Tag: charity

Charity vs Crowd Funding


So I just finished doing my taxes and had a chance to go over my expenses of the previous year, think about 2014 (I am not the best with a budget!). One thing that stood out as I was reviewing my books is what I was able to do for charities over the year.  I won’t say much because that is private but I was very happy with how I was able to stretch myself in that regard.

Whether it is donating clothes to DI or giving pocket change to the Salvation Army Santa’s most of us can do more to stretch our influence and give to causes we believe in.  If we cannot give money we can volunteer hours or promote said charity on our social media.  You can give blood (which I am doing next week and did in December).  You could volunteer at schools, churches, and help out friends.

That said, I would like to focus this piece on 2 major ways of monetarily giving to others that are available to us in this day and age- traditional charities and crowd funding.

popular charities

Traditional Charities-

Are just that traditional.  They probably don’t need as much explanation.  Churches, not for profits, civic organizations, schools all count as traditional charities.  These are great ways to contribute to society and help causes that are near and dear to your heart.

Most of my personal charitable contributions go to my church, LDS Church.  Some is also given to Utah Food Bank, March of Dimes, American Red Cross, LDS Philanthropies, United Way etc.

Here’s an example of the kind of good you can do with a contribution to a traditional charity

You can give to such organizations through events like walks and parties or you can make a donation via website or over the phone (even through texting).  Make sure that you go through the legit websites and are not responding to emails requesting money.

Also I personally do not make donations from calls as you can never be 100% sure they are who they say they are and since they ask for my credit card I simply tell them I will make a contribution at another time.

Also, make sure if you make a donation that it is an organization with a 501k tax exemption status if it is something you hope to deduct on your taxes.  Such deductions can be a nice perk of donating to causes over individuals but some organizations that look like non-profits actually aren’t.  Like our local Utah Masters Swim clubs are not 501k exempt.

You can also keep track of miles and purchases if you are a leader in such causes.  Donations to political candidates do not count as tax deductible.  The same is true for PACs.

Also make sure to get a receipt to verify your donation and remember that any perks given are taken out of the value of the donation.  For instance, if I donate to PBS and get a Downton Abbey DVD set the tax deductible portion of the contribution is minus the price of the DVDs.

So Traditional Charity-

pros- set organizations with track record and staff to implement what they hope to accomplish, 501k tax exempt and can deduct on taxes, easy to contribute and help online when crisis occurs.  You can’t go wrong with such donations!

cons- less one on one interaction with people you are helping.  Can feel corporate and stale.  Corporations can suck up a lot of the money you donate in advertising, staffing, etc.

Crowd Funding-

The next way to help others and contribute is collectively known as crowd funding.  I recognize I am kind of late on this bandwagon but I hadn’t heard of it until 2012 when swimmer Anthony Ervin mounted a comeback to the Olympics using the website Indiegogo


Ervin is a type of person who hates dealing with the media and corporate sponsorship and when supporting his run me an ordinary person had the chance to help out an Olympian.  That’s pretty cool.


There are a number of sites but 4 I will mention here are Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Give Forward and Patreon. Each of these sites tries to duplicate the influence of one investor by building up a fund of many (or a crowd) investors.  So if there is a movie or video game that sounds cool you can donate sometimes as little as $5 and receive updates, perks and feel a part of things, which is neat.

A youtube contributor I’ve really gotten into recently is the Nostalgia Critic (beware language on it but very funny).  His experience with indiegogo:

There are all kinds of categories on each of these sites- food, sports, movies, music, people.  Giveforward.com is another one just for fundraisers (this is more like a traditional fundraiser, no real perks).

Right before Christmas a byu student suddenly died of a brain aneurism after holding his son and they set up a giveforward.com account and have earned 103k for his widow and child.  What a neat opportunity to help someone you hear about in the news instead of just reading and moving on.

give forward

Other people have more modest goals and requests like ‘help pay for a funeral for our Dad’ or ‘help me get shots for my cat’.  Whatever it might be I guarantee you if you go on there you will find causes that tug at your heart strings.

You can also get behind small companies that produce products you like.  Last year I donated $75 to Oogave sodas that make lower sugar sodas and I got 3 cases of soda as my perk.  Not a bad deal for me and I got to help a company I really like.

I also donated to a set of romance novels being written with a clean perspective, from BYU grads, because I love supporting local authors and I look forward to reading the books.  Another one I did was for the Jane Austen board game.  I get a copy of the game and it just sounded fun.

