On Giving Back

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Every month since March 2021, 10-40% of my gross income has been reallocated toward community care. I’m finally including the details on my Give Back page–not to boast, but because I value transparency and accountability. This page wouldn’t exist without the support of the @pauseontheplay, a community with rich conversations and resources around the importance of giving back.

This work is being done imperfectly through the framework of “solidarity, not charity,” which highlights the idea of showing up for each other in mutual aid and respect.

give back, policy, photographer

Dean Spade writes his book, “Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (And The Next)” about how mutual aid focuses on everyone indiscriminately, not just those deemed “worthy” of help.

There are many ways to give back as businesses and brands, including: Contributing to mutual aid, donating, volunteerism, bartering, board or committee services, supporting small businesses and community organizations aligned with your brand values, and mentoring.

give back, policy, mutual aid

When considering giving to nonprofits, evaluate them for their fiscal responsibility by looking up their 990 form on sites like Guidestar.org. If you have employees, involve them as partners in decision-making around giving back.

Volunteering within the queer community is at the heart of my work. As the founder of Youthphoria, I donate my time both as a photographer and organizer. Additionally, I donate my time as the co-founder and co-host of Rainbow Connections—a monthly, virtual meetup for LGBTQIA+ kids and allies (K-5), in partnership with the Abington Township Public Library. I’ve been volunteering weekly as a crisis counselor with The Trevor Project for six years.

Just as much as it’s ingrained in us as small business owners to save around 30% of our income for taxes, or 10-20% toward retirement, we could also be dedicating a percentage of our income toward mutual aid or giving whenever possible. While I acknowledge this is a privilege not everyone can afford, it has become as much a part of my business as paying monthly sales tax and if anything, keeps me motivated during the slow season.

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