All posts by Linda Allen

Non-Profits That Are Always in Need of Volunteers (Part I)

There are lots of reasons to volunteer your time for a good cause. I do it because I believe in the work. While that’s enough for me, I certainly get a lot more out of it than I first expected. I have volunteered for most of my adult life rescuing dogs and helping in animal shelters. Besides this gratifying work, I’ve also learned public relations, copy editing, and wed design, all career skills that have strengthened my resume, making me more likely to be hired and turning me into a more efficient worker.

If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, why not consider committing a couple of hours to community service and putting that extra shine on your resume? Who knows, you may discover a whole new set of talents to take you up a pay grade or two.

Animal Rescue Shelters
Local animal shelters always need volunteers. Improve your office skills by fielding phone calls, offering general administrative assistance, and responding to emails. Try to connect with the staff, such as offering your dog walking services to the pet owners-to-be who pass through. It makes for a super part-time job and could even become a full-time venture. Professional dog walkers could earn up to $50,000 a year. Perks like having the happiest clients and staying active are the best perks in the world are hard to beat.

National Parks
Volunteering at a national park is more than just picking up litter. If you’re a naturalist or history buff, you can seek opportunities to work at interesting historical sites sustained by the National Park Service. For example, if you’re in the NY area, check out the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historical Site. If you’re in CA, look at Alcatraz Island.

Food Pantries
Food pantries and soup kitchens can frequently use a helping hand organizing a local food drive, getting donations, or just handing out hot meals to those in need. Provide any skill you have, including data entry, cooking, or copy editing. Any are great values to any organization.

Donating to Wikipedia: What You Should Know

It’s that time of year again. As the Christmas lights go up, Wikipedia’s donation drive starts. Wikipedia states that the donations are needed to keep the site online. Guilt-tripped folks have contributed to Wikipedia in the belief that their money helps fund operating costs. Students, who are already in debt, are urged to donate in case Wikipedia fades away.

But what Wikipedia doesn’t tell us is that it is loaded with cash, raising way more money every year than it needs to keep going.

Donations are funding a massive expansion in research projects and professional administrative staff. Amazingly, Wikipedia has found the money to fund a lobbyist.

All this has been met with disappointment by the loyal enthusiasts who do all the hard work of keeping the project afloat by contributing and editing words. They aren’t paid. For the first time, Wikipedians are starting to investigate the cash awards and are making some fascinating discoveries.

First, let’s have a look at the finances.

The original intention based on the words by co-founder Jimmy Wales, was to fund Wikipedia through advertising money. He stated, “If Wikipedia were to get very successful, in terms of web traffic, then it would be simple to introduce just enough advertising to continue to cover expenses.”

In 2006 Wales rejected that choice and pointed out other revenue sources like leveraging the brand into television, games, radio. But he left the door to advertising open just in case it was wanted.

Today, the funding is organized by a non-profit corporation, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). The growth in funding has been spectacular. In 2006, the foundation had just three employees, and functioned on a $3m budget. In 2007 evaluators at Charity Navigator gave WMF only one star for efficiency. The Wikimedia Foundation employed a convicted felon as its COO to look after its books while she was on parole. The executive’s convictions included check fraud and unlawfully shooting her boyfriend in the chest.

Charities That Support Women Around the Globe

Organizations supporting women and encouraging equality and fairness in wages, in behavior, and with opportunities have spent years putting women’s rights at the forefront of their missions. In honor of International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8, we’ve made a list of organizations that are fueling this worldly change for the better. Take a look at these groups that are helping fight for what’s fair, regardless where women are in the world.


Since 2007, this group has been inspiring under-privileged women in Uganda by providing business training and access to microloans to help enable their professional independence. The group’s contributions have encouraged Ugandans, with five women affiliated with WGEF’s programs running for and winning political office in 2016.


