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  • Writer's pictureThe HUGG Collective

How many times have you donated to an organization and wondered if your money was being put to good use? I think we all have that slightly unsettling feeling when we donate because we want to know that our resources are stewarded for maximum effectiveness.

Unfortunately, not all non-profits are created equal and some are downright dishonest about how the funds are distributed. In addition, there are some nonprofits that claim deep impact when in reality they are superficially addressing symptoms rather than applying holistic practices to address deeper issues.

To be clear, these questions are most applicable to nonprofits that serve marginalized, vulnerable and at-risk populations. I recognize that there are non-profits that simply provide short-term needs or that work with animals--some of these questions don’t apply to those type of organizations but they are a guideline of things to consider.

7 Questions to Ask Non-Profits Before You Donate:

  1. What are your short-term/long-term goals?

It’s not always clear in an organization’s mission statement how exactly they serve people. For instance, let’s say you are considering giving to a local after-school mentoring program. You’d want to know who they mentor and why they mentor and how many kids they mentor. How many kids do they hope to mentor by the end of the year? In other words, will your money be used directly to accomplish these goals? Long-term vision is equally important because you learn of the positive change the short-term goals ultimately accomplish in the communities being served. Questions asked include: What do they want to accomplish by mentoring x number of kids this year? What is their hope for those who benefit from their program? Ultimately, sustainability must be factored in because everyone’s hope is that one changed person has the power to change his/her sphere of influence for the better. Good nonprofit work builds people and people build community.

2. How does your organization empower the people you serve?

It’s a tricky thing to bring attention to the needs of people without undermining their dignity or worst-exploiting them. It’s a fine line that many of us manage judiciously--how to draw YOU, the potential donor, to the stories of the people we serve without making them look like, well...a charity case. While I could write an entire blog on this concept for now I will say this: It is NEVER okay to expose people’s deficits for the sake of getting money to help them. A question I ask myself: “Is this how I would want my child/mother/friend/husband talked about or treated?” “If my child were an orphan, would I want hundreds of visitors to hold her every year so that people could be motivated to help her?” If my teenager needed mentoring, would I want her list of infractions and failures to circulate through church groups so someone could help her?” NO. Nonprofits that serve people should build up their self-agency and equip them in a way that sets them up for success. They aren’t our pet projects--they are PEOPLE created in the image of God.

3. What percentage of your Program Budget goes towards Marketing/Communications/Salary?

Social marketing, print collateral and strong branding are important if we are going to get people’s attention. In fact, a robust marketing budget is critical if a non-profit seeks to break beyond a mere existence and aim for healthy growth, but it should not exceed 15% of an organization’s Programming budget. According to the BBB, at least 65 percent of the nonprofit’s total expenses should be for program expenses, including salaries (and marketing). The nonprofit’s total expenses should not include more than 35 percent for fundraising.

In other words, make sure the nonprofit you support isn’t mostly fluffy feel goods with superficial programming. If their marketing is strong, their programming should be stronger.

4. How are you collaborating with your community and other organizations to accomplish your goals?

Non-profits face some of the world’s most challenging problems on shoe-string budgets and often the problems they face are rooted in other systemic issues. In order to apply more holistic solutions to problems, organizations that truly seek change are open to community collaborations. If the same after-school mentoring program seeks long-term change, then they are going to build relationships with schools and the families that they serve. They may even partner with local churches and other government agencies. This shows their desire to meet their goals. I once lost an opportunity to work with a non-profit simply because I would not take on their brand. World changing work requires collaboration and some organizations will not have it if it isn’t about their agenda or brand. Collaborations are key when it comes to building positive change from the ground up--if there are none, then it could be a warning sign.

Check back on Thursday for Part 2 of this blog! In the meantime, share with us what’s important to you when it comes to supporting a non-profit financially?

  • Writer's pictureThe HUGG Collective

"A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you." — Bob Proctor

If you haven’t had a chance to watch our IGTV from last week, I encourage you to watch it and “meet” our former Program Manager! He shares about his experience working with children, teens and moms in Haiti and gives us some advice on how to best approach non-profit work in Haiti.

The one thing that stuck with me was how one woman changed the trajectory of his life by offering to pay for his college. Apart from this, Cay became like a mom to him and invested in him. It was this ONE long-term commitment that allowed him to pull himself out of poverty and that ultimately led him to give back to his community. Cay changed Frantz’s life.

