the total Minnesota population is Native American.
Over the past several months, homeless people have been living in tents along highway 55. What has started as a few tents has now grown into a village of over 300 people. Most of these people are Native American, many of them struggling with addiction. Three people in the encampment have already died due to overdose, as temperatures continue to drop. This encampment has gotten national attention, and is increasingly harder to ignore.
Minneapolis Jacob Frey with Sam Strong at the future emergency shelter area, (MPR news)
There is some good news, though. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has been following everything closely and has promised shelter by early December 2018. There are plans to build an emergency shelter for these people near the encampment. This “Navigation Center” will provide not only housing but other vital resources such as counseling, treatment, etc. Sam Strong, the Red Lake Tribal Secretary, has donated an acre of his land for this “Navigation Center”. Frey seems to be working hard with these people in order to provide the safest options. Time is ticking though, and winter seems to have come early this year with degrees well below freezing.
How can we help?
There have been many organizations that have donated time, resources, and money to the encampment. Talk to your school, place of worship, or community center to set up a donation. Set up a food drive, or if you’d like to help groups already underway you can find them here. There’s also resources here to donate directly to Natives Against Heroine. It’s always the right time to help those in need, but now especially.
DoTopia is eager to introduce our non-profit of the week, House of Charity! House of Charity is a Minneapolis based non-profit that provides residency, food, and other vital resources to those experiencing homelessness. We spoke with Anna Cisewski, House of Charity’s Fund Development and Communications Assistant to learn more about this cause.
House of Charity was founded in the 1950s and focuses on helping people experiencing homelessness one person at a time. Everyone is different, and so everyone’s process will be different. House of Charity specializes in four resources: housing, public meals, recovery, and public showers.
Housing and Residency
According to Minnesota Homeless Study, “older adults are one of the fastest growing groups of people experiencing homelessness”. There was an 8% increase between 2012 and 2015 in homeless adults over the age of 55. Although House of Charity provides resources for all ages, their housing and residency focuses on single adults.
House of Charity isn’t like every homeless shelter. In order to receive housing at House of Charity you must be referred by a case manager and prioritizes those with physical or mental illness. They have two types of housing, on-site permanent housing and scattered-site housing. On-site housing provides beds, meals, case management services and more for adult men and women at their site. Scattered-site housing supplies apartments for single adults throughout Hennepin County. This also includes frequent visits from Client Advocates, and helps with budgeting and adjusting to this new independence.
House of Charity’s Food Centre located at 714 Park Ave, Minneapolis.
Secondly, House of Charity provides free public meals. Food insecurity is an ongoing issue for low-income and homeless families and individuals. Every week day is open to the public for lunch, while week day breakfasts are provided for women and children only. This allows women and children and safe space and nourishing meal before starting their day. House of Charity feeds around 300 meals a day to folks around the Twin Cities area. This simple act helps thousands of people a year have a resource to at least one balanced meal daily.
Residents at House of Charity’s Community Garden
The third program is their chemical and mental health recovery. They have several programs such as therapy, chemical health assessments, and personalized recovery plans. The correlation between homelessness and substance abuse is incredibly high, as is homelessness and mental health issues. Not only does House of Charity allow these people to have a place to stay, but they help with treatment as well. Giving people residency isn’t always enough, and having these resources are incredibly helpful to those struggling with mental health or addiction.
Finally, their newest resource is public showers. This might not seem like a big deal, but many struggling with homelessness don’t have access to something as simple as a shower. House of Charity provides free showers with a towel and soap to the public Monday through Friday.
Want to help?
All of these programs and more are what make House of Charity so amazing. Every program helps and encourages individuals to achieve independence. Whether it’s by attending counseling sessions, having a hot meal, or living in a safe space to get you back on your feet. House of Charity is here to help.
Fellow DoTopians, we have some very exciting news… we will be launching a huge Kickstarter campaign! That’s right, at the end of October DoTopia will be asking for your help to raise money for us to develop a brand new app.
