People Actually Resent Charity Runners in the Boston Marathon?

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

The Boston Marathon is a big deal for runners as it’s the highlight for many people’s careers, and there are two ways to enter. You can either qualify by running a lot and getting good times, or you can “buy your way in” by raising $5,000 for charity. Apparently though, there are a lot of runners who are resentful of that second option, and think that people who don’t qualify for the race shouldn’t be in it. Last year charity runners raised $28.3 million.

Those numbers are, frankly, way too high for some runners to be complaining about it. This is money raised for charity, not for the selfish thrill of being in a fancy race. That may sound harsh, and runners who qualify are certainly impressive, but it’s hard to take their side in a situation where they seem to just want personal glory while others are there to help their communities and support good causes.

Susan Hurley, who founded Charity Teams, which trains runners and does fundraising for races, would like to see an option for qualified runners to support a charity, bringing together the best of both worlds. This is an excellent idea, and frankly surprising that it’s not already been implemented.

It’s unknown how many people would take advantage of such an option that weren’t already running for charity, but it might help reduce some of the resentment if more qualified runners were supporting charities too.

But what would really help is an attitude shift. Just because you’re running for charity doesn’t make the person who qualified on their own any less impressive. And just because the runners around you aren’t qualified doesn’t mean your achievements aren’t still achievements. There’s a self-centeredness at the core of this “me or them” mentality that makes people treat strangers like enemies, or resent people for raising millions of dollars for charity.

What are your thoughts? Should runners have the option to buy their way in marathons? Leave a comment below!

Trump Needs to Prove He’s as Charitable as He Claims

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

A lot of people put stock in how generous others are, using someone’s record of volunteer work or charitable giving to determine how “good” of a person they are. Supporters of Donald Trump, and the candidate himself, have made a lot out of how generous he is and how much he gives to charity.

The problem is, there’s pretty much no proof whatsoever that Trump actually is charitable. Take the hundred million dollars he supposedly donated (of his own money) in the last five years: there’s no evidence that he has ever actually made a cash donation in that time. His campaign team recently released a 93-page report of the many recipients of his largesse, and while it is an impressive number of groups and people, most of what was “donated” were free rounds of golf at his various courses. And there were many for-profit companies included in that list.

Trump also has a tendency to agree not to build on easements so that they can be preserved for conservation, but that is almost universally property he had not serious plans to build on anyway. He hasn’t even donated any money to his own namesake foundation since 2008.

His advisors claim that he doesn’t want to generate a “feeding frenzy” of charities asking him for money, but the idea that someone like Donald Trump would do anonymously anything that could possibly serve as publicity strains credulity. He’s not a modest man by any stretch of the imagination, and it he were actually donating large sums of his own money, he would be telling us about it, and proving it.

The best way to prove it would be to release his tax filings, something expected of presidential candidates, which he has thus far refused to do. Such filings would show exactly how much Trump has—or more likely has not—donated in the past.

The HRC Has Lost Sight of Their Mission

HumanRightsCampaign

The Human Rights Campaign, better known as the HRC, was a very loud proponent for gay marriage, and you’ve probably seen their yellow equal sign on a blue background on cars in more liberal states. But the HRC, despite touting itself as an LGBT organization, has long been criticized for not being supportive of anyone but white gay men. They have a poor record for diversity within their own organization, and have been accused of sexist hiring practices, and of actively discriminating against transgender people within their ranks.

Recently, North Carolina passed a “bathroom bill” which prevents transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender they identify with, and makes it illegal for municipalities there to provide protections against LGBT people. And the HRC hasn’t done much of anything to combat this bill or, presumably, similar bills in states like Washington. In fact, the HRC has been throwing support to certain, cherry-picked Republicans instead of Democrats who are notably better candidates for LGBT rights.

Over at the Huffington Post, Michelangelo Signorile has pointed out that the Republicans the HRC has been supporting are connected to some big money donors and so, as is often the case in politics, these decisions come down to money. It would seem that the HRC is willing to throw their own people under the bus to secure donations. But that begs the question: if you support an notoriously anti-LGBT party in order to secure a few “good apples” among them so you can get more funding to, ostensibly help LGBT people, what’s the point?

HRC is a perfect example of a non-profit that has lost sight of its mission. One cannot claim to support LGBT people, then support candidates whom though moderately pro-equality themselves, are cogs in the anti-equality Republican machine. Getting donations is not, nor can it ever be, as important to a non-profit as pursing it’s mission. HRC should know that, but they’ve obviously lost sight of their purpose.

New Law Aims to Bolster Donations in China

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

The National People’s Congress of China recently passed a new charity law, aimed at bolstering charitable donations in the People’s Republic of China, which ranks 144th out of 145 nations for such donations. The law allows registered organizations, which have been in operation for two years, to appeal to the general public for funds, and allows for tax deductions for companies that make donations, up to 12% of their profits.

