week one recap

We made it through the first week of the year, and so far I think the challenge is going pretty well.  I want to thank all of our friends for the tons of support, love, and advice they’ve given us already: we’re getting great food ideas and advice on products to check out, volunteer resources, and really positive feedback in general from most of the people we’ve talked to about the project.  Thanks also for checking out the blog; we remain excited about our adventure and we look forward to continuing our documentation here.  We’re keeping a list of topics we plan on covering in the future.  Full steam ahead!

Today I submitted my first volunteer application, to 4-H.  I hope to hear something back soon; I’ve decided to hold off on the Douglas County AIDS Project for now, at least until I get in contact with 4-H and figure out what sort of time commitment I’m looking at initially.  If I can get in with 4-H and I find myself with extra time and energy, I’ll expand my volunteering commitment.  Ryan already posted about our first recycling drop-off with our new IKEA recycling bags; I’ve got a post in the works about the challenges of recycling in Lawrence.  Tonight Ryan had his first class for UMKC this semester, and for dinner we had Palak Paneer (of the Trader Joe’s boxed variety—it’s pretty tasty, for boxed Indian food) with basmati rice and naan.  We’ve been eating pretty well and the hunger I thought I was experiencing last week seems to have abated.  I’m not really missing meat at all, which is kind of surprising.  I guess I figured that by now I’d at least crave something I couldn’t have.  I went to brunch at IHOP with some of my girlfriends on Sunday and had a brief moment of panic when almost everyone else at the table ordered bacon with their meals, but when the plates arrived I didn’t even flinch (I love bacon, for the record).  I know it’s a small victory, but it’s nice to know I can go out with friends and not be intimidated or weak if/when someone at the table orders meat.

I haven’t yet figured out what charitable organizations I plan on supporting this year.  Ryan donates monthly like a bill; I will make my donations in several chunks (either twice a year or four times, depending largely on how I decide to spend my charity budget) because it works better for me and my overall budget to do it that way.  I’m thinking of supporting one local organization and one international organization, but first I need to figure out how much money I’m going to make this year (my salary fluctuates if I decide to teach extra sections, which I am doing this spring, and I’m not sure yet how much the extra section will pay).  Locally I’m a fan of Harvesters.  Internationally, I like Médecins Sans Frontières.  I’m torn between supporting one organization or several.  I need to do some thinking and research before I decide, though, so I’ll say more about my decisions as I make them.

That’s all I’ve got for the first week recap.  Let the challenge continue!

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3 thoughts on “week one recap

  1. Tim says:

    I tend to spread my donations among a lot of different organizations, but they have wildly varying missions — the ASPCA or Alley Cat Allies do very little to get innocent people off death row, the Innocence Project is exceptionally callous about the environment and has done nothing to help animals.

    If you have a vision of one thing you are focused on, though, it’s definitely better to make one big donation — even efficient organizations will spend some percentage of that money on fundraising, sending you future solicitations, etc. For every donor, that’s going to equal an overhead cost — I know if I only gave the minimum membership donation (I think it’s $25) to the Natural Resource Defense Council, for instance, they’d go through that donation just reminding me to make future donations (this is, by the way, exceptionally galling, since they do this through the mail and I haven’t figured out how to opt out — so they’re killing a lot of trees to get me to help the environment).

    So that’s my policy — well, that and my firm policy of never giving money to smiletrain because of their disgusting fundraising tactics of promising not to send you more revolting pictures if and only if you give them money.

    • beethousand says:

      I like the Innocence Project, too. There has to be something in my dissertation about this, because now I’m getting really interested in the idea of weighing charitable causes against each other. I’m pulled in so many directions in terms of the causes that are near and dear to me, but my 2% is pretty paltry right now, so splitting it in anything more than half just means I’d be contributing to operating costs for a bunch of different organizations. I couldn’t believe how much mail Ryan started getting once he began donating last year—mail from organizations that he’d never heard of, but who had obviously gotten his information from one of the organizations he had donated to. There’s got to be some balance between all of the wasted paper and the success of solicitations, but then I’m sure they’ve got analysts working on this sort of thing. It all kind of makes my head spin.

      • Tim says:

        That’s one of the reasons that I won’t contribute to Doctors Without Borders — I gave a chunk of money to Oxfam America right after the Haitian earthquake because my firm was matching charitable donations of up to $500 — but as soon as I gave money to Oxfam, I started getting quarterly (or more frequent) mailings from Doctors Without Borders — all of which had the same expensive-looking world maps in them. Maybe it’s a good plan for getting some people to donate, but I’ve never given in response to a solicitation — the most I’ll do is set aside the pre-stamped envelopes I get from ASPCA or NRDC, intending to give them money throughout the year, and then end up donating everything in December online like I always do.

        It’s a selling point for me — when I fundraise for the Gorilla Run every year, I always point out that they don’t solicit me throughout the year — it means they’re not wasting their time and money and they’re not wasting my time. That means a lot to me. The only others I’ve contributed to that haven’t solicited me in mailings (at least to my recollection) are Back on My Feet (though they send me tons of email), the National Coalition to End Homelessness and Plug In America (they send a lot of email as well).


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