Why are we doing this, you ask?
DoTopia wants to create the world’s largest giving platform by building a user-friendly app that allows people to donate to non-profits as easily and quickly as possible. At DoTopia, we have 1.7 million non-profits across the US supporting countless global initiatives all in one place: your phone!
Have you ever been to the grocery store and been asked to “round up” to donate to something you know nothing about, resulting in an unclear transaction? Ever noticed that corporations claim a portion of your money spent there is going to “good causes”? Where is that money going? We no longer want to be guilted into giving. DoTopia is giving the power back to the people by allowing each individual to donate what they feel comfortable to the non-profit of their choice.
This Kickstarter campaign will help you give to the causes that you care about.
With the DoTopia app, you can enter your zip code, which will then provide you with non-profits that are nearby. This way you are able to localize and personalize your giving story. Finding all of the non-profits that you care about in one convenient place allows you to become the giver you were meant to be!
Our goal is to raise $250,000, which would allow DoTopia to build and launch this groundbreaking app. We will be releasing this Kickstarter campaign at Lead with Love in Aspen, Colorado, which DoTopia is proudly sponsoring.
Give a little or give a lot, you’ll be contributing to starting the world’s biggest and most intuitive giving platform. Stay tuned for more information and exciting offers within this Kickstarter campaign!
In recent decades, major advancements in technology have enabled people to be in constant contact with one another, communicating across the globe in seconds. We can watch world news happening in real-time, answer a question instantly, or share an exciting event with our families and friends with just the click of a button.
When a disaster strikes another country, we are instantly aware of it, with social media updates flooding our timelines. When someone is in need, we know about it quickly. We are connected to each other in unique ways never before possible.
Technology offers amazing opportunities to solve some of humanity’s most critical issues, and yet dependence on it hasn’t always had such a positive result. Instead, some have become more isolated and disconnected at both the local and global level.
Societies are becoming more divided, governments are looking inward for their own solutions, and we’re losing our sense of charitable duty toward each other. We have forgotten what it means to be loving, kind, and generous. In all the social media updates, we’ve forgotten how to be humans who care about each other.
But despite finding ourselves and our businesses in an environment of ever-increasing apathy and self-centeredness, there are actually a multitude of ways to generate a positive impact through practicing altruism, showing compassion, and most importantly, by taking real action. And what better time to start thinking about this than the beginning of a new year?
Step #1: Look Around
Before you come up with an elaborate plan to achieve world harmony, take a look around the community you live in and formulate ways that you can make a positive contribution through volunteering. Before you try to change the world, look at your own neighborhood.
A small effort can quickly grow into a remarkable movement, and by starting at the local level, you’ll establish relationships along the way with like-minded fellow citizens that also want to give something back.
Consider the case of Ryan Hreljac, creator of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, which raises money to drill wells for impoverished communities lacking adequate sources of drinking water. Ryan began his effort to help others as a young student in elementary school by raising $2,000 to build a single well in Uganda. Sixteen years later, he now runs a widely recognized nonprofit that works to provide access to clean water in communities across the African continent and elsewhere.
Ryan’s work and the success of his foundation prove that one person, with one idea and the right kind of dedication, can start a movement at the local level that ultimately has a global impact and improves the daily lives of thousands of people.
“I think the important thing when I was a kid was that I recognized that I could try to do something small and get engaged. And even though I didn’t have all the answers and didn’t come from a position of affluence or knowledge …I had the optimism to do something small and that ended up making a big difference.” – Ryan Hreljac (Source)
One of the easiest, most obvious ways to make an immediate difference is through volunteering. Nearly every community has need for volunteers of all different types. Hospitals usually have opportunities for students to help deliver mail and gifts to patient rooms, pass out trays at mealtimes, or help with tasks like changing sheets and blankets.
Nonprofit community centers like homeless shelters or women’s homes need people to contribute with housekeeping, serving food to their residents, and helping new occupants adjust and integrate into the facility.
