human needs

Remembering to Look Up -- Lessons from GPS

By: Ross
Ross participated in Allowance for Good's 2015 Global Philanthropy Summit in June, which focused on Global Engagement.

My time at the Allowance for Good Global Philanthropy Summit (GPS) was really eye-opening. One of my goals this summer was expanding my horizons in regards to philanthropy and service. Not only did GPS introduce me to incredibly inspiring organizations and individuals, it also gave me new and interesting tools and perspectives on philanthropy. I think much of the general population views philanthropy as monetary contribution. In reality, it’s so much more. As we learned on day one of GPS, philanthropy is giving your time, talent, treasure, and/or ties.

For example, Harvey Newcomb from Rotary International and Claire Dillon of Art Works Projects taught us about the large role marketing plays in a strong philanthropic campaign. The founder of World Bicycle Relief showed us how giving children bicycles not only allows access to education, but the responsibility of managing of contracts and who is given bikes builds a structured community that is strong and savvy. Lorraine Dillon of Right to be Free showed us how the efforts of one man have changed so many lives.

While we learned so many definitions and facts about philanthropy and ways to give, we learned a lot more by meeting people, and having conversations. I personally prefer a phone call to text or email, and I much prefer a face-to-face conversation to a phone call! At GPS, we not only listened to speakers, but we asked questions. We entered a dialogue about philanthropy. The speakers Allowance for Good chose not only did interesting things, but told interesting stories. They shared with us their experiences, and encouraged us to get out there and make experiences of our own. Experiences that will someday make really interesting stories.

I think my largest takeaway from GPS was this: Philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes, and the biggest impact we can make is opening our eyes. Looking up from screens and schedules, taking a break from the daily grind to look out that window we sit by every day and noticing something new. Whether it be a birds nest, a squirrel on your neighbor’s roof, or even the way the sunlight shines. The more we look up, the more we SEE. We miss so much by not taking time to experience. Allowance for Good made me realize the importance of looking up. When I look up, I can appreciate my world. I can see what needs fixing and I can do something about it. The Global Philanthropy Summit is surely a week well spent, and taught me lessons that are sure to keep paying off. I encourage everyone who hasn’t yet taken part in a GPS (no matter how involved with Allowance for Good you already are) to spend a week engaging, learning, and experiencing life with your eyes open. Hopefully it will be as rewarding for you as it was for me.

Ross presenting his ideas at the workshop with Chapín Coffee and Right to be Free.

Teen Discovers Financial Literacy and Personal Philanthropy

By: Ella
Ella is a participant in Allowance for Good's Winter 2015 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class.

When I signed up for the ELP Explorers class, one of the words that jumped out to me in the course description was “financial literacy”. I had heard it before: it’s a “buzzword” often used in news articles or on talk shows, but not everyone knows what it means (I didn’t). But people often claim that it is severely lacking from our education system, and that teaching it may be the secret to preventing a good amount of our financial troubles. It turns out that financial literacy can mean a myriad of different things to different people, but fundamentally, it is the ability to understand financial matters, and how money works in general. However, many people don’t possess this understanding, as a 2008 survey shows that only 34% of parents have taught their child how to balance a checkbook.

In the most recent ELP class, we began to learn financial literacy by tracking our weekly spending and comparing it to our weekly earning. Many of us were surprised, and realized how little we think about spending money as teenagers. Financial literacy ties into personal philanthropy because it teaches us how to properly allocate and transfer funds. Also, keeping in mind my own spending highlights how severe needs are in the areas where we are trying to direct our aid to, and provides a sense of urgency to our personal philanthropy. For example, I will usually spend 7 or 8 dollars on food when I go out with my friends without a second thought. However, 2.7 billion people worldwide are struggling to survive on less than $2 a day, or a fourth of that amount. We also learned about AFG’s global affiliates, many of which combat similar situations: There’s the Liger Learning Center, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a progressive school that provides opportunities for bright children living in poverty. There’s the Adonai Child Development Centre in Uganda for kids living among AIDS, war, and poverty. Finally, there’s Spark Ventures, which is Chicago-based and had a representative come in and educate us about their partnerships, such as Hope Community School. This is located in Zambia and provides the impoverished children of Twapia with an education. In future ELP classes, I’d be interested to learn more about what we can do to get involved with our global affiliates and how we can fundraise for them.


Ella writes, "I am a Catalyst for Good because no matter who you are or where you come from, you can make a difference."

Months of Change: An Update from Adonai

Co-Authored by: Pastor Aloysious Luswata and Bruce Karmazin.
Pastor Aloysious Luswata is the Director of Adonai Family Uganda and Bruce Karmazin is the President of US Friends of Adonai.

