Portland, OR. The season of giving doesn’t have to end with Christmas; it can continue through AmazonSmile, a program that automatically donates to a nonprofit organization of your choice. The program offers all of the same items, prices, and benefits of online shopping while donating 0.5% of your purchases to the charity of your choice. Some even use AmazonSmile while shopping on their phones, as seen above.
A recent quarterly AmazonSmile notification informed shoppers that the Oregon Food Bank (seen above before the pandemic) recently received a donation of $1,752.15, at no cost to them.
AmazonSmile launched in 2013 and for the past seven years, it has provided a way for customers to support organizations they care about every time they shop. This program comes at no cost to the organizations or customers, and donations could help a wide range of organizations from global humanitarian efforts to local hospitals to school PTA’s.
“Donations from AmazonSmile have resulted in hundreds of thousands of charities expanding their meaningful work across global communities making a difference in people’s lives,” said Llew Mason, Vice President of Consumer Engagement at Amazon. “We are thrilled to have given over $215 million on behalf of customers to the causes they care about most.”
AmazonSmile can be accessed through a web browser and also through the app for iPhones and Android phones. Another way to directly donate items is through the AmazonSmile Charity Lists where the organization will have a list of items of what is needed most.
For first time users, to access the program first visit smile.amazon.com. Then follow the steps below.
Sign in with your Amazon credentials
Choose a charitable organization to receive donations or search the charity of your choice
Then just select the organization and start shopping
Current spotlight organizations include UNCF (United Negro College Fund), Equal Justice Initiative, Feeding America, Save the Children, and Meals On Wheels America. In addition, there are also thousands of organizations to browse and choose from which are sorted into categories such as international or even by state.
When beginning to give back and donate there will be a choice between spotlight charities and searching for an organization.
Organizations can also register for AmazonSmile by visiting: org.amazon.com/signout and follow the steps below.
Click the yellow “Register Now” button
Search for your organization by name or EIN
Click the yellow “Register” button next to your organization’s name
Follow the instructions to complete registration
Tanya Ramos, CEO for Pencils of Promise, explains how the donations with AmazonSmile have helped the organization, “Education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world. Thanks to the generosity of AmazonSmile customers, Pencils of Promise has helped provide access to quality education for over 100,000 children around the globe.”
From the AmazonSmile Foundation website: The AmazonSmile Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation created by Amazon to administer the AmazonSmile program. All donation amounts generated by the AmazonSmile program are remitted by a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. to the AmazonSmile Foundation. In turn, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates those amounts to the charitable organizations selected by our customers. Amazon pays all expenses of the AmazonSmile Foundation; they are not deducted from the donation amounts generated by purchases on AmazonSmile.
Portland, OR. Things continue to feel far from normal for My Father’s House, where the regulatory efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have led to the cancellation of all fundraising events this year. The organization – which is will soon celebrate 20 years of service to the houseless community of Oregon – is rescheduling its anniversary celebration From January to April 17, 2021. Currently, much many of the resident families (like the one above) are looking forward to continuing the back-to-work education in person at My Father’s House. My Father’s House reclaims at-risk homeless families from street life by providing them with the life skills necessary to become permanently independent and productive citizens.
The mass layoffs in the wake of the pandemic have severely disrupted the organization’s back-to-work program. “It’s been difficult as residents have lost jobs. It feels like one step forward and two steps back…,” conveyed Assistant Director Andrea Pickett. She explained that their educational program – which includes the Life Skills and Rent Well curriculums – encountered difficulties in adapting to Zoom.
This single dad and his kids are residents at My Father’s House.
The support of family means everything during these times.
The community has stepped up to lend a hand during the pandemic.
Nonetheless, faculty have been working hard to meet state requirements, conducting classes on Zoom, and striving to keep contact with residents via phone and internet. “We certainly have upped our technology skills,” Andrea noted. “We have been able to keep a somewhat normal schedule of classes, case management, job, and housing search. In addition, while secluded, we have been able to work on facility issues of repair.”
Despite the difficulties, the faculty and residents remain hopeful. Phase One has allowed many residents to return to work. The community has also stepped up to help fill in the gaps, which Andrea added, “has been extremely generous by providing food, PPE supplies, and help with our cleaning/yard work.”
For anyone interested in getting involved with the organization, please contact Sara at [email protected] OR 503-492-3046 x224.
About My Father’s House
The mission of My Father’s House is to equip homeless families with the life skills necessary to become contributing members of their community.
Portland, OR. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) of Portland has successfully maintained the health of current residents while continuing to provide portable meal containers to the community safely via the front door.
The Union Gospel Mission set up a handwashing station outside its building
“We shut the inside services down and did safety protocols to keep all of the men inside COVID-free. And praise God, we haven’t had any infections inside,” reported Bill Russell, who has overseen operations of Portland’s UGM and Lifechange – an affiliated service – for over 30 years. The inside game room and evening services at the 3rd-Avenue location are typically staffed by the 30-50 men undergoing residential recovery from trauma or substance abuse.
