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The Art of Le Party Crashing

We remember these guys….

It’s not often you run across an unassuming house party in the hills of a wealthy neighborhood and decide to crash it. Well not unless of course, you’re me and my awesome date last Friday night- or Tariq and Michaele Salahi.

Riding through the posh community of Rock Creek Park here in DC will make any average person slightly envious- or extremely motivated to do better. My date and I were motivated to do better- but first we had to get a glimpse into the life. So, we crashed the party. \o/ Note: This was not planned and 100% spontaneous. I do not aspire this to be my new life career.

Party crashing has nan to do with philanthropy, I know. But what it does have to do with is living life in the moment. We often get so caught up in life itself we don’t take five to just seize the wild, crazy and perfectly legal moments that life presents.

Being at the party, I saw my life 10, maybe even 5, years from now. Good people. Good times. Open bar with a hott bar tender. Passed hor d’oeuvres. Super fabulous home- complete with international artifacts that become to topic of every conversation. Mixing and mingling. (In my version, you’d have to insert a DJ though.) While the party we crashed wasn’t a philanthropic affair like mine will be, it was a celebration. And a damn good one at that!

Friday night was just a plain ol unrehearsed, genuine moment of contentment and bliss that I will hold onto for a very long time. We need those moments more and more as we live our uber busy lives. So the next time you happen upon a party that looks like it is giving life, go in and live it! It will remind you that you too can live the very life you have imagined! Remember:

1. Blend in. Don’t stand out. 
If you act like you’re supposed to be there, no one will think other wise. Note: If you want to take pictures, do it discreetly. Do not post on the internets w/ quotes like “Look we crashed the party” o_O

2. Don’t be afraid to meet the host. 
In fact, I encourage this. Be polite and thank them for having you in his/her home or at the event. If they ask how you got there, just say you were invited by mutual friends.

3. Don’t over stay your welcome. 
Roll in. Enjoy. Roll out. Do not by any means by the last people there. Leave with a wave of folks.

4. Laugh all the way home! 
You were there to have fun and you did. Hopefully you met some really good people and hey, stay in touch.

How exciting! I know. *checks off my bucket list*

For a glimpse into the rest of my love life, check out my latest article on Love, Philanthropy & Having it All on EBONY.com!

Speaking of events, there is still time to register for our latest webinar: How To Plan The Most Perfect Fundraiser. It all happens tomorrow night at 8pm! Register now! 

[GUEST POST] A Closed Mouth Won’t Get Fed

It’s easy to save the world until you realize (unless you have long money) that you have to actually depend on the kindness of others to feed your dream. As civic-oriented folks there is a certain assumed humility that stops us from asking for what we really need.

The biggest issue I find when working with new organizations or individuals called to be community leaders is their not their ability to articulate their wants and desires, but rather it is their inability to say what they need to get their work done. Honey, a closed mouth will not get fed!

So how do we start to get what we really need?…The following is a guest post submitted by Shavonta Arline, co-founder of The Virtuous Diva. While the post focuses on romance (some of us can us this too), I think we can all read between the lines and see how it also applies to our lives as a community of do-gooders. Just in case commentary in purple from me will help you out! _______________________________________________________________

Open Your Mouth!

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

One of the funniest scenes in Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America is when Prince Akeem meets his pre-arranged bride-to-be and begins asking her questions about her interests and likes. To each question, from “what do you like to do?” to “what is your favorite food?” the answer is the same, “whatever you like.”

Watching it is hilarious, Murphy is a comedic genius and it’s hard not to burst into laughter as the scene unfolds.

What’s not so funny, however, is how often we as women resist the urge to speak up about the things we need and desire when we should. Many of us have been raised in homes where we were trained to “keep the peace,” where expressing your desires or displeasure for something was frowned upon or considered disrespectful. Instead we have been conditioned to take whatever is given to us with a grateful smile. [Does this sound like us when we get donations but it’s not really what we want- or need for that matter??!]

As we grew older we may have carried this docile, compliant attitude into the workplace and gotten bullied or looked over for raises and promotions by people who have no issues with expressing what they want. [And you wonder why that non profit is thriving but yours is barely surviving!] More close to home, we often carry this same attitude into relationships with men. Many times when we don’t speak up, we end up feeling unfulfilled and sometimes resentful of our partner because we expect them to either magically know what we need or because we are simply reluctant to speak up because we fear rejection or abandonment. We suffer in silence when we could simply say “I don’t like that” or “I’d prefer this over that.” [Translation, we become wary in the mission of our work because we things aren’t getting the funding or in-kind donations we need.]

