(Illustration by Hannah Agosta Illustration, based on a photo by Jessie Fox)
How to Give is a biweekly column by local philanthropy wizard Lansie Sylvia. In it, Lansie answers readers’ questions about millennials, philanthropy and engaging the next generation of givers. To ask her a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @FancyLansie.
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:
What happened in Orlando makes me so [EXPLETIVE] angry. What can I do? Is there anything that makes a difference? Homophobia is a huge problem and guns are a huge problem and I feel useless.
When injustice and hate smack us in the face and bring us to our knees, it is completely natural to feel powerless, angry and confused. What happened in Orlando is a national tragedy. I would go off on a tear about just how angry the massacre at Pulse night club makes me, but Samantha Bee has pretty much covered it.
I can only speak from my position, which is that of a liberal democrat and an American citizen who identifies as a straight female feminist and considers herself an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. I also think that guns are dangerous as hell and should be restricted as much as possible. So from this humble and flawed position (because I’m pretty sure we all have flaws in our opinions), here’s what you can do.
Well, first, let’s start with something that you should NOT do — you should NOT donate to a GoFundMe campaign or any other type of crowdfunding campaign. There is very little oversight or accountability with these types of websites. They are built on trust, and if you aren’t already familiar with the organizations or individuals sponsoring these campaigns, it’s going to be extra difficult to get reliable communication and information during such a tumultuous time.
GoFundMe typically charges a 5 percent processing fee, which means that $217,550 of the $4.3M donated would be going to GoFundMe, not the victims or their families.
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Yes, there is a wildly successful, record-breaking GoFundMe campaign started by Equality Florida to help victims of the Pulse Night Club shooting. But GoFundMe typically charges a 5 percent processing fee, which means that at the time of my writing this article, $217,550 of the $4.3M donated would be going to GoFundMe, not the victims or their families.
And yes, GoFundMe is now saying that it will donate $100,000 to the campaign … but that’s still $117,550 going to the company, not the victims.
So … if you want to help those directly affected by this specific crime, my advice is to give to the National Compassion Fund, where 100 percent of your donation will go straight to the victims and families impacted by the Orlando shooting.
Long story short, if you were to give to the GoFundMe campaign, they would then give that money to Equality Florida, who would then disburse the money to partners that include the National Center for Victims of Crime, who would then work with the National Compassion Fund to support the Orlando victims and their families. Phew!
But homophobia and gun violence will not be eradicated with one-time donations to the victims and families of the Orlando shooting. These are deep-seated, societal challenges that must be combatted with sustained pressure on our legislators coming from citizens, advocacy groups, businesses, nonprofits and many more organizing entities.
[Brief interlude: Let me acknowledge that is it everyone’s responsibility every day and in many ways to fight against intolerance in myriad forms. We also need to love and support each other. But that’s a longer article for someone better qualified than me to write, so I’ll stick to philanthropic solutions.]
If you’re passionate about creating safe spaces and equitable treatment for LGBTQ+ individuals and communities, then you can volunteer and give sustaining donations to well-managed nonprofits with strong reputations. Here are some that I recommend in Philadelphia:
- The William Way Center encourages, supports and advocates for the well-being and acceptance of sexual and gender minorities in the Greater Philadelphia region through service, recreational, educational and cultural programming. Plus, one of my favorite people in the world works there.
- The Attic Youth Center is the only organization in Philly exclusively serving LGBTQ youth, and they reduce the isolation felt by LGBTQ youth by providing a sense of community and developing programs and services to counteract the prejudice and oppression that these youth often face.
- The ACLU of Pennsylvania works to secure total rights for LGBT people in PA by working to defend and expand the individual rights and personal freedoms afforded to all of us by the state and federal constitutions and the Bill of Rights. They also work on other issues, so if you’re more of an “Attack injustice on all fronts” type of donor, this one’s for you.
If you want to push for stronger legislation around the access and use of guns … it’s trickier. There are a few well-respected coalitions (Everytown for Gun Safety comes to mind) but most aren’t registered nonprofits, so I can’t research them as well as I normally can when I give advice to you, dear readers.
For now, I’m going to recommend CeaseFirePA for our Pennsylvania readers and ask YOU to recommend which nonprofits you’re supporting to end gun violence in your communities, either in the comments or on Twitter.
Personally, I’m going to put a reoccurring event on my calendar for every Friday at 1:30 p.m. At the end of my lunch break, I’m going to call the people I’ve elected to represent me in Congress and I’m going to ask them what they did that week to end gun violence in America. Most likely, they won’t call back. But I’m going to keep calling and calling and calling and calling until they do.
And in the interim, I’m going to let my LGBTQ+ friends know that I love them and ask how I can best support them. And hopefully that will help.-30-
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