Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 18, 2017

"Dissecting your excuses for not giving to charity"

Dec. 6, 2017 "Dissecting your excuses for not giving to charity": Today I found this article by Rob Carrick in the Globe and Mail:




It’s a bit rich to see people so disdainful of money-wasting charities in a country with such high levels of household debt.

A new study shows that while people know it’s important, they aren’t making donations.

It’s time to find some new excuses for not donating to charity. The old standbys may not hold up. People say they can’t afford to give, and yet median donations from well-off households are low. They also say charities are ineffective and wasteful, though there are plenty of ways to find worthy ones. Dig deeper this holiday season. Make donations, not excuses.

A new multipart study of charitable giving in Canada by the Angus Reid Institute and CHIMP (an online platform for charitable giving) shows that people understand the importance of donating. Seven in 10 feel a sense of personal responsibility for helping achieve positive change in the world. Lots of people aren’t following through with meaningful donations, though.

While three-quarters of participants in the study said they had donated to at least one charity over the past two years, just four in 10 give on an ongoing basis. Statistics Canada data fill in this profile of giving a bit more – the median amount donated in 2014 was $280, and just 21.4 per cent of tax filers claimed a charitable donation.

The Angus Reid-CHIMP study asked people why they aren’t giving more. Financial concerns were most often mentioned, which is of course legitimate for lower-income households. But Statscan data from 2013 show that median annual donations for households with income of $140,000 or more was just $197, while the median for households with incomes between $120,000 and $139,999 was $149.

(The average contribution for these groups was higher as a result of the influence of megadonations.)

Trust issues are another big reason for not donating. Only half of participants in the Angus Reid-CHIMP study agreed with the statement that charities can be trusted with the money people donate to them.

Charities have brought skepticism on themselves in some cases by spending large percentages of donated funds on administrative costs and executive salaries. But this complaint is so commonly expressed now that it’s starting to sound like a dodge for not giving, rather than a principled response to bad management at charities.

It’s a bit rich to see people so disdainful of money-wasting charities in a country with such high levels of household debt. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks Canada first among its 28 members in terms of the ratio of household debt to economic output.

The reluctance to give to charity may also be connected to growing suspicion about institutions such as government and corporations. More than two-thirds of people included in the study said corporations get involved in charitable fundraising only to improve their image and a similar percentage said companies use charitable initiatives to get credit for supporting causes without putting up their own money.

The Angus Reid-CHIMP study says the charitable request people were most likely to respond to over the past two years was one made at the cash register of a retail store. But even these simple transactions leave people complaining.

After I posted some data on Twitter showing how many people respond to charitable campaigns in stores, the most common response was to accuse stores of using customer donations to scoop up charitable tax deductions for themselves.

Karl Littler, public affairs vice-president of the Retail Council of Canadians, said bundled charitable donations are not eligible for tax receipts under CRA rules. He checked with two major retailers and found that donations they receive from in-store campaigns are kept in a separate account and provided directly to the charity.

CHIMP – it’s a mash of charity and impact – is a website designed to be a hub for donating to registered charities in Canada. Its mission, according to chief executive and founder John Bromley, is to “reduce every possible objection to giving down to zero.”

To help people find the most effective charities, CHIMP provides information on how charities spend the budgets. This publicly available information is drawn from the annual filings that charities must make to the Canada Revenue Agency. “If people are concerned by fundraising and admin costs, the numbers give them something to hang onto,” Mr. Bromley said.

In the Angus-Reid CHIMP study, 61 per cent of people said they would be more generous if they were more confident about charities and their use of money. With CHIMP or a simple Google search for good charities, you can gain that confidence in five minutes or less.

https://www.pressreader.com/canada/the-globe-and-mail-alberta-edition/20171206/282170766481900


Dec. 7, 2017 "Trust in charities high, donors unsure how money spent": Today I found this article by Claire Brownell in the Edmonton Journal:

Almost three-quarters of Canadians are confident charities spend money responsibly, but most don’t know how much of their donations actually go to the causes they support, according to a poll by Forum Research.

The poll found about one-third of respondents, or 36 per cent, believe charities generally spend at least 80 per cent of donations on directly servicing the organization’s mission. But 36 per cent of respondents had low expectations, with just under a quarter saying they believe 30 to 60 per cent of donations go directly toward helping the needy, and 13 per cent said charities spend all but 30 per cent of their budgets on overhead.

On average, charities direct 72 per cent of their budgets towards good works, with fundraising costs and overhead accounting for the remaining 28 per cent. Only 28 per cent of respondents said they expect 60 to 80 per cent of their donations to go directly toward the charity’s mission.

The public opinion poll randomly surveyed 1,281 Canadian voters.

Greg Thomson, director of research at the charity watchdog Charity Intelligence Canada, said it was interesting that a large majority of Canadians trust charities to responsibly spend money, even though about a third of respondents think they’re spending it less efficiently than they actually are. He encouraged donors to think about more than financial efficiency.

“They should be donating because the charity is changing lives,” Thomson said.
Financial Post Magazine’s annual Charities of the Year report card can help identify charities that are doing both: raising and spending money efficiently, and getting results by putting that money to work.

