‘Your Greatest Needs’
As noted, part pf LIVN & GIVN’s mission is to give 10% net annual proceeds to children’s hospitals and community initiatives for local youth and their families.
Having operated in leadership roles as well as in a casual volunteer capacities with various non-profit organizations, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to financial distribution and meeting *real* needs.
Working with, for or managing not-for-profit anything is challenging (and intended to be mutually rewarding) in so many respects.
One example I will share is related to my initial breast cancer journey a decade ago:
Not for lack of pressing, asking, pushing or researching, I was the recipient of almost no help — Among so many other things, no access or information to wigs (even from the local Canadian Cancer Society) and given my age at the time -29 yrs- I slipped through many cracks because not much was ‘geared’ toward my demographic.
Thinking I must’ve simply ‘missed something’ with all that, after my chemo was done and I had delivered Luke, I decided to join an organization to give-back from my paving-the-road experiences and thought it would also help me compassionately understand or gain insight to the ‘other side’.
To continue my stance above…I want to make it clear and reiterate that I very much understand how hard it is to please everyone, it’s hard work — often unappreciated work, it can be complicated to make the best decisions, give to the places that need it most, etc. However, as many know, not all charitable organizations or the people who lead them are worthy of modelling and thus discernment and investigation is needed when giving.
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After sitting in the first meeting, I had a lightbulb moment.
I hadn’t actually been missing anything after all. The priorities were just way off.
There was an unfortunate watered-down approach to real-life considerations of financial allocation, awareness/information distribution to where it was desperately needed and overall bigger-picture thinking.
Were they people with big hearts? Yes. Did they care deeply for what they were working towards? Yes. Did they actually want to reach people and meet their needs? Yes.
Too many cooks in the kitchen? Probably not as there needs to be a lot of hands in a non-profit pot for it to work and the people who are the faces you see are usually getting their orders and guidelines from the higher-ups.
What could I do? Should I speak up? I was the newbie. Would any input I offered come across as intended or effectively? Would it even matter or change anything?
As outlined in the contract agreement I had signed and because I wanted to know about the ground level hands-on happenings, I gratefully showed up to the scheduled events we were to attend.
Each time, I picked up boxes upon boxes upon boxes of swag from the storage unit that were sent to us from headquarters.
As I did my part and handed out multitudes of pens, stickers, lanyards and other cheaply-made nicknacks and doodads that, with 99.9% certaintly, would go unused and be on their way to the landfill within minutes of the departure from my hand, my frustration and plethora of unanswered questions continued to build.
Also, for our efforts and included in the ‘necessary budgeting’ for each organization chapter across Canada, each board member volunteer was the recipient of a really nice high-end jacket with our name embroidered on it.
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When sick, I had begged to know where I could get a decent wig.
The scary donation box on floor 8 at the time had only toupee-style things, scarves and wraps that were suitable -at best- for those about 20–40- years my senior.
***It has since changed thanks to Shelly Battistella from La Dolce Vita Day Spa and Salon along with others who helped with that incredible project***
I went, in-person, into every organization. I had called every number I could asking where the hair goes when people do these big hair drives and donate it. Yet, not one single CANCER organization could give me information on how to go about accessing one. Not one.
Seriously. That was a problem.
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And now here I was, seeing where and why that problem was a problem.
Pens, stickers, doodads — ‘awareness’ yes — but man oh man, I couldn’t wrap my head around the incongruity of the so-called intention of the brand vs. the truth I had witnessed first-hand.
There were so many heartbreaking things. Not for myself…because I’d say I’m pretty solid at speaking up and persevering until…but for those who were more alone, didn’t have connections, who lived out of town or who were simply too exhausted to keep searching for real help.
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That one example along with similar issues are challenges many well-intentioned people and organizations face.
As a small yet slowly growing business with people who have ‘been there done that’, we hope to be able to not only donate to the places that helped us but to offer unique personalized experiences or meet a need that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Our hope is to fill the gaps, be a bit different and give generously.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of a non-profit or wish you could have access to more help, what were/are your greatest needs?
Parking fees? Meals? Groceries? Childcare? Driving children around? Appointment logistics? School lunch supplies? School extras for the kids like popcorn day or whatever so they can be included in the fun? Extracuricular activity payment? An experience that could take your or your loved-one’s mind off the hardship for even a few hours?
We appreciate the feedback and honour your experiences.
-Luke & Becky