Local police and fire departments need citizen enforcers and volunteer firefighters to keep the peace while public schools and libraries frequently struggle to stay within their budgets and will often take all the help they can get.
Step #2 – Start Raising Funds For The Needy
Fundraising is another great way to help the community and promote global citizenship. Money can be raised in all kinds of ways and for many different causes and reasons.
For example, you might encourage students to start a local scholarship fund for their peers by collecting donations outside of grocery stores or other businesses. Starting an annual drive for coats, shoes, or general clothing is an excellent way to help others in need and some communities have even started collection for outdated eyeglasses or loose change.
Donation drives place unwanted items into the hands of people that need them and actually have a positive impact on the environment by keeping those donated items from out of the garbage and the local landfill.
Step #3 – Be A Mentor
You can use the skills from your experience, education, or job to find ways to teach and mentor within the community. Career professionals might establish community workshops for teaching things like CPR, public safety, literacy, or computer skills.
Teachers and college professors might offer classes for English speakers to learn another language or to teach English to non-native speakers. Even if you don’t have a degree or special training, you might still be a great communicator that could mentor at-risk children in afterschool programs or participate in parenting or family support groups.
Step #4 – Help Promote Wellness
The need for public service is driven by the concept of the common good, or what is in the best interest of everyone involved. In recent years, neighborhoods and communities nationwide have struggled with the health and wellness of their populations and the trend has been moving too fast in the wrong direction.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle has immediate and long-term benefits to society and significantly impacts the viability of the population as a whole.
As of 2016, The American Heart Association reports that “childhood obesity” is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.” (Source)
What are some simple ways you can help? Try inviting neighbors to participate in a group activities that get you more active. Donate your time teaching yoga, strength training, or even martial arts if you’re already embracing a healthy lifestyle.
Consider starting a nutrition education program or neighborhood farming cooperative to help people learn about how to grow and build a diet full of nourishing foods.
Finally, working with city council boards or nonprofit entities to provide mobile services like immunization clinics or veterinary care brings access to much needed services directly to people without the means or transportation to access them. Lack of healthcare, nutrition, and physical exercise are major social problems in modern society and implementing measures to combat them will make a huge, and potentially lifelong difference in your local community.
Step #5: Look Globally
At the worldwide level, it can be difficult to devise ways of making a positive contribution and improving global society but it is possible to find ways of reaching out to both individuals and whole communities.
People all over the world need someone to talk to. You can start out simply by finding a pen pal that you can converse with via traditional mail, e-mail, or even social media. Plenty of young people lack access to modern technology and offering them a friendly ear and a means to learn about the world outside their own can be incredibly rewarding on both sides.
Beyond that, finding ways to communicate online with people on the other side of the world exposes you to different cultures, new information, and charitable causes, helping you develop a more open-minded and global perspective.
Step #6: Connect With Organizations Making A Difference
Individual philanthropy at the national or international scale might seem daunting. The truth is that our modern world of constant connectedness gives individuals the same power to raise awareness campaigns as entities like the Red Cross and United Nations.
Web platforms for personalized giving (like DoTopia) gives one person the ability to set a goal and contribute. Social media services (like Facebook and Twitter) offer a means to get the word out on a global scale.
These technologies put the giving power that was previously reserved for large organizations into the hands of ordinary people who can then accomplish something extraordinary.
If you’re more interested in getting up from the computer to make a more hands-on positive impact, volunteering to work for government groups like The Peace Corps that focus primarily on social and economic development outside the United States would be great for someone that feels passionately about class inequality and equal access to opportunity.
Likewise, if you’re on a mission to minimize the negative impacts of climate change, organizations like Greenpeace or The Nature Conservancy are excellent nonprofit volunteer groups.
