4 Reasons to Work at a Nonprofit

There are so many reasons to work for a nonprofit and make it a career for life. The options and ways to help that nonprofits offer are innumerable, ranging from actually working in the field to managing organizations to figuring out logistics and writing for grants. Not only can you earn a living (nonprofit salaries have been rising in the past few years), but you can also change the world and improve the lives of people everywhere. If that sort of job satisfaction isn’t enough, here are four more reasons why working for a nonprofit might be the right career choice for you!

  1. Millennials are wired differently: The fact is that the millennial generation was raised in a much different world, both technologically and politically, than previous generations. They have been bombarded with information coming at them at much faster speeds than anyone before them (thanks internet), allowing them to process different types of information faster. This means that millennials have ability to promote and support social and economic change better than any previous generation. They also are inheriting a world that is a mess; the empathy they have can lead to great things.
  2. Most degrees are useful: Nonprofits are complicated beings with multiple levels of administration and organization. Most majors studied in college are can be of great use to certain nonprofits. You can even major in nonprofit management at certain schools and get masters in it as well. This allows people to help more efficiently and specialize their careers so that they get the most satisfaction out of it.
  3. Create your own path: There are so many different types of nonprofits (and jobs within them) allowing people to do whatever they truly want to do. This sort of customization in career choice can also even apply to the country that you end up working and living it too.
  4. Love your job: People who help others are usually happier and more satisfied with their lives. Working in a nonprofit environment means that not only are you helping others, but you very well might be helping yourself as well. And who doesn’t want to be happy in life?

There are so many reasons to work at a nonprofit. Read this link for more information!

A New Orleans Nonprofit is Creating Affordable Housing

All around the country, housing prices are in flux as the economy swings wildly between recession, stagnation, and growth and as housing bubbles are formed and then burst. Cities are the most affected by these changes in the housing market and people living close to or under the poverty line are being increasingly marginalized and forced to move over and over again away from desirable locations and neighborhoods. With the way the trend is currently going, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that these issues are just going to continue in the future and possibly even be exacerbated. This means that more and more people are going to be priced out of affordable housing and forced to move into isolated communities away from services.jonathan offt, new orleans, public housing, cedar rapids, iowa

One new non-profit in New Orleans is seeing what’s happening to neighborhoods around the country and have decided they’ve had enough. The Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative is a newly created non-profit that focuses on building permanently affordable housing in New Orleans, focusing on the Mid-City neighborhood. So far, the initiative only has one building that’s undergoing renovations and in a delicious twist of irony, it’s only 3 blocks away from a massive $2 billion hospital complex that’s being constructed. The organization is working on a four-plex and is using a model called community land trust so that the apartments will be committed to low and moderate-income families in the future.

A community land trust is a nonprofit that develops land and housing, aimed at homeownership, that is directed by and on behalf of the neighborhood residents. The Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative was created in 2008 and was planning on waiting before starting any development. They bought their building in 2010 and only started working on it when they heard the news of the hospital complex being built, knowing that prices in the area would skyrocket higher when the hospital was completed. Because the building is held under a community trust, all the money being poured into the project is being invested for future generations. The trust allows rent prices to remain flexible, regardless of rising rents around the building. With both private and public funding being offered to the project, this could very well be the future of affordable public housing and that’s not a bad thing at all.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Local Charities Are Appearing to Help Veterans

When people think of the costs of war, they usually think of the physical and material costs. They think of the bodies that have been shattered and the lives that have been snuffed out. They think of the money that goes towards paying for the conflict and how it affects their lives through possible rationing and minor inconveniences. Up until recently, they never thought about those returning from the fight and how their experiences are leading to shattered families, broken hearts, and more and more frequently, murder and suicide. Veterans returning home are facing higher and higher rates of PTSD, leaving local mental health providers totally overwhelmed and unsure of how to help.jonathan offt, cedar rapids, iowa, ptsd, veterans, 22everday

Currently, it is though that around 22 veterans kill themselves every day. That means that 22 men and women who have fought and survived combat, survived having someone else try to take their life, return home and end up taking their own lives for a myriad of reasons. With local providers so overwhelmed and unable to help, local around the country are taking it upon themselves to do what they can. This has lead to the creation of a large number of local charities specializing in helping veterans readjust to civilian life and get the mental and physical support they need to reintegrate into their previous lives with their families and friends. One of the major issues that these charities are trying to overcome is the stigma so many veterans feel about PTSD and asking for mental help.

