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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

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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

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!

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Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

bar
But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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