These are exciting times at the Adonai Child Development Center! And our US friends are the reason. We'd like to share just some of the important happenings over the past few months.

A New Strategic Plan Gives Us Direction for the Future 

They say that when you fail to plan, you plan to fail! That's why after nine years in operation, we are delighted to be coming to the end of our first strategic planning process. A strategic plan looks at an organization's goals and develops specific strategies and actions, and a budget, to accomplish those goals over several years.

It's been tough work over the last few months. With the help of a management consultant, paid for with a donation from a US donor, we talked with many people in the community – our friends and supporters, our faculty and staff, the parents of children in our care, and even the children! We looked at our strengths as an organization and our challenges and how to make the most of our situation. But we now have a roadmap for the future.

Kids Health and Community Health a Top Priority

Of course, one of the most important parts of our plan is making sure our kids – over 300 on campus – are healthy. It's amazing to people in the US that some of our children come to Adonai never having seen a toothbrush, or having had an eye test! We've done our best with modest donations over the years but we need to do more. And this year we're taking a very big step.

We’re equipping a small infirmary. And we’re hiring a village health worker whose job will be to make sure our children get what they need.

But more than that, our new village health worker will be doing outreach in the surrounding village. We'll distribute mosquito nets to protect people from malaria, and provide HIV/AIDS education.

Another priority will be making sure that girls who can't afford them have access to sanitary pads. Without sanitary pads, girls stop coming to school when they get their periods. They fall behind and eventually more than a third of girls in Uganda drop out of school. They give up their future and Uganda wastes an important resource in the country's development. That's not acceptable.

An important part of our plan to ensure the health of our children is to make sure each has safe drinking water. This year we will complete the water system with the purchase of two water tanks. We will lay the pipes that will allow us to pump water from our borehole to our tanks for storage and purification. We're very excited about that.

Our Friends in Illinois Are Key to Our Success! 

Like any nonprofit organization in the US, Adonai depends on the good will and support of our friends. None of our progress would be possible without your financial support. 

We have a growing number of people and organizations around the world but our friends in Illinois are leading the way – and are responsible for much of our progress.

The Northwestern University chapter of GlobeMed sent their first student mission last year. They did a health survey and identified the need for community health support. In August, a new group will return and participate in outreach on reproductive health in the village.

A faith-based organization called Fit2Serve, from Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois just got back from a school training program, spending two weeks working with the children and teachers of Adonai.

Finally, we are grateful to the kids of Allowance for Good, for your solidarity, and for making the commitment to our water system and helping us bolster our solar power capability.

Thank you!

Learn more about AfG's relationship with Adonai on our website.

Passionate Youth Building Awareness, Taking Action

By: Kate
Kate is participating in Allowance for Good's spring 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers program.     

One issue that I am passionate about is domestic violence and abuse. I am passionate about this topic because I was exposed to this through my swim club and through my church. I swim for the YWCA Flying Fish in Evanston. While this is a completive swim program, it is unique because the pool is located in the YWCA which houses displaced women and their families. Every year our team raises money for the YWCA through a ‘swim marathon’. For the swim marathon we swim as many laps as possible within one hour. We each raise money by collecting donations for each lap we swim. This year the Flying Fish raised almost $100,000 and it is all donated to the YWCA to help the abused women and their families. I have been doing this for the past eight years. During this time I have learned about domestic violence and abuse.

I also experienced the affects of domestic violence and abuse this past winter while doing volunteer work for my church. A few friends and I volunteered to work at the Night Ministries in downtown Chicago. We helped serve food to the homeless and less fortunate. Before we started, the person in charge told us that some of the women we were going serve are victims of domestic violence. This really hit home when a young woman came through the line with tears in the corners of her eyes. I could tell immediately that something was wrong but it was not my place to ask too many questions. When she went through the line my dad asked her if he could do anything for her, but she shook her head no. Just from looking at her tear stricken face, I could tell something was very wrong and it made my mind wonder with questions. Was she a victim of domestic abuse? Did she have anyone she could talk to? I was only there to give her a warm meal, but I wished there was a way I could do more. 

From my involvement in both of these organizations, I have had some exposure to domestic violence and abuse. However, I’d like to become more involved. To build onto the work I have already accomplished I can look into volunteering at the YWCA to help these women. This issue inspires me because I do not think it is something anyone should have to go through. I also think that people everywhere should become more educated about this issue so we can try and prevent it from happening again.

Kate, left, discusses leadership styles with AfG Executive Director Elizabeth Newton at an Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy seminar.