Big Green and Sober October

Big Green by way of Kimball Musk!

Expects LOTS more cooking and gardening classes and camps in 2023!

A lot of people don’t know that Elon Musk has a brother, but I have long been team Kimball.  He has a garden classroom nonprofit called Big Green.  I’ve been waiting for them to open up funding to programs outside of school and they DID!

I applied for a grant in July – the application process was a series of written responses, group calls, training etc and on October 1st Make Our Day received $10,000 to build a garden classroom!

The things we will do with this money in order of priority are:

  • Add electric, plumbing, and insulation to the classroom (it’s 20 x 20 a PALACE!)
  • Buy a Tower Garden (
  • Till, fertilize and plant a new, much larger outdoor garden
  • If we have money left after that we need kitchen appliances – large refrigerator, ovens, grill, transformer table, and pour concrete for front and back patios to expand the classroom space and move cooking outside when possible.

We have already started making moves on the first 3 items and will get as much done as I can before winter.  I am going to Thailand around Thanksgiving.  I will come back and pick back up working on the classroom and planting the new garden in March.  Missouri Make Our Day classes will resume in May 2023.

Next Item of Business – It’s Sober October!

There’s still time to join or nominate people.  Although my body feels like it’s been weeks, it has in fact only been 2 days, so you can still join.

Why Sober October?

Sober October is a huge fundraising event in the UK ( and Australia (Ocsober for LifeEd).  It’s mainly gained notoriety in the US from Joe Rogan as a fitness challenge.

In the UK and Australia, people ask friends and family to sponsor them by making a donation to their fundraiser page.  There is no fitness challenge component to it.

In the US it’s a fitness challenge, no charity component to it.

I wanted to bring the two together by doing something fun that includes the great American pastimes of peer pressure and shit talking. So here’s what I’ve come up with: 

  1. Nominate friends to join Sober October by text, email, social media tag.
  2. That friend has to either:
    • Join the challenge – which means they go sober and donate $1 a day.  Adding the fitness component is optional.
    • Decline the challenge – BUT in order to pass and keep their booze for the month of October – they have to buy their way out of going sober by making a donation in the amount of their last bar tab or liquor store bill.

Coming 2023 – Once you join – get together with your friends to create a team on our Make Our Day Sober October app to track days sober, workouts, talk shit, make side bets, come up with prizes or cheats etc. There are 5 of us in the “beta test” right now – JOIN!

I’m really excited about this and I think it has the potential to become a huge annual fundraiser for us.  It’s fun, it’s in the zeitgeist and it’s also going to force me and the coding team to learn how to make an app – so it will also be educational.

Here’s a video of what I’ve got so far (it’s not really an app yet – it’s a form that looks like an app, linked to a homepage icon – but we’ve begun!)

Thank you so much for all of your support this year! If you want to get further involved with Make Our Day as a volunteer or donor there are more ways than ever for you to help. You can volunteer time fixing up the classroom, donate snacks and groceries for classes, set up student scholarships, or help us source larger items like kitchen appliances.

Email Katie at and GO NOMINATE SOMEONE TO JOIN SOBER OCTOBER by sending them this link:

or tagging them on social!

It’s 2022…Where in the World is Teacha Katie?

Nope, there still isn’t an app for that. And I could tell you but I’ll be somewhere else by the time you read this.

So much has changed since March 2020.  COVID for a lot of people has crystallized the notion that you MUST do all those things you’ve always wanted to do with your one wild and precious life.

Though I’ve always excelled at doing what I want, there are things I’ve been sitting on for years because of the work it would require of me.

So, I spent 2021 getting to work. I’ve started my Masters in Education, got serious about making the majority of my income from writing, and set up homeschool exchanges in Central America so I could practice teaching my project based learning curriculum while learning Spanish myself.

It’s been the hardest thing I’ve done in a very long time but it’s allowed me to go to sleep knowing that the things I’m doing everyday align with what I see for my future and the future of Make Our Day.

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Gospel of Thomas

We all have those things within us that won’t leave us alone.  Do not wait another year.  The call to bring forth what is within you is not going to go away.  I believe that for me, for you, and for all my munchkins.

I know COVID and the world at large is doing its darndest to keep you stuck but I believe that you can change your life, and you must.

If you’re reading this, you’ve already played a part in changing my life and the lives of my students past, present and future. And I’m so excited for our future.

If you want to become a monthly donor in 2022, it would Make Our Day to have you along for the ride.


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Es 2022….¿Dónde está Katie en el mundo?

No, todavía no hay una aplicación para eso. Y yo podría decirte pero probablemente estaré en algún otro lado para cuando tu leas esto.

Muchas cosas cambiaron desde Marzo 2020. El COVID para mucha gente significó tener noción de que debes hacer todas esas cosas que siempre quisiste hacer con tu preciada vida,

Aunque he vivido siempre bien en hacer lo que quiero, hay cosas que yo he esperado para hacerlo porque todo el trabajo requería de mi.

Entonces yo pase el 2021 trabajando. Yo he empezado mi Maestría en Educación, a trabajar como escritora por mi cuenta propia, y enseñar en Centroamérica, entonces yo pude aprender español.

Ha sido lo más difícil que he hecho en mucho tiempo, pero me ha permitido irme a dormir sabiendo que las cosas que estoy haciendo todos los días se alinean con lo que veo para mi futuro y el futuro de Make Our Day. 

«Cuando realicéis esto en vosotros mismos, aquello que tenéis os salvará; pero si no lo tenéis dentro, aquello que no tenéis en vosotros mismos os matará>> evangelio de tomas

Tenemos estas cosas dentro de nosotros que no nos deja solos. No esperes otro año . La llamada para traer al dentro de ti no va afuera. Yo creo que para mi, para Ustedes, y para todos mis estudiantes.

Yo se que el COVID y el mundo largo es inmanejable mantener atascado pero yo creo que tu puedes cambiar tu vida y tu debes.

Si tu estas leyendo esto, tu ya has tenido un rol para cambiar mi vida y de mis estudiantes el pasado, el presente, y el futuro. Y yo estoy emocionada por nuestro futuro.

Con mucho amor, Katie

Giving Tuesday Trifecta

Time, Money, Support = Magic

This Giving Tuesday is brought to you in a roundabout way by a few furry (and recently reproductive organ free) friends.

I had the pleasure of supporting one of my students at a non-profit spay and neuter clinic………for 9 hours.  This is her THING.  It’s a pop up one day clinic that only happens every other month and she’s been talking about it since I met her.

We were tasked with the recovery room, keeping the animals warm and hydrated while coming out of anesthesia before giving them additional meds and sending them on their way.  Animals are cute but less so when they are peeing and vomiting on you, so after my favorite old cat in a bag went home I was ready to excuse myself as well.

All the animals had been operated on, all the money had been raised to pay for the operations, the clinic was a success and my student didn’t need me there anymore.  Except…..she did.  

Just because animals are her THING doesn’t mean she floated through the day on a cloud above those of us only mildly interested in hands-on animal rescue.  She was also exhausted, covered in pee, and ready to go home hours before we closed up shop.  At that moment she didn’t need my time as a volunteer or a donation, but she did need my support.

This Giving Tuesday, I want to thank you all for the support you’ve given to Make Our Day over the years and to me personally.  Support is an elusive aspect of giving that’s often left out of discussions for one reason; it’s hard to find.  But it’s what keeps you going when all the other volunteers have gone home and you’re tired and don’t want to know what the sticky substance is on your hand (…and your pants….and your hair?!)

Having support is also the thing that allows you to look towards the future with hope and encourages you (often more than money) to make big leaps in pursuit of your THING.  This week I hired a local public school teacher in Guatemala to teach me how to teach my curriculum in Spanish and next year, I’ll be teaching it.  My student will continue to do vet clinics and will eventually be able to run her own.  Hundreds of childrens’ days will be made and hundreds of animals will be saved.

