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The Joy of Giving Back ~ 3

December 19, 2013


Welcome to this year’s Joy of Giving Back post.  It’s a labor of love that gets a great reception. As I wrote last year, there isn’t enough space to highlight the many wonderful organizations that do extraordinary work in service of others around the world. Every time you feel the cynicism creeping in – remember – somewhere right at this moment, thousands of people are doing selfless work that benefits those in need. So I hope you’ll help these efforts by opening your heart and your wallet to give what you can to these worthy causes.  

  Refugee Campaigns~ OxfamSyrian refugees;syrians;lebanon

Raeda, 15, shown above with her baby brother in Saidnayel, Lebanon, is originally from Aleppo, a city of 2.1 million. She lost sight in one eye after being hit by shrapnel from an explosion near her house   Photo: New York Times

“Love and compassion are necessities. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” Dalai Lama

According to the U.N., the brutal civil war in Syria created one of the most serious refugee crises in decades.  Tragically, there is no end in sight.  While over 2.2. million have fled the country; over 1.2 million people are living as refugees in tent cities in neighboring Jordan and Lebanon and as far as Turkey and Greece.  In the past decade the amount of refugees worldwide has exploded to 68.5 million individuals who have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.

Let’s help them. Donate Oxfam America. Donate Oxfam International UK

K.I.N.D. (Kids in Need of Desks)


Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela

Let’s say you have $65 to buy a holiday gift.  How about this Peony Blush Scented Candle from Nordstrom?  You know what else your $65 can do? It can pick two or three school children in Malawi up off the dirt floors (typical for Malawi school rooms) and give them a desk for learning.

K.I.N.D was inspired by MSNBC talk show host and former West Wing writer, Lawrence O’Donnell. On a trip to Malawi several years ago, O’Donnell learned that every day millions of children throughout Africa struggle to learn while sitting on the floor. Giving them a desk, where they can write and concentrate is the first step towards creating an educational system that attracts and keeps eager young students. Since the K.I.N.D effort began, O’Donnell, working with UNICEF, has raised over $6 million dollars. Thousands of desks have been made in the communities of Malawi, providing work for local people and schools throughout the country have received desks everyday.

It’s a simple, beautiful and important program that makes life richer and promises a better future for thousands of kids. This year the program expanded to include funding for girl’s education (most families cannot afford to send sons and daughters to school). For $177 a girl can receive one year’s education, including tuition, books, supplies and a uniform for one year.

You can give any amount to the K.I.N.D fund. For $32 you can pick one child up off the floor or buy an entire desk for $65. You can also donate any amount towards a young girl’s education or finance a whole year for $177.


RAINBOW WARRIOR sailing from India to Thailand. Bay of Bengal.

“From caring comes courage.”    Lao Tzu

Greenpeace is escalating their campaign to stop fossil fuel expansion, especially tar sands oil, which is one of the dirtiest fossil fuels on Earth. The pace and extent of global activism against fossil fuel pipelines is incredible and showing no signs of letting up.

The Arctic Sunrise has been touring the Pacific Ocean all summer, drawing the world’s attention to the threat a tar sands oil tanker superhighway poses to endangered orcas and other marine wildlife as well as to the entire West Coast shoreline.

And the ship’s last West Coast stop is the Port of San Francisco, just in time for the Global Climate Action Summit, turning up the volume on Greenpeace’s campaign for Governor Brown to seize this last chance he has to take historic action in saving our climate.

This is our moment—the end of the oil age is in sight, and the mandate for action could not be more imperative.

To support the courageous and important work of Greenpeace ~ Donate here.

International Labor Rights

Myanmar, Burma, 1994, final book_iconic

Photo: Steve McCurry

“Business is a very beautiful mechanism to solve problems, but we never use it for those purposes. We only use it to make money. It satisfies our selfish interest but not our collective interest.”     Muhammed Yunis, Founder, Grameen Bank


In The Shirt Off my Back, I wrote about the terrible working conditions facing millions of poverty-wage workers throughout the world today.  In his beautiful and compelling photo journal of global workers, photographer Steve McCurry wrote, “The appetite for cheap clothing in the West is insatiable. The people making the clothing often pay the true cost of these items. The scale of this factory (photo above) is vast. The sense that these workers are just part of an immense machine is accentuated by the pink shirts they are obliged to wear.”

Garment workers have endured terrible conditions and deadly fires. The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. Their work is centered on insuring a safe working environment where workers’ rights are protected and they are treated with respect. Isn’t that what every worker deserves?

Through public education and mobilization, research, litigation, legislation and collaboration with labor, government and business groups, the ILRF campaign works on eliminating child labor (where an alarming 211 million children ages 5 – 14 are compelled to work) forced labor (a form of slavery) and other abusive practices. These workers make your Smartphone, pick your gourmet coffee beans and sew the shirt on your back.  You can help them have a better life You can help them improve their lives here 

It’s likely that your inbox is full of requests from dozens of wonderful and worthwhile causes.  Many of you have regular and favorite causes to which you contribute.  I hope you will consider adding one or all the above to your list this year.

Despite your level of giving (have you noticed how many groups are now (wisely) asking you to chip in even $5 if you can) every organization can benefit from even the smallest contribution.   Monthly giving is also on the rise. You can also help by sharing this article with friends and family. As soon as I’ve completed this post, I’m heading over to the donate boxes to share a little of my bounty with each of these groups.  I’ll do it in the name of Raeda and her baby brother, the kids in Malawi, the brave activists on the Greenpeace ships and those who work in sweatshops with my thanks that I can help – even a little.

Wishing you everything good!

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, subscribe, share, like and tweet this article. It’s appreciated.

Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication Consultants

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Related Articles ~ To Find More Wonderful Organizations ~ See the Joy of Giving Back 2  & The Joy of Giving Back 1

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2013 7:46 am

    A lovely post, Louise. Thank you for putting this together. Wonderful organizations doing important work. You’re right … just a little from many can make a big difference. You’ve inspired me to add to my list.

    And if I may add my own small pitch, it is inconceivable that so many people in this wealthy country, including children, go hungry every day. Local pantries and food programs right here in the United States have been hit hard by funding cuts and yet are being met with ever-increasing need. So please don’t forget them when you give. Even a few extra dollars can help more than we imagine.

    Wishing you and your readers all good things!

    • December 19, 2013 8:06 am

      Hi Ronnie
      Thanks so much – on all levels. There are so many amazing groups out there – big and little – doing exceptional work. I didn’t mention the food banks this time (as I often
      do) because I wanted to share some other organizations (and because I have so many international readers I try to feature groups working globally). Tragically, the U.S. hunger scarcity (the new word for our horrendous situation) is the worse in any of the “developed” countries. Our politics make it so. Economic subsidies that favor the wealthiest individuals and businesses siphon off huge portions of our “wealth.” I heard yesterday that the tax diversions (in moving monies between family trust funds) of one billionaire would have been enough money (if collected) to finance one full month of unemployment benefits for every person in the U.S!

      For those who want to give to the hundreds of food banks across the U.S. I advise they simply google their local one and give. I select one a month from a different city and also give a monthly amount to Feeding America which supports local food banks and pantries. They are all in need. Christmas will come and go and January is a terrible month for hunger.

      Thanks again!

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