Thursday, January 14, 2010

6 Tips for Giving Responsibly

During the giving season, Charity Navigator, an online charity watchdog site, suggested six tips for careful giving. Over the course of six blog posts we will help you to understand why AtWork! is a wise investment of your charitable dollars and why AtWork! provides you, the donor or the prospective donor, with a satisfying and valuable giving experience. Hopefully you will see how giving a gift to AtWork! can be joyful.

"Giving Tip #1 - Seek out charities with capable leaders that are reasonably paid
: Look for a charity with a passionate, visionary leader who has been in the job for a while. Make sure that leader is reasonably compensated and that the organization has a Compensation Committee that reviews the CEO’s performance and pay."

Chris Brandt has been CEO of AtWork! since August of 2006. She is leading the organization through an evolutionary transformation to change the way people with significant disabilities get and retain real jobs. Her career includes 30 years of experience working on behalf of people with disabilities, low income families, and people experiencing homelessness.

If you have ever had a face to face conversation with Chris or listened to her make an impassioned presentation, then you know she is a “passionate, visionary leader.” She absolutely believes in her core that the right of persons with disabilities to have jobs and to be a part of our communities is not only a just cause but it is their civil right.

When the State of Washington instituted the Working Age Adult Policy which supports every person’s right to have a community job, Chris and the Board of Directors did not say AtWork! was going to follow the policy because it was required to. They said AtWork! would follow the policy because it is the right thing to do. Chris has led the organization through a three year transformation that embraced the core concept of the rights of individuals with disabilities to have jobs in the community and at the same time made sure that everyone has had opportunity, leaving no one behind. During that time AtWork! closed three sheltered workshops, retained one production workshop for training, navigated new funding policies from County and State funding sources, made each of AtWork!’s enterprises of landscaping, recycling and production viable, and developed new strategies that cultivate job skills in those individuals with the most complex and challenging lives. She has been tireless in discovering and accessing new funding sources as traditional sources, such as United Way, have declined.

Chris Brandt serves on several State and County level ad hoc committees to help implement the Working Age Adult Policy as well as in leadership positions within state associations devoted to supporting persons with disabilities. The Executive Committee of the AtWork! Board of Directors serves as the organization’s Compensation Committee which reviews the CEO’s performance and pay yearly.

The staff and board of AtWork! are leaders committed to the idea that people with disabilities want to contribute and that community inclusion brings respect and self-esteem. Read more about the experience and commitment of both board and staff at AtWork!’s website.

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