Giving Tuesday, A Different Take

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Giving Tuesday is widely known as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” My family supports multiple organizations each year, and Giving Tuesday helps us consider and plan our annual gifts. It’s a kick-off of sorts.

This year, I have a different take on how to “unleash my power and transform my community.” I want my gifts to be truly transformational. I want to invest in organizations that pay a living wage. This is especially important to me as a woman and mother, as I know all too well the inequities women and caretakers face in the workplace. It is no secret that while we are paid less than our male counterparts and pay astronomical sums for childcare tuition, while our very own teachers and childcare workers make up much of the working poor. I’m looking for charities where this is not the case and, instead, their company culture actually matches the mission. 

One way to evaluate whether an organization’s values align with my giving objectives is to read through their open job postings. This Giving Tuesday, let’s take a look at what some organizations are communicating. 

The ad below is a beautiful example of culture and mission congruence. This organization is working to treat staff the same way they treat clients.

They desire the same outcome for both staff and clients.

In sharp contrast, below is a horrifying example of culture and mission working in direct opposition to one another. The first ad is from a well-known organization that serves exclusively girls and women. Its workforce is 86% female. Women are still overwhelmingly our society’s primary caregivers, yet the ad specifically calls out that caregiving must not interfere with productivity. While only a snippet is displayed, the entire ad has a hostile and even punitive posture. 

We found dozens of other examples including national brands working to improve social determinants of health advertising wages less than fast food or entry level workers earn. These ads required a college degrees, experience and advanced certificates. Mentoring to improve college and economic outcomes–all while not paying a living wage. This is absolutely not what they would want for their clients.

What can we do? 

Stay Curious 

When making a charitable gift, we often simply click the link on the website. A part of the public record, the 990 or annual reports also offer valuable information, and there’s much more to consider. Ask around- where you volunteer or serve on a board, with friends who work in the industry, to program staff and teachers at your child’s school or out-of-school activities who you value and trust. Open a conversation with the Executive Director where you make your gifts. What is the company culture? What policies support that culture? Are they paying a living wage? If so, how did they do it? If not, what’s holding them back? What would it take? Can you designate your gift toward this effort?

Dig Into the Data 

This stewardship can extend beyond the giving season and even to your own employer. Whether you work in for-profit, nonprofit, education, or otherwise, crowdsource your job ads prior to publishing. Is the language positive, forward, and discussing what to do as well as the benefits–tangible and intangible that the position offers? Are you speaking to candidates with dignity? Check competitors’ language. Save ads you like and borrow from what you learn. If you volunteer, serve on a board, or make gifts, check MIT’s living wage calculator, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or local industry salary surveys to see if the agencies for which you are working and supporting are paying staff a living wage.

Share Examples 

Call out what isn’t working, strikes you as offensive, or just plain does not make sense. Similarly, when you see something that lights you up, draws you in, makes you want to learn more, share those examples even more. Wherever you volunteer or donate, talk with the board and Executive Director about the benefits of paying a living wage.

Work Together 

Change doesn’t happen overnight. All the more reason to start now! You can find out more about Indy’s Good Wage Initiative and how to get involved here. If you volunteer or serve on a board, you can work to govern and fundraise for a living wage. 

What organizations is your family supporting this Giving Tuesday? We’d love to hear from you!

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Kristi Howard-Shultz
Kristi grew up in Danville, Indiana where she met her childhood sweetheart and now husband Elliott. After years of living apart including graduate school in New York City and military tours abroad, they resettled and started a family in Indianapolis. Together, they are raising two bright and busy boys—Henry and George. She has a Master's Degree in Social work from New York University and is a RYT 200 Yoga Teacher. In her “spare” time, she enjoys reading memoirs, chasing her boys, and listening to her husband, the funniest person she knows.

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