I want to talk about transparency. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am a huge car fan, especially when it comes to classic muscle cars. I recently took my 1965 mustang to a mechanic to have the engine swapped for a larger one (what other type of swap is there?). The mechanic quoted me a price that we agreed on and then proceeded to call me after two days and said things were more complicated than he thought and it would be almost double the price. I want to talk about transparency because without it, how can we trust who we give our money to?
It dawned on me that although my car example and giving to a nonprofit are different, in both scenarios the individual giving their money wants to make sure he or she is putting the money to the best possible use. Without full transparency, it’s hard to make an informed decision as to whether you want to purchase a product or service or donate to a cause. So, from start to finish, I want to show the life of a donation.
It all starts with you, the donor. You decide, for whatever reason you may have, to donate to help others in need. You go to our website and donate. The money you donated goes into a fund to be used specifically for granting the needs of a local child, someone who has been nominated by a professional in their community because that person believes, despite the hardships, that the child will succeed and change their life and the lives around them with just a little help. The nominator (usually a teacher, coach, other child advocate) submits documentation asking for assistance for that child. We, the board, review the application and reach out to the nominator should we need clarification. At our next meeting, we pull out that application and review it together asking questions like ‘is it feasible to grant that request?’, ‘Will this help the child?’, ‘What else can we do to help this child?’ When we decide that this is a good use of donor funds and we would be honored to help the child, we work with the nominator to get all the details set and grant the request. Lastly, and everybody’s favorite part, we get the opportunity to deliver the request to the child.
It is a simple process but it is why I joined The Wish List Project. This process allows us to connect the best intentions of our donors to the most wonderful, deserving children. Every penny of every dollar of it. And we will never call you up saying it's more complicated than we thought and we need more money to make it happen.Write comment (0 Comments)
Last week, I got to experience, yet again, the best part of being the Executive Director of The Wish List Project. I, along with Board Member Mikey Langlois, delivered art supplies to several of our newest grantees at a local high school. Typically, our Fall Grants cycle is complete by January or February and we're getting ready for the Spring cycle now. However, scheduling issues were unavoidable this time, and mid March was our first opportunity to meet the needs of all involved - kids, teachers and staff included. But the wait paid off for everyone!
We loaded up the four big boxes of goodies we brought, into a borrowed wagon and set off to meet the teens who love the arts so much. As we entered the classroom, the magic of the moment wasn't lost on me. Their joy at seeing what treasures might lurk inside those boxes was infectious to every adult in the room. We passed out each student's supplies, chatted with each of them about their love of art, took pictures and watched some of them begin to create on the fresh paper in their new sketch pads. Keep in mind that many of these kids would be going home to hardships we couldn't possibly imagine, so this was a a much needed vacation from reality for some. And bringing home something brand new that was all theirs might be a first for some of them.
When it was time to go, the kids promised to send us pictures of some of their artwork. Mikey and I left that room to head back to the car, and we both found ourselves smiling and feeling grateful for the opportunity to do this important work. These gifts of interaction with our grant recipients to share what you, our donors, are providing to enrich their lives, that is the greatest reward we could ever receive. Thank you for truly making a difference!
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On this International Women's Day, we're sharing this video from Microsoft to celebrate women inventors, how they've changed the world, and are inspiring the next generation. Enjoy! #GirlPower #TWLProject
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In March 2014, Anahi Tovar was nominated for a TWLP Student Enrichment Grant during our Spring 2014 nomination cycle. She wished to take Hip Hop dance lessons. Sadly, this 14 year old girl never got to take those classes. She (and her father) were killed in an automobile accident on April 2, 2014. Just 14 days after we received her application, she was gone. I never got to meet Anahi, but this tragedy had a profound effect on me and my colleagues at The Wish List Project.
