FBB announces changes to Humanist Giving program

Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) is excited to announce that the new year has brought some changes to our monthly giving program. The Humanist Giving program will now be known as the Humanist Grants program. This change was made because our programs, including our direct service programs – Humanist Action: Ghana, Humanist Disaster Recovery Teams and…

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FBB announces partnership with Humanist Experience podcast

As part of our mission to promote secular volunteering and responsible charitable giving, Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) is thrilled to announce we will be taking on a new project: the Humanist Experience. The Humanist Experience is a podcast that uses experiential learning and storytelling to grow empathy and understanding for people who may be outside its listeners'…

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BBN teams spent more than 700 hours volunteering in August

Beyond Belief Network teams reported more than 20 service events and over 700 volunteering hours in August! Here's how some of our BBN teams put their humanism to work. Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) HAPI Cebu Chapter joined the launch of the third Ready-to-Learn project series last August 1, 2016, at Busay Elementary School in…

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Volunteering for Louisiana

We recently got a chance to talk to Jennifer Tidwell, who is on the ground volunteering in Louisiana where floods have killed 13 people and destroyed about 60,000 homes. For Jennifer, (who, in addition to her public service, is also operating as a single mother to son Connor, 8) her work in Louisiana is not…

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#ParisAttacks: How can humanists help?

As you all know, yesterday a coordinated attack took place in Paris that killed more than 120 people. When such tragedy unfolds, our human instinct is to jump to the aid of those in need. Yet, sometimes we do not have what is needed to help those that are hurting. As we remember from 9/11…

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Conor Robinson discusses humanist service, building bridges, and why atheists should care about their image

Conor Robinson is the director of Pathfinders Project, the yearlong global humanist service trip. A Teach for America alumnus, Conor graduated from Yale University in 2010, where he founded the Yale Humanist Society. Conor and the rest of the Pathfinders are currently working in Guatemala with Safe Passage/Camino Seguro, an organization whose mission is to…

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February Team of the Month: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

BBN February Team of the Month

By Elizabeth Minutello, Beyond Belief Network intern

Congratulations to Beyond Belief Network’s February Team of the Month: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry! Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (SHL) was chosen for this honor because of their strong service schedule in 2013, including Adopt-a-Highway litter clean-ups, volunteering at local organizations, hosting multiple fundraisers and a blood drive, and collecting donations for a featured charity in each quarter. We were most impressed by the multiple causes they’ve supported. 

One of their ongoing initiatives is Charity of the Quarter. Four times a year, SHL chooses a local charity and collects donations on their behalf. During November and December 2013, SHL raised $655 for their most recent Charity of the Quarter, Charleston Animal Society.

In January, SHL volunteers donated their time and energy at the Lowcountry Food Bank, a clearinghouse for donated food items that serves ten counties in coastal South Carolina. Working mainly in the Food Bank’s warehouse, SHL unpacked seven pallets of mixed food donations. After inspecting the donations for expiration dates and damage, the food was sorted into new boxes by category, sealed, and loaded onto pallets.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

Not even foul weather can stop SHL members from volunteering! As part of their Adopt-a-Highway litter pick-up, SHL cleaned two miles of Harborview Road on James Island. Despite mud and rain, their ten volunteers collected twelve bags of trash. With their multiple methods of volunteerism and dedication to their community, SHL is a strong example of what great works an organized Beyond Belief Network team can achieve.

Team of the Month recognition is a benefit provided by Foundation Beyond Belief to our Beyond Belief Network teams. In order to be considered, your group must be a Level One Beyond Belief Network team and you must submit at least one event report during the month. Team of the Month selection is based on the number, length, variety, and documentation (e.g., submitted pictures, blog posts, videos, etc.) of events.

Teams can only be Team of the Month once per calendar year. If your local group does great service work, but isn’t a member of BBN, you can join anytime! In addition to recognition, your team can qualify for free t-shirts and grants. If your local humanist group doesn’t volunteer, but you’d like to start, we’d love to help! For teams new to secular service, we offer tons of ideas, event guides, and advice.

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Beyond Belief Network teams brave the cold with January volunteering

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry By Elizabeth Dorssom

Foundation Beyond Belief’s Beyond Belief Network is a network of secular humanist groups volunteering in their communities and raising money for FBB’s featured charities and programs. Any group with a public secular humanist or atheist identity is welcome to join, regardless of experience or group size. In January, BBN is observing National Mentoring Month and encouraging teams to forge mentoring relationships with young adults or other secular humanist groups.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry volunteered at the Lowcountry Food Bank, a clearinghouse for donated food items that serves 10 counties in coastal South Carolina. During the three hours they volunteered, team members unpacked seven pallets of mixed food donations and inspected for expiration dates and potential damage to food containers. They also sorted the food into new boxes by category, sealed the boxes, and loaded them onto pallets.

Secular Hub volunteers went door to door with Groundwork Denver on MLK day, changing porch light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. Volunteers also handed out coupons for free trees and free recycling services. Flagstaff FreethinkersThey also passed out educational materials about energy usage, making this an event that covered three categories: education, poverty, and the environment! Beyond Belief Network staff are currently exploring ways to expand this program to the rest of our teams.

