15 February 2013

Fairy Godmothers Inc.

Fairy Godmothers Inc. is a Philadelphia, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that makes it possible for junior and senior high school girls, to attend their prom. For the last 13 years they have provided prom gowns, shoes, and other accessories to girls, whose financial situation would otherwise prevent them from attending their prom.

The organization coordinates special Prom Fairs, where qualifying girls can have the special experience of trying and selecting their prom dress and accessories. At $10 for dresses, and $2-$6 accessories, these girls have a chance to participate in one of the lasting memories from high school.

Want to get involved?

 Donated dresses must be less than five years old, dry cleaned, and in great condition. You can also donate shoes and accessories. Monetary donations are also accepted via Paypal.

Want to help a girl's prom dream come true? Volunteer! Right now, through the Pennsylvania and Arizona branches of the organization you can donate your time and talents to the following positions:

  • Personalist Stylist
  • Personal Shopper/Customer Service
  • Seamstress/Alterations


Other chapters of the organization are located in New York, Delaware,  and Virginia.


For more information, please visit Fairy Godmothers Inc.




14 February 2013

The Grannie Project

The Grannie Project, founded in 2012, is a small, young nonprofit, but a great example of inspired people setting out to make a difference. The focus of the Grannie Project is to rescue and re-home senior pets, and to promote spaying and neutering pets.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania organization was created after its founders visited a high kill shelter to adopt a cat. Seeing the number of senior cats at the shelter inspired them to establish The Grannie Project, a 501(c)3 that is funded entirely through private donations. The organization operates entirely through a network of foster homes, which means funding goes to directly to the pets, for veterinary expenses, food, shelter and supplies.

The Grannie Project encourages pet owners to responsibly plan for the future care of their senior pets after they are gone; too many cats and dogs end up in kill shelters. To meet current shelter pet needs, the organization advocates spaying and neutering pets.

For more information, please visit The Grannie Project. The website is full of resources for pet owners and articles to encourage involvement.

13 February 2013

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger| ACF International  is a global humanitarian organization committed to ending world hunger. The organization saves the lives of severely malnourished children and helps vulnerable communities become self-sufficient, through long-term sustainable systems.

The Numbers:

  • Lifesaving impact in 40+ countries
  • 5000+ field staff assisting more than 6 million people each year.
  • 30+ years of expertise in contexts of conflict, disasters and food crises


Where Your Money Goes: 

93% of all funding goes towards program services. (That's $0.93 of every dollar). 4% goes to general operating and management expenses, and 3% goes to fundraising. One of the reasons fundraising costs so little, may be because there are so many, easy, ways to get involved. Donors can contribute directly via the website, shop in the organization's online store, or even use free tools through the Action Against Hunger website to create their own fundraising campaign to end hunger. 


So what does that 93% in program services look like? Well in 2012:

  • 550,000 small farmers were provided with tools after drought and displacement
  • 42,000 severely malnourished children in the D.R. Congo were treated
  • 170,000 people gained access to clean water in Kenya

Programs:

  • Nutrition: "Action Against Hunger’s methods for identifying and rescuing populations afflicted with acute malnutrition are internationally renowned, having pioneered revolutionary nutrition products and field tested treatment protocols that have become industry standards. From rural mountain villages to the confines of refugee camps to ethnically divided cities, Action Against Hunger treats and prevents malnutrition in over 40 countries around the world. [Action Against Hunger's] programs are launched most often during times of crisis and focus on the most vulnerable, including young children and women who are pregnant or nursing."
          What They Do:
    • Evaluate nutritional needs: To assess the root causes of a malnutrition outbreak, ACF collects baseline data on key nutritional indicators like local capacities and resources, cultural practices, infrastructure, and geography. These nutrition surveys are essential for mounting an effective, customized response.
    • Treat acute malnutrition: ACF treats cases of severe acute malnutrition with inpatient care (for those with medical complications) and with community-based, outpatient programs. Without treatment severely malnourished women and children would likely face imminent death.
    • Prevent acute malnutrition: ACF’s prevention activities provide Ready-to-Use-Foods to patients discharged from therapeutic care, children with moderate acute malnutrition, and children in communities faced with seasonal hunger. Prevention can save millions of lives while long-term solutions are developed.
    • Build local capacity: ACF strengthens public health systems to combat malnutrition. They field teams that consist overwhelmingly of local staff and integrate their programs into existing health structures. When crises subside, they ensure local capacity is in place to support continued improvements in communities’ nutritional health.

