Friday, December 17, 2010

Half the Sky Project Update

Awhile back I mentioned that I read the book “Half the Sky” and it really had an impact on me. I wanted to start a little personal side project related to women’s empowerment issues, and for lack of anything else I’m referring to it as my “Half the Sky Project”. I don’t think the authors will mind, since they want to start a movement, but just so I don’t get sued let me be clear: this project was inspired by the book Half the Sky, but is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the authors or Mercy Corps.

It’s charitable donation time again! As part of my project, I decided I would contribute to one charity per month that supports women's empowerment. Admittedly, these are small donations ($25 or so), but I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector long enough to know that every little bit helps, particularly when the big checks are few and far between.

I donated to Kiva in October, and in November I contributed to my (nonprofit) employer’s staff campaign (which may seem a little self-serving to some people, but I didn’t *have* to contribute, and our mission is to support women’s economic empowerment, so it counts). December’s little check was mailed today to the Maine Women’s Fund. In addition to leadership programs, MWF provides grants for a number of nonprofits in Maine that build economic security for women and girls. I was in one of the early New Girls Network classes, and one year I got to sit on the grant review committee (which was a truly fabulous experience for me, both personally and professionally). It’s one of the many things I miss about Maine.

One thing that I am trying to do is balance giving to international organizations with giving to US-based organizations. I find that having a small budget makes the international organizations far more tempting – $25 in Africa goes a lot further than it does in Boston, MA. “Feed a girl for a year” is so much more compelling than “buy some new staplers”….until you are the staff person cursing up a storm because you have to snail-mail 10 hard copies of a grant proposal to the one foundation still living in the dark ages, and all the staplers are broken, and the office manager looks at you like you are crazy and says, “I thought they all had online applications now”. I have been that staff person, and let me just tell you: it’s infuriating when stupid stuff trips you up from doing your job, which is directly related to the organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Don’t discount the importance of those staplers, is all I’m saying.

As we get closer to the end of 2010, don't forget to support your own favorite charity! If you are looking for some inspiration, check this guy out - he's giving $5 a day, every day, to charities. A really interesting social experiment!

Nicholas Kristof, one of the authors of Half the Sky and a NYTimes columnist, has a great list of organizations worthy of support this season - you can find it

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