Adapting services to meet health regulations still comes at a cost for UGM’s bottom line: connection. “It thins out what we do. Our whole philosophy of the program is to care for people in order to connect with people and coach them.” Russell explained. “It’s been harder to build trust with just the food program, to have the conversations and relational building that’s necessary to build trust…The very concept of wanting to get people to connect is really challenged when you have to maintain six feet of distance and wear a mask.”
Establishing this trust organically has always been a priority for UGM’s volunteer “Search and Rescue” team, who normally go out in the community to get to know residents at local camps like “Right 2 Dream”. A second team provides rides to medical and housing appointments the following day if they discover a need.
UGM’s Search & Rescue team distributes meals safely with social distancing
Russell noted, “A year ago we were moving one person a week out of homelessness into some kind of either program or shelter that led into housing, so there was a pretty good flow. This year, COVID has caused a real lockup on the available places to go. We’ve placed more women with kids out of camps, but single adults have been fairly stuck in place with COVID… It’s really been a game-changer.”
Russell predicts that the economic downturn will generate more need for affordable housing, adding, “We need many more allies.” Those interested can look online for volunteer opportunities or sign up to give monthly.
On June 9th, UGM reopened its thrift store for retail shopping and are accepting donations. Face coverings and social distancing are required to ensure the safety of guests and volunteers, and hand sanitizer is provided throughout the store. UGM has requested that clothing donations be sealed in plastic bags upon arrival.
From the Union Gospel Mission’s website:
FEEDING THE HUNGRY, RESTORING THE ADDICT AND LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR. SINCE 1927.
Union Gospel Mission provides more than 250,000 meals a year to the homeless and people in need. In addition to meals, the Mission provides food boxes, a day room with coffee and snacks, clothing, hygiene items, referral services and emergency cold weather shelter to the homeless.
Portland, OR. It’s time to focus on year-end charitable donations! On our partner’s page, there are live links to hundreds of your favorites. They’re listed by categories like animals, arts, and education. Please explore PortlandSocietyPage.com for ideas, and watch for our features about many worthy local charities. If you’d like to suggest your favorite nonprofit for a feature, contact us at [email protected]
The website, Charity Navigator is a research tool for donors and evaluates how charities use money. The organization also offers these tips for smart giving:
Be Proactive In Your Giving Smart givers generally don’t give reactively in a knee-jerk fashion. They don’t respond to the first organization that appeals for help. They take the time to identify which causes are most important to their families and they are specific about the change they want to affect. For example, they don’t just support generic cancer charities, but instead have targeted goals for their giving, such as providing mammograms to at-risk women in their community.
Hang Up The Phone / Eliminate The Middleman Informed donors recognize that for-profit fundraisers, those often used in charitable telemarketing campaigns, keep a large portion (in some cases all) of each dollar they collect (read our report about telemarketing for more specifics on the costs affiliated with this form of fundraising). Wise donors never give out their personal information – like credit card accounts, social security numbers – over the phone. If they like what they hear in the pitch, they’ll hang up, investigate the charity on-line and send their contribution directly to the charity, thereby cutting out the middleman and ensuring 100% of their donation reaches the charity. Taking it a step further, donors may want to reconsider supporting a charity that uses an inefficient telemarketing approach and instead identifies a charity that does not use telemarketing to raise funds.
Be Careful Of Sound-Alike Names Uninformed donors are easily confused by charities that have strikingly similar names to others. How many of us could tell the difference between an appeal from the Children’s Charity Fund and the Children’s Defense Fund? Their names sound the same, but their performances are vastly different. Would you be surprised to learn that the Children’s Charity Fund is a 0-star charity while the Children’s Defense Fund is a 3-star charity? Informed donors take the time to uncover the difference.
Confirm 501(c) (3) Status Wise donors don’t drop money into canisters at the checkout counter or hand over cash to solicitors outside the supermarket. Situations like these are irresistible to scam artists who wish to take advantage of your goodwill. Smart givers only support groups granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All of the charities evaluated by Charity Navigator meet this basic requirement.
Check The Charity’s Commitment To Accountability & Transparency In 2011, Charity Navigator added an Accountability & Transparency dimension to its rating system. It tracks metrics such as whether the charity used an objective process to determine their CEO’s salary, whether it has an effective governance structure, and whether it has a whistleblower policy. This data is critical because charities that follow good governance and transparency practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities. So, the risk that such charities would misuse donations is lower than for charities that don’t adopt such practices.
Obtain Copies Of Its Financial Records Savvy donors know that the financial health of a charity is a strong indicator of the charity’s programmatic performance. They know that in most cause areas, the most efficient charities spend 75% or more of their budget on their programs and services and less than 25% on fundraising and administrative fees. However, they also understand that mid-to-large sized charities do require a strong infrastructure therefore a claim of zero fundraising and/or administrative fees is unlikely at best. They understand that a charity’s ability to sustain its programs over time is just as important as its short-term day-to-day spending practices. Therefore, savvy donors also seek out charities that can grow their revenue at least at the rate of inflation, that continue to invest in their programs and that have some money saved for a rainy day. All of this analysis is provided on Charity Navigator’s website for free, but when considering groups not found here, savvy donors ask the charity for copies of its three most recent Forms 990. Not only can the donor examine the charity’s finances, but the charity’s willingness to send the documents is a good way to assess its commitment to transparency.
