A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Nov 17, 2011

People Power - Give to Local Charities

I am a big believer in the power of the people. Voting, boycotts, consumer power, social activism and philanthropy are all ways to be heard and effect change. The power of one can move mountains when acting in concert with many.  One million people each donating one dollar to the same charity will result in a million dollars for a cause. On "Move Your Money Day" over seven hundred thousand consumers left large, "too big to fail" banks and placed their funds in credit unions and community banks. "Small Business Saturday" is a day where everyone is being asked to make just one purchase from a small business rather than from a large conglomerate.  And of course, Arianna Huffington started a wave of defections from large banks with  the "Move Your Money" initiative.

coutesy google images
The common theme: support your communities and your local businesses. It starts with the power of one. If I am strong and solvent I can care for another. Then we two can help a third and so on. We can then hire one who needs a job, shop in a local store and build up our neighborhood so that it is strong and able to thrive. Strong neighborhoods are the foundations of strong cities and so on and so forth.

Let us add "Give to Local Charities" to the mix.  The resources, new jobs, services and aid to needy victims will boost the local economy thus strengthening the community’s ability to prosper. As an auxiliary benefit one can actually visit the charity, participate in the effort, and confirm that the funds are actually benefitting the area rather than merely assuming so. For example, in the animal welfare industry,  aspca, the New York City spca is not an umbrella organization which funnels funds to other spcas by zip code as is the case with other real national charities like Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. spcas throughout the country are individual legal entities and not chapters of any mother organization.Yet aspca spends tens of millions of dollars annually on television and other fundraising outlets which omit that significant fact. Many consumers are duped and upset upon learning that their donation did not help abused and unwanted animals  in their communities. By the way, to their credit, hsus, began putting such language (that they are not affiliated with local humane societies) on their new television spots to avoid creating a misimpression and thereby attracting misinformed donors. I hope this is a first step in putting meaningful disclaimers on all of their materials.

Finally, many local charities are now shuttered having fallen victim to our horrific economy. Foreclosures, unemployment, and higher prices for everything have impacted people's ability to spare hard earned funds. Yet, it is the not-for-profit community that those in need depend upon as a safety net to provide critical services and fill the gaps left by diminishing government programs and the profit sector. What if we're not there?

Please - vote, shop locally, care, stay active in the community and Give to Local Charities. If you can afford to donate to multiple organizations - please do. If not -  please choose your local organizations.

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