One of these groups goes by 22Everyday Task Force and has branches spreading all around the country, raising their own funds and working independently from each other to support those in their communities as best as possible. The 22Everyday groups are made up of both civilians and veterans, giving those they help comfort in the fact that they’re dealing with people who have gone through this themselves or, at the very least, are intimate with the chaos PTSD can cause. Many of the 22Everyday members have also lost loved ones to suicide or PTSD-induced crimes, allowing for further connections to be made. With an emphasis on suicide education, prevention, and awareness, 22Everyday isn’t simply limiting itself to helping veterans in need, they want to work with everyone. This is just one example of locals working together to help returning soldiers and hopefully, it won’t be the last.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

5 Companies That Get Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy is always a tricky subject. While many rightfully see it as a way for companies to ingratiate themselves and score some cheap PR points, there’s no denying that some companies truly do some good and make a difference both locally and abroad. There are two main forms of corporate philanthropy, matching gift programs (when employers match employee donations) and volunteer grant programs (when businesses give money to nonprofits in exchange for employees working for them). Here are 5 companies that have managed to get everything about corporate philanthropy right:jonathan_offt_corporate_giving

  1. Apple: Surprising no one, Apple is both a leader in business as well as one of the leaders in corporate philanthropy. When Tim Cook became CEO he immediately implemented a gift matching program. In 2014 Apple announced that this program would be available in all countries where it had a presence and has so far donated over $50 million around the world. The company also has a volunteer grant program that donates $25 per hour of work at a volunteers chosen charity.
  2. Google: Again, this shouldn’t be surprise due to both Google’s massive funds as well as it’s position as a business leader around the world. Google, as befitting to the uniqueness of the company, has some pretty interesting philanthropic options. With employees volunteering over 80,000 hours last year and with a total of $21 million in matched donations over the years, Google has been on the forefront of corporate giving. Google also supports a large number of community programs spread across the country that touch on a number of different educational and electronic needs.
  3. Microsoft: Microsoft should be another company that is no surprise when it comes to corporate charity (after all, Bill and Melinda Gates did start the Gates Foundation). The company began its charitable matching program in 1983 and has donated over $1 billion to various causes around the world. Along with donating money, Microsoft also donates computers so that nonprofits don’t need to spend money on getting the most cutting-edge technology they can.
  4. PepsiCo: PepsiCo focuses on health, agriculture, and living charities due to its status as a food company (and the need to counter the bad press its brands frequently receive due to health concerns). The company also focuses on women’s empowerment and job preparedness and has a number of programs in developing countries such as India, Ghana, and even some US states. It also loved charities that focus on clean water technology and donates about $25 million a year through grants to various charitable causes.
  5. Shell: While this might come as a surprise, Shell is actually one of the most charitable businesses out there. Along with a gift matching program, the company donates money to schools aimed towards oil-based research and student programs. As of 2014, the company has created over 35,ooo jobs and raised over $5 billion on 4 continents.

While these aren’t the only companies out there doing good for society, these are just examples of how great corporate giving can be. If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Roger Goodell Made $35 Million This Year

The National Football League is one of the most profitable organizations in the country with revenues reaching around $10 billion every year. With legions of fans across the country and a promotional machine aimed at getting more and more money each year, it’s incredibly confusing as to how the NFL managed to secure nonprofit status for itself and the tax exemptions that go along with it. And yet, this is the case. An organization that is blatantly for profit and that has a horrible record with outreach and support of causes (unless they actually affect the NFL itself) has somehow managed to dupe the country into believing that it deserves nonprofit status and shouldn’t be taxed. Roger Goodell, the commissioner for the league, made $35 million this year and is still one of the highest paid executives of any type in the country, including for-profit businesses.nfl

While many involved in the NFL (as in the owners) might see Goodell’s pay and the nonprofit status as reasonable, it just simply isn’t the case. The NFL pulls in 10 billion tax-exempt dollars a year and those dollars deserve to be taxed. The passing of the NFL as a nonprofit organization is a joke. While the NFL might point to outreach efforts as a sign of how they deserve the status, the truth of the matter is that there is only outreach when PR is needed. Take, for example, Ray Rice and the slew of domestic assaults that the NFL has been dealing with since its inception. If you were to research all of the domestic assaults caused by players then you would see that they stretch back decades and that the outreach only started this year after Ray Rice was video taped knocking his fiance out. Even with the tape, the NFL fought and fought against admitting anything.