After considerable thought, we decided to meet with Anahi's mother and ask permission to set up a Dance Award in her daughter's name. Even though we didn't get to fulfill Anahi's wish of taking dance lessons, we wanted to carry on her legacy by allowing other young people just like Anahi, to reach their goals through dance and movement classes. We met with Mrs. Tovar several months later, and it was difficult to show our sincerity at creating something good out of something so horrible. Her grief was dignified and hidden, yet it pained me to be with her, knowing our "good thing" was an ongoing reminder of her great loss. It felt somewhat invasive, yet she was more than generous in allowing us to move forward with our request.
Fast forward to 2017 and a recent post that a dear friend forwarded to me. It was the sentencing of the two young men who took the lives of Anahi and her father. I spent that evening thinking about Anahi, and especially her mother. And I wondered if she was given any sense of relief by the sentencing, or if it was just a painful reminder of the worst day of her life. I never got to meet Anahi, and yet three and a half years later, I still remember her smile.
The Wish List Project continues to honor the legacy of Anahi Tovar through the Anahi Dance Award. You can honor Anahi's short yet meaningful life as well:
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Yesterday, I attended the first meeting for the Big Day of Giving. What an exciting two hours. So much information and positive interaction among the 150 plus participants in the room. It was kind of like a pep talk by the coach before the start of the big game.
We started the morning off with an ice breaker, not the kind everybody hates, but rather a subtle way to bring folks together. Because our organization is a newbie (meaning first time participant), we found some collaborative partners that were relatively new as well. Junior Tennis Fund’s Carol Rose was the first person I connected with and after only a couple of minutes chatting, we knew our organizations belonged together, as we both focus on youth development for underserved kids. We also connected with Denise Bowden from Lincoln Hills Foundation. Initially, I thought “not much in common with seniors living in Sun City”. The more we talked though, the more the link between our organizations became clear, as they fund grants also, but for seniors rather than kids.
Following this little meet and greet, we went on to listen to various panelists who were veterans of the Big DOG event. Each one spoke about the value of Big Day of Giving, and everyone agreed that it was so much more than just raising funds for your individual organization. A common thread was the collaborative nature of the event and how bringing 570 organizations together was not competitive, but rather inspiring as everyone worked together to build awareness of all the good work that is being done in the Sacramento region.
You have to understand that administering a non profit can be a lonely path. You get so caught up in the day to day details and the board meetings and the donor cultivation, that you really appreciate an opportunity like this to come out of your office and work with others who are in your shoes. It provides much needed personal and organizational growth.
The final part of the event was spent covering the use of donor matching funds. This is something The Wish List Project was able to do on a smaller scale in the past. The tips provided will hopefully take us to the next level.
So watch for future posts and e-blasts from us over the next few months to get everyone excited for this most inspirational community event. We’re planning a fun celebratory gathering at a local restaurant too! If you’re already on our mailing list, you will receive an invitation for sure. If not, you can sign up for our newsletter right here to be included. Or you can LIKE our facebook page right here to stay on top of all the news and celebrations!
#BDOG 2017Write comment (0 Comments)
Today I walked over five miles in the cold with my family. Despite the fact that my feet hurt bad and I had a cramp in my side, I didn’t complain. I didn’t complain because I knew that no matter how much my body ached and no matter how tired I was, my pain was nothing compared to the people who first marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Those people were the first to march for peace, and today we do the same for people who aren’t treated equally. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. has the legacy of being a peaceful leader. Most of his life was spent fighting for justice and equality. He fought with kind words and a
forgiving heart. If Martin Luther King Jr. were here today, he’d inspire us with his memorable speeches and tell us to love, not hate. He’d help us push through the wall of discord that is closing in on us with a kind heart instead of weapons. He’d do all of that and more because Dr. King stood for everything we as a country seem to be lacking; kindness, honesty, truth, equality, love and so on. And so we march for change, peace and justice. Today as I walked, I didn’t complain. I didn’t think of how badly I wanted to stop. No, instead I thought of the incredible man that we celebrate today and how much he has done. If Dr. King were here today, he’d give us something we’ve been slowly losing, he’d give us hope.
