We're happy to see you here at the Benevolent Blog. Please also visit us at www.benevolent.net!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stand up for someone this election season

A case for voting with your empathy foot forward

Last year, my son stood up to someone who was taking horseplay too far and crossing the line into bullying. He stood up to his own friend on behalf of a kid who was not a friend. Afterwards, the boy who had almost gone too far thanked my son and told him he’d been right to stop him. I can’t recall a time I’ve been more proud of my kid.

This election season, I’ve found myself thinking about what it means when we stand up for someone, even if that person is not our friend, not in our community, and perhaps quite different from us. I’ve been thinking about apathy and about those who consider not voting because they don’t feel certain that the candidates represent them or reflect their needs or beliefs. I’ve been thinking about people who believe that their vote won’t make a difference in their own lives and therefore refrain from voting.

To me, voting is the epitome of standing up for someone else. When we vote, we have the opportunity to stand up, as my son did, for someone who needs backup, even when that person is not a friend.

So this year…

- If you believe that those who live in low-income circumstances need a country which affords them the opportunity to achieve, vote.

- If you believe that the children of families quite different from your family deserve a safe, respectful start in life, vote.

- If you believe that hard work should result in improved earnings and security, vote.

- If you believe that something that might incrementally improve your own circumstances is less important than something that others need more critically, vote.

This year, I’ll be thinking about some of the amazing people whose stories we’ve read on the Benevolent site, thinking about what they might need, thinking about their children, and I’ll be voting.

One person I’ll be thinking about will be Stefanie. Stefanie is really different from me. She was a teen mom, made some decisions that derailed her life, and has been without permanent housing for about six years. Now she’s about to get a job, be ready to pay her own rent, and reunite with her daughters.

I want her to succeed. I want her kids to have stable, successful lives. So, thinking about what will affect their lives, I’ll consider what it will take to ensure the availability of affordable housing, a job with a living wage, high quality education and health care for her girls, and I’ll vote.

This year, stand up for someone who needs, really needs, something that you can help make possible. 


- megan kashner, founder & ceo

Monday, October 1, 2012

External Validation

It does something for us when someone who's not on our team gives us props for what we're doing. When we get external validation from someone who doesn't need to care, it fuels our drive to push onward towards what might seem impossible goals.

Here at Benevolent, we've had a great couple of weeks in the external validation department, but when we stopped to think about it, we've been brokering just this sort of positive reinforcement to our recipients all along

When I had the honor of speaking about Benevolent to a group of movers & shakers in the field of philanthropy at the White House Forum on Philanthropy Innovation on September 20, I was met with a warm and generous reception from people I hold in great esteem. Leaders like Jean Case, Clara Miller, Ellen Alberding, and Jonathan Greenblatt* responded to my presentation with excitement and appreciation, and that meant the world to me. To know that people who were virtual strangers to me felt moved and inspired by our creation of Benevolent has been the wind beneath my wings in the week or so since.

I'm experiencing just the kind of reinforcing vigor that Benevolent recipients have been sharing with us from the start. They tell us that it's more than the fact that they've received help in overcoming their obstacles; what Benevolent has given them has been that warm revelation that there are people out there -- people who aren't already friends or family -- who believe in them so much that they felt moved to step forward. 

In the early, early stages of Benevolent, my mom sent a note to the office along with a contribution. Her note read: "I am honored to step forward and support Benevolent as it faces challenges and hurdles along its way to success and sustainability." She was poking fun at the language we use when we're explaining to potential contributors how their donations can make a direct impact through giving to Benevolent recipients, but the parallel she was drawing resonated. 

In our early months, Benevolent is striving, facing down challenges, learning, and overcoming hurdles along our own path towards sustainability. The external validation from professionals engaged in sparking community solutions to social problems, and the financial and pro bono support we receive today will make the difference between stagnation and forward momentum. 

Today I'm feeling especially moved by the power of external validation. So, thank you to the dozens of people who made sure I knew you felt excited about Benevolent on September 20th. Your wind-power has impelled Benevolent forward and we'll be storing up those positive feelings to get us through the coming challenges and opportunities. 

- megan kashner
  founder & ceo

* Jean Case is CEO of the Case Foundation.  
  Clara Miller is President of the F.B. Heron Foundation. 
  Ellen Alberding is President of the Joyce Foundation.  
  Jonathan Greenblatt is the Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation.