It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place. – Andrew Carnegie
The next time you want to send a text message from your smartphone donating $2 to disaster relief, think again. Unfortunately, not all of that money will go to helping the victims. In 2011, Americans donated $200 billion to about 1 million charity organizations. When picking a charity to send your donation to, you have to do your homework. Here is a quick guide to some secrets that charities might not always be willing to share.
1. Is it a registered charity?
Some charities operate without any paid employees, and so they do not have to be registered as a charity. The limit they declare is usually below $50,000 annually. But all the other charities who claim to be registered should be checked out by consulting the list at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This is important because of the tax deductions available. It will also ensure that you will not give to those charities who are flying under the government’s radar. In the UK, the Charity Commission is the government’s regulator on charities.Advertising
2. How much is spent on overhead
Each charity will have enormous overhead costs regarding staffing, running costs, and fundraising. Inevitably, a part of your donation will go towards these costs. A good rule of thumb is that 60-75% of donations should go to the actual cause and 25-40% towards administrative expenses. But some charities cut back on expenses, which leads to more waste. Check to see if this information is available on the charity’s website before making a donation.
3. Beware of phone calls
Some charities use companies who are for-profit fundraisers and they use telemarketing extensively. Because of the costs involved, it is unlikely that the charity will receive more than 10% of the amount you pledge.
4. Some charities pay enormous salaries to their CEOs
Major charities have to be run as businesses. But disturbing news often comes to light about how much they are spending on salaries and bonuses. Sometimes, funds raised actually go to the charity’s pension funds, rather than to the poor, sick and needy. This information is rarely revealed. Charities defend paying high salaries to executives because they are in demanding roles, and clever fundraising policies have to be thought out and implemented. The site Charity Navigator believes that salaries around the $1 million mark are unacceptable.Advertising
5. Think carefully about donating to short mission trips
These short mission trips to help build houses, schools and orphanages in third world countries seem to do more good for the volunteers, than the poor people. Think about these facts, before donating:
- Many trips cost as much as $30,000 to sponsor.
- Such large sums could actually be used locally to give employment to builders and workers in the country who desperately need money to buy food. Unemployment in these countries can be as high as 30%.
- Volunteers can send the wrong messages in that they know better, can do the work faster and they do not train the people there to deal with their problems in the long term.
Organizers of short term mission trips should focus more on the permanent impact, and how locals can be more actively involved after the volunteers have left. Ask if they are approaching the mission in this way before deciding whether to donate or not.
6. The good, the bad and the ugly about celebrity charities
When you think about Bob Geldof and Bono, who have supported enormously successful charities to fight world hunger and poverty, you can have nothing about admiration for them.Advertising
But some of these celebrity charities have made zero impact when auditors revealed that considerable funds were missing or unaccounted for. This was the case with Madonna. She was going to build a girls’ school in Malawi. Auditors revealed that almost $4 million went missing from the charity’s funds. Madonna is now contributing $11 million she has raised into Malawi-based organizations to help them build the schools that are needed.
Wyclef Jean, the hip hop icon, founded the Yéle Haiti Foundation after the disastrous earthquake in Haiti, which killed up to 300,000 people in 2010. He is now facing lawsuits about tax fraud and whether he gained financially from the charity he set up.
7. Beware of fundraisers in the mall
How many times have you been approached in the mall or on the street by a fast-talking and convincing fundraiser for a very worthy charity? This is a bit more sophisticated than the telephone calls you might receive at home. Here is what to look out for:Advertising
- They do not want a one-off donation.
- They want a monthly commitment which could work out to be $500 annually.
- They offer to fill out a form and all you have to do is sign.
- They are trained in using persuasion techniques by the companies who are raking it in.
- As some of the fundraisers (or “chuggers” as they are called in the UK) earn $13 an hour, you can imagine how much money actually gets into the charity’s coffers.
The whole concept of giving to charity should be based on a desire to help and not from being pressured in any way by a fast-talking fundraiser!
8. Do some detective work
Before deciding on donating to any charity, check out the following information. All of this should be easily available on the charity’s website. Failing that, there should be information leaflets available. This is what you should check:
- The annual report
- Names of directors and patrons
- Audited financial reports
- Specific projects and how the funds are used
- Statistics on completed projects
Charities are doing magnificent work. You just need to do some homework to make sure that they are managing their funds in the best possible way and that they are not using doubtful tactics. If you are unhappy about this, you can always volunteer to help local charities in your area.
Featured photo credit: Faces helped by charity: Water/Sacca via flickr.com
Last Updated on January 17, 2019
8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life
In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.
Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.
Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.
Table of Contents
Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?
Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological
The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.
There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about. Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.
How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.
According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.
Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug
Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation. Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.
The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.
We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.
The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!
Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.
8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing
There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there. In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.
Are you ready for it? Let’s go!
1. Pray Daily
You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.
When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.
Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.
Pray. You won’t regret it.
2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts
A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.
By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.
Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.
If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.
This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:
3. Smile Often
Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.
Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.
Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.
The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.
4. Organize Your Working Desk
A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.
When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.
Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.
Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.
5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories
I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.
Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!
What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.
6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner
God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.
I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.
I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.
7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology
You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.
How do you do that? This is my formula:
First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.
If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.
If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.
If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.
Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?
8. Go Exercise
Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.
The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.
You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:
The Bottom Line
It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.
It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.
Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.
More Resources About Mindfulness
- How Mindfulness Can Improve Our Focus and Productivity
- Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly
- Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness
- 10 Amazing Benefits of Mindfulness Backed by Science
- I’ve Tried Mindfulness Meditation, Here’s Why You Should Try it Too
Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com
|||^||The Conversation: What might explain the unhappiness epidemic?|
|||^||Fox News: Americans don’t know how to ‘unplug’ on vacation, study finds|
|||^||Develop Good Habits: 71 Mindfulness Exercises for Living in the Present Moment|
|||^||Care2: 7 Proven Health Benefits of Prayer|
|||^||In Touch Ministries: 14 Benefits of Prayer|
|||^||BBC: Can’t unplug? Here’s hot to navigate your digital anxiety|