Holding your tongue when you really need to be heard is not the same as being agreeable or submissive as a wife [sub: non-profit] , and by that same standard, speaking up doesn’t mean you are contentious or difficult. Deuteronomy 28:13 declares that the Lord intends to make us the head and not the tail! God feels that we are important and so do many of the people we work with and love. However, it is the person in the mirror who frequently lowers your value and worth to appease others. We spend so much time trying to understand and meet the needs of others that we do not asses our own, and even when we do, we frequently deny them so as to not “rock the boat.” [Read that entire paragraph again. Then paste it to the wall of your office.]

If the people around you are seriously interested in knowing the things that make you happy, and unhappy, don’t be like ‘ol girl in Coming to America, instead, speak up and be heard. Remember the bible says in James 4:2 that “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

This week, consider ways in which you may be sabotaging your own happiness simply because you are afraid to open your mouth and be heard. Know that God did not give us the spirit of fear and He did not make you be invisible and unimportant. The next time someone you have the opportunity to express yourself, open your mouth!

In summation: The next time someone asks you what your organization needs, tell them. Otherwise, you’ll keep being just as hungry as the population you’re trying to feed.

Shavonta Arline is a co-founder of The Virtuous Diva and enjoys sharing her love for Lord to others through writing. She attended the University of Louisville where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and currently teaches elementary school in Dallas, Texas.

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Join us next Tuesday at 8pm: How to Plan The Most Perfect Fundraiser! Our guest experts this time will be, Faisal Al-Juburi of Al-Juburi Events & Kelly Smith Beaty, leading public relations practitioner and VP for Marketing and Communication for Dress for Success Worldwide. REGISTER TODAY!

#KONY2012: What NOT To Do For Your Brand

Soooo about KONY 2012. Right. Me either.

As I walked with a friend to the White House Garden Tour Saturday I saw the one lonely poster placed on a traffic box. I said to my friend, “They still did the plastering I see.” She replied, “I don’t know why. Folks don’t even know anything about Joseph Kony. They followed the hashtag on twitter and all of a sudden wanted to be down. Kony isn’t even IN Uganda anymore. He’s in exile.”

Last Friday, April 20, was supposed to be KONY 2012 “Cover The Night” event. “Every city on every block” was to be covered with the infamous KONY 2012 posters as a public declaration to find and capture Joseph Kony. With hundreds of thousands of posters screaming KONY 2012 the grassroots organization, Invisible Children, would have been one step closer to its goal to capture the monster behind the death of millions of Ugandan children.

One problem. The leadership behind KONY 2012 failed in a crisis. #reputationmanagement101

Now follow me here. I was a couch potato supporter of Invisible Children and their efforts to rally the minds and energy of young people. I was amazed at the success of their 2011 campaign and told myself I would surely be a part of the 2012 campaign. When I watched the 30-minute video about KONY 2012 last month, I like many millennials, was moved- inspired even. I was a paypal payment away from getting my toolkit and rocking a t-shirt. But one thing stopped me: the overzealous social media, namely twitter, rally to support this cause.

Excuse my french, but we happen to be a bandwagon generation. We’ll support anything with over 100,000 followers and a YouTube video. o_O. And quite frankly, I just can’t. I need more.

I chose to sit back and see what happened after the week-long worldwide twitter trend. Less than a week later it all started to hit the fan. Invisible Children co-founder, Jason Russell’s public err.. disturbance was the first spectacle to impact the decline of the movement. Next came accusations of charitable donation mishandling. By the time the media ripped the campaign and Invisible Children to shreds, you could hear nothing louder than crickets over the twitters for #kony2012.

Where did all the supporters go? What happened to the ra-ra sis-boom ba? On one college campus where 250 students registered to Cover the Night less than 20 showed up.

Oh.

When incidents affect an organization’s reputation, it takes more than a statement from the CEO to smooth things over. And the fact that KONY2012 is a short-term campaign, much more should have been done to keep supporters engaged.

As we’re all working to build strong personal and professional brands, knowing how to manage our reputation is key. Reputation management begins long before a crisis ensues. Unfortunately for many individuals, companies and organizations- like Invisible Children, we don’t think to take our brand temperature until it’s too late. We’re then stuck scrambling to put it back together or simply forced to take an ‘L’ like KONY 2012’s Cover The Night Initiative.

Will KONY 2012 reach their goal by their fall deadline? I can’t call it. However, what I can call is their need for some serious reputation management to restore the trust among their intended audience. How can they do this? So glad you asked….

…I invite you all to join me tomorrow evening at 8pm for the second For Goodness Sake webinar: Strengthening Your Image: Personal Branding & Branding For Non-Profits. During the webinar we’ll discuss reputation management tactics we can begin to implement now. The webinar will also feature Tiffini Gatlin of Tastemaker Magazine, who will talk about branding your business while also managing your personal brand. I’ll also be talking to Amy Genao of A.Anaiz Photography who will help us understand the importance of a strong brand image. Registration is Free. Join the conversation! REGISTER NOW!

Until next time…stay good! 😀

Soul 4 Real: Saving Souls with Soles

This is me rocking my GiveShoes. GiveLove tee! Muy cute huh?!?