When she and I reach these respective milestones it will be because we individually put in the time and because people consistently donate money to our projects.  But with equal measure, we will accomplish these things because of the support we’ve been given in the form of interest, attention, and encouragement.  If you are reading this, you’ve been a big part of that support for me.

Just knowing that you are on the right track isn’t always enough to get you through a long day let alone a lifetime of work.  Non-profits (or people in general for that matter) won’t achieve meaningful results by relying on time and money alone.  You need joy, you need love, you need support.  Only because it’s been given to me am I able to give it to others.

Thank you for bringing the money and support.  I’ll keep putting in the time.  It really has made magic over the years.  

2022 is poised to be our most magical year yet as I start to tackle two huge long term goals for Make Our Day: creating our own online learning portal with the curriculum I’ve written over the years and setting up a permanent bilingual classroom using that curriculum.

I don’t know where that classroom is going to be, but if you do let me know!

All my love and deepest gratitude for the years of support.

Teacha Katie


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Honoring Mary Hakanson

Jan 18, 2020

“May all the mothers know that they are loved. May all the daughters know that they are strong. May all the sisters know that they are worthy, so the circle of women may go on.”

Because you lived and more importantly how you lived there will be……

Another generation of women whose loud and frequent laughs are recognizable from not just down the hall, but down the block.

Another generation of women who cook enough food for the whole neighborhood every time they cook.

Another generation of women who find true joy in giving to others the little things in life that turn out to be the big things. 

Leaving behind a spirit of laughter, joy, and generosity is a sign of a life well-lived and a legacy worth passing to the next generations….

So the circle of women may go on.

Is This the Teacher Abuse Hotline?

Back to school is coming up next week.  Which means, we had mandatory Zoom training this week.  Which means I had a series of small heart attacks and several rage induced blackouts before lunch.

For about 5 minutes I thought there was a Public School Teacher Abuse Hotline and I had a lot of calls to make.

Hello, 111?  Calls for Help from a Public School Teacher.

  • Hello, 111….I’ve just been told our reward for surviving COVID is a pay CUT and working Saturdays for 10 months straight.
  • Hello, 111…..I guess the color purple is mandatory…..not the movie….just like…the color in general.
  • Hello, 111… administrator just sent a series of “teaching is its own reward” gifs in a group chat.  Please log this as a hate crime.
  • Hello, 111……our school won’t buy us whiteboard markers but they bought us dozens of individually bagged, soggy tuna mini sandwiches which no one asked for or consumed.  Can I trade them in for whiteboard markers?
  • Hello, 111……I just spent 100% of my workday at a lecture that said lecturing should be 5% of your class.
  • Hello, 111……I’ve just been reminded to “think of the children” by someone who can’t name a single child at this school.  Can you audit them?
  • Hello, 111…..there’s been some general consensus among the higher ups that our school isn’t racist but also… Filipinos?
  • Hello, 111…..there is a new idea making its way around that “learning can be FUN!”  Could you promptly congratulate the people who made this breakthrough in 2020 and get us their bank details so we as public school teachers can just go ahead and transfer them what little is left of our salaries?

(This list is a parody of my favorite chapter from one of my favorite authors Samantha Irby’s latest book of essays “Wow, no thank you” .)

All this is real but it’s really to say THANK YOU to donors of Make Our Day because without you, I would not teach in a public school.  I would be going straight home and crying and drafting resignation emails. 

We’ve lost so many good teachers in the last few years and we will lose more because of the disconnect between how much people say they value education and how little they value teachers in practice.  The sad thing is, when a good teacher wants to leave, we encourage them and try to help because we know this job is untenable.

The public education system treats students and teachers alike like we’re just not trying hard enough. Like it’s our effort that’s lacking while they provide fewer and fewer resources each year.

It’s like we need to put on a zoom training for the people making decisions on our behalf and take several hours to say things that could have been an email like………students and teachers are just people, not standardized test taking, lesson plan producing robots.

People want to be valued, to be acknowledged, to be treated fairly and with respect.  To not be talked down to.  To make enough money to pay bills or as a student not to be afraid that you won’t get lunch.  To have relationships to look forward to every day.  To have someone that has your back….for real.

