Strengthen The Good

Using the power of weblogs for open-source charity. Don’t just fight evil: Strengthen the good.

Archive for August, 2004

Strengthening The Good: The Gulf Coast Community Foundation Of Venice Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund

1 September 2005 Update: If you’ve found this page because you’re looking to help with Katrina relief, or because you’re looking for a matching donation program, please visit our Matching The Good: Katrina Relief page. We’re matching donations up to a total of $1,000 with a donation to the Red Cross 2005 Hurricane fund. If you’d like to join in the match challenge (helping us up the match to more than $1,000) through a donation of your own, please email me at alan at strengthenthegood dot com. Thanks.

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[Update: We’ve had a great resoponse to our first charity. Here’s another way you can help: I’m donating all Google Ad revenue to the charity we profile for the time its profile runs. So if you can’t donate directly, click on the Google Ads in the right-hand column and visit those sponsors, and I’ll donate the resulting revenue on your behalf. Thanks.]

[Update 2: This from the GCCF of Venice website:

In an effort to direct additional funds to nonprofit organizations in the areas devastated by the hurricane, the Board established the Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund with an initial gift of $25,000 and voted to match contributions to the Fund up to $200,000. The community met the match this weekend.

I’m sure we helped in reaching the goal, and thanks for working to strengthen the good. And if you’ve not yet helped, people in Florida still need help, and assistance is still welcome.]

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I lied. I said that the scope of Strengthen The Good is to raise awareness of:

“micro charities”—charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and, like Susan Tom, inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries.

And here, with our very first charity, I’m going to vary from that scope.

MJ29.jpgHere’s the issue: a burning charitable need at this moment is relief for people affected by Hurricane Charley. And while I very much want to highlight a Charley micro-charity, the fact is that the need right now is macro … incredibly macro. Fundamental needs: housing … water … huge quantities of baby formula … needs that are best met by macro charities such as the Red Cross, the Christian Contractors Association, and Salvation Army, and it’s going to be this way for some time.

But I also think I’ve found something you can get behind and feel good about: The Gulf Coast Community Foundation Of Venice Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund.

Call it a “macro-micro charity.” From its website:

A community foundation is a charitable organization that derives its funds from gifts provided by its citizens. Citizens can contribute any amount of money to a community foundation, which in turn invests the gifts for growth and income. The community foundation then uses that income to make grants that strengthen the community. As a community foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice operates under the principle of perpetuity ensuring that gifts made to the Foundation will grow and make a lasting impact for the community now and in the future.

Founded in late 1995 as a result of the sale of Venice Hospital, it was originally named The Venice Foundation. In 2003 the name was changed to Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice to reflect the communities it serves, from Osprey to Boca Grande. It has awarded grants of more than $40 million to the community in the areas of arts and culture, health and human services, education, and civic affairs.

In addition to making grants that benefit our area, the Foundation also help donors to achieve their charitable dreams. When a donor creates a fund at Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, they get the resources and expertise of our staff…and the service that could only come from a community foundation. We work with our donors to make sure their fund(s) meet their needs and allow them to have an impact on the community and issues they care about.

As you can see here, the GCCF of Venice has been extremely involved in supporting the local community … funding everything from public libraries to scholarships to senior centers to animal rescue to YMCAs.

Venice was just north of Charley’s most severe effects, but with the devastation in nearby Charlotte and North Port, it’s no surprise that such an active foundation would create a Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund.

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But here’s the really good part: last Tuesday The GCCF of Venice Board of Directors voted to match contributions to its Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund up to $100,000, noting they are “pleased to be able to offer a means for giving where 100% of the donations will be directed to the agencies providing the services required to sustain and improve life for the victims.”

That’s right: a total match, of every dollar, until they’ve raised $100,000.

Only have the resources to give one dollar? Fine … count it as two. Think you can pony up ten? Call it twenty. Think you can part with fifty … feel good about contributing one hundred. And what’s more, you can do so knowing that you’re supporting a local Charley relief effort, staffed by and benefiting people from the community and administered by professionals.

You can donate online with a MasterCard or Visa here (all transactions are processed through a Verisign secure server site). If you do, be certain to select the Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund from the drop-down menu, and if you would, please note “Strengthen The Good” in the Special Instructions field … I’d be interested to learn how much our network ultimately contributes.

If you prefer not to donate online, you may mail a contribution to:

Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice
Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund
601 Tamiami Trail South
Venice, FL 34285

If you donate via mail, please note “Strengthen The Good” in the memo line on the check. Finally, if PayPal is your thing, you may donate via the Strengthen The Good PayPal account … the button is over in the right-hand column of the main page. I’ll write a single check to the fund for all donations made via PayPal over the next three weeks (and will find a way to offer a full accounting online so we can all exercise due diligence). Note that if you do donate via PayPal (1) it’s not tax deductible (although I’m working on that for future charities), and (2) PayPal will be taking a cut of the donation for their service fee … so unless you absolutely don’t want to, I’d suggest donating to the fund directly via their online donation form.