After two years of working in Haiti, I learned that no amount of programming and job creation can replace the power of relationship. I recognized that the young men we worked with had allowed their orphanhood to define who they are. No amount of programming was going to break through that narrative. What they needed was ONE person to believe in them and to commit to being there for them in the long run.

Isn’t that what we all need? Our ONE person to back us up? I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for a very small group of people God placed in my life along the way. One mom that nurtured me. One counselor who pointed me in the right direction. One father-in-law who pastored me. One husband who protected me.

So many young people lack that ONE person willing to walk by them and believe in them even when they don’t believe in themselves.

That’s why mentorship is part of the HUGG Pillars. Our young men attend three churches in the community and we encourage them to get as involved as they can. We ask more established church members to pour into them. When you commit to building this pillar, it gives us the resources to go into these partner churches and develop leadership skills among church goers so that they can learn about the power of mentorship. It doesn’t take an entire program--it takes ONE person willing to do for our young men what Cay did for Frantz.

Will you be that person?

  • Writer's pictureThe HUGG Collective

“We can’t take our kids where we’ve never been.”

Tara Hutton spoke these words last week and boy did they do a number on my heart. Like a pair of hands squeezing the life out of me but was squeezing life INTO me.

Read on to see just how much I needed to hear this message. It may just be a message you need to hear, also.

In fact, so many of the words she said in last week’s Know Better, Do Better Series, felt hyper-convicting to me. Although her emphasis in her podcast, Mama’s Well, is on foster and adoptive parents, all parents will benefit from the tools and resources she offers. Afterall, these little people behind our smartphones (ha ha) are the future adults inheriting this broken but beautiful earth. Don’t we want them to DO better and BE better than us?

If yes, then shouldn’t we be asking, “Where is my parenting taking my children?” Let’s face it, we are taking them somewhere whether we are intentional about it or not.

Who remembers the infamous anti-drug commercial of the dad hovering over his son’s bed holding a joint asking him, “Who taught you how to do this stuff?” The kid refuses to answer but after multiple inquiries the commercial jumps to the climactic and oft-repeated message of the late 80s-- “YOU, alright! I learned it from watching you!” A haunting narrator jumps in with the message--“Parents who use drugs have kids that use drugs.”

The dad in the commercial failed to realize that his actions spoke louder than his words. He had “taken his son someplace” and didn’t even know it. Or maybe he did know--but didn’t want to deal with it.

I get it. Just a few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my almost 17 year-old son about resisting the temptation to drink alcohol with his peers. We are in the throes of teenage parenting, offering counsel and consequences while walking the delicate balance of keeping the communication lines open. Here I was, lecturing him about the silliness of feeling like alcohol is needed to have fun all while sipping my glass of red wine. The same glass I hold most evenings. I could feel the hypocrisy coursing through my veins and in that moment I asked him-- “Jack--have I given you the idea that alcohol is a big part of my life?” Of course, he answered “no.” But it wasn’t a fair question. I knew in that moment what I had to do.

I’m not saying I will never drink alcohol again, but like I stated before--I can’t take my son where I haven’t been and in this season, I want to set an example that alcohol need not be even close to important in our lives. It is a privilege and a disciplined delight to be able to enjoy a glass or two of wine but if it’s become more than that in my life--then it must go. So hellloooo herbal teas and seltzers. Pray for me, people.

What about you, friend? Is there an area in your life that you need to work through so that you can escort your children to a better future? Let’s not settle for a mindset that goes, “Wellll, that’s just the way it is……” Instead, let’s believe that we were called to go deeper and do better for our children. I think it starts with being ultra honest with ourselves.

While this is NOT an expert opinion or a thorough approach to dealing with our junk so that we can be better parents, I do think it’s a good place to start.

Grab that baggage. Unpack it. It can be with a trusted friend, a spouse, a counselor, a therapist or a church leader. Have an honest conversation with your kids--believe me, they see it whether you acknowledge it or not. In fact, you putting words to it will affirm their intuition. For me it was my almost daily ritual of drinking wine, but I could easily mention a plethora of other unhealthy behaviors. Hey--one thing at a time, right?

I, 100% believe that WHEN we get through the hard places, we can start to take our kids to a beautiful place in their future. The one that we always hoped and dreamed for them.

You can check out Mama’s Well here and be sure to LIKE her FB Page!

Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;

Don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.

Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;

Wear them like a scarf around your neck.

Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;

Whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;

When you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.

For sound advice is a beacon,

Good teaching is a light,

Moral discipline is a life path.

Proverbs 6:20, The Message.

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