The Anatomy of a Nonprofit

I’ve seen the term a lot recently and have donated myself to nonprofits. So I wanted to discuss the ins and outs of them. Now we all should know what a nonprofit is. However if you don’t here’s a quick summary from The National Counsel of Non Profits

When you think of a “nonprofit” what do you think of? Most likely, you think of a group making a difference in your community. Maybe you are thinking of a large organization, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or Make-a-Wish, or maybe you think about a local animal shelter or community theatre. These are groups that are tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) as “public charities” because they are formed to provide “public benefit.” Community foundations are also part of this group (and so are private foundations, although tax rules treat them a bit differently than public charities.)

Okay so they define it as a public charity whose money goes to benefiting others. This is through millions of different ways but the goal is still the same. That goal is to always donate or use the money in a way that helps others.

But really what is a successful nonprofit, and why should we give to them?

Let’s start and look at where the most number of nonprofits are.

The top three states tend to be

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. New York

As per the Counsel of Nonprofits. This makes an incredible amount of sense due to each state’s population and resources. The more population you have, the more people you have in need of charity. That charity may be anything from more food banks to feed the poor and homeless, donations to aid medical care/fight for a cure, donations to organizations who fight discriminatory practices and so on.

Nonprofits need a clear goal of donation, the ability to successfully market and engage others in their work. Organization and policy are two other things that are very important for them as well. Everything must be clear and concise.

One part of nonprofits is that many people fear their money is not going to where it should be. When looking for a nonprofit to donate to a good phrase to search for is “100% of all proceeds will benefit_______” or “direct donation” which means your money will go straight to the charity and not be in a separate bank account or in the bank account of a person before given to the charity. Yes, there are known charity scams which I just suggest to research every charity before you make a considerable donation. Make sure the charity you want to donate to does what it says and stands for what you want it to, and that the owners do as well. It can be disheartening to learn after the donation that one of the owners uses the money for something else or doesn’t stand for what you believe in.

Nonprofits truly stand on the ideas of trust and for you to give in and trust the place you are donating to. You must trust that they will use the money for what they’ve said they would.

For more information on myths about Nonprofits I’ll link you to The Counsel of Nonprofit’s page on it.

The top charity in the world is UNICEF which is the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund or just the United Nation’s Children’s Fund.

What Unicef does is help aid children in developing countries so that they gain access to clean water, food, hygiene supplies, and other basic needs. You can donate here!

The second top charity is Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch defends human rights across the world. They consist of over 400 staffers from lawyers to defense attorneys, and other scholars of higher academia that fight for human rights. They meet with governments to ensure the changing of polices to benefit people, sue government leaders who endanger their citizens, and much more. They also team with journalists to report on crisis situations where human rights are being denied or are in danger. You can donate to them here.

The site that lists the top charities is https://topnonprofits.com/lists/best-nonprofits-on-the-web/. They’re listing the top charities that get the most traction online, which is where most people learn about charities now. My first true interaction with the charity known as the ACLU or American Civil Liberties Union was through the platform of Twitter.

Earlier this year our president put forward a controversial ‘Muslim Ban’. The ACLU found that this was unconstitutional and challenged it in court. Here’s what the end of that case looked like, from the ACLU’s website itself.

While the text of the Muslim ban “speaks with vague words of national security,” the court recognized that in context it “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” The ban’s message of religious condemnation is contrary to the bedrock constitutional requirement that the government remain neutral among religions: “When the government chooses sides on religious issues, the inevitable result is hatred, disrespect and even contempt towards those who fall on the wrong side of the line.”

The framers of the Constitution recognized how dangerous taking sides would be for our country, and the Fourth Circuit today vindicated this fundamental principle.

One of the members of the court, Judge Wynn, pointed out the historical context. “We have matured from the lessons learned by past experiences documented, for example, in Dred Scott and Korematsu,” he explained, referring to the shameful decisions permitting slavery and Japanese internment. “Laid bare,” Judge Wynn explained, “this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims.”

And that is unconstitutional.

The ACLU relies on donations to defend the constitution and the rights of the American people. What began circulating through twitter was a wave of people who did not support the ban, and they would make monthly or large donations to the ACLU so they can keep defending our rights. If you donate 10 dollars you can become a card carrying member of the ACLU which proves you fight for what they believe in which is at its core equal rights for everyone. Donate here.

