Here are some things you will want to consider while putting together your own Pennies in Protest.
We got started the Friday before a Tuesday visit, which was just about perfect. Too much more advance notice, and there is less urgency. Less advance notice, and there isn’t enough time to collect much money.
If we were doing this again, we would probably ask one of the charities that would be receiving the money to act as a clearing house for the money. We weren’t expecting to raise as much as we did, which becomes a big deal when we go to do our 2010 taxes because all of this money was funneled in and out of personal accounts. We have no expertise or experience on the tax implications of this effort, and will update you when and if we figure it all out. In the meantime, we strongly suggest getting advice from an experienced CPA on how to avoid and prevent tax issues, OR, you may want to ask an organization that is already set up as a non-profit to handle the money for you.
We did not publicize the commission taken by Paypal because it didn’t occur to us that we needed to. There was some concern that if the total amount given to local charities was less than the total amount given on ChipIn, people would think we had taken a cut, when in fact, it was just the Paypal commission. Therefore, because of pressure from the local media and because we didn’t think we would raise enough to make it a big issue, we agreed to cover the Paypal commission in good faith. We do not recommend this. Because we raised over $12,000 just through ChipIn, that translated to more than $350 in fees that we covered because we’d promised to do so (we thought it would be more on the order of $30 or $40). Instead, make it clear on your donation pages that Paypal takes a cut and that whatever you give to local charities will be slightly less than whatever you raise because of that Paypal commission.
It’s important that you stay totally transparent. It’s important that you don’t keep a single dime for yourself. You need to account for every check, online donation, and dollar bill you are given, and the best way to do that is through frequent and regular status updates through whichever communication channels you are using—a blog, a Facebook page, the Chip In site, Twitter, etc. Also, if you involve the organizations who will be benefitting from your fundraising from the very beginning, it makes the process more transparent and trustworthy. They need to know how things are going so they know how much to expect from you.
As parents, we feel strongly about modeling compassion and social change for our children. We also recognize that their unique personalities and developmental stages require that we take an individual approach to how we include them in our activism. All of our children, who ranged in age from barely-two to ten at the time of the WBC protests in Richmond, were included in our efforts in some way. Some attended rallies and counterprotests, some helped to make signs, some were simply present while their parents discussed plans. We cannot give a cut-and-dried recommendation for how you might approach the sensitive topics involved and include your children in counterprotest efforts. Instead, we encourage you to consider your family’s needs and your child’s personality while asking yourself the following:
- What are your family’s values, as pertain to social justice?
- What does your child already understand about the issues involved, such as intolerance, hatred, religious diversity, sexuality?
- Do you wish to introduce new information to your child, or simply to draw on what they already know?
- Do you plan to attend any counterprotest actions? If so, what “vibe” do you anticipate there? Peace and quiet respect? Anger and argument? Joyful, fun celebration?
- How will you explain new information to your child – e.g., curse words, hatefulness expressed by counterprotesters, graphic language/imagery on signs?
- Will your child be able to constructively participate in the event? Is it suited to his or her abilities, attention span, activity level, emotional needs?
- What involvement will you have in the event? Will you be free to support your child and answer questions, if needed? Will you be able to leave early, if necessary?
- Do you feel emotionally equipped to meet your child’s needs at the event?
- What are your reasons for wanting your child to participate or not participate?
While we do not advocate completely sheltering children from hatred and intolerance, neither do we believe that a child should be placed in a situation which he or she is not physically, intellectually, or emotionally ready to handle. Listen to your child and to your intuition.