Main Street Final Blog

After completing the first 9 weeks I had come to terms with the fact that the next week would be a bittersweet ending to the course. My most memorable experience through Main Street was the raising of money. Though this seems like a simple task, I ultimately found out, it is not. Raising money through bake sales and simply asking for donations can be a difficult are arduous process. Despite this, it is very rewarding in the end knowing the money you raise will be used towards a good cause. Through Main Street I learned plenty of valuable and important life lessons. The most important one of these is to have faith in others. I learned this through working with teammates and hoping they would try to contribute as much as I did to our fund raising efforts. My group members certainly did not fall short and were very helpful in raising money and awareness for Main Street and our goal as a team. If I were to give advice to nonprofits I would first tell them to keep an open mind about who comes to them. This especially applies to teenagers coming to them offering a possible opportunity. Other students and other schools need to realize that enrolling in Main Street should not be done solely to help college resumés, though that is a helpful bonus. Enrolling in Main Street and completing the course is a very difficult task that demands heavy amounts of attention and should only be done if one is passionate about learning about philanthropy and helping others. To any possible donors to a Main Street Class, I would advise them to learn about what Main Street does and realize that it is a very valuable experience for all those involved. And if I had the choice between being given $25 dollars to keep or $250 to give away, I would definitely give away the $250, I honestly am in a fortunate situation where I can go without $25 dollars. There are people however who do not have nearly enough and I am hoping I would be able to help with the money.

Interview and Panel Class Relfection

Week 7’s panel class was a little bit more interesting than the one that was held week 6. This is because the two charities were vastly different, not only in purpose and there mission, but in there financial situations as well. It was very noticeable how while Emmanuel Cancer had a much more organized structure and more organization financially, Bridge of Books had a much different, less organized plan as well as a lower budget. While studying finances in the prior weeks of the course I distinctly remember a discussion on how charities that are less established may not have such a definite financial plan. This definitely was evident to be true considering the fact that Emmanuel Cancer has been around for a much longer time compared to Bridge of Books. For my interview I decided to interview the most important woman in my life, my mother. In her interview with me she discussed how she grew up in a much worse financial situation than she and I are living in now, where money was somewhat tight. My mother also detailed with me how she now gives to many charities that she has a personal connection with. For example she donates money to charities that help to battle MS because she had a childhood friend who unfortunately had her life taken by the disease. What I found more interesting though was her reasoning for giving. It was not to make herself feel good, nor is it out of pity. My mother gives to organizations because she wants to put all people on an “even playing field” in her words, making sure that everybody has the same opportunities. This belief has prompted her giving to the New Jersey Food Bank, as well as her volunteering and donating to Bridges (not related at all to Bridge of Books). I believe that all people should give due to this principle. While I agree it is a small issue because no matter why you give the donation goes to a good cause, it is a good test of character to actually analyze honestly why we give and if we do it for any personal gain of our own.

Week 5 Blog

Unfortunately week 4 was somewhat short, so I feel as if not as much got accomplished as possible. However overall I felt the class was still very productive. It was very interesting to see the various charity’s 990 forms. While some of the organizations were clearly using their money very responsibly, others were not using their money as wisely as perhaps they could.  It was very interesting to see how each charity used their money differently based on their needs. Also seeing how some 990 forms were filled out pretty appropriately based on the charity’s mission and what they do. For example, Advocates for Children of New Jersey had a very large percentage of their expenses going to salaries. While at first this was startling and my group thought maybe the organization was not using their money very wisely, we realized that the since the group is focused on advocacy, the salaries are going to people who are advocates and therefore helping the program. In addition, some suspicions my group and other groups may have about the financial side, or any other part of their or another group’s organization will likely be discussed in next week’s panel class. In this class, where members of various organizations come to speak about their charity and also answer questions, I hope to not only learn about each charity in specific, but also how charities represent and handle themselves in front of potential donators.

Week 4 Blog

Week 4 was the first week for me where I was worried about my lack of knowledge. Even going into the first week I knew generally what Main Street did and what philanthropy was as a whole. However, I have had absolutely zero experience with tax returns and taxes. My only job I’ve had payed in very small amounts and was paid in cash, so I never filed a tax return. Looking at the tax return also reminded me a very important fact, Charities, despite seeming different are in some ways very similar to a business in the way they need to conduct themselves in order to help others. It was also very interesting in learning about the different tax laws and codes that exist in America. I found it a very valuable week, not only in exploring US tax laws but also getting insight in how Charities conduct themselves financially.

Week 3

I personally felt as if Week 3 was the first time I came closer to helping people. While the first 2 weeks were undoubtedly productive in introducing the course and also the people my classmates and I would be working with, week 3 was really in my opinion, an introduction more to what I would be doing to help better the lives of others. Additionally, things like hearing the cold call were very helpful to me in something I had not thought about, the fact that charities may not always have time to deal with everyone. While the person the class called was very receptive and friendly, one thing was staying in my mind the rest of the class, What if the person I call is not available or is not interested in talking to me. It was also difficult for my group to come up with a specific thing we all felt very passionate about. While we knew a general topic, children in our case, we did not know what we wanted to focus on, abuse, poverty, education or another problem facing children. I feel that in the coming week my group will be able to easier distinguish exactly what cause we want to support.

Week 2 Blog

Week two I felt was overall extremely productive. The brown paper bag activity helped very much for me to understand more about the people in my group as well as the things they valued in their life. I hope my sharing had the same effect on them as all of their’s had on me. It was also interesting to try and figure out if, and how, my group members items might have had an effect on what they chose in week one for the MAD card activity. Additionally, speaking to my group members about their views and seeing how for the most part they agreed, and in some cases seemed to differ with my personal beliefs was a large step in us understanding how we can work well in a group together and what we may need to focus on more specifically when choosing a charity to help. With my new group and seeing the things we have in common I hope my group members and I will be able to easily find a reliable charity that coincides with all of our beliefs to help raise money for together.

Week 1 Activity

During the first class, on Tuesday, it was very interesting working with the MAD cards and trying to choose what issues stood out to me as well as my partner and everyone else. What I found surprising was that most of the people, including myself, chose issues that they had some type of personal connection. For example, I chose emergency and disaster relief because I had family that was heavily effected by Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in past years. Additionally, and on a darker note, many of my classmates and I felt a sense of guilt in not picking a certain issue or group in the activity. It’s very difficult to prioritize a certain issue when so many people and groups need help and people to assist them. The MAD card activity was very eye opening in seeing how I choose what I value more and what I value less. My hope through is that with the help of Main Street Philanthropy I will be able to find a medium in which to help groups that are devoted to the issues I chose as being more important to me with the MAD cards. I cannot wait for the second week and seeing how I can develop the ideas I expressed through the cards!