But of course nonprofits are not always political and now I’ll do a brief list of the charities I’ve donated to and I encourage you to look into and donate at your wish.

  • DSWT– a wildlife fund to protect Elephants and other African wildlife.
  • MFPLA– My Friend’s Place LA is a Los Angeles homeless shelter specifically for the youth of the city. I donated as part of the Tough Mudder Crowdrise challenge hosted by Grey’s Anatomy Actor Giacomo Gianiotti.
  • Rights4Girls– a charity that helps young female victims of sexual assault and human trafficking.
  • Red Nose Day– benefits the poor communities of the United States!
  • ACLU– I’m a card carrying member myself.
  • Jane Goodall Institute– Following the work of Dr. Jane Goodall, the institute works with conversation efforts and helps women in developing countries.
  • NAMI– National Alliance on Mental Health dedicated to protecting those with mental illness, end stigma, and help generate resources.
  • SickKids Foundation– Sick Kids is a Canadian foundation for hospitalized children with illnesses. The money goes to help treatments, find cures, and help the kids!
  • Global Citizen– Global Citizen is a movement that gathers together people to fight for a cause. Their issues are generally human rights issues and they bring together movement that urges governments to vote in favor of human rights. They also host a Global Citizen festival that headlines with Coldplay, artists like Beyonce, U2 and more and donate the proceeds.
  • Dempsey Center– created by Patrick Dempsey to help the battle against cancer each year the Dempsey Center hosts the Dempsey Challenge which is a walk/run, cycle challenge that you must raise 150 dollars for the foundation to participate in. You can donate either directly to the center or as a challenge participant.

Those are just a few off the top of my head that I remember donating to. I’ve donated a lot of money over the years and I don’t always count it because that seems like a waste. The real issue isn’t how much money I have personally donated but how much we can raise all together. Even as little as five dollars can pay for something so meaningful like a vaccination for a child in a developing country. It’s about humanity and doing what’s right for our world. That’s something I really believe in. So the numerical value of my totals don’t mean much to me because it’ll always be growing.

I encourage everyone to seek out a nonprofit close to their heart and to fight for it. It takes a village, and we are each other’s best sources of help. It’s all about coming together to make the world a better place.

 

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Hamilton & Diversity

I had the privilege of going down to San Francisco recently to see the traveling cast of Tony award winning Hamilton. Now if you’re unfamiliar at all with Hamilton, it is a musical based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton and what history books generally gloss over.

Lyrical genius Lin Manuel Miranda takes you into each character of Alexander’s narrative with rich songs full of intrigue at a rapid pace that has you on the edge of your seat. The cast does not dare to take a second too long rest between songs, and keeps his world spinning time and time again. Speaking of spinning, the show utilizes a rotating inner stage in which they even reverse for certain songs. It was truly a masterpiece.

But what truly is the forefront of Hamilton is its use of diversity in theatre on such a grand scale. Something that I’ve always admired about TV and television production is the notion of blind casting which was used for the show Grey’s Anatomy specifically, but it meant that actors were not cast for characters with skin color in mind. That was what Lin tried to with Hamilton, and succeeded.

See where as Lin was not only the writer of this show but he played Hamilton in the original New York Broadway run of the show, and Lin himself is of Puerto-Rican descent. Subsequently he makes sure that for each of his shows that a majority of the leads are people of color. This was true of the production I saw in San Francisco, and I honestly would never think to change it.

My Hamilton was played by Michael Luwoye, a young black man. He did phenomenal as far as I am concerned. Something else that really struck me was the character of Angelica Schuyler played by Emmy Raver-Lampman. She had this beautiful hairstyle including a half shaved head, which I think contrasted against the period clothing she wore was very eye catching.

While Hamilton is the story of a white founding father, and very much a story that is something aligned in the ‘american dream’ it is important for us to make the american dream accessible for everyone inside our country so that includes through the media allowing people of other cultures and races to feel at home. Everyone can be Hamilton because of his unnerving want and will to better his world. And if we can step forward and accept others opportunity is just as great as ours, I think the world could be such a greater place.