Finally, if poor access to healthcare and lack of medicine in other parts of the world drives your desire to give back, consider supporting charitable professional associations like Doctors without Borders (a.k.a. Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Joining a humanitarian or peacekeeping organization can be an extremely fulfilling way of participating in important international efforts while exercising responsible global citizenship.
Your Vote Matters
Regardless of how you choose to engage in activism, participation in local and national elections by exercising your right to vote is, by far, the most effective way to shift national and international policy and each individual has a civil obligation to participate in the democratic process.
As of the 2016 American election, just over half of eligible Americans participated in voting and the United States ranks twenty-eighth on the list of thirty-five member nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Source) We, as local residents, as national citizens, or as global humanity, don’t deserve positive change if we aren’t also willing to embrace the democratic process alongside social activism and participate in elections.
DoTopia is elated to be a sponsor at this years Lead With Love 2018 Summit held in Aspen, Colorado. Lead With Love is a four day event where people all over the world gather to discuss social impact, wellness in the community, and much more.
What is the Lead With Love Summit?
We’re glad you asked! Lead With Love is a once a year summit held in Aspen, Colorado that started in 2016. All proceeds to this event go to Project Wellbeing (formerly known as Aspen City of Wellbeing) which is a non-profit that promotes wellbeing throughout the city of Aspen through programs, retreats, consulting, online resources, and of course their biggest event of the year, the Lead With Love Summit. This summit is a gathering for leaders in well-being, conscious communication, social impact, and the opening of the heart, body, and mind. Feature presenters include John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods, and Lynne Twist, founder of the Soul of Money Institute.
Other activities include yoga classes, sound healing, meditation, music, any many other spiritual experiences to help immerse yourself in the power of healing and wellness.
When is the summit?
Lead With Love is Thursday, October 25- Sunday, October 28
How is DoTopia involved?
Not only is DoTopia a proud sponsor for this years summit, but our founder, Billy Weisman, will be a presenter! He will be on a panel with three other presenters, discussing the Tipping Point Founders Story on Sunday afternoon. If you want to look at the full schedule of presenters, you can click here.
How do I get tickets?
Great question! You can get tickets here. As a bonus for supporting Lead With Love and DoTopia, you can get 100$ off your ticket using the code DOTOPIALOVE at checkout, awesome!
For this week’s nonprofit spotlight, we are thrilled to introduce Beyond Differences.
How did your organization get formed and what does it stand for?
Beyond Differences was founded in memory of Lili Rachel Smith, a high school freshman who experienced social isolation because she looked different due to a rare cranial-facial anomaly called Apert Syndrome. Lili passed away in her sleep from medical complications in 2009, and teens who knew her approached her family at her memorial with the desire to honor her life in a profound way. They had no idea at the time that they would touch a nerve in middle schools all over the country and develop programs to combat social isolation in youth, a problem that has reached epidemic proportions. Studies have shown that social isolation has a serious impact on not just self-esteem and academic performance, but also contributes to serious health consequences such as depression, loss of sleep, eating disorders and cardiovascular health.
Beyond Differences is the only student-led nonprofit organization and social justice movement dedicated to ending social isolation. The nonprofit organization believes that all teens should feel included, valued and accepted by their peers. Exclusion no longer needs to be an accepted part of middle culture and students can lead the way to make meaningful change in their community.
Where has your organization made the most impact?
Beyond Differences has had an enormous impact in middle schools through a combination of our curriculum, programs and national awareness days – our Positive Prevention Initiatives.
In 2018, more than 5,000 schools in all 50 states have used one or more of our Initiatives!
There are also three, soon to be four, cities in the United States who have local Beyond Differences professional staff and a volunteer high school Teen Board of Directors. These teens (more than 100 in total) provide in-school presentations to local middle schools and teachers are able to participate in professional development to increase their skills to utilize our curriculum.
Beyond Differences’ goal is to be in every middle school in the country, so while we are proud of our impact so far, we still have plenty of work ahead of us.
What is your organization most excited about?
