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Opinion Editorials

CharityUSA Gets It!

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genius.jpgThe other day, I received an email from my friend Barclay Law. Barclay lives in Asheville, NC where she performs transformational magic under the banner of Design with Feeling.

Aniumal_rescueBarclay is a big animal person, meaning – if she had the money she would own a continent, so she could take care of all the animals that needed homes and space to roam. So, Barclay sends me an email asking me to visit The Animal Rescue Site and click on the big purple button to help feed the needy. Of course, I’m a little skeptical of things like this (Jonathan thinks I’m paranoid) so I clicked around a bit and wound up at CharityUSA, LLC.

CharityusaCharityUSA did not seem like a non-profit to me which increased my skepticism, so I dashed off an email inquirying into their non-profit status. Now, CharityUSA and their Chief Operating Officer, Lisa Halstead, get the whole idea of transparency. Here is Lisa’s reply to my inquiry (needless to say, I clicked and am encouraging others to do so as well):

Hi John –
Thanks for your email into our Customer Service Department.

In answer to your question below, CharityUSA.com, LLC is a for profit company, registered as a commercial fundraiser in the State of Washington. However, our mission is to generate money for non-profits.

This probably brings to mind more questions than answers for you, so if you’ll grant me a few moments, I’d like to explain how we work and outline some rather complicated regulatory reasons for the way we’re structured.

CharityUSA generates funds for non-profits in two ways: through direct contributions from the public and through royalty payments to charities from product and advertising sales. When direct contributions are made, CharityUSA passes 100% to charity. There are no deductions taken from the charities for fundraising costs, credit card processing, etc. The funds are simply passed through at 100%.

Royalty payments are made to charities from ad sales. CharityUSA passes 100% of sponsor advertising on to charity; again, no deductions are taken. Royalty payments are also made on each product sold in our store (jewelry, apparel, housewares, etc) that CharityUSA sources from around the world. The amount given varies by product, but up to 30% of the item price is paid as a royalty to charity. The remaining amount from product sales covers our operating costs.

When CharityUSA.com generates these funds for charity, they’re passed as a royalty payment to our partner organization, GreaterGood.org, which is a 501c3. (I’d be happy to supply a copy of the letter of determination from the IRS for GreaterGood.org, if you’d like.) GreaterGood.org then passes 100% of those funds on to other charity partners (such as National Breast Cancer Foundation, Mercy Corps and America’s Second Harvest) as grants. The reason GreaterGood is placed in the middle of this relationship is to facilitate the distribution of funds to charity. Washington State requires that a commercial fundraiser register every charity they generate funds for as a separate filing. CharityUSA works with more than 200 different non-profit groups, so you can image that an annual, individual filing for each group would be somewhat onerous. With GreaterGood functioning as the recipient and then distributor of funds from CharityUSA, we only need to file as a commercial fundraiser for one entity – GreaterGood.org.

In FY ’07, CharityUSA.com gave just over $1.7 million to charity. The total amount of contributions from the public was $498,735. 100% of these funds were given to charity through GreaterGood.org. An additional $1,225,295 was paid to charities in the form of royalties on product and advertising sales. That $1.7 million is nearly 7 times our after-tax profit.

If you have any further questions, or would like to talk with some of our charity partners, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I might also suggest snopes.com as a way to vet us. I believe we’re mentioned when you search for either The Breast Cancer Site or The Hunger Site. however, please note however that some of the information on Snopes is rather old. They mention that we give 75% of the sponsor ad revenue received, when in fact, we increase that amount to 100% a couple of years ago.

Lisa Halstead
Chief Operating Officer
CharityUSA.com, LLC

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Jim

    January 29, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I think Lias may be misleading the public a little. According to the Washington Secretary of state CharityUSA.com LLC took in more lick 11 million and only passed along 16% to the charities in Question.
    The following financial information has been provided to the Office of the Secretary of State by the above-named organization. Figures are for the organization’s fiscal year ending Jun 30, 2007.

    Contributions $11,280,900.
    Amount to Charity Clients $1,724,030

    According to the financial information shown at left, 16% of the contributions raised by this organization were returned to or retained by the charity client(s).

    Yes they did pass 1.7mil to Greatergood and Greatergood did distrubute 100% of the 1.7mil but lisa and the rest of the people at Charity USA made a good buck, off of filling our email boxes with SPAM.

  2. Al

    April 3, 2008 at 7:09 am

    The comment by Jim gives the impression that only 16 % of the money collected by CharityUSA via the clicks on the websites they operate is actually passed on to charity. But that’s not the case: Lisa Halstead explicitly says that “CharityUSA passes 100% of sponsor advertising on to charity”, and this claim is confirmed on the website mentioned by Jim, that of the Washington Secretary of State (https://www.secstate.wa.gov/charities/search_detail_cfr.aspx?cfr_id=20823). So even if CharityUSA dooes make money out of the products they sale and even though I don’t approve of their use of spamming, if simply clicking on a button helps to raise money for the hungry or the sick, certainly it’s worth doing it? Why not just send them an email to complain about their advertising policy?