For more Hamilton content you can buy the soundtrack and mixtape (which is a series of popular musicians covering some of the songs) as well as the novel it was based on, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and watch the PBS documentary on how the show came to be. It is worth the investment to see the show.

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TV saved my life last fall

This post is going to be deeply personal for me, I just want to preface. I may cover topics such as implied sexual harassment, and mental health so I want to warn readers that I will try my best as to not be overtly detailed as to cause triggers. But I will let you know I do cover those topics. Also I have omitted names, as well as some other fine details because they’re too sensitive or not in my place to speak of.

So I started my first year of college last year. This drastically impacted me being across the country from home, being in a large city, and being alone from all my friends. It’s no surprise I felt depressed at times, or I struggled with opening myself up to making new friends. But something that really hindered this was my living situation at the time. I’ve opened up to close friends who know exactly what happened as I told them in real time because some of what I witnessed or lived through is quite honestly something so bizarre and unspoken about it could be a tv pilot.

But I do want to say that in that time Television was my solace. I had several moments inside my apartment where I did not feel safe. It was during this time that I sought out using the tv as a distraction. Thing is I would binge 30 Rock, and eventually completed the series last fall because it was all my distracted mind could focus on. That and Grey’s Anatomy. Which I had finished the year before and can basically recite like the back of my hand.

Now when I say I didn’t feel safe in my apartment you have to understand some things.

First, I shared a bedroom and a bunk bed with another girl. I was on the top bunk. She over the time spent in our room was a terrible roommate. And no it wasn’t that she was just loud. There’s really no excuse for doing laundry only twice from August 31st to October 28th. She would let her hamper overflow to the point where she began to leave laundry on her bed, she never put away clean clothes so they laid with the soiled ones, and then it became a large pile that stacked all the way up to our window sill. Once I climbed out of bed and found she had thrown a thong onto my chair. This was not all though of course it couldn’t be.

I told you I wasn’t safe.

See as the laundry accumulated, she had also moved out of our room. She began sleeping in our living room next to the couch on the floor, which she littered with instant noodles and chocolate pudding cups. She did not tell us why.  I, being a shy and timid person, had not really interacted with her much. Through all this she had boyfriend troubles so every few nights we all pitched in and did damage control for her emotionally. So as things progressed she just grew angry and agitated, coming back home from spending the night at her boyfriend’s dorm and slamming the bedroom door as she came in while I ‘slept’ (or pretended to be asleep so she wouldn’t talk to me). Throughout this time she had been coming in and out with her boyfriend through the days and there were a lot of moments where they had sex in the bathroom and we all could hear it. There wasn’t so much of a group text to let us know to leave. I was locked out of my bedroom without my phone once. But then she broke up with this boyfriend. There was a period of time where she would bring home random guys.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a lot of sexual interaction, but when it puts other girls at risk that’s where it’s a problem. Not only was my roommate putting herself in danger with a stranger, she put us in danger as well. One such time when she was agitated if I remember correctly, I did what any logical person would have done. I went to the room next to mine, closed the door, sat on the floor with my other roommates and I made them watch the Grey’s Anatomy pilot.

Watching the pilot made me feel so at peace in a time where I did not know what was going to happen to me. I think what made such an impact on me was that I was watching characters who didn’t have a firm grasp on life as I did in that moment. They felt lost, they felt unsure of the world they had just stepped foot in and so did I. We felt safe for 43 minutes.

Then the random guys brought alcohol into the mix as well. So the girl I shared a bedroom with would bring men we both did not know home, while intoxicated and underage, and not tell any of us. I guess I slept through a few nights where my other roommate walked some of the men out of the apartment in the middle of the night because this girl was too drunk. So as this was happening I was sleeping.

I can not tell this story without mentioning that she sexually harassed my other roommate while drunk however that story is not mine to tell but I will say my story comes back into this because she and I discussed it a few days after.

I felt guilty over it because that was one night when this girl came home very drunk, crying and she eventually called her mom and she was very loud. It was 11 or 12 at night and I had an 8:30 the next morning so I closed our door, and tried to block out the noise. That was when the harassment occurred and I wish that I hadn’t shut down and knew what to do in the situation but I didn’t.

