Philanthropy and Nonprofits: Where the Money Should Be, But Isn’t

tasha-williamsonTasha Williamson is no stranger to the workings of a nonprofit organization. Cofounder of the San Diego Compassion Project, which offers support and outreach for families who experience the loss of a loved one due to violence, she also co-created the Block by Block program, which caters to high-risk gang members by guiding them towards educational and job opportunities and helps them stay out of jail. Williamson was also the manager for Project Safeway, which ensures children get to and from school safely, and is completely staffed by volunteers.

“I was able to find what my true gift is to the world, and help so many other people with a team of folks who, like myself, really love helping people,” Williamson says. “And helping them overcome their greatest challenges in life.”

While many desire to help the needy, the only reason not to pursue a career in this otherwise altruistic, noble and respected profession is the first thing many take into consideration when deciding upon their future career: the little (and many times nonexistent) paycheck.

There’s a good reason why the typical image of a nonprofit organizer involves a millionaire with an abnormal amount of disposable income. It is a common, selfless hobby amongst the affluent, from Will and Jada Smith, whose Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation has granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Lupus Foundation, the Baltimore School for the Arts, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to Beyoncé Knowles, who donated $4 million to a drug treatment nonprofit in California, on top of creating the Survivor Foundation for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and donating the proceeds of her song “I Was Here” to humanitarian causes.

This particular challenge facing those who want to dedicate their lives to doing good, but find themselves entrapped within their own modest means, involves a lot of passion for work that offers much in terms of fulfillment, humanity and connection, but little in salary. And Williamson knows all too well what a toll it can take. Her day job involves working as a community outreach consultant for the Urban League of San Diego, and can only take up so much of her time when her philanthropic causes need her attention.

“With the work that I do—it really is a lot of volunteer work, so there’s no money,” Williamson says.

But money isn’t all that she sacrifices. The Compassion Project handles intense confrontations, emotional fallouts and serious issues that are both exhausting and time consuming. This means Williamson spends a lot of her time away from her family.

“I think about the sacrifice that my family has made, so that I can do the work that I do. Including my own children. Because a lot of my work takes me away from the home.”

But Williamson’s dedication to her job finally paid off directly in October, when she received the call that she had won the California Endowment Fund’s California Peace Prize, which happened to come with a $25,000 check.

“To hear that there was a prize that came with it, I cried. I didn’t believe him at first, so I kept asking him, is he serious? He says ‘you know people hang up on me. They don’t believe that I’m serious,’ and he said this is really a real call.

“I just broke down and started crying, because you know, we really needed good news.”

Unfortunately, Williamson’s is an infrequent case, as many people dedicated to a career in philanthropy and volunteering without the money to support themselves find it difficult to live, as they balance the fine line between getting by and declaring bankruptcy.

Manish Vaidya, a nonprofit worker who has since had to leave the industry, recently spoke out about the grim treatment and financial support he received from his job.

“It was the ultimate paradox, that in these organizations that were committed to doing social good in their communities, wage exploitation was ripe,” he says.

Vaidya goes on to describe a job he ultimately had to abandon—not because he didn’t believe in its cause, but because he simply could no longer support himself.

“I worked seven days a week and wasn't paid overtime. I stopped one day to do the math on what I was actually making, and realized I was being exploited to the tune of 12 cents an hour.”

“When non-profits are doing the jobs that a government is supposed to provide, it's usually the sign of a breakdown and of a failed state,” said Carla Sapsford Newman, a former employee of PactWorld, a non-profit that works to strengthen charitable sectors in third-world countries.

But as the non-profit industry in America faces a crises in financial management, Williamson’s story serves as a hopeful reminder that if more is done to acknowledge nonprofits and charitable organizations, it will not only give rise to the betterment of an ever-important sector in America’s economic welfare, but will create a lucrative opportunity that may make the philanthropic profession within reach of anyone—even those who, in lieu of money, have only their work ethic and compassion to offer.


Drake Inks Deal With Nike; Kanye Signs With Adidas

drakeRapper/singer Drake announced he has signed a sneaker deal with Michael Jordan’s Nike Brand during a concert in Portland Oregon. “Today happens to be one of the best days of my life,” said the Canadian hip-hop star.
Drake later posted a shot of his OVO Air Jordans on Instagram, but there’s no official date when the shoe will be available in stores.

“I officially became inducted into the Team Jordan family," Drake, 27, said. Michael Jordan confirmed the new deal on Twitter welcoming Drake to the family but keeping it relatively concise saying “He’s home.”

With the ink barely dry on the endorsement deal, Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West recently announced he had severed ties with the footwear brand in a feud over refusal to grant him royalties and creative control. The disgruntled and outspoken rapper who has been on a ranting spree shortly after parting ways with Nike, signed a shoe deal with Adidas.

Super Soaker Creator Awarded $72.9M

Hasbro Inc. has been ordered to pay $72.9 million in underpaid royalties to the Atlanta-based company behind the Super Soaker water gun and Nerf toy guns founded by former NASA scientist and inventor Lonnie George Johnson.