  3. Anonymous

    May 22, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Just FYI, I work for Charity USA, and we didn’t actually create that SPAM. Our tech department wouldn’t have the time. I’m glad it’s getting positive feedback, there are a lot of good people that work really hard to keep it a respectable and honest charity and retail company.

  4. Heather

    December 11, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    For 2008 CharityUSA.com posted:
    Contributions $17,257,240
    Amount to Charity Clients $2,915,435

    That’s a $14 million operating budget.

    Best to give directly to charities and search out other fair trade ennvironmentally friendly charitable merchandising sites like global exchange.

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Opinion Editorials

Sci-fi alert: Building cities on quantum networks becoming reality

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Tech Lab has created quantum networks that demonstrate the possibilities for future cities.

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Quantum network connections in theoretical city at night time.

The University of Bristol is home to the largest quantum entanglement-based computer network in the world. Its Quantum Engineering Technology Lab, led by Dr. Siddarth Joshi, has been spearheading the development of a method of encryption called Quantum Key Distribution that may soon revolutionize information security.

First, what is quantum computing, exactly? (Giving a concise answer to that question is sort of like nailing jelly to a wall, but here goes…)

Much like a light switch, a conventional computer circuit can only be in one of two states at a time: On (1) or off (0). That’s basically how binary code works – by representing information as a series of discrete on and off signals, or high and low energy states.

Quantum computing makes use of a third kind of state that exists between those two.

Think about it this way: If classical, binary computing models rely on energy states of “yes” and “no” to communicate data, quantum computing introduces a state of “maybe.” This is because at the quantum level, the photons that make up the information in a quantum computer can exist in multiple places (or energy states, if you prefer) at once – a phenomenon known as “entanglement.”

Entangled photons cannot be observed or measured (i.e., tampered with) without changing their state and destroying the information they contain. That means quantum computer networks are virtually hack proof compared to traditional networks.

This is where Dr. Joshi’s team is changing the game. While previous attempts to build a secure quantum computer network have been limited to just two machines, the QET Lab has been able to establish a quantum encrypted network between eight machines over a distance of nearly eleven miles.

As Dr. Joshi puts it, “until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose. […] By contrast, the QET Lab’s vision is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable.”

If it can be successfully scaled up further, quantum encryption has countless potential civic applications, such as providing security for voting machines, WiFi networks, remote banking services, credit card transactions, and more.

In order for an entire population to be able to utilize a quantum network, fiber optic infrastructure must first be made accessible and affordable for everyone to have in their homes. In that sense, quantum cities are still roughly two decades away, posits Dr. Joshi. The technology behind it is very nearly mature, though. A simpler application of quantum encryption is practically right around the corner – think quantum ATMs in as few as five years.

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Opinion Editorials

5 ways to grow your entrepreneur business without shaming others

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) We all need support as business owners. Let’s talk ideas for revenue growth as an entrepreneur that do not include shaming your competition.

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Entrepreneur women all talking around a meeting table.

The year 2020 has forced everyone to re-assess their priorities and given us the most uncertain set of circumstances we have lived through. For businesses and entrepreneurs, they were faced with having to confront new business scenarios quickly. Maybe your entrepreneur business was set to thrive as behaviors changed (maybe you already offered contactless products and services). Or, you were forced to add virtual components or find new revenue streams – immediately. This has been tough.

Every single person is having a hard time with the adjustments and most likely at different stages than others. We’re at the 6-month mark, and each of our timelines are going to look different. Our emotions have greeted us differently too, whether we have felt relief, grief, excitement, fear, hope, determination, or just plain exhaustion.

Now that we are participating in life a bit more virtually than in 2019, this is a good time to re-visit the pros and cons of the influence of technology and marketing outreach online. It’s also a great time to throw old entrepreneur rules out the window and create a better sense of community where you can.

Here’s an alluring article, “Now Is Not the Time for ‘Mom Shaming’”, that gives an example from about a decade ago of how the popularity of mommy bloggers grew by women sharing their parenting “hacks”, tips, or even recipes and crafting ideas via online posts and blogs. As the blog entries grew, so did other moms comparing themselves and/or feeling inadequate. Some of the responses were natural and some may have been coming from a place of defensiveness. Moms are not alone in looking for resources, articles, materials, and friends to tell us we’re doing ok. We just need to be told “You are doing fine.”