Although China has seen a significant rise in giving in the last decade, it is still abysmally low. As Xi Jinping has vowed to eradicate poverty in China by 2020, increasing charitable donations will be a necessary step. Charities can help fill in the gaps left by government policies. The law will also build a structure for tighter controls on how charities spend their money, which may sound counter-intuitive, but is a necessary step in the process.

The main reason that donations in China are so low is that the Chinese people have a pretty dim view of charities there. This is well founded, as a string of scandals have left people worrying that money they donate will be used improperly. The Red Cross Society of China, for example, has been exposed several times in the last decade for misallocating funds, while other groups have been found to use donations to fund unrelated investments and other shady activities.

The Chinese people are not necessarily uncharitable, but they have good reason to be wary of nonprofits that might appeal to them. Hopefully, this new law will help improve transparency and bolster trust in nonprofits once again. The last part of the law though, seems less likely. The law also recommends supporting civil society as an “independent voice in public life,” something that likely will not appeal strongly to the government, which has a hard time allowing such things. The law even provides punishments for groups seem as undermining state security.

Portland Turns a Pit into a Park

Image: Site grading at Cully Park, photo courtesy of Alan Hipolito

Image: Site grading at Cully Park, photo courtesy of Alan Hipolito

In a turn of events that would make Leslie Knope proud, a coalition of nonprofits in Portland is turning an old construction pit into a park. The Let Us Build Cully Park project is a coalition of 16 nonprofits working with the city. The park will be in the Cully neighborhood, which is one of the most diverse in Portland, and the nonprofits that are building it are set on engaging the community.

The neighborhood is about half a mile from the nearest park or naturalized space, and Verde, one of the nonprofits taking the lead, is going to use its own contract company to hire low-income workers to build the park. Another organization, TERRA.fluxus is working with local school children to create gardens, and there are plans for cultural displays to celebrate the Latino and Native American heritage of many of the locals.

This isn’t a story of fighting against the government, but of helping them out. The city took over the land in 2000, with the intention of building a park, but by 2007, budgetary issues kept it from ever materializing. That’s when nonprofits took over fundraising, and the city has given them the go-ahead to plan and build the first part of the park. So far they’ve raised about $6 million of a projected $9 million for the project, with an expected grant of $1.25 million from the parks and recreation department. Half a million came from a National Park Service grant as well.

It’s a great example of how nonprofits are supposed to work: teaming up to accomplish great things on behalf of civil society that the government can’t take care of. The park sounds like it’s going to be a great addition to the neighborhood, and should help bolster the economy there as well.

AmazonSmile: Turning Purchases Into Charity Donations

amazonsmile

Did you know that Amazon has a charity that donates money whenever you buy something?

Thanks to AmazonSmile, the company will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice! So the next time you’re on Amazon buying batteries, you can get the online retailer to make a donation to the charity of your choice for you.

AmazonSmile is a simple (and automatic) way for you to support your favorite charitable organization at no cost to you. When you’re shopping at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the same low prices and shopping experiences as Amazon.com. With the convenience of being able to use your existing Amazon.com account on AmazonSmile, your shopping cart, wish lists, wedding or baby registries, and other account settings will remain the same.

As mentioned, AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases – this is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping and handling, taxes, gift-wrapping fees, or service charges. AmazonSmile may offer special and limited time promotions that increase the donation amount on one or more products for additional donations to charities from time to time.

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations – eligible products will be marked “Eligble for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. However, subscribe-and-save purchases and subscription renewals aren’t eligible at this time.

Currently, there are almost one million eligible 501 ©(3) public charitable organizations you can choose from. If there is an organization that does not register to participate or becomes ineligible in the AmazonSmile program, you’ll have the opportunity to select a different organization. Amazon will reallocate the donations accrued to other charities receiving donations.

Do you represent a charitable organization that is interested in registering for AmazonSmile? If so, simply go to org.amazon.com to learn more about the registration process to receive donations.

Non-Profit Picks Up EPA’s Water Testing Slack

flint-water-crisis

As the water crisis continues in Flint, MI, a non-profit group is stepping up to help. The problem in Flint is that the city is inundated with contaminated water, which contains traces of lead that are high enough to cause permanent damage to people, especially young children, who drink it. As the state and federal governments continue to twiddle their thumbs instead of taking concrete steps to help the people of Flint, others around the country are clamoring for increased testing of their own water supplies.

About 96 million Americans live in areas where lead pipes carry their tap water, and many are concerned that they too face lead poisoning. Those pipes are supposed to be tested and, if found faulty, replaced, but that process doesn’t really happen like it should. The EPA and local governments have been accused of slacking off, or “gaming” reports so that water supplies seem to be up to code in order to not have to, potentially, cut into budgets to replace water pipes.

