Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Passport 72: Warming your home. Embracing the world.

Seven years ago, Beth Peterson was on a mission trip in Sri Lanka. She was touched by the needs of this community as well as their willingness to give even though they had so little. When Beth returned, she spent a lot of time talking to local leaders about what she saw and what she could do to help.  She developed her business plan and began seeking out partnerships.  From this dream and numerous meetings, Passport 72 was formed.

Passport 72 is an emerging organization dedicated to generating financial and support resources for local charities through the sale of unique home furnishings and accessories.  Products are from impoverished and developing markets around the world, creating a life-cycle of giving that benefits multiple groups of people.  Hand-picked from lesser known and economically challenged regions, her products will be a collection of items from artisans around the globe. This not only benefits communities overseas, but a portion of the proceeds will also supporting local charities.

They are currently in the process of applying for 501(c)3 status as well as planning their first fundraising event on October 29th. To stay up to date on their activities, please visit their website.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Should community foundations use social media?

I had the opportunity to co-present with Susie Bowie at the recent Council on Foundations fall conference. I don't think either of us was surprised by the response. The audience seemed to understand that social media (in some form) just might be here to stay, but aren't sure how to get started or how to "sell" their board on the idea.

There were several key takeaways from our session. As community foundations, we are often seen as community leaders and as a result, it's important to be transparent. Using online tools, we're letting our community see that we're real people and are approachable. It also gives us an opportunity to be active participants in discussing community issues. We learn what people are talking about online and have the opportunity to respond.
So, yes, community foundations should use social media. (For more information, please see my blog post on the RE:Philanthropy site and view the session slides online.)

How do you get started?  As we mentioned in our presentation, start small and learn from others. See what other organizations (and community foundations) are doing online and copy one that works for you. Don't feel the need to sign up for every tool. A recent study showed that Facebook actually surpassed Google in time spent on the site, so that might be the best place to start.  Who doesn't want the attention of 500 million people?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Giving People Opportunities to Grow

I am a new intern at Coastal Community Foundation and am fortunate enough to be part of this great organization as well as another. I recently began interning at Crisis Ministries in the grant writing department. Crisis Ministries is a homeless shelter-among other things-in downtown Charleston. Saying it has been an eye-opening experience doesn’t even begin to explain it.

I walked out of the office a little after noon on Tuesday—right when the soup kitchen was opening for lunch. Seeing the line of people waiting and, as I was driving away, seeing the people walking up to the Center brought up so many emotions. It was heart breaking to know that all of those people have little to nothing—no place to call home, nowhere to go at the end of a hard day. It also made me feel optimistic knowing that there was a place for the homeless community to go and have a hot meal, a bed to sleep in, a safe place to go. It made me feel good knowing there are still people in this world that want nothing more than to help those less fortunate.

But this is reality. There are people out there that do not have homes. They do not have jobs or money. However, places like Crisis Ministries help these individuals take the necessary steps to feel safe while obtaining an education, getting employed, and becoming self-sufficient.

The Homeless Employment and Learning Program (HELP) opened the doors to the newly renovated HELP Center on Thursday, September 16. The HELP Center offers adult education classes, GED prep and GED testing as well as targeted job searches and help with the entire process of finding employment.

The work that all of the Crisis Ministries' employees do truly makes a difference in the community. And the work that Coastal Community Foundation does helps the nonprofits be able to continuously serve the community. I couldn't ask for better places to learn what it means to give back and serve a community of people that are truly deserving.