The 64-year-old single handily fueled the water gun weaponry revolution in the 1980s with his Super Soaker recreational water gun, which became the bestselling toy in America.

Johnson, who grew up in segregated Mobil, Alabama and holds more than 80 patents, formed his own professional engineering company in 1980 and licensed the water gun, which sold over $200 million in its first two years.

Hasbro eventually purchased the toy company and sales have totaled close to $1 billion dollars since. “The demand was so much that the production company couldn’t keep up,” Johnson said on CNBC’s Business Nation’s segment titled “How I Made My Millions.”

Erykah Badu in Givenchy’s Spring ’14 Campaign

When Erykah Badu stripped naked for shock value in her 2010 “Window Seat” video, who knew she would reap the benefits for controversial artistic expression? The 42-year-old "Queen of Neo-Soul" has caught the attention of Italian fashion designer Riccardo Tisci, the creative director for Givenchy women clothing.

In an industry plagued with racism and a lack of diversity, Tisci’s campaign to choose a woman of color as the face of Givenchy took the fashion world by surprise. “Erykah, she’s an icon. “She’s one of the most stylish women I’ve met in my life. She’s got such a good sense of proportion, of colors. What I want to do with my advertising campaign is spread the love,” Tisci told Style.com.

Tisci’s radical innovation is already making history. It’s the first large marketing initiative exclusively using women of color in an haute couture advertising campaign.


The Best Business Advice You Never Had To Pay For

How much would it cost you to sit down for a power lunch with Sean “Diddy” Combs and pick his brain for advice? Well, if you were one of those who bid for the chance in a charity auction, it would have run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,250. But that actually would have only gotten you 15 minutes on the phone with the rap mogul. Lunch would have been with one of his top executives.

But put your money away as provided below—free of charge—is some of the best money/business advice around from some of the nation’s top superstar entrepreneurs.

 Daymond John, FUBU clothing line, Shark Tank TV Show
"It takes the same energy to think small as it does to think big. So dream big and think bigger."

 Oprah Winfrey
"Be the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment, own it.

"I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good."

Cathy Hughes
Be wary about who you divulge your challenges to -- even family. "Sometimes the ones who love you the most will give you the worst business advice. My mother tried her best to talk me out of the radio business because of that. If I had listened [to my mother], I would be a government employee right now and there would be no Radio One."

Russell Simmons, Def Jam, Phat Farm, Rush Communications
Be passionate about what you do. Do a business you believe in: "I'm an entrepreneur who is moved by passion, but not numbers. I am constantly being approached with business ideas that will make money, but if I don't believe in the business, I won't do it."

Give away your business products and services for free. "If you are a good giver, you will be great getter."

Magic Johnson, Magic Johnson Enterprises
The No. 1 thing you have to do is research to make sure there is a business there. No. 2, make sure there is demand for what you are going to have your business in. I was able to build my company because demand was already there. You also have to understand the competition and what they are doing.

P. Diddy
You’ve got to work for greatness. You’ve got to work. My first job was a paper route when I was 12. Work as hard as you can to pursue your dream, believe and you can achieve. Positive attracts positive. Negative attracts negative.

Tyra Banks
Get organized! If you aren't organized it is impossible to be successful- both personally and professionally. If your stuff is a mess, you are going to be mess.

Set goals and make timelines. You should set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Breakdown what you want to accomplish and how long it's going to take you. Don't be afraid to change your plans. Not everything in life goes according to plan. Don't be discouraged if you get off track. Reassess your goals.

 BET Founder, Robert L. Johnson
Make your friends before you need them. I’ve never been one that was afraid of having people who could help me by giving me their advice. The more they feel comfortable that they’re part of your mission and they clearly understand the mission, whatever you’re doing just becomes easier. You have to give people an opportunity to have an opinion about what you’re going to do.

Judy Smith, Smith & Company
(Inspiration behind “Scandal’s” Olivia Pope)
Know your industry’s weaknesses Certain crises are likely to happen in given industries--like recalls for consumer products. Prepare an advance game plan and a solid execution strategy for these potential mishaps. Have a plan of attack If you or your company fall into a crisis, own up to your issues and face the reality of your situation, be honest and transparent, act decisively to begin to remedy the situation, and have in place a strategy to rehabilitate the brand.


Remember These Credits When Filing Your Taxes

With the April 15 deadline for fast approaching, comes the last minute scramble to cross our 4s and dot our decimals. Here are a few credits and tips straight from the IRS to not only help your tax filing go smoothly, but to help you save a little money along the way.