For the fourth year in a row, we’ve pored over the tax returns of 86,000 charities to find the most transparent, accountable and efficient picks, with the results available in the December issue.

Thomson said he thinks it’s great that such a large majority of Canadians trust charities, but notes it’s still important to ask questions before opening your wallet.

“Even if 90 per cent of the money you donate is going to the mission, what is it doing?” Thomson said. “Is the mission a good thing for society in general, compared to other options for giving?”

https://www.pressreader.com/canada/edmonton-journal/20171207/282222306092131

Dec. 8, 2017 "Tips on tipping: how much you should give during the holidays": Today I found this article by Aleksandra Sagan in the Edmonton Journal:



During the holiday season there’s lots of pressure not to be a Scrooge when it comes to giving gifts, but determining how generous to be with tips can get tricky.

Canadians visit a slew of service people each year they can likely afford to give a little extra to during the holidays, experts say, and there are some simple etiquette rules to help customers suss out who to gift and how much.

But before giving any tips, people should know their holiday budget, said Margaret Page, an etiquette expert based in Delta, B.C.

She recommends putting aside a set amount of money and saying, “’This is what I’m prepared to spend on tipping and this is what I’m prepared to spend on gift giving.”’

Knowing budgetary constraints can help prevent over-spending, something more than half of Canadians anticipate doing this winter, according to a CIBC online poll.

Canadians plan to spend an average $643 on holiday shopping this year and $291 on additional expenses, like decor and entertaining, according to the bank’s online survey of 1,512 Canadian adults conducted on Nov. 27 and 28.

Once a budget is in place, a person’s lifestyle then dictates how many people will have to be tipped out of it, according to Toronto etiquette expert Louise Fox.

“It’s (for) those people in your life that help you out on a regular basis throughout the year,” she said.

For some, that could include a hair dresser or barber, house cleaner, babysitter or nanny, and dogwalker. For others, that list extends to a chauffeur, personal chef, fitness trainer or massage therapist.

However, it’s important to be aware some professionals, like doctors or teachers, may not be permitted to accept gifts, said Page. It’s best to check with their organization for any rules, she said, or to instead drop off a box of chocolates or other delicacies at the person’s office for everyone to share.

For people who provide a regular service throughout the year and receive a tip each time, Page added, it’s nice to double the amount during a holiday visit.

But for those who don’t receive a tip regularly, like a newspaper delivery person, she suggests gifting them the cost of one service.

The gift should come in a card and “I wouldn’t even mention the word tip,” she said.
Instead of money, sometimes it can be nice to offer a gift instead.

The polling industry’ s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys can’t be assigned a margin of error because they don’t randomly sample the population.

My opinion: When I read all those jobs where you tip people, I was thinking: "In my family we don't hire anyone.  We go to hairdressers, but not regularly."


Dec. 7, 2017 "CopShop helps make wish lists a reality for 26 deserving kids": Today I found this article by Claire Theobald in the Edmonton Journal.  Here's an excerpt: 

The unusual scene was one of many heartwarming moments between 26 elementary school students from northeast Edmonton and officers from the Edmonton police Northeast Division at the CopShop event at Londonderry Mall on Wednesday.

“They are invited here to pair up with a cop and they get to shop — so ‘CopShop’ — for an hour-anda-half with a $200 gift card that is provided through the mall,” said Vanessa Julio, marketing manager at Londonderry Mall.

Students, selected based on their good behaviour and leadership at school, were free to choose whatever they wanted with their $200 gift card from the mall to satisfy their wish lists, but Tames said officers were taken aback by the kids’ generosity and selflessness.

“They have lists of items that they wanted to purchase for their families. They weren’t so much looking to purchase things for themselves, they were looking to purchase things for their brothers and sisters, moms and dads,” Tames said.

“This is a wonderful way to make them feel special,” said Tracy Poulin, director of the Edmonton Public Schools foundation. “What’s really special about these kids is that often they won’t just go and buy things for themselves. This is when their true spirits come out.”


Dec. 8, 2017 "Most Canadians worried about holiday spending": Today I found this article by Josh O'Kane in the Globe and Mail:

Some consumers are adapting how they handle the season to curb stress and overspending: Thirty eight per cent said they’ve already changed a tradition; 43 per cent put hard limits on gift spending; and one in five Canadians are turning to a single gift exchange, like a Secret Santa.

On top of sticking to a dedicated budget, she recommends starting to set aside money for the holidays as far ahead as January to have a cash-flow reserve ready. And what family often wants most, she points out, is simply to spend time together. “If you give them the gift of having everyone over for a lovely meal,” Ms. Thompson says, “that probably goes a lot further than a $25 gift certificate to Apple.”


My opinion: I totally agree with that.  There is no stress, pressure (financial or emotional) when we don't exchange gifts in our family at all.  We'll have a nice Christmas dinner.

Steven Tyler opens for home for girls: Today I found this article in the Edmonton Journal:

(CNN)When Steven Tyler co-wrote Aerosmith's hit "Janie's Got a Gun" almost 30 years ago, he knew he wanted to help young women who had been abused.


