The Machinery of Night
Strategic Giving

Giving strategically to homelessness as a cause requires an adept understanding of a local homeless community and its distinct needs. Once those needs are identified, the groups that best deliver services to the homeless in a given are can be identified. As I consider my personal strategic goals, I have developed a full picture of how I can best contribute to the cause of ending youth homelessness.

The first step, making an honest assessment of groups working on the issue, will have the two-fold advantage of helping both understand an issue and an organization’s effectiveness in addressing the issue. The two groups mentioned in my last post, Street Sense and the Children’s Defense Fund, both do a superb job in making sure donation get to those seeking services. 

As a student with limited resources but with time and knowledge, I think it would be responsible and strategic giving on my part to volunteer with a youth homelessness group. weaving in my personal expertise, I feel that I can best prepare myself for the future by working in a nonprofit issue group like the Children’s Defense Fund. I feel like I have enough experience in issue advocacy from my coursework, DC Vote, Congressional internship, and campus organizing for DC Students Speak to be an issue advocate.

I feel like I am already preparing myself for through strategic giving through my internship for DC Shadow Representative Nate Bennett-Fleming. In my position as a legislative fellow, I’ll be in charge of researching, planning, and implementing a lobbying plan to gain voting rights for the District of Columbia. Furthermore, I feel like the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute that I am currently involved in is helping to train me to do a better job and get the most out of every experience. I also hope that each of my experiences builds a narrative and skill set so every step I make is a step forward.

When considering strategic partnerships and the role FDDS can play in influencing issues of youth homelessness, I consider how our cohort, rather than an individual, can best work together. One of the most easily overlooked considerations is how each group member can grow and take ownership of the project and grow it to exceed expectations. If a program was designed that allowed FDDS members to earn responsibility and therefore receive some professional reward for their work, we can ensure a successful program.

I’d like to see a campus-wide awareness raising program. Street Sense seems like a well known and exciting organization whose brand we can leverage for public support. One thing I’ve learned from working in nonprofits is that they are notoriously under-staffed and under-resourced. I’d be ecstatic to see FDDS be a bridge between the AU community and Street Sense, which needs a constant stream of volunteers.

Campaigns like the one proposed above are a common tactic for campus mobilization and it seems that if we can find an exciting group and individual buy-in, our initiatives in the spring can be extremely powerful.

-Matt Lien

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