A non-profit called Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) has taken it upon themselves to help. They’ve teamed up with a Virginia Tech professor who helped test Flint’s water to get testing kits to people who are afraid their water is contaminated. They can collect water and send it back to have it tested. The kits do cost money, around $65 each, but the group has a system in place where lower income families can get them for as little as $12. They’re asking others to sometimes pay more than $65 to offset those loses, and it seems to be working out. It’s a great example of using crowdsourcing in the non-profit sector to help people help each other.

Hopefully HBBF can bring in enough data to get the EPA to shake off their complacency and get the government to follow it’s own laws and get water systems replaced.

In case you missed our recent articles on the Flint crisis, Hillary Clinton and several hip-hop stars are taking the right steps to address the situation.

Charity Inspires Neymar to Win More

Neymar-Charity

FC Barcelona star Neymar shares that his charity work in his native country Brazil brings him joy and gives him strength to continue racking up trophies for his team.

Although he was suspended for Sunday’s 4-0 La Liga win at Eibar, Neymar came back home to Brazil last weekend to attend his sister Rafaella’s 20th birthday party in Sao Paulo. He also visited a children’s facility near Sao Paulo, which is run by his family’s charity foundation – the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. The institution was opened in 2014 and aims to use physical activities and sports to help children in need with their socio-cultural development. There are currently over 2,400 local children that attend the institution. The institution also holds an official relationship with the Barcelona team as they’ve worked together on the club’s “FutbolNet” program, which uses sports as an educational tool for children.

Neymar recently posted a video of him and his father (Neymar Senior) meeting and interacting with local children at the facility. They expressed on the institution’s website the importance of charity work and what it means for the both of them personally and professionally.

“I could not come to Brazil and not visit here. It is my family’s dream and I am always happy every time I visit. It makes me want to keep growing this and doing this the right way. The love I get from the kids, the conversations we have… it gives me strength to return to Barcelona and keep running after more trophies. It makes me really happy to do something for these kids and their families,” said Neymar.

New York Charity Execs Used Taxpayer Funds for Bonuses

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

The Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership is in hot water with the Department of Health and the Department of Education, according to DNAInfo New York. The organization, which is dedicated to helping women and young children, especially in Harlem, is being accused of squandering money on bonuses for executives, while failing to uphold a $4.3 million contract signed with the city.

Between 2014 and 2015, chief Mario Drummonds, who previously covered up accusations of sexual misconduct against one of his employees, took $71,300 in bonuses from the organization. That this as done while they were simultaneously not holding up their end of a contract with the city to provide a “network of community health care workers” at projects in Harlem is disturbing enough, but they’ve failed that contract so much that the city has taken that three year contract away from them, after only a year. On top of that, paying bonuses with money granted from taxpayer funds is illegal, and they failed to report the bonuses to the DOH or DOE, which was required in both cases.

Drummonds and others garnered about $200,000 in bonuses, all while making pretty hefty wages as it was. Drummonds more than doubled his income in that time, with a normal salary of $65,548 a year. Some of the bonuses he took were probably more than the yearly income of some of the families he was supposed to be helping.

This isn’t how nonprofits are supposed to function; in fact it’s pretty heavily implied in the name, “nonprofit,” that people don’t get to give themselves huge bonuses. But it’s not entirely surprising, with how often charities and nonprofits are run by ex-Wall Street executives. Companies in American routinely pay their CEOs and other executives absurdly large salaries while their employees scrape together a living or they fail to live up to contracts. Why, apparently, should nonprofits be any different?

Hillary Clinton Asks Followers to Help Out Flint

hillary-clinton

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan continues, and charities are still looking for donations to help children who have been poisoned by lead-contaminated water there. The Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s campaign to raise money for the long-term health care and education of affected children has found a new and powerful ally in their efforts: presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

Clinton announced via her campaign website on February 15th that her campaign would be asking for help on Flint’s behalf, and that her family would be making donations of their own. Clinton originally reached out to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver early this year when the news about Flint’s water became a national story. That earned her Weaver’s support in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination against rival Bernie Sanders. She has also received endorsements from three local pastors for her support of the citizens of Flint.

While it may seem like a political ploy on Clinton’s part, there is a real chance for this to a lot of good. Flint isn’t a terribly well off city, and the water crisis has hit them hard. The damage is immense, and the state government hasn’t done much to help. While a number of charitable organizations have stepped up to try and help the people of Flint, there is certainly more which can be done. Donations from the Clinton family will no doubt help that, and hopefully get the ball rolling by inspiring her followers to donate as well.

Celebrity appeals on behalf of charitable causes are nothing new, and using charity to boost one’s political capital isn’t either. This issue does come at a unique moment for Clinton’s campaign though, and it seems likely that she’ll get some extra political mileage out of the issue, considering how severe the problem is and the timing.

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