Last week I wrote a compelling article for EBONY online that challenged millennials of color to be more accountable in their communities. While I recognize all of us aren’t just kicking back and poppin’ bottles, we also aren’t lining up to enroll in the Peace Corps in droves like our white counterparts. I get it, finding the time and resources to give to a cause we can relate to isn’t easy. Thus, you have me to help you find what works for you. #win This week I bring to you: $7, a pair of shoes, a coke and a smile.

So I KNOW you have $7. How do I know this? Well, because you just sipped it out of that Starbucks cup on your desk. Or you just spent it as a part of your weekly manicure- or haircut. Better yet, you just spent nearly $7 a gallon on gas. So yeah, you have $7. But what I now want you to do is consider taking $7 to give seven pair of shoes to seven kids in need in the US and abroad.

Enter Give Shoes. Give Love.

Give Shoes. Give Love. is a micro-giving campaign of Soles4Souls and The Love Alliance. By registering to donate $7 each month you are helping to put shoes on the feet of 300 million needy children worldwide. That’s 84 kids a year you alone are providing shoes to. (Yes, I know ending that sentence with a preposition is killing me too.)

How does this impact your community? Well, 50% of those kids are in our backyards. Yeah, not every kid in the hood is really rockin’ Jordans. So you can sacrifice seven bucks and still buy your fancy lunch from the food truck. OH, and by signing up for the cause you’ll receive a FREE Love Alliance t-shirt. (I got mine the other week and it is super cute!)

And there it is. $7 a month = Seven pair shoes for kids who need them. It really is that simple.

You can also join brands such as Adidas, Puma, and Forever 21 by donating those shoes you’ve been holding on to and not wearing. Soles for Souls accepts used adult-sized shoes and sneakers for men and women. Stilettos. Pumps. In The Club. Oh. :-/  Find your local drop off site.

Our giving should reflect our lifestyles. I’m not expecting us to write big checks or pull up to our neighborhoods with U-Hauls full of turkeys. However, what I do expect- and what you should expect for yourself- is the opportunity to contribute to the world around in smaller ways that will eventually make a larger impact.

Now, hop on over to our Giving Made Easy page for a few more ways you can give back- including donating fancy dresses for proms, washing a few loads of clothes and giving some canned goods.

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Join me next Tuesday for our second installment in the For Goodness Sake! webinar series. We will be talking branding for our personal and professional image and for non-profits. The webinar will feature successful business woman and founder of Tastemaker Magazine, Tiffini Gatlin and extraordinary NYC/Miami-based photographer Amy Anaiz Genao of A.Anaiz Photography. April 24. 8pm. Be there! Register Today!

For Goodness Sake! Try Something Different

We’ve been talking the last few weeks about how to give and why starting now is essential. So, it seems only right that we introduce a different way to give: Giving Circles.

Giving Circles have been around a long time. Traditionally they are made up of folks with long money- that which we know not of. But that’s okay! Now you’re going to learn how giving circles can be an option as you continue to bud as a philanthropist.

Join us for our very first live web interview in our educational series, For Goodness Sake!. That’s right, we’re taking education on giving and community engagement to another level! It’s all for you, Boo!- and it’s all FREE!

On March 27th, we’re hosting a live online interview with Tracey Webb, founder of Black Benefactors and Black Gives Back. Tracey is a sho’ nuff do-gooder who is happy to share how giving circles have enhanced her world of philanthropy. In our chat with Tracey you’ll learn: how giving circles work, how to join one, where the money goes and why now is a good time to get started. At the end you’ll also be able to ask her questions!

For Goodness Sake! Educational Series

Topic: Why Giving Circles? Why Now? feat. Tracey Webb

Date: Tuesday March 27, 2012

Time: 8pm-9pm EST | 7pm-8pm CST

REGISTER TODAY FOR FREE!!!

Tracey Webb: Tracey has nearly 20 years experience in philanthropy and non-profit sectors. She has been featured and has written for major media outlets, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy in the article Missing Persons, that highlights the low number of black males in top leadership positions in nonprofit organizations; AOL’s Black Voices for Black History Month and the article, Top Ten Black Celebrity Philanthropists of All Time; and BlackEnterprise in the article, 4 Things to Do Before You Start A Charity. Most recently, The Foundation Center on 3 Reasons to Join A Giving Circle.

*Black Benefactors is a social investment club comprised of individual members, local businesses and organizations that are dedicated to addressing the societal ills facing the African American community. Also known as a giving circle, member donations are pooled with the donations of other members to significantly contribute to the causes we care about.

Yes, these are exciting times for giving! We hope you join us on March 27th to get in on the goodness! That’s not all….This Wednesday Amanda Ebokosia founder of The Gem Project is taking over Friends of Ebonie as our guest blogger! Show her some love this week!