Finally you can help artists make more of what you like.  A singer that wants to make a new album, a movie to be made, a painting to be painted. Patreon is all about supporting artists and creators (podcasters, youtubers, authors, artists, etc).


Kickstarter is probably the most popular crowd funding site.  They set limits that funding has to make in order for the creator to receive that funding.  https://www.kickstarter.com

The thing I think is cool about crowd funding is that unlike a traditional charity you get to help an individual and be apart of their journey. I recently started supporting a podcaster I enjoy called RHAP (Rob has a podcast) who does reality TV podcasts (former survivor veteran Rob Cesternino hosts).

While this may not be as noble an enterprise as a widow and a child it is a chance to help someone with a very minor amount do something that he loves and that is pretty great (its about $2-5 a month).  I’ll admit it.  I don’t do what I love nor do I really know what that is.  I’m content with my work and very grateful but it’s not my great passion.  It feels neat to help someone else figure that out and succeed.


The downside to crowd funding is that it can be a one time contribution as opposed to the ongoing relationship we can have with traditional organizations.  They are also purely monetary and don’t have physical labor opportunities aside from perhaps attending a concert of a performer.

The other big downside is they are not 501k exempt deductions so aside from the perks (which can be awesome) there isn’t a ton of financial advantage to being involved.  It’s more about helping someone because you want to help someone not to help your books. And maybe that makes it even better and more touching?

Crowd Funding- (also named Crowd sourcing)

Pros- help individual artists, creators, causes.  Get great perks and rewards.

Cons- no tax deduction, risks of not getting rewards (kickstarter is very thorough with the risks of a project), no guarantee like a traditional organization has as far as how the money is used, what is done with it.

Remember that giving time, prayers and energy can be the greatest gifts.  So by no means feel guilty if you cannot contribute to any of the above monetarily. I was just thinking about these two avenues and what I would do this year and thought I would discuss it with all of you.  And sometimes all we can do is take care of ourselves and I’ve been there and that’s ok too. Time and season for everything.

I’d love to hear about what you have contributed to. What charities do you like? Do you prefer traditional charities with set organizations or helping individuals you know through crowd funding or just helping individuals?  Do you like crowd funding?  What are your experiences? Do you feel the perks have been worthwhile?

(You can also simply help individuals you know.  Like one of my old roommates is from Monroe, OK and I was given a chance to help people she knew affected by the tornado. So many opportunities)

Birthday Bags for Homeless

We had a great activity today for my ward.   It was a valentines date night which would normally make me sick inside but it was combined with an awesome service project so that made it more palatable to a single person like me.  We collected donations for little presents or bags that the local homeless shelters could give to residents on their birthday.  These included bags for men, women, teens and children.


I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t get much stuff or that we’d get lots of the same kind of stuff.  I could just see 20 people bringing toothbrushes or only having enough for 2 bags.  Fortunately none of that happened in fact we filled up at least 50 bags for all sexes and ages and then had enough to fill up at least double that number.  It was so cool!

women getting bags ready bags2

The nice thing is I actually felt like we were helping people, not just going through the motions.  It seemed like everyone was pushing themselves and giving as much as they could.  I remember a few years ago at a ward sub-4-santa I left feeling depressed.  It seemed to me we were giving the family a bunch of junk and I felt a nagging sense of regret at an opportunity lost when more could have been done.  Not so this time.  I was blown away at everybody’s generosity and creativity.

Even the idea for the bags was creative.  It was the idea of a woman in the ward who was speaking with her neighbor Tammi  who is completely awesome leader in our community.  A few years ago she moved to Draper and decided she wanted to contribute.  She didn’t have much money but figured she could make peanut butter sandwiches, which she did. After bagging them up she took them to give out to the homeless.  Since then she’s become more involved with area needy.  Isn’t that cool!

Well, they were talking and the idea for a birthday bag was developed.  Nobody had done it at these shelters before so it was uncharted ground and we really had no idea how it would all turn out.  However, it certainly exceeded my expectations.  What a neat opportunity to serve.

I’m so worn out and tired from this week but I can’t sleep.  Sigh…I need a break!

Oh well, at least I had an opportunity to serve.  I’m glad of that.

2009 in Review

I must admit to being tardy in my Christmas/end of the year posting.  Since I was sick for 2 weeks at the beginning of the month I have been behind on everything else.  I still have a great deal to do work-wise, but I am making progress.  Luckily I work for understanding people including and especially my father who is patient and understanding with me.

Even with all of the illness and work I have managed to squeeze together a great Christmas season.  It all started at the beginning of the month when I volunteered for Festival of Trees.  I have been working on the planning committee this year, which has been a great experience.   The Festival of Trees is an event that raises money for Primary Children Hospital in Utah, which is a hospital that treats all children regardless of ability to pay. It was a neat way to serve the community and make new friends along the way.

I also continued on my two favorite traditions-  going to see Christmas Carol at Hale Theater Orem and participating in the Messiah Sing-in in American Fork.  Both of these traditions just make Christmas for me.  I also had my Christmas tree which I call my Memory tree.  It is full of ornaments that have significance in my life, that remind me of good times and memories.

Now I am finally getting that done.  Thanks for all of your comments through the year.  Please continue.  My blog gives me great happiness and satisfaction throughout the year.

2009 in review


Probably the largest part of my life revolves around my work.  I am fortunate to still be self-employed as a property manager/events coordinator/sales tax filer (that’s a mouth full hah!).  Basically I do whatever it takes to make a living and stay free and unfettered.  I LOVE being my own boss, setting my own schedule and motivating myself to succeed.  I have never taken kindly to being told what to do and work is no exception.  I love my job!

The most exciting work development of 09 has been my transition from vacation into long-term rental sales in August.  Due to some problems, we decided to forgo vacation renting and find tenants interested in at least a year.  Without any training I was able to find wonderful, reliable tenants for three homes in a matter of weeks.  I feel blessed with such results and it is one more proof to me that I am doing what my Heavenly Father wants.

With the long-term tenants requiring less management, I have been taking on more responsibilities for Grabber including doing some sales tax work and handing out free warmers at events around Utah Valley.  I love the art of making the sale and in many ways it brings me back to the street contacting we did on my mission.  Whether it is real estate, warmers or Book of Mormons, I enjoy talking with people and trying to help them.


Work has not been the only satisfying facet of my life.   The most exciting news for my family this year was the birth of my fifth niece Sparrow.  Ben and Nahanni welcomed their new baby girl in October, and she has been easy and sweet.  My only regret is not seeing her.  Hopefully I can get up to Portland soon!

Another big development for the year was my sister Anna’s acceptance into my alma mater BYU.  In August Anna moved to Provo and began her schooling.  Now she is 35 minutes away, which allows us to spend a great deal of time together (sometimes I’ve been as much as 4 times in one week!).  I love having my sister close by.

I have also had the opportunity to visit my sister Megan and the rest of my family in California many times.  Megan even hosted Emily Whitman and myself at her house for nearly a week in September for the first ever Roommate Reunion!  It was great!


In some ways this year has been challenging friends-wise simply because a number of my best friends have moved/gotten married recently.  I miss my friends when they aren’t nearby.  Luckily, I have also found ways to connect with friends far-away.  Some highlights include visiting with Raelene in January after my cruise, seeing Emily at the reunion and 2 other times, a visit from Julia Graves in October and getting to see my old roommate Stefanie J in Hawaii in June. Visiting with old friends may be my favorite thing in the whole world!


While my 09 travels do not compare with 08, I have taken some great trips throughout the year.  It all started with my LDS singles cruise in January.  It was a particularly bold trip because I went without knowing anyone and ended meeting many new people.  Plus, I got to visit Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vaerta.  The best thing about the trip is due to the high fees I hardly used my phone or checked email for 7 nights. What a nice break!

In June I was fortunate to take another Hawaii trip with Camille.  This time my sister and her friends came along, as well as Stefanie and Camille’s friend Angie.  As always, we had a magical trip.  I can’t even describe how wonderful the beach is and how much I love Sunny Hawaii! Aloha!

Finally the year ended with several trips home for the holidays combined with my October trip with Emily at Megan’s.  I always love coming home and being near great family and friends.


In between all of this travel I‘ve been keeping busy with my voice lessons through Hale Theater Orem, and my real estate classes through Stringham Real Estate school.  I also love any chance I get to go to a movie, cook new recipe, read a good book or watch my favorite TV shows. If I get to do any of those things it is usually a pretty good week!

At Christmas time I feel so blessed to have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to know that His sacrifice saves me from sin and unhappiness.  I know that my Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us that if followed will bring us happiness here on earth and bring us salvation in the eternities.  I am grateful for my testimony of the Savior and the chance I have at Christmas to sing “Joy to the World the Lord is come!”

I hope each of you has a Merry Christmas and that we will chat again soon.  Thanks for all of your support and love during this year of growth.  Visit me soon in Draper and I can show you a great time!

