Don't Ask Me For A Donation

Don’t Ask Me For A Donationdonation-check-word-money-gift-contribution-to-illustrate-to-charity-non-profit-other-association-doing-good-work-36187163Tax Season, Holiday Season, Giving Tuesday, these are all times of the year when organizations send out email blasts to everyone and anything to ask for money. In general there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as your legit, it’s cool. But don’t expect a struggling organization to donate to you. Especially when you don’t know anything about them and they’re just another name to put on your “List of Donors.” Even worse, when you do know them and their financial situation and STILL you ask them for money-that’s just wrong. Here’s an example. Say you sign up with an organization that promises to raise thousands of dollars for you instantly. Sounds awesome right? Wrong. Nine times out of ten most of the people on the donor lists are organizations that are using the SAME service for the SAME thing and are also asking for money. As if other organizations will give up their donor list for you. Very unlikely.
Many people doing non profit and charity work are cash poor and in need of funds quickly. But often times these are non profits that operate with a full staff in a building that’s dedicated for them. Everyone has a salary and the organization works with a full Human Resources and Legal department. These organizations are put on lists with other non profits that are working with a bare bones shell with little visability and in need of basically, everything. This becomes a very unhealthy imbalance. You have well known and established organizations competing with start ups. It is inevitable that the more well known non profits will reap more of the benefit because their faithful donors will give more and encourage others close to them to do so. This leaves others out in the cold after they were promised that it wouldn’t be hard to raise at least $10,000-$20,000. Most leave with nothing.
It’s all about the Benjamins.
Raising money is the worst and hardest thing about working in the non profit sector. Sometimes it gets so bad you almost wish you were back at a steady paycheck job, at least you knew money was coming and when it was coming. But of course, would you really be happy? The prospect of going back to that is not the first thought on most people’s mind however, if trying to do both is a strong consideration, then it may be a choice that needs to be made. If you want to keep your work alive, you yourself must live. Most Idealistic world changers know that you don’t go into non profit work for the a six figure salary. Realistically, if somone is making a six figure salary there is something really wrong happening. But we all have bills to pay and our personal living as well, it’s not unrealistic to want a “Living Wage” as part of your budget. Depending on where your based that wage can look different.
Getting funding is like playing the Lottery, ya’gotta be in it to win it! It’s also about connections, networking and who you know. The usual. In a perfect world, states would give equal funding, depending on the needs of the non profit, to all legitimate organizations that fight for specific issues. This would eliminate the funding competition and might actually encourage them to work together instead of against one another. Now that would be a change for the good. Of course, like with anything, there will always be those that want to outshine everyone else but at least they are getting no more than everyone else. It will also help organizations who misuse funds to be more accountable on how they spend the money.
This is a battle that has been raging for quite sometime now and the war continues. Some are very well armed and equipped for the battlefield, others are forced to fight on the sidelines because thier armor isn’t strong enough yet. Then there’s the people who are hard to get a hold of in their office because they had to get a second job. The struggle is real.

Going At It Alone

Sometimes doing what you love and have a passion for can be a lonley road. It can feel like you’re the only who decided to do something without a step by step diagram and years of planning. Maybe it was complacency or stress at your current job that you wanted so badly to walk away from and waited for any chance. Maybe it was seeing others achieve their goals and doing what they love and you thought ” I can do that too!”. Of course you can. But before we start, we must realize that everyone starts in a different way.  We don’t all start with a lot of money, influence and the right connections. Some of us start from right in the dirt getting messy just to be clean again. But you know something? That’s the best place to start. Why? Because you’ve never had to rely on anyone else, you know what it’s like to truly fight for what you have and what you need. No one else calls the shots because this passion, this desire, is all yours and no one else’s to take. This has been put on your heart, it consumes your soul and you will not rest until it is finished.
There is something special about going at it alone-in the beginning that is. It takes you on a journey that you would have otherwise never been on had you had all of your needs met right from the start. If you had your picture taken with celebrities, walked the red carpet of human rights, were invited in the cirlce of influence and riches. Those things can be helpful for recognition and funding but you have a faster crash and burn rate going that route. Don’t get me wrong, running things basically on your own does have it’s negatives like not being invited to the party with the cool kids i.e. big government funded organization (with no transparency I might add), people who will donate and getting little to zero visibility. That’s when the work must speak volumes, scream if it has too. There’s a lot of loud music and deception that must be broken through to get your voice heard so drink some hot tea and get your vocal chords ready!
Going at it alone doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. The people you meet are what makes it worth it. Of course you will run into those that say they love what you and want to support you but nothing ever comes of it and that’s okay because you don’t need that weight. You may also find there are a lot of people that will try to weigh you down but you don’t need that excess baggage. At some point the right people will come alongside of you to join your journey because they truly believe in your passion and seriously want to help you. Now they may not be many at first and you’ll still be doing most of the stuff but it’s good to know you have solid people who are right there for you when you need them. You can be awesome as many and just as awesome as one.
My name is Samantha Inesta, I am the Founder/Executive Director of BeaSister2aSister. I’m going at it alone because my passion is bigger than me.