The outreach caused by the scandal was pathetic and barely deserves to be called that. Somehow Goodell has been able to survive this controversy and still make millions. Somehow the NFL has been able to continue to skate by as a tax-exempt nonprofit when the entire sport of football has been built around the ability to advertise frequently throughout the game. How anyone still thinks that it deserves nonprofit treatment is beyond me. Something needs to change.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Catholic Charities Choose Nun as New President

When one thinks of the Catholic church and the hierarchy that controls it, it’s easy to think of it as somewhat anti-woman. Between restrictions on birth control that harm women more than men (just look at what’s been happening in Ireland) to the fact that women are barred from becoming priests and leading congregations in prayer, the Catholic church has been pretty traditional and unmoving when it comes to women’s rights and what it thinks is acceptable. That being said, the Catholic church is changing and under the lead of the new Pope it has been seen as more liberal on a number of topics that people thought were untouchable ideology.

One of the most recent examples of this slow shift in priorities and in freedoms is the fact that the Catholic Charities USA organization based in Alexandria, Virginia elected a nun as it’s president for the first time in its 105 year existence. Sister Donna Markham, Ph.D. has taken over as president from Rev. Larry Snyder and begins her term on June 1st. Currently, Sister Markham is the president of the Behavioral Health Institute for Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is an Adrian Dominican sister and also has her doctorate in clinical psychology.

Catholic Charities USA is one of the largest charities in the United States and had $4.3 billion in revenue for 2013. Sister Markham is perfectly suited for the position of president and has years of experience to rely on when she begins her tenure. She was on the CCUSA board for two years previous to her appointment and was the president of the Southdown Institute in Ontario as well as being the Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation in Adrian, Michigan before her current occupation at Mercy Health. Her appointment to such a high-ranking position with a Catholic organization is another example of how the church is making strides to modernize and is recognizing that women deserve as many rights as men do.

If you’d like to read more, the list is here.

Profitable Non-Profit Education

Charter schools are essentially non-profits who often hire for-profit companies to handle their finances and operations. A few years ago, auditors found that most revenue from the non-profit Buffalo United Charter went to a large management firm called National Heritage Academies (NHA) and the board’s involvement in running the school was almost ceremonial. This has caused ripples in the education world and this tradition of ‘sweeps’ contract, where almost all of the tax payers’ money is swept into a private management company, is brought into light for the first time. The public concern regarding surrendering responsibility of charter schools to private management is mostly about how these companies are not legally obligated to act in the best interest of the taxpayers.

The money is likely to be spent irresponsibly and unfortunately, more often than not, that is the case with most of these firms. For companies like National Heritage Academies, their relationship with public-funded institutions can conveniently pave the path to steady profits for themselves. Buffalo United’s board defended their decision to place faith on an external firm by saying that having someone else taking care of operational tasks, the board members can focus on fundraising. They also asserted that National Heritage Academies fully adhered to all state and federal laws, academic regulations and authorizer oversight requirements and all this was done under full transparency.

While the partnership between schools and such companies are under scrutiny, sweep contracts themselves haven’t received much attention and as of today, are not widely monitored. It is mostly because regulators or even the schools themselves do not have much access to the accounts of private companies. Alex Medler of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers says that this is an issue that requires immediate attention since sweep contracts demonstrate a blatant inefficiency in fulfilling public function and in some cases, a series of questionable spendings.

The auditors noticed inexplicable charges in terms of rent and equipment costs in the case of Buffalo United and NHA, but were unable to verify these suspicions or satisfactorily account for the school’s $10 million spending because they were denied access to the financial books of NHA. The auditors could do nothing more than issue ‘advisory recommendations’ on the matter since most of the audit process remained incomplete.