Flagstaff Freethinkers also celebrated MLK day by putting together a community-wide day of service, which was covered on the FBB blog earlier this week.

Ethics in Action recently held a blood drive for the Red Cross. The Red Cross of America is always in need of blood donations, and 27 people were willing to give. Donors were invited to schedule a time when they could come in during this event, with information given about other ways to help if they were unable to donate at the time. All in all, there were 22 successful donations!

If you are a member of a secular humanist or atheist group and would like to participate in community service projects under the national umbrella of Foundation Beyond Belief, join Beyond Belief Network. We welcome all atheist groups interested in service, from groups with extensive volunteer experience to newly formed groups new to secular service. By aggregating our efforts, we show the world that all we really need is charity and goodness to make the world a better place.

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The Humanist Student Union from the University of North Georgia collected more than $200 to help Syrian refugees

Beyond Belief NetworkThe Humanist Student Union from the University of North Georgia invited Foundation Beyond Belief Executive Director Dale McGowan to speak on campus as a fundraiser for FBB Crisis Response Beneficiary International Rescue Committee. The event resulted in more than $500 going to Syrian Crisis Response, with $200 of that collected from attendees at their event. We have been extremely impressed with this new BBN team, who put together a Hug an Atheist fundraiser with 24 hours’ notice that made an incredible $300 in four hours! It’s the can-do spirit of club president Devidyal Givens that sets them apart.

Devidyal explains her philosophy of philanthropy:

The most common excuse I hear when I encourage others to host events is “it’s too hard.” Either the average person has a completely different opinion of what the word “hard” means or they really don’t understand how easy it can be to set up an event, especially on a college campus. Campus groups may not realize it, but they commonly have access to ballrooms and meeting rooms free of charge. Community-centered off-campus groups can co-sponsor events with their local student groups, too.

Here are my top five suggestions:

  1. Incorporate fundraising into your regular programming. Every event we host is a fundraiser for a cause. In this case, we wanted a lecture on Syria to benefit the refugees. We learn about interesting topics and raise money at the same time.
  2. Ask your contacts for help. I put out my feelers to everyone I know that might be able to help. In this case, I contacted Foundation Beyond Belief to ask if they had anyone that could talk on Syria. I was told Dale would love to do it. That was that. We had our speaker. It took a total of one email typed in about 5 minutes and sent out to about 15 people I thought might be able to help me. All I had to do is ask. Not only that, but Beyond Belief Network staff took the text I had to advertise the event and made me a flyer.
  3. Encourage, but don’t require, donations. I never charge money for admission to an event because I would never want to turn away a person due to lack of funds. Similarly, I never take money at the door because people that don’t have money may get that far then turn around and leave when they see money being collected. But, to remind people to bring cash, my fliers always read: “FREE ADMISSION but cash donations will be requested.” Sometimes I will put an actual amount that will be requested. I wait until they are in their seats, I have gotten their attention with some heart wrenching story and then “pass the hat.”
  4. If you want people to come, you need them to hear about it, and not just once. The rule of thumb to always remember is that for every 50 people you invite you can expect 3 to show up. Post flyers everywhere: local businesses, bulletin boards, nearby campuses, etc. Email professors, teachers, interest groups, etc. who might send people to you. For example, for the talk on Syrian refugees, I emailed every sociology, history, psychology, Middle East studies, and political science teacher at 10 colleges and universities within an hour’s drive. I also searched the database of each of the 10 colleges for any clubs on their campus that may be interested in the event and I emailed the club’s president. Make event pages on Meetup, Facebook, and any other social media available. Advertise in your local university paper or Coalition of Reason website. Don’t stop there; you’ll need to remind people a few times before the day of the event. Make sure you make it seem like more people are going than not and that people who don’t come are missing out.
  5. There are only so many hours in a day; you have to choose how to spend your time. I am a non-traditional student. I have 3 children and a husband at home, I work out at the gym every day, I take a full 18 credit hour course load and I have a 3.8 GPA. I am busier than almost everyone I know. The difference is what I choose to spend my time doing. Instead of hanging out with friends for a drink or watching a movie with my husband, I choose to spend my time getting people to come out to the events we host.

Putting your humanism to work takes a lot of time. It’s annoying at times and you’ll get frustrated but is it hard? Nope. It’s pretty darn easy. In the amount of time it’s taken me to type this blog post, I could have advertised enough to get 10 attendees for my next event. But it’s not difficult. It’s dedication. What are you dedicated to?

If you are dedicated to charitable service and philanthropy and would like to participate or plan events like Devidyal and the University of North Georgia Humanist Union, consider joining your local Beyond Belief Network team. If you’re already a member of a local humanist group, and would be interested in volunteering as a group, tell your group leaders about Beyond Belief Network. BBN teams can ask for FBB staff to speak at events, request our help promoting events and making flyers, and earn other perks.

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