Five Credits to Consider
1.    The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit for people who work and don’t earn a lot of money. The maximum credit for 2012 returns is $5,891 for workers with three or more children. Eligibility is determined based on earnings, filing status and eligible children. Workers without children may be eligible for a smaller credit. If you worked and earned less than $50,270, use the EITC Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you qualify. For more information, see Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.
2.    The Child and Dependent Care Credit is for expenses you paid for the care of your qualifying children under age 13, or for a disabled spouse or dependent. The care must enable you to work or look for work. For more information, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
3.    The Child Tax Credit may apply to you if you have a qualifying child under age 17. The credit may help reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child you claim on your return. You may be required to file the new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, with your tax return to claim the credit. See Publication 972, Child Tax Credit, for more information.
4.    The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit) helps low-to-moderate income workers save for retirement. You may qualify if your income is below a certain limit and you contribute to an IRA or a retirement plan at work. The credit is in addition to any other tax savings that apply to retirement plans. For more information, see Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).
5.    The American Opportunity Tax Credit helps offset some of the costs that you pay for higher education. The AOTC applies to the first four years of post-secondary education. The maximum credit is $2,500 per eligible student. Forty percent of the credit, up to $1,000, is refundable. You must file Form 8863, Education Credits, to claim it if you qualify. For more information, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

Six Tips To Make Filing Less Taxing
1.    Gather your records.  Round up any documents you will need when filing your taxes, including receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you will be claiming on your tax return. Store them in a safe place.
2.    Get answers to questions.  Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool available on the IRS website to find answers to your questions about tax credits and deductions.
3.    Use Free File.  If your income was $57,000 or less, you qualify to use free tax software to prepare and e-file a tax return. The brand-name tax software is available exclusively at IRS.gov.
4.    Try IRS e-file.  IRS e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return. It’s safe, easy and the way most taxpayers file their return. If you owe taxes, you have the option to file early and pay by April 15.
5.    Use direct deposit.  Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way for you to get your refund.
6.    Review your return.  Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush. Mistakes slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double check all Social Security numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors. If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help. Start with IRS.gov.
Remember to check to make sure you qualify before claiming any qualify before claiming any tax credit. For more information and more tips, visit: www.irs.gov.


Angolan Business Woman Joins the Ranks of Forbes Billionaires

Angola’s Isabel dos Santos joined the ranks of Forbes most prestigious and exclusive Billionaires List.

She is the oldest daughter of Angola’s president of 34 years, José Eduardo dos Santos, and considered by Forbes the richest woman in Africa and the richest, most powerful woman in the South-West African nation. Dos Santos earned a place on the list with an estimated net worth of $2 billion.

Though her most valuable asset is a 25% stake in one of Angola’s two mobile phone networks, Unitel, worth over $1 billion, she also serves as a board member for the company.

The King’s College London alumnus (earning a degree in electrical engineering) garners additional income from stakes in several Angolan and Portuguese companies covering a range of industries. She started her first business at age 24 when she opened one of the first night clubs and beach restaurants on Angola’s Luanda Island.

Her wedding to the son of a Congolese millionaire cost about $4 million to cover expenses (a special choir flown in from Belgium and two planes chartered to bring in food from France). Amongst the 800 guests where several African Presidents.


Biz NewsBriefs

Alicia Keys Appointed ‘Global Creative Director’ of BlackBerry

During its launch of two new devices and a new operating system, BlackBerry announced and presented Alicia Keys as a Global Creative Director for the company.

BlackBerry (previously called Research In Motion) created the position to help "inspire the future" of the company.

“I’m fascinated by technology. I've always wanted to work directly with a technology company,” said Keys, whose job description includes promoting the BlackBerry. “I wanted to do something where I could grow professionally and personally.”

Keys, who previously worked with BlackBerry but left, joins a list of muscians hired as creative directors for a tech company. In 2010, Polaroid signed Lady Gaga, and a year later, Intel named will.i.am as its director of creative innovation.

Oprah Winfrey Signs With WME; OWN Ratings Strong

Oprah Winfrey and her production company Harpo have switched talent agencies. Oprah’s empire was formerly with CAA, but recently signed with WME's Ari Emanuel, the Hollywood agent brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The move came a week after the Queen of Daytime interviewed Lance Armstrong, which was watched by 4.3 million people. Despite its struggles, OWN’s ratings are up 30% last year compared to 2011 and the network is expected to become profitable this year.

The switch also happens to be the same year Winfrey is scheduled to return to acting. The media mogul will be onscreen in a narrative film for the first time since 1998 with a starring role opposite Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels' "The Butler," to premiere later this year.

Rashida Jones Inks Writing Deal With Warner Bros.

Good news for Quincy Jones’ daughter, Rashida Jones. The “Parks & Recreation” co-star and her writing partner, actor-writer Will McCormack, have signed their first TV pod deal with Warner Bros. Television. Under the two-year pact, the duo will develop, write and produce their own comedy and drama projects for both cable and network TV.

Jones is best-known for guest starring in twenty-six episodes of The Office. She has also appeared prominently on film, in I Love You, Man, The Social Network, The Muppets, Our Idiot Brother, The Big Year, and Cop Out.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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