A grassroots nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting world peace by bringing together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds; providing interfaith spiritual support to those in need; and engaging in local and global humanitarian outreach efforts

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week #9 "10 Week Countdown to World Homeless Action Day"

(Send Media Release September 19th/Post October 3rd)

This week’s big idea: Start a Collection Drive

Organizing a collection drive or fundraising event might seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips that can help make it easier, fun and successful.

1. Keep It Simple

Focus on just one type of item to collect. Instead of a full-fledged clothing drive, collect just socks. Instead of a food drive, collect just canned vegetables. This will help keep your message simple. People who want to participate won't have to hesitate because of a tough decision about -- or having to remember -- what to purchase. Of course, check with your charity ahead of time about what items they need.

2. Make It Easy

People are more likely to help if the action is relatively quick, convenient and easy to do. They may not have time to purchase items from a store, so allow them to simply donate money -- you'll do the shopping for them. Provide pre-addressed, pre-stamped giving envelopes that make it easy for them to drop a check in the mail. Send an email that allows them to donate online right away. (Network for Good has charity badges you can use to collect donations.)

3. Don't Go Solo

Chances are you're interested in doing a collection drive because you love managing projects or you love motivating people. Whichever type you are, find someone with the other strength to help you. Your project will have greater success if you have a good up-front cheerleader persona and someone who loves checklists making sure the details happen. You'll likely have more fun and success if you don't try to do it alone.

4. Use the Power Of Friend Multiplication

People are more likely to give to a fundraiser not because there is a need, but because a friend asked them to give. Focus your advertising on items that challenge / empower people to invite their friends. Instead of asking people to donate a can of food, ask them to ask 10 friends to donate a can of food. That puts the power of multiplication to work. Motivate participation by rewarding the top influencers who got the most friends to participate.

5. Ask For Sponsorships

Ask local businesses to help out. They can be a collection site. They can offer discounts on the food or clothing items you're asking people to collect. They can provide coffee or food for your volunteers. They can donate prize items for your top influencers. Offer the business something in return, like public mention or logo placement on your advertising materials.

6. Craft Your Sales Pitch

Before you ask for participation, have your pitch well-rehearsed. This can be a helpful formula:

A - Grab their ATTENTION. (There's a crisis in healthcare!)
I - Add INTEREST. (50% of kids will get cancer.)
D - Stimulate DESIRE. (But we've found a cure.)
A - Call to ACTION. (If we have your help, we'll get the cure much faster.)

7. Talk About Life Change

You're not asking people to donate an item, you're asking them to change a life. Phrase your language that way. "Would you help us give hope to a homeless man or woman? Your donation of $10.00 will buy 10 pair of socks. That's 10 opportunities for us to meet and talk with a person who is hurting and looking for a way back home."

8. Take It Online

People expect to be able to interact with you online. These options are easier than ever and completely free. Set up a free website or blog using Blogger and WordPress. Create donation badge through Network for Good. Upload a video to YouTube. Share photos on Flickr. Make all your content easy for people to share on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Overwhelmed by the techy stuff? Recruit a student to set things up for you.

9. Make It Hands-On

Your goal in the collection drive should be bigger than getting people to donate. Get them to care about the cause. One church collected thousands of pounds of food, and then asked all the participants to help load it into eight semi-trucks. The task could have been done faster with forklifts. But nothing could beat the emotional impact of hundreds of people forming a line and passing food boxes across the parking lot. As they touched each box, they knew it would go to feed a family in need. There's something powerful and tangible about hands-on participation.

10. Celebrate

From the start of your planning; include ideas of how you'll wrap things up. Throw a party for volunteers and donors. Collect e-mail and postal addresses along the way so you can properly thank all your champions. When you drop off your donated items to the charity, take lots of photos and video to upload to the web. People love to see the connection between their donation and the people it will benefit. The better you thank and inspire your participants this time, the more likely they will be to help out in the future.

(credit: Portland Homeless Rescue Mission, Portland, Oregon USA - http://www.1010pdx.org/search/label/Top%2010 )----------

Blog Questions: Have you run a collection drive in the past? What tips can you offer?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Week #8 "10 Week Countdown to World Homeless Action Day"

(Send Media Release September 12th /Post September 26th)

This week’s Big Idea: Create Care Kits

If you've ever been approached by a man, woman, or teenager who is experiencing homelessness, you may have felt uncomfortable about how to respond when asked for money. We recommend anticipating these opportunities. Make some care kits in advance to keep in your vehicle. These can be a good alternative for situations when giving money doesn't feel like the best option.

The following items can be placed in quart- or gallon-size Zip-Lock bags.

1. Socks

Homeless men and women spend a lot of time on their feet. A fresh pair of clean, dry socks can feel like heaven on tired feet. Throw in some band-aids to help ease the pain of blisters.

2. Reusable Water Bottle

Water brings relief, especially in hot weather. But instead of bottled water, consider a reusable bottle as an eco-friendly option.

3. Lotion

Lotion and lip balm are often welcome items. Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer can help when soap and water aren't available for washing hands.

4. Soap / Shampoo

Save the small unopened soap bars and shampoo bottles from your hotel visits. Their compact travel-size is convenient and light weight. Larger soap bars are great too. But if you're packing soap in a care kit, be aware that its scent can be absorbed by packaged snacks, making for a less-than-tasty treat.

5. Toothpaste / Toothbrush

6. Towel / Washcloth/ Disposable Wet Wipes

Showers aren't easy to come by for homeless men and women. A towel and washcloth are helpful for washing as best they can in a restroom.

7. Comb / Brush / Razor

Contrary to stereotypes, most homeless men and women prefer to stay clean and well-groomed.

