Nearly ten years ago, I enrolled at UCLA to earn a Certificate in Fundraising with a concentration in Institutional Development intending to learn how to become part of the solution to the problems that plague our neighborhoods, cities, country and world. With an ever-evolving awareness of the many ways of giving back, I was introduced to the nuances of supporting charitable organizations and becoming a citizen philanthropist. This has since become a lifelong passion of mine.
It continues to be a life-affirming journey that allows me the opportunity to broaden my work through volunteering and producing fundraising events. My philanthropic background has also inspired several of my wedding clients to incorporate charities that they themselves are passionate about into their special days. Wedding favors, if not immediately edible, more often than not end up being put on a closet shelf or thrown away; a donation to one or a small group of charities in your guests' names is a meaningful and enduring way to thank guests for being a part of the occasion. Other clients have even requested a donation be made to a small group of charities in lieu of gifts.
Giving back can take so many forms, from donating old clothing and toys to Goodwill Centers or dropping off a bag of groceries at your local food bank, to delivering Meals on Wheels to shut-ins or volunteering your time at your local church, synagogue, mosque, neighborhood school or hospital.
Discovering your personal passion for charity often starts in your own extended family and circle of friends. With over 5,500 major American and International charities to choose from, it helps to have a place to start. Charitynavigator.org is a wonderful place to discover charities you might be inspired by and to help you find where your passion for giving back lives within you.
Here are just a few charities that are close to my heart.
Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. You can be confident knowing that 98 percent of your donation goes directly toward providing food to Americans struggling with hunger. Learn how you can donate funds and see what food insecurity looks like in your county, in your state and across the country. You may see a few things that surprise you.
Music for Relief was founded by the band Linkin Park in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Since inception in 2005, Music for Relief has raised over $7 million for survivors of multiple disasters across four continents including Hurricane Katrina, China’s Wenchuan earthquake, a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan in 2010, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
MFR has organized benefit concerts, online auctions, and events with multi-platinum musicians and celebrities to help rebuild and donate supplies to people in need. Music for Relief has also planted over 1.3 million trees to help reduce the effects of climate change.
TOMS, founded in 2006, is driven by a single mission: To make life more comfortable. Toward that end, TOMS not only ensures that every pair of its namesake slip-ons are soft, breathable, and lightweight for an optimal fit—the company has also charged itself with the responsibility of providing for the comfort of children in impoverished regions worldwide. For every pair of TOMS shoes or eyewear purchased online or at retail, the company will provide a pair of new shoes or will help give sight to a person in need. TOMS has revolutionized philanthropy with their One for One approach to giving back.
And check out their wedding collection too ...
The White Feather Foundation was founded in 2007 by Julian Lennon for the conservation of life to raise funds for environmental, humanitarian and clean water projects. Your involvement will help make an immeasurable difference and give a voice and support to the countless lives of those who cannot be heard, help to raise funds for the betterment of all life and honor those who have truly made a difference.