In the past few years there have been situations where the charter schools have pushed their management companies for more transparency, including the case in 2010 where 10 charter school boards sued the management firm, White Hat Management, when it refused to disclose basic information about expenditures. Heeding from these examples, some charter schools now understand the implications of their limited access and are beginning to push for more authority for its regulators. Unfortunately, the management firms are putting up an even stronger fight and so far, the dynamics have not changed particularly in favor of charter schools across the nation.

Nonprofit Grants Dream Wedding to Dying Woman

For most people facing a terminal illness, marriage and weddings are the furthest thing from their minds. Even those that do want to get married face the burden of wedding costs adding to their already expensive medical treatments; an option that is unsustainable and untenable for most people. However there is a nonprofit out there that caters directly to people in need and they work with people in the wedding industry to make sure that the weddings go off according to the clients dreams and for no cost to the newlyweds whatsoever. Wish Upon A Wedding partners with caterers, wedding planners, and everyone else involved in making these magical memories and provides beautiful and free weddings to people facing terminal illnesses or drastically life-changing events.

For Mark Zvonek and his wife Ana, the nonprofit changed their lives when it donated a full wedding to them. Both Mark and Ana weren’t even thinking about having a wedding to begin with. Ana has stage 4 colon cancer and between the bills and the treatments, neither her nor Mark had the energy or money for the wedding that she always dreamed about. Wish Upon A Wedding help Ana plan her dream wedding and then delivered the entire package to the couple for no cost at all. The nonprofit hired photographers as well as getting flower arrangements, musicians, invitations, and food for the couple as well as their family and friends. The nonprofit also managed to get a resort to host the wedding so that the happy couple could retire in splendor after their exhausting day.

So many people think that charity and philanthropy is all about giving money to those in need and that it. People don’t realize that giving people experiences and memories can be just as important as the physical things. Memories. photos, happiness, and laughter can be just as, if not more, important as pretty things.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

There Might be A Metropolitan Opera Lockout

For all of those who love the opera and classical music, there is rumbling on the horizon that doesn’t spell anything good. It seems as though there might be a lockout for the Metropolitan Opera due to contract negotiations with the unions who staff the institution. With less than 7 weeks before opening night of the season, contracts for 15 out of the 16 unions are due to expire and negotiations aren’t going according to plan. While negotiations have been extended for 72 hours, the unions don’t seem to be budging and this could spell trouble for the opening shows.

The reason that negotiations are ongoing is due to the Opera proposing paycuts of 16-17%. By reducing the number of work rules, the Met hopes to be able to get away with paying their employees less. In 2013 the Opera had an endowment of $253 million and an operating budget of $326 million and since they can’t borrow money to make up the difference, the pay cuts are seen as the only way to keep things running. With box office revenues declining and expenses increasing, the Met is desperately trying to come up with ways to stay afloat. With the fact that the Met had to file for bankruptcy last year looming over their heads, the impetuous to save money is even stronger. One only hopes that negotiations are over before any damage to the season is done.

If you’d like to learn more, the link is below:


Proof One Good Begets Another

What would you do if you were to see someone take a fall on some icy stairs and gash their head? For Bill Kocke, the answer was so obvious he didn’t even have to think about it. After seeing a stranger take a fall and cut his head open, Kocke instinctively waited with him until the paramedics arrived. While Kocke’s main idea behind this was to make sure the man didn’t go into shock and die, the unintended consequences of his actions were larger than he ever could’ve expected.

The man who he stayed with eventually tracked Kocke down to thank him for his help. During one of many casual conversations with the man, he mentioned how he worked to help low-income families pay for heating during the winter and how charities are always in need of funds. He also specifically mentioned how the Salvation Army HeatShare program was always in need of funds and how he respected them for their work.

Unbeknown to Kocke, the man who had been speaking to was an executive at multi-billion dollar investment firm and was paying more attention to his words than he thought. The man told him of his position and then said that he wanted to donate $10,000 dollars to the HeatShare program in Kocke’s name. As if that weren’t generous enough, a couple of days later Kocke got a phone call from the man saying the many of his colleagues wanted to donate as well and that the donation was now for $16,000. All because Kocke had been thoughtful enough to take time out of his busy day to help a man in need.

A lot of people say that the idea of being a good samaritan is dead and that people are too focused on themselves and their needs. I think that this story proves that the legend of the good samaritan is still alive and out there, you just need to be willing to look for it.


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