  • Food Security & Livelihoods: "Encompassing a wide array of activities customized to meet a community’s specific needs, [Action Against Hunger's] programs are designed to bolster agricultural production, jumpstart local market activity, support micro-enterprise initiatives, and otherwise enhance a vulnerable community’s access to sustainable sources of food and income."
           What They Do:
    • Evaluate local needs: To determine what’s causing hunger in a given area, Action Against Hunger carries out comprehensive evaluations by collecting and analyzing key data on local assets, resources, and livelihoods strategies. Their teams meet directly with community members to better understand local conditions and create a collaborative plan of action.
    • Respond to emergencies: When disasters destroy infrastructure and food supplies, when violence forces thousands to flee, or when drought disrupts food production, Action Against Hunger responds with distributions of food, cash, and other items to prevent hunger in the short-term and ensure that crops can be replanted and livestock restocked in the future.
    • Provide long-term solutions: Designed in collaboration with local populations, Action Against Hunger's strategies are context-specific: micro-grant support for families recovering from conflict; seeds and tools for agricultural recovery; livestock and veterinary services where needed; small business assistance; and other programs that help families regain self-sufficiency.

  • Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene: "Every day 4,000 children die from illnesses like diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera caused by dirty water and unhygienic living conditions. [Action Against Hunger] can’t fight malnutrition without tackling the diseases that contribute to it. As part of [their] integrated approach to hunger, [they are] getting safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services to communities in need all over the world."
          What They Do:
    • Provide access to safe water: During emergencies, ACF trucks water into affected areas and installs storage tanks and reservoirs. Where water is scarce or unsafe, they drill and decontaminate wells, install hand-pumps, protect natural springs, tap aquifers, rehabilitate damaged infrastructure, and pipe water into hard-to-reach villages and health centers.
    • Promote sanitation & hygiene: To prevent outbreaks of disease during a crisis, ACF’s teams distribute hygiene kits and build latrines and hand-washing stations. In communities at risk, they construct water filters made from basic materials and teach healthy practices like hand-washing, cooking with clean utensils, and drawing water from protected sources.
    • Ensure lasting change: ACF’s commitment to community participation ensures long-term capacity: the organization trains community-based water committees to manage their water and sanitation infrastructure themselves, and organize village health teams to model good sanitation and hygiene practices for their communities long after ACF leaves an area.

  • Emergency Response: "From cholera epidemics sweeping through refugee camps, to catastrophic natural disasters, to spikes in malnutrition rates brought on by drought, Action Against Hunger responds to humanitarian emergencies all over the world, delivering immediate life-saving services to populations in distress. With emergency teams on call 24 hours a day, and pre-positioned stocks of essential supplies ready for deployment, [their] internationally renowned rapid response capabilities ensure that life-saving assistance can be delivered anywhere in the world when needs arise."


Praise:

  • Four Star charity rating by Charity Navigator
  • A- rated organization by Charity Watch
  • 2012 Top Nonprofit by Great Nonprofits

To learn more about Action Against Hunger|ACF International please visit their website. The site is definitely worth a visit, as it provides comprehensive information on how the organization implements their program services, the organization's impact, news from the field, and of course, all the financial and reporting documents savvy funders are looking for.


12 February 2013

Artistic Rebuttaling – Using Art to Advocate for the Arts


Guest Contributor: Amy Scheidegger (Director, Artistic Rebuttal Project)

One afternoon in late January 2011, I, an artist from the age of 2, was horribly disturbed by a conversation between a group of brand new college kids on a Philadelphia subway on the way to a theater in which I worked as a prop painter. This what I overheard:
“Art is like, the most worthless degree anyone can get. It’s like having a degree in making shit out of Popsicle sticks and string.”

I’m not na├»ve. I was raised in the south where the majority of my community (and family) did not embrace art as a career path, but people this young? I thought the youth of America were more appreciative of art has a valid profession, whether an arts degree was involved in that career choice or not. And I do admit that when I heard “art is the most worthless degree anyone can get” I took it to mean “art is worthless,” so maybe those kids on the subway weren’t as misinformed as I jumped to conclude. Artists become artists with a degree or not. But still, their sentiments really angered me, and as an arts advocate with two degrees in the field, (a BFA in Painting and a Masters in Arts Administration) I knew I had to do something rather than just wallow in my disappointment. It is widely acknowledged that artists do not get the respect they deserve, degree or not, but what artists and what their art accomplishes is too important to let conversations like this one be ignored.

I took to the internet where professionals of the visual, performing, musical and written word persuasion, arts administrators and appreciators were contacted and hundreds joined together to make their own visually rendered statements about the importance of the arts. Statements range from where art is hiding that the non-artist does not see, statistics about how much money arts and culture contribute to the economy and what art-making does for human development. The end product of collecting all these images were full color books showcasing everyone’s rebuttal to the “arts is worthless” debate as well as their personal love for the arts.