The professional and personal consequences of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace have frequently made it hard for women to speak out. Fearing they’ll be ostracized, they stay quiet. On top of that, legal action can be pricey. Backed by the National Women’s Law Center, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund seeks to offer legal assistance for women wanting to battle harassment in court. Just two months into their existence, organizers have fielded over 1600 requests from all across the globe, including the Kenya and Kuwait.


Model Christy Turlington Burns started this activist group that seeks to enhance medical care for mothers around the globe by training professionals, progressing transportation to care facilities, and giving critical supplies to clinics. The organization has coordinated grants that have enhanced mother mortality rates in Tanzania, India, and Haiti.


Persistent cultural traditions approve the practice of female genital cutting (FGC), which involves the removal of external female genitalia. Unnecessary, invasive, and risky, the tradition is being opposed by Orchid Project, which aims to stop the practice by passing out educational information in areas like Ethiopia.

Need Help with Funeral Costs? Take a Look at These Charities

Coping with a death is never easy but financial worries can increase the difficulties in this heartbreaking circumstance.

Financial assistance is available to aid in paying for some or all the funeral or burial costs of a parent or loved one. The resources from charities and the government concentrate on the working poor, senior citizens, and low-income families who live on a limited income and lack assets. Others could qualify for help in paying for funeral costs when they are faced with a need.

Some counties and states could give direct financial aid for paying bills and other expenses that might be gained from a funeral. The government may offer other help as well, like free caskets for the poor, the indigent, and very low-income families. Or they may pay for transportation (out of state death) or cremation costs. Or, individuals can research services offered by the Funeral Consumers Alliance, which gives advice and help a family have an affordable and dignified service for their loved ones.

Non-profit advice and referrals for funerals

The Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization that offer families resources and educational materials on funeral choices. The organization covers all facets of burying a loved one, whether it is a child or parent. The organization can counsel individuals on affordable funeral choices that might be available to them. Additionally, the programs offered may help folks work out a service that meets their budget and fits their financial and personal situation.

However, a family’s own budget is the deciding factor in what someone can pay for a funeral or burial. An assessment of their assets will typically be done, varying from investments and savings to life insurance policies. The non-profit will aid clients in understanding the process and future costs.

Top Non-Profits for Homeless Veterans

The federal government has a goal of eradicating homelessness among veterans. Many nonprofit and government organizations have joined the effort to get to that goal.

Here are four nonprofits deemed standouts for their work in combating homelessness among U.S. veterans.

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
Four-stars by Charity Navigator, the two million-member Disabled Americans Veterans (DAV) aids veterans lead high-quality lives with dignity and respect by making sure they and their families can access the complete range of benefits available to them based on the organization’s mission statement. Shown on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ alternative resources Web page, DAV also works to unite in-need service members with housing with its Homeless Veterans Initiative.

United States Veterans Initiative (U.S. VETS)
The Center for Public Integrity named U.S.VETS as one of the nation’s Top 25 veterans charities. The organization says its role is offering employment, counseling services, and housing to our nation’s veterans. The 11 U.S. VETS chapters work to get homeless veterans and guide them to vital services that might help ease the challenges they face as a consequence of their homelessness.

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)
Shown significantly on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ alternative resources Web page, NCHV refers to itself as the most complete source of information about America’s homeless veterans. Its role is to offer research and technical resources to a nationwide network of organizations, non-profit and governmental that in turn give emergency and supportive housing, health services, job training, placement assistance, legal aid, case management support, and food to thousands of homeless veterans every year.

American Veterans (AMVETS)
Through its highly rated National Service Foundation, and with organizations like the above-mentioned NCHV, AMVETS offers grassroots programs like “Stand Down,” which aids homeless veterans get shelter refuge from the streets and start to get their lives together. Also, AMVETS works with the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans and is one of the non-governmental organizations suggested by the VA for addressing this crucial issue.