So the victim and I were talking about what happened and about reporting her when she tells me that the girl had been bragging to her the night before about having sex in her bunk with a random guy while I slept.

I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel safe, my privacy had been violated. The worst part of all of that is that I do not know exactly what occurred and I do not know if I myself was touched by them at any point in time. My sense of self was so out of place from then because I truly do not know. I woke up clothed that is all knew.

We eventually reported her and that was when my other roommate and I began to binge Grey’s Anatomy together because it was something that took our mind off of what was happening. Suddenly we were afraid to come home at times we knew she was there.  The process of deciding to report her and to who was a messy blur. I remember hiding at our starbucks around the corner and then in our lobby until I knew she wasn’t there.

But once it came to the time where the sexual harassment offices got involved I did not report, although my roommate reported and then I went with her to follow up meetings with officials to verify her story with my own. It was because of this that the biggest incident happened.

I was sitting, doing homework on a Thursday afternoon where I didn’t have class. Everyone was having class. Or so I thought. She had been taken into the title ix offices and told of the accusations against her. I got a phone call from her that I stupidly picked up.

I heard “Why are you lying,” and I automatically responded by saying that it wasn’t me filing a claim against her that it was the other roommate and it was confidential so I could not discuss the case with her before hanging up.

I felt my heart racing to the point of I felt faint. My face was blushed, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I had no choice, I didn’t know when she was coming home. I did NOT want to see her. I felt in danger. I closed my laptop. I sent an email to my RA, I told her I didn’t feel safe and I also let my other roommate know. She asked me to come to her room. At this point I felt very weak. My heart was pounding in my ears, I felt the need to pack everything up because every bad thing I could think of raced through my head. What if she came back and broke my camera? My laptop? What if she stole my clothes? What if she…what if she-?

I eventually grabbed my purse and made my way down the hall. I knocked on my RA’s door. While I waited the elevator dinged multiple times, and each time I jumped with panic that it was this girl coming back to our apartment. Once inside my RA’s room she led me to her couch while she went to make a phone call to her adviser to tell her the situation.

I found myself on her couch watching whatever she had turned the TV to.

It was Grey’s Anatomy.

I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t even realize until my heart had slowed down and I heard that voice that made my days so much better.

Grey’s Anatomy actually saved my life. Hearing just the familiar voice of Meredith Grey that I had developed a connection to over 13 seasons actually ended my panic attack. At that moment nothing mattered. I watched for those five minutes before my RA came back in and talked to me. Those five minutes took me away from the emotional hell I had been living in for weeks. It took me to a hospital where I knew everyone’s name, and I didn’t feel at fear for what could happen to me. That’s all that mattered. Grey’s Anatomy made me feel safe. I will always be in debt to Shonda Rhimes, and to the cast, to Ellen Pompeo- for making a show so full of heart that it became the light in my dark.

and to my RA for  having it on. She didn’t know. She was catching up on some studying with it on as background noise when I came to her. TV transcends itself by being such a staple we live on and for me it was such a sign. TV came to me when I needed it the most. I needed it for an escape and it provided that. I don’t know what would have happened had it not been playing when I came over because it was such a terrifying situation. This girl was also bipolar and off her medication and had been for weeks. Her behavior was erratic and extreme which made me fear for my safety a lot and knowing she was angry at me led me to a lot of anxious thoughts.

Now that she’s gone, Grey’s doesn’t leave our TV often. After having binged the entire show my roommate promptly started again. It’s on when we eat, it’s on while we study- it brings peace to us because we had to make our apartment our safe space again. We didn’t move out, she did. But the places where she hurt us were still there.

“When something bad happens there’s always a handful of beautiful things that come out of it “- Ellen Pompeo

I write this because I was just diagnosed with anxiety/depression and I made a promise to myself. If Greys can last this long, why can’t I? Obviously my livelihood does not depend on the show but understanding that I have over 300 options of episodes to calm me down during the worst of times is comforting. It is time that I stop blaming myself, or questioning why this happened to me but to put myself forward to not be prisoner to my anxiety anymore. So what, something bad happened to me but I found beauty in how I was saved.

“What’s broken can be mended, what’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s gonna rise again”- Meredith Grey.

TV will always be there next year too.

It’ll be there and it’ll be safe.

tea: wildberry zinger