Luckily, some moms in Connecticut decided to declare an end to “Mom Wars” and created a photo shoot that shared examples of how each mom had a right to their choices in parenting. It seemed to reinforce the message of, “You are doing fine.” I don’t know about you, but my recent google searches of “Is it ok to have my 3-year old go to bed with the iPad” are pretty much destined to get me in trouble with her pediatrician. I’m hoping that during a global pandemic, “I am doing fine.”

Comparing this scenario to the entrepreneur world, often times your business is your baby. You have worn many hats to keep it alive. You have built the concept and ideas, nurtured the products and services with sweat, tears, and maybe some laughs. You have spent countless hours researching, experimenting, and trying processes and marketing tactics that work for you. You have been asked to “pivot” this year like so many others (sick of that word? Me too).

Here are some ideas for revenue growth as an entrepreneur (or at least, ideas worth considering if you haven’t already):

  1. It’s about the questions you ask yourself. How does your product or service help or serve others (vs. solely asking how do I get more customers?) This may lead to new ideas or income streams.
  2. Consider a collaboration or a partnership – even if they seem like the competition. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
  3. Stop inadvertently shaming the competition by critiquing what they do. It’s really obvious on your Instagram. Try changing the narrative to how you help others.
  4. Revisit the poem All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and re-visit it often. “And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
  5. Join a community, celebrate others’ success, and try to share some positivity without being asked to do so. Ideas include: Likes/endorsements, recommendations on LinkedIn for your vendor contacts, positive Google or Yelp reviews for fellow small business owners.

It seems like we really could use more kindness and empathy right now. So what if we look for the help and support of others in our entrepreneurial universe versus comparing and defending our different way of doing things?

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Opinion Editorials

Can we combat grind culture and injustice with a nap?

(OPINION EDITORIALS) A global pandemic and a climate of racial injustice may require fresh thinking and a new approach from what grind culture has taught us.

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Sleeping cat with plant, fighting grind culture.

Information is delivered to us at warp speed with access to television, radio, and the internet (and more specifically, social media). We are inundated with messages. Oftentimes they’re personalized by something that a friend or family shared. Other times we manage them for work, school, or just keeping up with news. Many entrepreneurs already wear many hats and burn the midnight oil.

During this global pandemic, COVID-19, we have also seen a rise in awareness and attention to social injustice and systemic racism. This is not a new concept, as we all know. But it did feel like the attention was advanced exponentially by the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Many people and entrepreneurs felt called to action (or at least experienced self-reflection). And yet they were working at all hours to evolve their businesses to survive. All of this happening simultaneously may have felt like a struggle while they tried to figure out exactly they can do.

There are some incredible thought leaders – and with limited time, it can be as simple as checking them out on Instagram. These public figures give ideas around what to be aware of and how to make sure you are leveling up your awareness.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Center for Antiracist Research – he has been studying anti-racism and has several books and interviews that help give language to what has been happening in our country for centuries. His content also delves into why and how white people have believed they are more than people of color. Here is a great interview he did with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast.

Tamika Mallory – American activist and one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. She has been fighting for justice to be brought upon the officers that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13. These are among other efforts around the country to push back on gun control, feminist issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brené Brown – research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She has been listening and engaging on how racism and our shame intersect. She also speaks about how people can reflect on themselves and where they can take action to better our society. She has some antiracism resources on her website.

With all of this information and the change in our daily routines and work habits (or business adjustments), what is a fresh approach or possibly a new angle that you haven’t been able to consider?

There is one social channel against grind culture that may not be as well-known. At an initial glance, you may even perceive this place as a spoof Twitter and Instagram that is just telling you to take a nap. But hold on, it’s actually much smarter than that. The description says “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founding in 2016.”

It might be a great time for you to check out The Nap Ministry, inspired by Tricia Hersey. White people are called to action, and people of color are expressly told to give time to taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it goes both ways – everyone needs the time to recharge and recuperate. But people of color especially are being told to value their rest more than the grind culture. Yes, you’re being told you need to manage your mental health and include self-care in your schedule.

Through The Nap Ministry, Tricia “examines rest as a form of resistance by curating safe spaces for the community to rest via Collective Napping Experiences, immersive workshops, and performance art installations.”

“In this incredibly rich offering, we speak with Tricia on the myths of grind culture, rest as resistance, and reclaiming our imaginative power through sleep. Capitalism and white supremacy have tricked us into believing that our self-worth is tied to our productivity. Tricia shares with us the revolutionary power of rest.” They have even explored embracing sleep as a political act.

Let this allow you to take a deep breath and sigh – it is a must that you take care of yourself to take care of your business as well as your customers and your community. And yes, keep your drive and desire to “get to work”. But not at your expense for the old grind culture narrative.

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