We are so excited about our continued growth to accomplish our goal “to change the culture of middle school.”
In 2012, we rolled out our first No One Eats Alone™ in just a handful of schools to encourage students to sit with classmates they don’t know and spot students sitting alone and include them. We send schools a free backpack filled with everything they need to hold No One Eats Alone Day — curriculum for in-class exercises and discussions around social isolation, armbands, posters, balloons, conversation starters and a collaborative art project.
To combat negative rhetoric around cultural and religious differences, we launched Know Your Classmates™. We developed a unique curriculum and an Activity Kit to teach students about their identity and appreciate differences in others to increase acceptance and build strong communities within schools. Know Your Classmates focuses on breaking down barriers around cultural backgrounds, faith, family traditions, gender identity, immigration status and many more facets that make us who we are.
And, to nurture healthy relationships and combat social isolation online, we developed a Be Kind Online™. Students learn how to spot social isolation in the online environment, how to respond to digital gossip, and how to be authentic and true to themselves online.
In 2018, more than 5,000 schools in all 50 states have used one or more of our positive prevention initiative.
Can you share a story about your organization?
Watch Cierra’s story to learn about the power of Beyond Differences!
How can one get involved and support your organization?
Sign up your school for one of our free programs, volunteer or get involved in another way! Visit beyonddifferences.org.
We are thrilled to introduce you to Appetite For Change, one of our amazing nonprofit partners. Learn more about Appetite For Change, the work they do, and support them today!
How did your organization get formed and what does it stand for?
Appetite For Change (AFC) uses food as a tool to build health, wealth and social change in North Minneapolis. Our organization is community driven, food justice minded and committed to sustainability. Established in 2011, our programs and services are built directly on the needs and interests expressed by community members at our first shared meal events. Early dialogues around the table became the framework for Community Cooks, a flagship AFC program. Our founders Michelle Horovitz, Latasha Powell and Princess Titus share a commitment to AFC’s community driven organizational model. Together they envision Appetite For Change as the catalyst for a North Minneapolis movement toward racial, economic and health equity.
Where has your organization made the most impact?
Our organization has made the most impact in North Minneapolis, increasing access to real, healthy foods and improving the overall food system. After youth in our programs realized there were 37 fast food, convenience store, and gas station food options in the area, they wanted real for real people right in their community. This led to the opening of Breaking Bread, the first and still only, full service, sit down restaurant on Broadway Avenue. Serving healthy global comfort foods, the cafe has become not only a breakfast and lunch destination for the delicious food, but has truly become a gathering place for the community. Fresh produce locally grown in our urban gardens are featured on the menu, as well as sold at the West Broadway Farmers Market. It’s a full circle operation.
What is your organization most excited about?
We are in the process of launching our Adult training program where we provide culinary arts and food service management training that builds transferable skills for any career. The training program creates jobs, builds wealth and provides career pathways for North Minneapolis residents, many of whom face multiple barriers to employment. We are excited about how this training program will impact not only Northside residents but the Twin Cities restaurant industry as a whole.
How can one get involved and support your organization?
Our youth interns (ages 14-24) really provide the foundation for all of our programming. They help facilitate Community Cooks, tend to our nine urban garden plots, and staff the weekly West Broadway Farmers Market. Each year the youth complete a final project, and in 2016 they wrote and starred in the music video, Grow Food. A viral hit, Grow Food was an unexpected way to spread the message of healthy eating and equitable food systems.
In June, hundreds of you have donated over $16,000 to more than 350 nonprofits. WOW! It was an amazing month of giving and our team can’t thank you enough for joining the 31 Days of Giving challenge.
We have been so inspired by all of the videos our giving heroes shared throughout the month of giving. Hearing why people give, why they support their favorite nonprofits and the impact each individual can make has always been one of our favorite parts at DoTopia. After all, that is why we were created.
A major thank you to all of our giving heroes, those who joined the challenge and Deepak Chopra for leading the charge.