Helping You Define Your Lifestyle

Best Practices to look for in a Non-Profit

Non-profits fulfill a needed and exemplary role in society because they bring aid and relief to those in need in our society. When there is a natural disaster or tragedy of any kind it is they who take the lead on the front lines along with the police, fire departments and government agencies. Often when red-tape or a lack of resources prohibit the government agencies from being effective the non-profits step in and fill the gap quickly and decisively.

The best charities like Helping a Hero, a nationally recognized reputable charity that provides wounded veterans with custom homes that accommodate their disabilities, are always prepared to provide assistance and they do it in an exemplary way. They also have processes that prove they are legally authorized to act as a non-profit and provide their services. Finally, they observe best practices throughout their operations. Here is the list they follow and what you should look for if you intend to donate to or volunteer at a non-profit.

Are they a legally registered 501(c)(3) ?

Non-profits must be legally registered with the Internal Revenue Service in order to receive their non-profit status. This legal designation is called a 501(c)(3) and it allows them to take in your money and only use it for its intended purpose and as a result, they receive certain tax breaks and can provide you with some as well. These breaks go to you whether you are donating time, merchandise or time so from that perspective ensuring that non-profit is legally registered id is critical. It also speaks to their integrity. If a company has not registered as a charity, they are allowed to spend the money you give them in any way they choose without any oversight from the government. Many of these companies spend less than 5% of their donations on the actual cause they claim to be helping. You can find out if the non-profit you are researching is a 501(c)(3) registered company by going to non-profit online database called GuideStar.org. Enter their name and you will see if the company is registered. If not ask the non-profit why they are not registered and remember without this registration there is no legal oversight of that organization as a charity. A key thing to know is that just because an organization has a website ending in .org, does not mean that they are a legal charity. So beware.

How Much of Their Donations Go to the Cause

Charities use donor’s money to do everything their organization requires. This includes salaries, traveling, their office space, marketing and every other detail related to the organization. They also use that money to support the cause they are espousing. Charities like every other business are run at widely varying levels of efficiency. Some actually spend very little on the cause and the vast majority on salaries. You need to understand what percentage of their donations actually go toward the cause. The best organizations consistently have a ratio of at least 75% of their donations going to the actual cause If the charity you are researching is much below this number, you should be wary. The first thing you should ask them why this is the case and wait to hear an answer that makes sense. If not, you should reconsider donating to them and find a more efficient charity. There are websites like CharityNavigator.org, that contain the annual financial of all 501(c)(3)  companies and you can review their performance and ratios of giving here. Again, this is an important statistic to look at but there could be extenuating circumstances if the number iis below 75%. The key is to know what the number is and ask questions if it is lower.

Do your homework and give until it hurts.

The laws of meetings: How to maximise your business efficiency

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a large or small company; views on meetings are largely universal. They’re often overused, inefficient, and generally a waste of time.

Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, but in a nutshell, meeting dynamics across the world can be reformed.

Taking this into account, when it comes to your own company’s meetings, how should you approach matters? Should you go with the flow and “become one of them”, or should you challenge the norm and take matters into your own hands? Suffice to say, today’s post is on how to achieve the latter.

Tread carefully with recurrent meetings

The software companies gave themselves a huge pat on the back when they allowed recurrent meetings to be scheduled at the quick of a button. In truth, this is a worthwhile feature for many meetings – but not all.

After all, while you might build a case for a weekly performance meeting, many other recurrent ones aren’t perhaps needed.

Now, before you suggest that you can simply “play it by ear” and decide when you get to the meeting, this is one of the easiest mistakes to make. After all, by the time everyone has arrived and discussed the matter at hand, regardless of how briefly, valuable time has been eaten away.

The moral of the story? Carefully decide whether your recurrent meetings really need to be recurrent.

Get the agenda out there – and make it actionable

There’s nothing worse than being called into a meeting only to find that there is no structure or agenda. In these cases, it often leads to a free-for-all where people can talk about anything and everything, regardless of how important it actually is.

Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but in general, an agenda is key. Not only does it give the meeting some much-needed structure, but it also allows you to assign actions to specific people. This, in turn, makes the meeting far more actionable and less of a time waster.

Stop people from going off on tangents

There’s always one person in every meeting that just can’t help themselves. They see the meeting as an opportunity to show off their knowledge, regardless of how relevant it is to the discussion.

While it’s important to allow some level of creativity, you also need to rein people in when they start to go off on tangents. After all, if everyone in the meeting starts to do this, it quickly descends into a free-for-all where nothing gets done.

Could a remote meeting do the trick?

It would be fair to say that we’re now well and truly in the age of remote meetings. Most of us are used to them now and like them due to how much time they can save us.

However, they don’t always work. This is particularly true if you want to impress new clients or perhaps need a whiteboarding session. In these instances, nothing quite beats the dynamics of a face-to-face affair. If you decide to go down this route, the obvious caveat is the knock-on effects. Whether booking that dreaded meeting room or ensuring your insurance obligations are up to scratch ahead of receiving external visitors, make sure you’re prepared for in-person meetings.

Keep it short and sweet

There’s no need to drag out meetings unnecessarily. If you can achieve everything you need to in 30 minutes, there’s no need to make it an hour-long affair.

How to Use Poker as a Mindfulness Practice

Most common mindfulness practices are fundamentally simple. Things like deep breathing, counted breaths, and short breaks and walks can help to calm us, clear our minds, and generate simultaneous states of relaxation and awareness. As much purpose as these small, simple practices have though, there are also some more involved activities that can assist with the development of greater mindfulness. And it may surprise some to learn that the game of poker is among them.

Gaming and Meditation

It is first important to understand that a link has been established between gaming and meditation in general. For a long time there were a lot of misconceptions about gaming as an active, almost violent practice meant solely for young people. But perceptions have changed over time. We now understand that people in all age groups play games of all kinds, and we further accept that a lot of these games have meditative qualities. Gamer testaments and a few scientific studies alike have indicated that the right game can have a soothing effect on one’s mental state.

This is the case with poker as well. A passion for many around the world, it’s a unique game that doesn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of traditional “gaming” as we tend to think of the term. It is nonetheless similar with regard to mindfulness, however. Approached with intention, it can be a calming, almost meditative hobby for players.

Mental and Emotional Calm

When considering the game of poker specifically, one tends to think first of strategy, luck, and mathematics. In some sense, these are the building blocks of any given game of poker, and it will of course be important for any aspiring player to learn how they all factor in. However, what really helps successful players to win at poker is a sound mindset. The manifestation of a sound overall poker game requires that players learn to accept defeat and to avoid getting too high from a win. It demands reasonable approaches to betting and competition, clear-eyed social interaction, and the ability to operate without ego.

Add those factors up, and what success in poker really demands is mental and emotional calm. Players need skill and strategy to be sure, but above all else they need to be able to clear their minds of various pressures and shut out hasty impulses. This in and of itself is nearly a form of meditation, and certainly serves as a sort of training for mindfulness practice.

Focused Meditation

Beyond helping players to establish a general sense of mental and emotional calm, poker also leads to an ability to focus that, in its own way, is meditative. Generally, a focused meditation is described as the practice of focusing on something intently as a way of staying in the present moment and slowing down inner dialogue. It more or less means zeroing in on one subject to the exclusion of all else for the purpose of clearing one’s head — which is pretty much exactly what one has to do in poker! Even the slightest distraction can be a problem, and while the game demands a lot of attention it still makes for such narrow focus that one can clear one’s mind in a useful and soothing way.

Even given all of these benefits, poker does not comprise an entire mindfulness or meditation routine. For those interested in working on these aspects of personal wellness though, it’s always good to have one more option! Some will find this simple, popular card game to be legitimately beneficial.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our piece on how to boost your energy, especially useful as we enter a new year and search for fresh motivations!