Written by Guest Blogger, Alani Summers, 6th graderWrite comment (1 Comment)
When I first came up with the idea of starting a non profit, all I knew for certain is that it would be focused on children and families in need, and some how connected to education. Eventually it became obvious to me that access to resources and opportunities outside of the classroom, which support academics in the classroom, would make a real impact on kids whose families couldn’t afford those kind of luxuries. I, along with a handful of friends, hashed out the what, when, where and how of it all, and somehow came up with the name The Wish List Project.
Over the last four years, I’ve become very familiar with the positives and negatives of choosing that name. For example, we’ve been mistaken for the online retailer Wish.com, as well as the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Of course, if we had the kind of budget they have, we could have our own building with programming space and a fully paid staff. And some day we will.
Today, I visited The Wishing Place. Jennifer Stolo, CEO of Make A Wish of Northeastern California and Northern Nevada invited me to take a tour of their amazing site nestled among upscale residences in Natomas. It houses their office space upstairs where all the “fairies” work, but downstairs is where the magic really shines through. The lobby invites you in to view photos on the walls and displayed in albums on the coffee table. Major donors are listed among the stars on the walls. Look up and colorful stars are suspended from the ceiling. Behind the giant wooden door is where children with life-threatening medical conditions are able to forget about their illness for a little while in preparation for their wish. Children are referred by medical staff or family members and then invited to spend a few hours with a staff member who asks them, “If you could wish for anything, what would it be?” A special box, a scroll, a video and drawing activities help each child to determine the answer. And then comes the best part, they make their wish by throwing their scroll into a big stone wishing well, just like Snow White’s.
When I walked out of that special place about an hour later, I sat in my car and jotted down all the ideas that overflowed from my brain. Honestly, when I and the other founders came up with the name The Wish List Project, we never even made the connection to what Make A Wish was doing. The only real similarity is that a grant is being received by a child. And yet, after my visit today, I can make all kinds of connections, especially the power and impact of it all.
Thank you Jennifer for your time and your willingness to share the true meaning of a WISH.Write comment (0 Comments)
2016 is almost over and many folks are saying good riddance, what with the crazy election cycle and negative news stories bombarding us daily, plus the loss of many icons and people we hold dear. But I prefer to focus on the positives of 2016, the reasons we should celebrate the year. So here goes, in no particular order:
Did I miss anything? What other good news can we celebrate as the year winds down? Feel free to comment below.
Happy New Year!!Write comment (0 Comments)
We recently took part in #GivingTuesday, a movement of charitable giving which helps others through the gift of time, donations, goods or your voice. As the day began, I thought a lot about why people contribute on Giving Tuesday, which in turn caused me to reflect on why I joined The Wish List Project.
Growing up I had the opportunity to attend a private school, a luxury that many of my neighbors were not afforded. As time progressed, I began to realize the difference that education in my youth made on my life, especially when compared with my childhood friends. I contribute much of my success now to a proper education and believe passionately that all children should get the opportunity that I had. A small difference when a child is young makes a large difference as they mature, and it has the potential to lead them down a different path in life. With the help of our generous donors, I firmly believe we can make an immense and lasting impact on our community's youth that will reshape their future as well as ours.Write comment (1 Comment)
You’ve eaten most of the Thanksgiving leftovers. You’ve saved lots of cash on Black Friday shopping deals. Perhaps you’re picking up a few more goodies minus the steep prices on Cyber Monday. That leaves one amazing opportunity - #GivingTuesday. Now’s your chance to give back a little of what you saved on those special shopping days and impact the lives of kids in your community in a very big way, like this:
Please join us on #GivingTuesday by making a donation to The Wish List Project’s Giving Tuesday and Beyond campaign.
Make the holidays happy for a boy or girl in your community.Write comment (1 Comment)