Veterans’ Charities: Best and Worst keeps tabs on the worst and best veterans’ charities you can donate to on behalf of the brave men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform. The organization grades every charity using an A-F scale:

Best choices among veterans’ charities:

  • Fisher House Foundation (A+)
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (A)
  • Wounded Warriors Family Support (A)
  • Wounded Warriors Family Support (A)
  • Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (A)
  • Homes for Our Troops (A)
  • Bob Woodruff Family Foundation (A)
  • Gary Sinise Foundation (A)
  • Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (A)
  • Hope For The Warriors (A-)
  • National Military Family Association (A)
  • Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (A)
  • Operation Homefront (A)
  • Semper Fi Fund (A+)
  • Team Rubicon (A-)

Avoid these veterans’ charities:

  • Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (F)
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America (F)
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (F)
  • AMVETS National Service Foundation (F)

How to make your donation work for any charity

Before donating to any charity, you should know the precautions to take to guarantee that the money will go where it’s needed.

  • Don’t give cash. Real charities take checks and money orders.
  • Don’t provide bank account, personal information, or credit card information to telemarketers. In fact, you should be suspicious of telemarketers. If you want to donate, you should be the one who instigates the call.
  • Don’t give to online charities if the cause does not look genuine and doesn’t check out. Traditional scamming has gone internet in recent time, giving con artists easy access to millions of potential victims.
  • Check out the charity with the authorities. Established charities are registered with the IRS. You can look for particular non-profit organizations on the IRS website.
  • Report abuses to the State Attorney General’s office and the BBB. You can also report abuses to the National Fraud Information Center or at

Charities that Help Pay Bills

Several charity foundations and organizations throughout the United States provide aid to people for paying their bills. These nonprofits frequently assist those in need by paying for needs like electric, rent, heating, and water as well as provide referrals to agencies that can give continuing assistance.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is possibly best known for its assistance of those in emergency situations and disasters like earthquakes and fires. However, local chapters of the American Red Cross also aid with emergency housing assistance and utility bills for those who are facing eviction or foreclosure. Services offered by the American Red Cross may differ by location and are based according to individual need.

The United Way

The United Way is a global nonprofit organization that assist in paying utilities bill by helping hundreds of people in need every day. The United Way gives support and aid to the needy in paying for things such as utilities, housing, child care, food and much more. Also, The United Way works with other charitable organizations to give ongoing assistance to those who need long-term care or counseling. United Way even help domestic violence victims to get out of a dangerous situation.

Catholic Charities USA

When it comes to using charities to aid in paying bills, Catholic Charities is a great place to go. The organization explicitly states that they are willing to help those is poverty regardless what religion they are. They have a long list of programs for those in need like disaster relief services, immigrant and refugee services, health and nutrition assistance, and housing assistance. Also, many local chapters are able to provide emergency assistance. These programs helps families that have suffered hospitalization, death of a loved one, or a job loss with groceries, paying utility bills, and medications.

Michelle's Love Charity

Michelle’s Love Provides Cleaning Service For Parents With Cancer

Since its beginnings in Phoenix, Arizona in 2005, Michelle’s Love has remained focused in its drive and purpose. Fueled by donations and volunteers, they provide practical care and support for single moms undergoing treatment for cancer. With meal preparation and cleaning services, this group helps to meet critical needs for the parents they serve.

Born Out of Loss

After watching her best friend, Michelle, battle the disease that ultimately claimed the young mom of four, Andy McCandless set out to make a difference for other women in the fight of their lives. Now expanded into Portland, Oregon, Michelle’s Love seeks to meet basic needs for the parents in their care so they can focus on treatment and getting well.

Cleaning Service, Rental Assistance, and Food Delivery

Once someone is accepted into the program, the organization pays their rent, cleans their home, and provides some meals for the family. Occasionally other needs arise for the parents that Michelle’s Love serves, such as car repairs or yard work. Whenever possible, the network of volunteers and supporters meet those needs too.

To qualify for assistance from Michelle’s Love, the recipient must be a single parent undergoing treatment for cancer. They must have been working at the time of their diagnosis, but they do not need to be working while receiving services. The organization is very focused in its mission and is careful to use its resources wisely to meet the specific needs of housing and meals.