My kids have that.  Thank you for having our back for #Back2School_2020.

LOTS of Love From Munchkinland,

Teacha Katie

I will probably spend about $250 to get everything we need for back to school for Math, IT, Reading, Writing, and Tourism. If you’d like to donate towards school supplies, we be shoppin next week.

You Did This….and I’m So Grateful

Guys……I don’t have to tell you that this year has been a weird ride. THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to our food program during the pandemic. This is where your money is going to.

What’s our goal through the COVID-19 pandemic?

To provide 52 families with groceries every week at a cost of $10 per family per week. ($2,800 a month fundraising goal) This is the goal of the school based on the families who attended last year. Because of you, Make Our Day was able to cover 10% of that cost in April and 10% (and rising!) in May.  

This is huge for a couple reasons. 

One, I couldn’t leave my house in April to go help them, buy food, or drive groceries around, so transferring the monthly donations in April meant being able to be there without being there.  

Two, the donations raised by the school come in sporadically but the groceries need to be paid for all at once when the truck is there. So, matching the timing of Make Our Days donations to coincide with the food delivery makes the entire process quicker and cleaner so we can get on with the work of actually distributing the food.

***** This is a good donating “hack” for anyone who has ever worked on a food or supply drive where items are being purchased new.  If the Non-profit is making a 1 time purchase (as opposed to a monthly expense that fluctuates) ask what day the delivery is coming and how much the bill is. Specify that your donation is to be used towards that bill on that date.  

This allows you to feel like you know exactly where your money is going and it protects the non-profit in the long run as they need to be keeping track of when and why any surges in cash donations occur*****

Where are these 52 families?

There are 4 main neighbourhoods in Ratsada and Koh Sirey, all within a few minutes of one another.  These are the same neighbourhoods that prompted me to start Make Our Day in 2014. 

Being back there everyday for the past few weeks has brought me to my knees with devastation over the persistence of the problem but also with gratitude for finally getting the case by case information I need to really be able to give a hand up and not a handout to the families who are committed to keeping their kids in school. 

Not being able to help the kids aging out of school back in 2014 is a burden I will carry with me the rest of my life but it also fuels me get into a position to be able to do more for my munchkins outside of school than throw a birthday party (although I stand by every party we’ve ever had and will continue to have…..they MATTER).

How much do we know about them?

What we are using the school registers from last year to go door to door and find everyone.  If we can’t find them, we are calling them to see if they are still in Phuket.  Once we find them we have a conversation with the Mother in the family in which we hope to find out:

Who lives in this house? (ages, relation to the family, and basic health)

Who has a passport, who doesn’t, who has overstayed?

How much is rent?

Do you have family or work in Myanmar you can return to?

Who cares for the infants and toddlers while you’re working?

Who is working and how much are they making a day / how many days can they work?

Almost 100% of our families only have job security on a daily basis as in they turn up to work every morning and see if there is work for them.  We have heard they earn from 100 – 250 baht a day around 4 days a week. ($20 a week, zero a week for most of them for more than 8 weeks now)

What happened?  Why did you come here?  Do you want to stay?

The other things we need to know in order to help, but the last question tells you everything.  People don’t care what you know until they know that you care, so until you hear someone’s story, expect that your opinion about how they should proceed with their life will fall on deaf ears.

What’s it Like?

It’s completely heartbreaking and overwhelming but……’s like I’m right where I need to be.

It’s like sitting on a urine stained floor in a corrugated tin shack holding hands with 3 generations of women saying, I see your struggle.  It’s like Grandmother rubbing clay on my face asking me to hold her granddaughter, saying I see your heart.

It’s like falling asleep at night because you are exhausted in a good way instead of worried.

It’s like knowing The Universe has your back and in this case, all of you donors are my universe…….seriously. 

If you or anyone you know are looking for a way to ease the suffering of our world during COVID please forward our story and our donation link.  $10 feeds a family for a week and those weeks mean a lot to me if they mean my kids are still on track to go to school instead of exploitative work or prostitution.