Why Most Women Refuse to Collaborate

We march in the streets together, we protest women’s human rights injustices together and we rally to change archaic laws against women together-so why can’t we collaborate? If we are to say that all women deserve equality, freedom and human rights does that include all colors, ethnicities, socio-economic classes and levels of academia or lack thereof? This is like the elephant in the room. We are a country that boasts freedom for all and a better than most record of women’s rights. But when we sit down to work on issues that affect all of us whether it’s equal pay, homelessness, domestic violence, human trafficking etc. we tend to never agree and begin to fight one another. Our guard goes up and the sexist phrase of “The claws come out” begin to dominate. What was supposed to be a level playing field has become a place of privilege and status.
As I have said in the past, I really love what I do. What I don’t love and it has been a problem, is having to reach out to other organizations to see if there is any way we can work together to give women and girls the best option for sustainble success. That is literally when “The claws come out.” It’s not neccessarily because they don’t want to help women and girls, it’s because collaboration to them means taking away their funding, programs, network and organization that they’ve worked so hard for. Well guess what? A LOT of us have worked very hard for we have too and we didn’t do it by taking away programs and funding from other organizations.
Most states across the country have committees, task forces and coalitions, places where individuals and organizations meet once a month to discuss their work, their needs and current legislation. This is usually capped off with “How can we work together to get this done?” Allow me to answer that for you. There is no “We” that will be doing anything. That job is for the lead organization that heads up the commitee, task force or coalition. It will be their name, their people and their influence despite the fact that other organizations worked just as hard, if not harder, only to be overshadowed by the lead competitive organization. No collaboration has taken place and sadly, it never will.
So many non profits are staffed with lawyers, business people and professionals that it would be an asset to others to be able to collaborate with them without pettiness and caddiness to better serve the targeted population of women and girls. There are many women who hold high positions with respected reputations, and they’ve worked hard for that. Unfortunately however, they seem to not feel that other women deserve the same. At least not in the United States. Countries like Africa have American business women running there to “Empower” African Women to start their own businesses and get themselves out of poverty regardless of their education or socio-economic status. They are are more than happy to work with African NGOs and governments to make it happen. No competitiveness happening there! It’s the celebrity status because it’s not about being just an “activist” it’s about being an International Human Rights Leader. And it’s not just Africa, it’s many other countries. What’s interesting about this is that if any one of these women from any of these countries were to come to the United States because of violence, trafficking, abuse, etc. those same women would not be so eager to help them. It’s not exciting anymore, it’s like helping a neighbor and who wants to read about that?
I am all for helping women and girls from all countries and that requires collaboration from those countries which is easy to find. But the competitiveness and capitalistic ideology of the United States supercedes the need for collaboration of resources, programs and assistance. Foreign born women are hidden as an organizations right to show that they are the only ones who work with immigrants and refugess so that the neccessary government funding only goes to them. But for how long can they sustain them? If only one organization were able to help all women from everywhere with ANY issue and give them the proper assistance and support there would be no need for any of us. Maybe this unknown super organization could erdicate things like domestic violence, human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. Women would be respected, treated equally and fairly, finally get the human rights we deserve. It’s a beautiful story-that is completely false. If we all have the same vision, or something close, of what we see as the future of women’s human rights, repect and equality then there’s only one thing that will make it come to life. COLLABORATION.

Taking Risks

We would all like to change ourselves and be the people we know we were meant to be. But that means coming out of our comfort zone, doing things that we are not used to. Like starting something with no immediate financial gain. That can be very hard for someone who is used to getting that steady paycheck they became so accustomed to it that it made them feel “normal” a part of society. But once you forsake that, you feel different not like you did before. I know I felt it and still feel that way sometimes. But you have to look at all of the positives in starting something new and not letting the negatives destroy everything you’re working towards.
One thing to do is DON’T listen to people who say “How are you going to survive? You need a job.” But I have a job. Just not one that I get a paycheck from-yet. There are people out there who will not understand what your trying to build and how passionate you are about building it. No matter what age you are. Unfortunately they have never experienced that passion and never thought taking risks was a good thing-and that’s why they’re miserable. That’s not to say everyone who doesn’t take a risk is unhappy, they’ve just conditioned themselves to be grateful for what they already have and there’s no need to do anything else. They are perfectly happy in their complacency and daily routine. But for some of us having a daily routine with no change or adventure is just torture!
Taking risks is a big sacrifice but the more you keep focused and stay the course, the payoff is bigger than the sacrifice. Failure is a given for any entrepreneur but that is part of the journey. Anyone who has started a business or a  non profit will say the same thing. Surround yourself with like-minded people and those that support your ideas and want to help you move forward. It’s like entrepreneurship 101. But sometimes it can be hard. I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes there’s no easy answer for when the hard times come, but with a strong support system and your passion burning inside you, you’ll be okay. We’ll all be okay.