How to Help

Michelle’s Love relies primarily on two fundraising events each year. During October each year, volunteers organize “Step Up Your LOVE” events in which they get sponsors for walking, running, or biking for their goal distances. In the spring each year is the organization’s “Share the Love” dinner and silent auction. This fun evening for couples is a fantastic way to support the group’s work and mission. The popular local eatery, The Buffalo Gap, hosts this incredible event each year.

The group is able to accomplish everything it does thanks to a vast corps of volunteers. They show up to make and deliver meals, clean homes, pull weeds, and pay the rent for the parents during their time in treatment. As one mom said, “I don’t know what I would have done without the love and constant giving of this organization.”

Parents the world over will forgo many things they want and even need in order to provide for their children. But when a parent undergoes treatment for cancer, they must be able to focus on their needs if they are going to heal. Many parents do not have the means to do this, however. They are trying to raise children by themselves and still somehow manage to make time for their own significant health needs. Things fall through the cracks. Michelle’s Love seeks to fill that gap for parents. In Michelle’s honor, this group serves tirelessly and lovingly so parents can heal.

Tips on Researching a Charity Before Donating

If you’re pondering a request for a donation to a charity, do your research before you give. By discovering as much as you can about the charity, you can avoid scammers who try to take advantage of your kindness. Here are tips to help guarantee your charitable contributions are used for its intention.

Signs of a Charity Scam

These days, non-profits and charities use the web, email, texts, and face-to-face to solicit and get money. Naturally, scammers use these same techniques to take advantage of your kindness.

It doesn’t matter how they come to you, avoid any charity or non-profit that:

  • Refuses to give detailed information about its costs, mission, identity and how the donation will be used.
  • Won’t offer proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
  • Uses a name that is very similar to that of a reputable, well-known organization.
  • Thank you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
  • Uses high-pressure strategies like trying to get you to donate right away without giving you time to do any research and/or think about it.
  • Asks you to wire money or to donate cash.
  • Wants to send an overnight delivery service or courier to collect the money ASAP.
  • Promise sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation. By law, you don’t have to give a donation to qualify to win a sweepstakes.

Charity Checklist

Take the following steps to make sure your donation helps the organizations and people you want to help.

  • Ask for in-depth information about the charity such as the name, address, and telephone number.
  • Get the exact name of the organization and research. Look up the name of the organization online, particularly with the word scam or complaint. This is one way to learn about its reputation.
  • Call the charity. Find out if the organization knows of the solicitation and has approved the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to assist you.

Better Basics

Better Basics has the goal to improve the lives of children by encouraging literacy via enrichment programs. Over 1, 200 volunteers help more than 22, 000 children each year. Last year alone, Better Basics gave away over 70,000 books.

Better Basics offers enrichment programs, educational opportunities, and literacy intervention for elementary- and middle-school students all through the state of Alabama. Through active partnerships with the various communities and schools, they bring a sense of confidence by nurturing an interest in learning and improving every child’s ability to read and be successful in life.

Our programs encourage kids as they proceed along the learning range, from reading to retention, while instilling literature into their homes and revealing to them enrichment programs and multi-cultural arts.

As they boost childhood literacy rates, they lessen future adult illiteracy issues and their many side effects, forming countless benefits for our society as a whole. Better Basics is a non-profit organization and well-known authority on childhood literacy in Birmingham, Alabama.

Empowering Children: They empower children by promoting an interest in learning, building confidence, and giving kids the tools to be a successful student.

Enriching the Community: Their programs absolutely impact AL students and their communities by raising literacy rates, increasing educational achievements, and boosting productivity levels.

Reducing Illiteracy: By improving childhood literacy rates, they decrease adult illiteracy issues and enhance quality of life.

In 1993, John Glasser established Better Basics on the principle that illiteracy and poverty are so closely connected they are literally one and the same. Mr. Glasser also realized that because reading skills are the basis of learning, children who lack these crucial skills had little hope of being successful in school or life. What started as an agency with two devoted employees providing tutoring in one Birmingham public school has developed into a full-fledged organization.