PS – I know this struggle is worldwide and I’m not trying to get into comparative suffering or rank this donation drive as more important or urgent that others, that’s simply not true. This is just me where I am, doing what I can with what I have.

If this is something you can and want to support, then you gonna get a lotta bang for your buck. $10 will do it (kissy face emoji, bicep flex emoji, prayer hands emoji)

Love from Munchkinland,

Teacha Katie

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What I’d tell my students about COVID if they were here right now……

As all my students know, I am not a philosopher. Class discussions about real life trauma are not a thought experiment in which I remain clinically indifferent. I will cry.  I will get angry.  But then…..I will do something about it. 

I can’t guarantee that I’ll do the right thing because that is subjective but they know for damn sure that doing nothing is not an option I care to entertain.

This is one of those times.  If you were in my class I would tell you that we are going to bypass the option of waiting fo this to blow over or just holding tight until things are back to normal. 

I would ask you to pretend that this is urgent because it is. My students aren’t here right now, so I’m asking you. Example answers are provided for you but you already know my rules about copying.

You are in charge of the entire world.  People will die of Coronavirus if we don’t lockdown, but people will also die of starvation and violence if we do. Do you lockdown or not? (keep in mind there is no solution in which zero innocent people die)

Do you know what comparative suffering is?

Comparative suffering means, I feel sad about what I am going through but I shouldn’t because someone else is going through something worse.  This is not helpful.  You are capable of having compassion for yourself while still exercising empathy for others.

Do you know what apathy is?

Apathy is saying “it is what it is”.  Just by saying that you take away all of your own power.  It simply is and don’t think for a second that you don’t get to have a say in what it will be.

How do you feel right now?

You probably feel bored (#1 answer of all teenagers always), angry, scared, annoyed, responsible for younger siblings and older family members, lonely or unpopular because you haven’t been able to see friends, hopeless, untethered.  You tell me.

What kind of person do you want to be?

You can shake your fists at the sky about all that is unfair in the world and still not choose to take an eye for an eye.  You can be angry but also fair and practical.  You can be generous and kind through pain and you can also be forgiven for the times you weren’t kind and generous through pain.  You can stand up for yourself without throwing someone else under the bus.  You can be the kind of person who doesn’t let suffering go unnoticed whether it’s yours or someone else’s. 

What can you do today that will move you closer from how you feel to the kind of person you want to be? (It can be simple and easily attainable or audacious because you contain multitudes)

This is personal.  I can’t tell you how you feel anymore than I can tell you who you should be in this big world that has a you shaped hole in it…….but I can tell you that momentum is real and if you take a step in the direction of the person you want to be today, then tomorrow it will be slightly easier to take that same step.  And I want you to tell me about it because you are not the only one who’s proud of you.

And lastly, to quote one of the greatest principals of all time, Linda Cliatt-Wayman, “If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will.”

To anyone: Email me your answers to all or any questions at (I promise I won’t grade you on it.)

Love, Teacha Katie

Love in the Time of Corona

“Trump bans travel to Europe for 30 days”

A few words that packed a big punch.  I work abroad as a teacher and we are weeks away from the only one month break we have a year. 

Everyone in our office has saved all year.  Trips are booked and paid for.  Everyone is looking forward to seeing their families, attending weddings, and basically storing up enough energy to teach another school year.

We collectively dispel all of our anger, fear, and anxieties into one big ball of “You’ve got to be 🤬 kidding me”.  We say things that are objectively obvious but we need to process and vent.

“If they have to reschedule the wedding, I can’t go……and I’m the best man.” 

“I haven’t seen my parents in 2 years and now I don’t know when I’ll be able to afford to go home again” 

“What if I can’t get back into the country and my whole life is here” 

After I threaten (or just state as a fact) that I’m not coming to work tomorrow due to extreme sadness, something happens that lightens the mood for everyone.

Chris, our most senior (and only senior citizen) teacher, has missed the whole conversation because he is mad at the computer…..again.

Chris – The wifi doesn’t work so I wanna go home.  Will, aren’t you the assistant IT teacher?

Will – What? No. We don’t have an assistant IT teacher.  We have a regular IT teacher.

Chris – Who?

Will – Katie.

Chris – What?!!! (As if this is more shocking than the Corona news)

Chris and I look at each other from our desks which are quite close and start laughing.  This is a perfect microcosm of both of our personalities. We are both prematurely senile and become completely unaware of the world around and start muttering at the slightest hint of frustration.

I have been the IT teacher for over a year. This has come up many times, but anytime Chris asks something about “The Google Documents” I tell him to ask the IT teacher and walk away.

This laugh came as a welcome distraction to grading the current affairs final tests for my 8th grade homeroom.  I laughed and cried reading their answers. Halfway through one of the tests, a student wrote in the margins “Teacher please stop this test make me so sad”. 

I’ve taken them on the world news emotional roller coaster this year.  Looking back, it is quite overwhelming but they are old enough to be on the ride now and have feelings of their own about the state of the world.  They have fears and uncertainties that they can put language to.

“I scared when people died for unknown reason by rage of soldier”

“Much sad this year because Koala not have the capacity to move fast away from fire”

“Scary if Corona come to our school.  I have worry about breathing air.”

Uncertainty heightens all of our frustrations and fears.  The hypocrisy of those making decisions “in our best interest” becomes infuriating.  Having to go to work seems unimportant and remaining in control of what little you were in control of in the first place becomes impossible.

I am too sad to call my parents today knowing that I won’t be seeing them in a few weeks but I also feel more grateful than ever to have friends, family, and coworkers who let me know that I’m not alone.

I went to the Burmese school yesterday and in defiance of the no hugging rule was greeted with lots of love from the teachers.  “Teacha I love so much when you are coming to teach with me.  I want your school to close Corona so you come back everyday.”  Well Thandar, that wasn’t my master plan for this month but it looks like you may get your wish.

When plans fall apart, work and play are cancelled and there are no quick answers to be found, you’re just left with yourself………..and if you are very lucky, a lot of people who love you.

Love from (stuck in) Munchkinland,

Teacha Katie

PS – In this time of uncertainty, waiting, and perceived scarcity please reach out to someone who may have a heightened sense of loneliness right now. Someone who is far from home, someone who may never be able to go home, someone who can’t leave home.

Make Our Day 2019 – 2020 School Year


4 Questions for #GIVINGTUESDAY

It’s #GIVINGTUESDAY and we don’t have school today so the munchkins said, “Teacha, we’re going out”.  Watch out world.

Before we get out and about, I wanted to share my full responses to these 4 questions I was asked by HuffPost last week for this article.  I had to sit down and really think about how my experiences have changed my thoughts surrounding charity and giving these past five years.

It was very personally moving to me to look back in the knowledge that if I hadn’t changed my life and my relationship to giving, I wouldn’t be having this conversation with anyone (let alone HuffPost) because I wouldn’t have anything valuable to say about it.  More than that, I wouldn’t have the experiences that made me know for certain that I can and should give without being rich, having “enough”, or “being ready”.  I didn’t always believe that.  Thank God that we can all change our minds and change the world.

Many people in their 20s feel they “don’t have enough disposable income” to give to charities like Make Our Day, but they want to. What would you say to them, or what advice do you have for them?

First off, I can relate. Prior to moving to Thailand in my mid twenties, I rarely gave to charity despite the fact that my annual income was more than four times what it is today.  I wanted to get involved but I didn’t really put much thought into what that would look like.  I’d periodically start and stop monthly donations to Kiva, World Vision, and the Humane Society but I didn’t really know why I was doing it. I didn’t value these interactions despite the fact that these organizations do great work.  I remember thinking, maybe this is just something that I’ll enjoy more when I’m older, when I make more and can give more.  Maybe when my student loans are paid off I won’t feel this sense of financial scarcity.  

Fast forward to age 30 and here is how that played out. I did get older, but I didn’t make more money (I make significantly less in fact). I didn’t pay off my student loans and even at the minimum payment, those bills still monopolize 28% of my monthly income. I did start making small donations to charity regularly.  I do feel radically different about it than I did five years ago and here’s why:

  1. I met hundreds of people around the world doing the type of work I care about on every size of budget and I realized how true the cliche is – it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it.  
  2. I realized that imaginary point in the future when I’d have lots of disposable income and no student loan debt wasn’t coming… least not for me and at least not anytime soon, and I stopped waiting for it.
  3. I started my own non profit and found out first hand how scary and awkward it is to ask for donations. As a result I started to notice and listen more carefully to fundraising campaigns from every sector.


Let’s say I only have room in my budget for a $10 donation. Is that still of use to your organization? Should I still give, and if so, why?

Right off the bat, just let me say YES! Give us $10. I can go on for hours about the ways in which I have and could use $10 and I will, but first I’d like to say that I don’t think it’s a lack of belief that $10 can make a difference that stops potential donors from giving $10.  In preparation for answering this question, I put a Yes / No poll on my instagram story that asked “Do you believe a $10 donation can make a difference?” 100% of respondents said yes.  Granted the number of responses was low and my followers are apt to be like minded or respond in the way they think I would want them to, but stick with me……

I think most of us believe that a $10 donation can make a difference yet don’t make a point of giving because we simultaneously hold an opposing belief that $10 is not a lot and we can’t give every month.  This is a case of cognitive dissonance that is not unique to charitable giving.  When something is purely a choice, many people struggle to do something that they themselves believe they can and want to do.

To that I would say, the more you can align your actions with your beliefs, the happier you will start to become in every area of your life.  For myself I can say that in my early twenties I wasn’t happy spending most of my income on high rent and a car payment but it’s what everyone else around me my age was doing.  

I had to change my life and start doing the things I really wanted to do and working with and giving to charity regularly was one of those things.  It not only became easier to give the more often I did it, it actually started to expand my perspective on what it possible for me to achieve in my lifetime.

But Katie, what if it’s only a small donation AND it’s only one time or only once a year? That’s the only kind of financial contributions I make so if that’s the wrong way to donate then I’m donating wrong too.  We all want to give more, but please remember that $10 is more than zero dollars. So if you want to give something but give nothing you are actually moving further away from aligning yourself with your beliefs.

I honestly believe the small amounts I contribute, make a difference to the organizations that receive them.  I know that giving regularly and thoughtfully has made a difference in my own journey towards finding my place in the world.  

If you still feel like pulling the trigger on that small donation isn’t going to make a difference, please go take a look at Together Rising whose campaigns have raised over $8 million dollars with a donation cap of $25. Scroll through sites like Patreon and Kickstarter where people are taking gifts as small as $1 and creating amazing art, dialogue, and socially conscious businesses.  

If you’ve spent any time these past few months feeling fearful or helpless about our shared future on this planet, then give $10 for the sole fact that you want to feel better.  I believe one of the easiest and best things you can do to alleviate some of that dread over the state of the world is to take your $10 and put it with someone who is doing the work you want to do in the world.  Because guess what….then you are doing it too.  

If you know you are doing something instead of nothing, you’re going to wake up a little less fearful, a little more hopeful.  How do I know this?  Because the people I know doing the hard work are not only hopeful, but excited about the future.  

We all know and recognize the phenomenal power of an individual to do harm but the other side of that is the untapped potential of the collective to have an amazingly positive impact and change the path we’re on.  If we say as a society; we are going towards a world with better access to clean water, widespread, affordable education, and greater social and economic equality, then we can go there $10 at a time. But we can’t go zero dollars at a time, so let’s not wait.

Most recent example of how $10 has made a big difference in the lives of one of my very favorite students ever:

One of my third-grade students used to cry inconsolably through his morning classes. This was happening frequently (two or three days a week which is a very abnormal amount of crying for a nine year old) and he wouldn’t tell any students or teachers why.  Things started to make sense when I checked his English workbook and saw that he’d written “no” next to the question “what did you have for breakfast?” I started to ask him each morning if he was hungry and he said yes. For weeks I brought him food but he wouldn’t take it.  As we got to know each other, he began to trust me more. Now I bring him fresh fruit and granola for breakfast every school day and make sure he has food or money for the weekend. $10 a week is what I spend of fruit and granola for his breakfast and seeing a huge smile on his face in the morning instead of tears is incredible.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that absolutely everything about his school performance started to improve after this.  He is finishing his work, he’s getting along much better with his classmates, he helps me with all of my grading and attendance sheets.  His homeroom teacher is blown away by the change in him.

Is it preferable for donors make recurring donations or donate in one big sum all at once for the year?

I’m going to go ahead and say that small recurring donations are the way to go and here’s why.

  1. There are very few people who take a year long view of their finances.  Most people live paycheck to paycheck.  If that’s you, then you need to acknowledge that your donation is going to have to come out of your paycheck or it’s not going to be there at the end of the year.
  2. Recurring donations to nonprofits come in on different days of the month, which is great for nonprofits like mine who have daily needs. Because these come in on different days, I almost always have $200 to $300 in the account, which means if a need comes up, I can leave school at lunch, take the Make Our Day debit card to the ATM, get 20 bucks, get the munchkin what they need without having to ask for an additional donation and still do my planned activities on the weekends.
  3. Recurring donations are a great way to tell the voice in your head that says you aren’t giving enough to take a hike, because these add up over time.  Every year you’re going to get a statement of how much you donated that year and that adds up to one big donation.
  4. Company matching. If you work for a large company, please look into this because some companies will match dollar for dollar monthly or yearly contributions. That right there will double the amount of your donation without having to actually double the amount of your donation. Win-win.

Any other “best practices” for young people who are starting to budget for giving?

Fitness trainers will often tell you, if it hurts you aren’t doing it right.  I think that statement can be applied to small donations as well.  If a request feels intrusive or you feel like you’re giving begrudgingly or without intention, the way I was in my early twenties, try to figure out why you feel that way.  

If you can articulate what’s wrong about your relationship to charity, the opposite will also start to become true.  You’ll be able to clearly articulate why you do give.  For the life of me, I can’t tell you why I made the donations I did in my early twenties other than charity is good, you should give to charities, I give to these charities because they are big and I see people on TV giving to them in massive amounts.

Today I can tell you that last month I donated $5 to Brand New Congress, my first ever political campaign contribution because I heard on Rob Bell’s podcast that Zach Exely created a platform for regular people to run for congress.  Rob Ryerse is running, he’s not taking any corporate donations and on the podcast, he asked for $5.  Last time I checked his campaign was 85% funded by small donations.

This month I contributed $12 to a successful kickstarter campaign that wants to publish children’s books about climate change.  I love this because I also need climate change explained to me with pretty pictures at the level of a 4th grader.  

Next month I’m planning on doing Together Rising’s Holiday Hands which will be announced on Glennon Doyle and Momastary’s social media.

I don’t normally plan out the date, amount, or organization for my monthly donations in advance but that is just on account of my personality, which I also think is an important factor to consider if you want to feel truly satisfied with your contributions.

Do you like clean predictable order? Maybe you’re a monthly giver and you are going to love getting that end of year statement that has the dates and amount of your donations with a clean pretty total of how much you can deduct from your taxes.  Are you impulsive? Keep your gifts small so you can respond more frequently or have more to give when something really moves you and you want to become more seriously involved with it.

If you have a monthly donation, don’t beat yourself up if you have to cancel, reduce the amount or put it on hold for a couple of months.  Just figure out how to reframe it in a way that fits with your life right now.

Acknowledge that you can do anything but you can’t do everything.  Don’t let the times that you didn’t help cloud your mind and take away from your sense of accomplishment over the times and ways that you did respond to a need in the world.

Thank you so much to everyone who read, shared, donated, or reached out to say hi when the article came out last week.  If you can send us $10 for #GIVINGTUESDAY or consider making a year end donation for Christmas it would Make Our Day

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