8. Snacks

Add some packets of nuts, crackers, dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, breakfast bars, instant noodles or other light-weight, quick snacks.

9. List of Resources

See Countdown Week #4 for a list of San Luis Obispo County resources for those who are experiencing homelessness and Week #10 for national resources. Make copies to hand out with your care kits.

10. Encouragement

All the items above are helpful, but the most meaningful part of a care kit is the opportunity for a conversation and friendship. Your smile and offer of help could be the encouragement a homeless man or women needs to make it through another day. Add an inspirational quote to the kit.

(credit: Portland Homeless Rescue Mission, Portland, Oregon USA - http://www.1010pdx.org/search/label/Top%2010 )

Blog Question: What items would you add to this list?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week #7 "10 Week Countdown to World Homeless Action Day"

(Send Media Release September 5th / Post September 19th)

This week’s big idea: Donate to a Local Organization

1. Your Car

Some non-profits have car donation programs which support their work. Check with your favorite charities to see if they offer this program. Donate your old car, receive tax deduction benefits, and enjoy knowing that you're helping people in need.

2. Your Time

Volunteer to help serve meals, answer phones, prepare mailings, teach job skills, tutor in math or writing, clean facilities or sort donated food / clothing.

3. Food

Fresh Meat and Produce: Organizations that serve food to the homeless are constantly in need of fresh meat, produce, and dairy products to feed hungry men, women, and children.

Non-Perishables: Non-perishable food items are great for their ability to be stored until needed. Organizations that serve a lot of food especially benefit from bulk quantities and larger (#10) size cans of fruits and vegetables.

4. Motel Vouchers

Motel 6 gift certificates can be purchased and donated to Transitional Food and Shelter, Inc. for seriously ill clients who are physically disabled to the point of needing bed rest. This organization accepts clients by agency referral only. http://www.nowheretogo.com/

5. Clothes/Disposable Diapers/Blankets

Chances are your closet could use a good cleaning. Donate clothes that are still in good condition to a local shelter. New socks and undergarments are usually greatly needed. Additionally disposable diapers (for both babies and adults) and blankets are also important.

6. Furniture

Ask if your local homeless organization can use donated beds and furniture. They might be able to give them to men and women who are moving off the street and into permanent housing.

7. Financial Support

Money is an obvious need for non-profit organizations. Make it a tradition to give a special gift during the holidays. Donate part of your job bonus or windfall. Leave a legacy gift such as an annuity. Become a monthly donor to provide support all-year long.

8. Your Birthday or Special Occasion

In lieu of gifts, ask friends and family to give to the charity of your choice. Network for Good allows you to easily set up an online donation page / charity badge and you can also donate to various “Causes” on Facebook.

9. Your Partnership

If you work for a business or organization, there are a multitude of ways you can support a local non-profit. Set aside space for a non-profit to display their materials. Donate room in your print publications as free ad space. Offer a matching challenge to your employees who donate money to a non-profit. Allow employees a few hours to volunteer while on the job. Be a sponsor of a non-profit's fund raising event.

10. Your Influence

If you believe in the work of a local non-profit, spread the word to your friends. Share a link on Facebook, Twitter or a blog. Talk about why you volunteer or donate. Rally friends and family to volunteer or participate in an event.

(credit: Portland Homeless Rescue Mission, Portland, Oregon USA - http://www.1010pdx.org/search/label/Top%2010

Blog Question: What items would you add to this list?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Week #6 "10 Week Countdown to World Homeless Action Day"

(Send Media Release August 29th/Post September 12th)

This week’s Big Idea: Plan Ahead

1. Be Prepared

There are many ways to help a person who is un-housed. Often, we fail to act simply because we're caught off guard. In most cases, you'll have better success if you've planned ahead and are ready to meet the need.

2. Engage the Person

Homeless people are people. Smile and say hello.  Acknowledging a person shows respect and gives dignity. (Note: Use the same caution that you would with any stranger. Also, remember that just because you may think that a person "looks" homeless, that does not mean that they are. Be careful of what you "assume.")

3. Ask Questions

Start a conversation by asking questions.  Inquire about what they need most. (Refer to the note in #2 concerning strangers)

4. Think Before Giving Money

Opinions vary on whether it is best to give money to a panhandler. Some have experimented with giving pre-paid credit cards. In most cases, meeting the person's actual immediate need for food or clothing might be better than giving cash.

5. Offer a Care Kit

Keep care packages in your vehicle that include essentials. See our list of 10 ITEMS A HOMELESS PERSON COULD USE (Week # 8 tips)

6. Offer Public Transit Tickets

The local public transit system can be a convenient way for homeless men and women to get to appointments and resources. Consider buying tickets in advance to keep with you. Hand the person an address list of the organizations where they can get help. (Note: print out the list of “Organizations Serving the Homeless in SLO County” from week #4).

7. Offer Food Gift Cards / Certificates

Panhandlers often request money for food. Be ready to offer gift certificates to restaurants in the area. Offer to sit and eat a meal with the person.

8. Offer Free Meal Location Information

Download a list of locations, dates, and times throughout San Luis Obispo County, where free food is available: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/DSS/Groceries+and+Meals+-+Countywide.pdf

9. Point Them to Resources

See Countdown Week #4 for a list of local San Luis Obispo County organizations that assist folks who are un-housed and Week #10 for nationwide resources for the homeless.

10. Offer to Pray

If you're inclined, offer to pray for the person. Ask what they would like you to pray for. Your prayers will be most appreciated if you've taken the time to listen to the person and have offered tangible help.

(credit: Portland Homeless Rescue Mission, Portland, Oregon USA - http://www.1010pdx.org/search/label/Top%2010 )
Blog Question: What items would you add to this list?