The Artistic Rebuttal Project is grassroots arts advocacy at its best: Artists and art lovers coming together to creatively fight for their livelihoods. Since creative people are trained, either professionally or have trained themselves, to see both the beauty and the faults (but mostly the beauty) in the things that they and others observe and create, I have found them to be among the most trusting, honest, brave, and compassionate people I have ever known. The city of Philadelphia felt the same way, as evidenced by Leadership Philadelphia’s Creative Connector initiative in 2011. I was honored to have been chosen by my peers as one of Philadelphia’s top 76 Creative Connectors, a group characterized as entrepreneurial professionals who serve as civic hubs of trust who use art, culture and design to build community and economic vitality all while purposely flying under the radar. In 2011, we published a Pennsylvania edition, to take down to Art Advocacy Day in DC, a national and a children’s edition.

After a very successful first year and 200+ rebuttals collected from ages 5 to 65, our second year imposed a theme: Art is an Instinct. Artists of all trades and levels of expertise often feel an inward impulse to create. I know I have, ever since I first picked up a crayon at the age of two – and promptly drew all over my parents’ walls and keepsakes. Creative people feel a sense of accomplishment, a very personal reward, from this impulse to do, make, and perform. When this creation is shared, others are often moved and rewarded in ways that are hard to articulate. Born from this internal drive, a work of art has the potential to affect a countless number of people in an immeasurable amount of ways. In 2012, we published another Pennsylvania edition for Arts Advocacy Day, with a forward from Julie Hawkins, a Philadelphia arts advocate and fellow Creative Connector; as well as a national edition, with a forward by Kymia Nawabi, winner of Bravo TV’s “The Next Great Artist, Season 2.”
We are now in our third year and a lot has changed. We learned (the hard way) from our second year that the time-suck involved with fundraising in order to publish a small run of books was shifting focus off our main mission: advocating for the arts and artists. We also learned that asking for rebuttals in the form of .jpegs and .pdfs, in order to be printed, was restrictive to those artists who can’t put what they love about their discipline into those formats, or even into words at all. So we’re now transitioning to advocating for arts and artists digitally, in whatever share-able format a person deems fitting to them, in order to better fulfill our mission, accommodate a wider range of artistic expression and grow our audiences.
We also determined that the reasons why the project started, to combat the negative perception of an art degree and artists in general, and the reasons why the project is still functioning today are quite different - based simply on what people involved with the project are actually doing on the project’s behalf.

Here is what the project does currently:

  1.  Promotes Visual Artists Rights (since visual is my area of expertise) and advocates for artists to be better educated about the history of artists (a.k.a. the historical perception of artists) in America
  2. Promotes the creative process as a career
  3. Creates an outlet for creative people to share their arts experiences
  4.  Advocates on behalf of artists and their skill sets, arts education and arts access
  5.  Stimulates people to make art


How Others Can Help:

In order to grow the scope of our project, we need new supporters, new rebuttals, new stories about how the arts have improved our lives; just fresh faces and voices to share.

Anyone interested in helping with the effort can come up with their rebuttal and email it to artisticrebuttal@gmail.com. Rebuttals can also be tweeted to @ArtistRebuttal or left on our Facebook Page: Artistic Rebuttal Book Project.

We also want to form meaningful partnerships with both arts-centric folks and organizations that aren’t art focused but promote the use of art in their own missions, so if there is anyone, any organization out there that wants to help us in advocating for the arts/artists, please contact us with ideas through our social media outlets or email.
Rebuttals can be viewed at www.artisticrebuttal.com/apps/blog

For more info about the project, to join our e-mailing list and to donate to the project, visit www.artisticrebuttal.com. Donations assist in informing artists of their rights and printing rebuttals that are mailed to our congressmen in Washington, NC and local/state representatives.

A very special thank you to Amy for telling us about the Artistic Rebuttal Project, and for sharing a preview of some new rebuttals...






11 February 2013

Creative Commons

Who They Are:

Creative Commons is a nonprofit that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Its mission is to develop, support, and steward legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. The organization's vision is 'nothing less than realizing the full potential of the internet- universal access to research and education, full participation in culture- to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity. Creative Commons was created to bridge the gap between the innovative digital culture and copyright law.

What They Do:

Creative Common's easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work- on conditions of your choice. The licenses are not an alternative to copyright, but rather work alongside copyright, allowing you to modify your copyright terms to meet your needs.


Copyright laws for creative work can be pretty difficult to understand, Creative Commons offers an easily accessible and understandable option to protect your work.

For more information or to get your creative copyright, click here.