Now … be responsible. Just because I’ve satisfied my qualification of this charity does not mean you’ve satisfied yours. You are responsible for satisfying your own qualification of this or any other charity STG may point to, and while I am profiling this charity, I do not guarantee its legitimacy, its use of whatever funds you might donate, or the accuracy or of the information on its web site.

Hopefully that’s satisfied the attorneys, and we can get back to the business at hand.

Thank you for working to strengthen the good.

[If you’ve come here from an external link and are wondering what Strengthen The Good is all about, go to the main page, start at the bottom, and read up. And if you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you join our network … you can learn how on the main page as well.]

Strengthen The Good In Florida

1 September 2005 Update: If you’ve found this page because you’re looking to help with Katrina relief, or because you’re looking for a matching donation program, please visit our Matching The Good: Katrina Relief page. We’re matching donations up to a total of $1,000 with a donation to the Red Cross 2005 Hurricane fund. If you’d like to join in the match challenge (helping us up the match to more than $1,000) through a donation of your own, please email me at alan at strengthenthegood dot com. Thanks.

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[NOTE: If you’re coming to this post from an external link and are a blogger, the concept is to create a network of bloggers who raise awareness of “micro charities”—charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries.

I’ll find them, if you’ll link to them. All I ask is that you please consider joining our network. Read more on the main page, or go here to join right away and help us strengthen the good. Thanks.]

[NOTE 2: I’ve moved this post to the top of the page as there’s updated information about how to offer general help until we post our Charley micro-charity. Thanks.]

We are getting many requests at Command Post for how to help people in Florida. I and others are working as you read this to locate a “micro-charity” in the area that fits with the mission of this site: local charities with a personal face, with very little or no overhead, where the story of the organizers and beneficiaries are inspiring, and where $1 can make a difference.

I’m afraid that with Charley, we’ll have many choices.

Until we can select a single person or group, however, there are things people can do in the interim to offer relief to the region, and I’ve posted some initial sources here as an interim step.

Thanks for working to strengthen the good.

* News Channel 8 in Tampa are collecting relief items to deliver “essentials” to the hardest hit areas. The News Center is also teaming up with Wal Mart to collect and distribute these items. Items can be dropped off at the News Center - 200 S. Parker Street - just south of Kennedy, near downtown. Collection is going on Sun., Aug. 15, from noon-4 p.m. Go here for details about items and locations.

* SunTrust Bank, along with News Channel 8, The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com, have partnered with the United Way to help victims of Hurricane Charley. Beginning Mon., Aug. 16, all SunTrust branch locations in the News Channel 8 viewing area will be accepting cash donations to help in the recovery and rebuilding of the affected counties. For more information please stop by a local branch … go here to find locations.

* Volunteer Florida has guidance on how to help here.

* In response to the outpouring of support for victims of Hurricane Charley, Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, has established a hotline to take offers of volunteers and donations. The State of Florida Volunteers & Donations Hotline number is: 1-800-FL-HELP-1

* Here’s a list of Florida Red Cross chapters.

* The Charlotte EOC is asking any hotels able to donate towels, soap, toothpastes, shampoos, and toothbrushes - call emergency management at (540) 542-7246. Deliveries are at the EOC center on Utilities Road.

* NBC 2 in Ft. Myers has an excellent list of information for people in the area here, including guidance on who should go to work Monday, power restoration, and other details.

* STG network member Shutterblog notes that one item critical for many, but missing from most of the “what you can send” lists, is baby forumula. She’s even gone so far as to draft a letter you can send to formula manufacturers … see the post and letter here.

More sources to contact if you’re in the area:

* Salvation Army (money, supplies, volunteers): 1-800-725-2769
* Red Cross (Port Charlotte): 941-629-4345
* Red Cross (Hillsborough): 877-251-0921
* Red Cross (Polk): 863-294-5941
* Red Cross (toll-free): 1-800-741-1444
* Metropolitan Ministries: 813-209-1000
* Adventist Community Services: (800) 381-7171
* Christian Contractors Association: (800) 278-7703
* Church World Service: (800) 297-1516
* Florida Conference United Church of Christ: 420 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 250, Orlando, FL 32803
* Volunteer Florida Foundation: (850) 921-0457

Update: 127 Members & Counting

127 blogs and counting in the network, which is something to feel good about in itself, I think. We’re making progress in identifying our Charley charity … it might be a bit more macro that what will be our standard—things are simply just so chaotic down there (still), that finding that perfect person may take weeks, let alone days—but it won’t be United Way macro.

And we really should act while people are in the greatest need.

But that’s my problem to solve, and I expect that this Sunday night I’ll email the first charity post. In the meantime, you can get a sense of just how chaotic things are in Gulf-Coast Florida by visiting this large gallery of post-Charley aerial photos, taken by a Florida DJ (the “Schnitt Show”). They are astonishing. (Nod to Seki.)

Thanks for all you do to strengthen the good.

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