Merry Christmas and God Bless, Rachel Wagner

I Love Nice People

Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)
Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)

So, I can’t write long but I just wanted to say how grateful I am for kind people who are understanding.  I am especially grateful both personally and professionally today.

It was a stressful day because we had three people checking into the properties, packing up my stuff, did the moving inspection, and finally moved a bunch of stuff into my new place.  It’s a long story but 2 of the houses the Benji and the Anna were rented.  The Benji does not have hot tub.  The Anna does.   Last month we decided to set up a housing swap with a family from Redondo Beach.  Since it was available I scheduled them in the Anna.  A week or so ago we got a call from a group called Signing Times (they do signing DVDs for babies learning sign to communicate early on).  Since they are paying customers I thought I should try to give them the house with the hot tub.  I called the other group and they were willing to make the swap.

So now comes today.  I was preoccupied with packing and as I headed over to sign my contract the swap group called.  Rushing I told them to go to the Anna, and Jim went ahead and checked them in.  I then signed my contract, did the inspection and moved a bunch of stuff in with the help of friends.  As I was eating dinner it hit me I had 2 groups expecting to stay at the Anna, one of them already checked in!  I panicked and called the other group.  I apologized probably 500 times and to my great relief they said “we don’t care which house we stay in”.  A few in the group were a little annoyed but as a whole they were unbelievably understanding.  I don’t know what I would have done if they had not been so great.  One of the ladies kept saying “Life happens!”.

This is a situation where I screwed up.  They would have had every right to be ticked off with me but they chose to be sympathetic.  I realize not everyone is so wonderful.   For a summer in college I worked for a hogi shop that also served teriyaki chicken.  At the beginning of the day we made all of the chicken for the entire day.  Occasionally we would run out of chicken and disappoint customers.  This one day we ran out of chicken and a lady came in wanting to order it.  Instead of ordering something else she proceeded to ream me out, calling me stupid and lazy.  The whole time I kept thinking- “What is going on in your life to make you treat me this way over chicken?”.  It was amazing.  I’ve also had moments on airplanes or in crowded places where people treated me and others like garbage.  It’s far too common.

Suffice it to say I am SO grateful the tenants I messed up today had a much better reaction.  It’s one thing to accept our friends, flaws and all, but when a stranger makes a mistake often it is easier to come unglued.  It reminds me of Jesus’ teachings when He said in Matthew 5 44-47:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Not that I was an enemy of these people, but I was definitely not their brethren (or sister).  They had every right to be mad at me, but they chose a higher path and for that I am very grateful.   They certainly had more right than the chicken lady and nothing stopped her from unleashing her rage.

On a personal note I also feel grateful for Sunnie Bybee and my home teacher Josh for helping me move today and for whomever comes tomorrow.  Look at the nice note my fellow churchmembers sent out in my behalf:Hey everybody!
We are looking for as many people as possible that would be willing to gain a few extra blessings by helping out Rachel Wagner tomorrow, Saturday May 16th, to move into a new apartment within Adagio. We are all meeting at 13323 S. Pinnacle Point Dr. #3207 @ 11 am! Your help would greatly be appreciated!

Isn’t that nice?  Hopefully people will come!  I am sure they will and for that I am super appreciative.  I am not meaning to toot my own horn but I sacrifice a lot of my time to serving my friends and community, and it is nice to see others willing to serve me when I need it. I certainly can’t move by myself!  So, thanks everyone in advance!  Thanks for being so nice.

Thanks also to the understanding tenants who are the best!

I will update the blog next week and try to have photos of my new place.  I will be in a mad rush to get things unpacked before Hawaii!  Oh Hawaii!  That sounds so wonderful!!! I am all sore and tired, and will be near dead tomorrow.  Ahh I can feel that sun now!

Giving Blood

So, today I gave blood on behalf of Edward Cullen! Let me explain…

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago I have set a goal to perform one day of community service a month.  Luckily I found out that my apartment complex has a day of service a month as well.  This month they decided to do a blood drive.  As part of the promotion every donor had to pick a Twilight hero to donate their blood in behalf of.  As creepy as donating blood to a vampire might be it was actually kind of funny.  They even had the movie playing in the donation center.  Everyone knows I am not the most die-hard Twilight fan but I liked the first and second books and it was a creative idea for a blood drive.  I also thought the movie was campy and fun.