This week the rocker saw that dream come to fruition with the opening of Janie's House, a home for abused and neglected girls just outside Atlanta.

Tyler participated in a "scarf cutting" Wednesday at the facility at Youth Villages' Inner Harbour campus in Douglasville, Georgia.

He met the residents, many of whom became emotional greeting the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, and toured the facility he helped to establish.

Tyler told CNN it's hard for him to grasp what many of them have been through.
"You can see in their faces and hear in their voices how broken they are," he said.
Witnessing such despair is what led to his philanthropic endeavor, Tyler said.
The singer said a stint in rehab years ago allowed him to meet many women who were there partly because of struggles resulting from abuse.

"While I was in (rehab), I found out most of women in there were battered and beaten and abused verbally and sexually in huge numbers," he said. "It was like seven out of 10, eight out of 10."


"Blight Christmas": Today I found this article by Jamie Portman in the Edmonton Journal.  It goes on to diss bad Christmas movies:

https://www.pressreader.com/canada/vancouver-sun/20171208/281998967794970

My week:

Dec. 12, 2017 The highlight of my week: It seems I haven't written about Dec. 3-Dec. 9, 2017.  I would say I saw the movies on my DVR:

1. John Wick: This was an average movie.  It had lots of action.

"An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him." 


2. Fast Five: I saw the Fast and the Furious 1, 2, 3.  It was average at best, mediocre at worst.  I haven't watched these movies in years.  They were watched pretty spaced out for me.

I watched the 1st half of the movie on one day, and the 2nd half on the next day. 

"Dominic Toretto and his crew of street racers plan a massive heist to buy their freedom while in the sights of a powerful Brazilian drug lord and a dangerous federal agent."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1596343/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Dec. 13, 2017: I had 3 days off last week, and I did the usual.

1. Look for the job on the internet.
2. Read the business section of the newspaper and the news.
3. Watch my TV shows on my DVR.

This week, I did the above activities and other things too.

Mon. Dec. 11: I stayed at home.  In the afternoon, I washed my bedroom and basement windows.  I washed one in the kitchen upstairs.  My brother P washed the other kitchen windows.

Tues. Dec. 12: I went out in the afternoon to recycle 2 broken computer monitors at Staples.  The weather was warm (above 0 degrees).

There was supposed to be a social event I was going to attend, but it got cancelled.

Wed. Dec. 13: Today I went to the Screenwriters Meetup at the Second Cup on Jasper Ave.  When I got there, no one was there.  I then got a young woman worker there to use her smartphone to check on the Meetup's location.  

It turns out it was at the Second Cup on Oliver Village.  I then took another bus there.  It took an hr to get there from my house.  The meetup was fun.  I was there for 30min. talking about a script that Je wrote.

Then I went home and am writing about it now.

The meetups are mainly at these 2 locations.

Thurs. Dec. 14: Today was kind of intense at work.  I was talking to someone and she told me about this drama of pressing charges against a family member.

It reminded me of Dr. Phil and I asked her if she watches the show.  She says she does and it makes her realize that she's not just the problem here.

Dec. 15, 2017: Today I talked to another co-worker about Dr. Phil.  She says she sometimes watches it when nothing else is on. She says it's frustrating to watch.

Dec. 17, 2017 "6 families receive Habitat homes": On Dec. 15, 2017 I found this article by Juris Graney in the Edmonton Journal:


https://www.pressreader.com/canada/edmonton-journal/20171215/281599535850468

 "Initiative delivers presents to seniors": On Dec. 15, 2017 I found this article by Jenna Cocullo in the Edmonton Journal:

Nine greater Edmonton stores partnered with the Operation Friendship Senior Society, an inner-city agency that helps seniors aged 55 or older by delivering presents to 350 retirement homes within the greater Edmonton area, including residents at the Pioneer Place Seniors Citizen Apartments, 10310 93 St.

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-seniors-welcome-holiday-gifts-from-operation-friendship-project

"Starry wishes granted: Teens meet 'Star Wars' cast at premiere": On Dec. 15, 2017 I found this article by Sandy Cohen in the Edmonton Journal:

Tyler Woodward was a "Star Wars" fan long before his cancer diagnosis. His whole life, really. The 17-year-old says he was born "right when all the prequels were coming out" and grew up having lightsaber fights with his two older brothers.

So after chemo took his hair last year, he knew what he wanted from the Make-A-Wish Foundation: A trip to "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" premiere.

A week ago, he learned his wish had been granted. And on Saturday, after flying out from Ohio, Tyler put on a blazer and his BB-8 tie for the film's world premiere in Los Angeles. He was one of seven teens with life-threatening illnesses to attend the star-studded premiere and elaborate after-party with Make-A-Wish. While the organization couldn't promise personal interactions with celebrities, the kids and their parents had a special spot on the red carpet where they could see the stars arrive.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/make-sends-kids-meet-star-wars-stars-premiere-51764991

Debra Poneman: I was listening to one of my telesummits today.  She was talking about how her son was helping kids from the inner city schools/ ghettos get scholarships. 

https://www.manifestinganewworld.com/summit/



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