Review Executive Compensation Sophisticated donors realize that charities need to pay their top leaders a competitive salary in order to attract and retain the kind of talent needed to run a multi-million dollar organization and produce results. But they also don’t just take the CEO’s compensation at face value; they benchmark it against similar-sized organizations engaged in similar work and located in the same region of the country. To help you make your own decision, Charity Navigator’s analysis reveals that the average CEO’s compensation of the charities we evaluate is almost $150,000. In general, salaries tend to be higher in the northeast and at arts and education charities. Sophisticated donors also put the CEO’s salary into context by examining the overall performance of the organization. They know it is better to contribute to a charity with a well-paid CEO that is meeting its goals than to support a charity with an underpaid CEO that fails to deliver on its promises. (Check out our CEO Compensation Study for more benchmarking data.)
Start A Dialogue To Investigate Its Programmatic Results Although it takes some effort on their part to assess a charity’s programmatic impact, donors who are committed to advancing real change believe that it is worth their time. Before they contribute, they talk with the charity to learn about its accomplishments, goals, and challenges. These donors are prepared to walk away from any charity that is unable or unwilling to participate in this type of conversation.
Concentrate Your Giving When it comes to financial investments, diversification is the key to reducing risk. The opposite is true for philanthropic investments. If you’ve taken the time to identify a well-run charity that is engaged in a cause that you are passionate about, you should then feel confident in giving it a donation. Spreading your money among multiple organizations not only results in your mailbox filling up with more appeals, but it also diminishes the possibility of any of those groups bringing about substantive change as each charity is wasting a percentage of your gift on processing expenses for that gift.
Share Your Intentions And Make A Long-Term Commitment Smart donors support their favorite charities for the long haul. They see themselves as a partner in the charity’s efforts to bring about change. They know that only with long-term, committed supporters can a charity be successful. And they don’t hesitate to tell the charity of their giving plans so that the organization knows it can rely on the donor and the charity doesn’t have to waste resources and harass the donor by sending numerous solicitations.
Portland, OR. Vaux’s Swift are swirling around Chapman Elementary again according to the Audubon Society of Portland. It’s the phenomenon is described as, “One of Portland’s most spectacular natural events.” Thousands of Vaux’s Swifts gather in the city as they prepare to migrate to Central America and Venezuela. (Photo Credit, KOV Photography)
Every September, bird lovers gather to watch Vaux’s Swifts prepare to roost for the night at Chapman Elementary School (1445 NW 26th Ave., Portland.) 2,000-15,000 swifts are spotted on a given evening.
Hundreds watch Vaux’s Swifts prepare to roost for the night. It happens one hour before sunset, each night in September
Vaux’s Swifts are using the Chapman chimney as an evening roost during their fall migration, and there’s still time to see them. Grab a seat on the school lawn and in neighboring Wallace Park to observe the birds gathering. On most evenings, Audubon volunteers will be on hand to share information.
Migrating swifts often use chimneys as roosts (places to sleep), and they are likely to return to the same roost year after year. One swift population has been returning to the Chapman chimney since the 1980s, and it is one of the largest known roosting sites of migrating Vaux’s Swifts.
Here’s a video from a Swift Watch:
From the Audubon Society of Portland:
Free Swift Watch parking is available at Montgomery Park and SELCO Community Credit Union. Do not expect to find on-street parking near the event – please park at Montgomery and SELCO if at all possible.
Montgomery Park is located six blocks from Chapman at 2701 NW Vaughn St. Note: from the Chapman area, NW Vaughn cannot be accessed from NW 27th, 28th or 29th Ave.
SELCO Community Credit Union is located at NW 25th and Thurman. Note: The SELCO lot will be available each night any time after 6:00 p.m.
We Need Your Help!
Please be a good neighbor to Chapman-area residents: 1) Do not expect to find on-street parking, so park for free at Montgomery Park and SELCO Community Credit Union or use other transit options. 2) During the event, leash and pick up after dogs. 3) After the event, pick up your trash and do not loiter on school grounds. 4) It is illegal to consume alcoholic beverages or smoke on public school grounds.
Here’s more information about the work of the Audubon Society of Portland, which promotes the understanding, enjoyment, and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats.
Conservation: We protect and advocate for birds and other wildlife in our city and across the region. We also work to ensure all Portland-area residents have easy access to nature.
Education: Our expert educators offer environmental camps, classes and trips for all ages.
Wildlife rehabilitation: Our Wildlife Care Center provides specialty care for native wild animals that are injured or orphaned. The center also answers inquiries about living with urban wildlife.
Sanctuaries: We run nature sanctuaries in the mountains, city and coast. They protect habitat, showcase healthy ecosystems, and provide places for people to connect with nature.
Birding: We help people of all ages and backgrounds get involved in birding by organizing a variety of birding and natural history activities.
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