The actual giving blood part was a different story.  My veins are always tough to find. When I was 17 I had my appendix taken out and at the hospital the nurses tried and tried to insert my IV.  Eventually once the expert phlebotomist failed they had to insert the IV through my finger!  It is always tough and to be honest that is why I don’t give blood much.  In fact, I haven’t done it for years.  So today I walked over to the clubhouse and gave blood.  It was painful and it took both arms and 3 attempts to get things going but I did it.  It hurt and I am battered and bruised as a result.  I look like a drug user with pricks all over my arm!

Like I said, it hurt and was a sacrifice, but I feel it was worth it.  Hopefully my hard earned blood will go to help someone who really needs it. I challenge all of you that are able, to go out and do it!

Here is a website about the Twilight promotion. http://www.freewebs.com/twilights-bite/

Here are some interesting statistics about donating blood in the United States (some of them are a little obvious like there is no substitute for human blood- really!). I found them from the New Jersey/New York Red Cross website:





–4.5 million Americans benefit from life-saving blood transfusions each year.

–40,000 pints are transfused each day in the United States.

–New York Blood Center alone requires over 2,000 volunteer blood donations each day to meet the transfusion needs of patients in close to 200 New York and New Jersey hospitals.

–1 out of every 3 people will require a life-saving transfusion sometime during their lifetime.

–Someone in this country needs a life-saving transfusion every 3 seconds.

–Transfusion recipients include cancer patients, accident, burn and trauma victims, newborn babies, transplant patients, mothers delivering babies, surgery patients, chronically transfused patients suffering from sickle cell disease or thalassemia, etc.

–Each donation of blood can help save 3 lives following component (red cell, platelet, plasma) separation.

–Much of today’s sophisticated medical care ( transplants, heart surgeries, etc.) rely on blood transfusions.

–Car accident and trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more red cell transfusions.

–Severe burn victims may need as many as 20 platelet transfusions.

–Bone marrow transplants may require platelets from over 100 donors and red cells from over 20 people.

–Blood products are perishable.
* Donated red cells last only 42 days.
* Donated platelets last only 5 days.
* Plasma can be frozen for a year.

–The need for blood never takes a holiday.


–Nearly everyone between the ages of 17 and 75, weighing a minimum of 110 pounds and in good health can donate blood. Donors over age 75 who are healthy and meet all other donor requirements simply require a doctor’s written permission note to donate.

–60% of Americans are eligible to donate blood; yet on average only 5% of Americans donate blood.

–In the New York/New Jersey community, less than 2% of eligible people donate blood.

–People can safely donate blood every 8 weeks.

–People can safely donate platelets every 3 days or up to 24 times a year.

–Of New York Blood Center’s approximate 450,000 donors, 8% self identify themselves as African-American, 11% self-identify themselves as Hispanic and 5% self identify themselves as Asian. But more donations from people of color are needed so New York Blood Center can better match its community’s richly diverse population and the need for “precise match” transfusions.

How Blood Works:

–Red cells carry oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues.

–Platelets act like band-aids to form clots and stop bleeding.

–Plasma is the liquid through which blood cells, proteins, enzymes, nutrients and hormones “swim”.

–White cells, also called “leukocytes”, are the body’s primary defense against infection.

–The average person has between 8 to 10 pints of blood in their body and can easily spare one for donation.

–After donating, blood volume is replaced, or regenerated, within 24 hours. Red cells need 4 to 8 weeks for complete replacement.

–There is no substitute for human blood.

Happy Valentines Day

These are some of the people I love
These are some of the people I love

To all my friends and family-Happy Valentines Day! I hope you all had nice days. I had a very fun day with my good friend Melissa Noyes. We went to lunch, shopping and to the movies (we saw He’s Not that Into You, which I liked- don’t listen to the reviews!).

On a day of love let me say a few things about what love means to me. Love is a tear when we depart, it is the adrenaline on first seeing one another after parting, it is the forgiving kiss of a child, it is a hug from a grandfather, it is a phone call just when I needed one, it is a moment of clarity and self worth, it is a prayer answered, it is sweetness and purity, it is sexy and exciting.  It is all of these things and more. It cannot be summarized or put into words. It just is and we all know it when we feel it. Don’t we all live for that feeling? I do. I will flat out admit I have never been in love with a man but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt love or know what it means. No, no, I know and that is why I know it is worth the wait.


I will end with my two favorite summaries of love.

The first is from Shakespeare’s 116 Sonnet-

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose Worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks;

But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved



The second is from Corinthians.  It uses the word charity, which means Godly love.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge;

And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not;

Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth