#GivingTuesday – My FIVE NGOs for 2016

giving-tuesdayPublished on LinkedIn Influencers on November 29th, 2016

Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would also add Food Hangover Saturday and Airport Dash Sunday to that list. All in all it’s a busy weekend. Between the travelling, eating, shopping, and family fun times, it can be easy to forget that the true purpose of the Thanksgiving holiday is to give thanks. There are many ways to give thanks, but one way in particular that we are able to give thanks is financially on Giving Tuesday.

Now in its fifth year, Giving Tuesday is a worldwide movement founded in 2012 by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, which aims to amplify year end giving and philanthropy. Much like Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, Giving Tuesday marks the start of the holiday charitable season, and since its founding in 2012, this movement has spread to over 71 countries around the world. In 2015, over a million gifts were made online, raising over $115 million for charitable causes, and #GivingTuesday registered 114 billion impressions on Twitter alone. That is an incredible impact in a short period of time. That is the power of campaigns, which as a philanthropy geek I think a lot about.

For me, giving is a year round endeavor, and it is impossible to add up the hours I spend thinking about, analyzing, and deciding which organizations will receive not only my financial support, but my time and talent as well. There once was a time when I would write a large number of small checks, something I later heard someone call the ‘spray and pray’ approach. You spray a little money around a lot of places and pray it makes a difference. Today, the buzz word is ‘strategic’ philanthropy, which is fine, but a better term for what I do personally is values based, thoughtful, philanthropy. Of course I want positive impact, but I have also come to see that there is impact you can measure, and impact you can judge. For me, aligning with the vision of the organization, understanding their methodology for creating positive change, and getting to know and believe in their senior leaders is what matters most.

It should come as no surprise that the list of organizations that I choose to support have a focus on women and girls. On my recent philanthropic movement building tour in Australia, I was often asked why that focus? The answer could be an article in and of itself, and certainly has been the subject of many of my 700+ blog posts over the years, but for now I will simplify it here. I am female, and both because of personal experiences around inequities, and my extensive research around much needed gender based strategies, that is what I choose to do. Of course, everyone should choose what issue area or demographic matters most to them. And if you can’t really answer the question of what matters most to you, ask yourself this question: “If you were to wave a magic wand and change anything in the world, what would that be?” That is the question my brilliant friend Kathy LeMay asks in her book The Generosity Plan as the question to start your giving plan.

So if you were wondering what organizations are on my list this year, here are just five examples.

Culture Reframed – Founded by internationally renowned scholar and activist Dr. Gail Dines, Culture Reframed is the first health promotion effort to recognize and address pornography as the public health crisis of the digital age. With the advent of the Internet and the unprecedented access it provides to pornography around the world, we are only now beginning to understand the implications of the pervasiveness of pornography and a hypersexualized culture. A growing body of scientific research is showing that pornography is addictive, promotes sexual violence, and is harming the sexual development of both men and women. Today, 35% of all Internet downloads is pornographic material, and porn sites get more traffic every month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. As Dr. Dines states, “The pornographers are laying waste an entire generation of boys, and when you lay waste a generation of boys you lay waste a generation of girls”, meaning that this is an issue that effects us all. Please check out Dr. Dines’ TEDxTalk “Growing Up in a Pornified Culture” and please support this important organization.

EROC (End Rape on Campus) – This organization works to end campus sexual violence through direct support for survivors and their communities; prevention through education; and policy reform at the campus, local, state, and federal levels. Founded in 2013, EROC has worked with survivors of campus sexual assault to hold educational institutions accountable and advocate for the end of sexual violence on university and college campuses. Three of the co-founders, Annie Clark, Andrea Pino, and Sofie Karasek, were featured in the documentary film The Hunting Ground, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (disclosure: I was an Executive Producer of this film), and since then EROC has worked tirelessly to ensure that survivors across the United States are believed, trusted, and supported. You can watch The Hunting Ground on Netflix, and please donate to EROC today.

Girl Up – As the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign, Girl Up engages girls to take action. Led by a community of nearly half a million passionate advocates raising awareness and funds, Girl Up’s efforts help the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl. This is an organization for girls by girls, and places a particular emphasis on leadership development training for young women around the world. This past year I have been fortunate to see this organization’s work firsthand, as my daughter was selected to be a Girl Up Teen Advisor, and I am so proud of the work she and her fellow Teen Advisors are doing to promote the welfare and development of young girls around the world. This is an incredibly worthy organization deserving of your giving dollars both today and year round.

Global Fund for Women – A global champion for the human rights of women and girls, the Global Fund for Women uses its powerful networks to find, fund, and amplify the courageous work of women who are building social movements and challenging the status quo. By shining a spotlight on critical issues, this organization rallies communities of advocates who take action and invest money to empower women. Their fearless leader is Musimbi Kanyoro, or as my children have been invited to call her, Aunt Musimbi. Musimbi is one of ten children, African born, has two doctorates, speaks multiple languages, has an extensive background in human rights, and is all around amazing. As part of Giving Tuesday, all donations made today will be matched dollar for dollar, so I strongly encourage you to donate today.

Tostan – Founded in 1991 by the incomparable Molly Melching, Tostan works to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights and to ensure that every person—woman, man, girl, and boy—is able to live a life of dignity. Over the past 24 years, Tostan’s original concepts have developed into a leading model for community-led change — a model that is now implemented in 22 languages across six African countries and is supported at the international, national, and grassroots levels. Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation has stated that after spending a day with Molly in the communities served by Tostan, “I have not thought the same way about the work I do at the Gates Foundation since that day.” Tostan is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, and in honour of this occasion, they have launched their Breakthrough Generation Program, which aims to bring Tostan’s programs to another 150 communities in West Africa over the next couple of years. Please donate and help the breakthrough generation today.

There are so many more organizations I am proud to support and champion, including the two I write the biggest checks to, Women Moving Millions and The Sundance Institute, but that would have felt a little too self serving as I hold volunteer leadership roles in both. That said, #lovethem.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Happy Giving Tuesday everyone!

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