Mo Manklang, Communications Director - U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
What’re 3 organizations or causes people should know about in 2019?
If you look at philanthropy as social currency - contributing not only dollars but your time and talent, how have you made philanthropy a part of your everyday life?
It’s important to look past the word philanthropy as we know it, if we’re talking about true social currency. To me, the “spirit of philanthropy” means that we care about and engage in social issues that are meaningful to us, and are invested in the community around us. All the choices we make, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, give us the opportunity to make an informed decision that speaks to our commitments. For instance, if you get coffee, where are you getting it from? Drinking a coffee at the Monkey and the Elephant in Brewerytown goes a lot further than drinking one at Starbucks — it’s supporting an organization grounded in empowering former foster youth, and they in turn work with other local businesses and nonprofits.
If there’s a nonprofit I give to, I try to volunteer with them regularly as well— an even deeper impact comes from staying connected to the mission, like doing design work for the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, or buying my art supplies from the Resource Exchange rather than Michael’s. I am happy to share my talents with organizations, like design and photography, to help fill gaps in their capacity.
Has an act of philanthropy ever changed your life? (done by you, for you, in front of you)
Absolutely. I did a project a few years ago with Dawn’s Place, a non-profit organization that proactively supports women negatively affected by commercial sexual exploitation. For Valentine’s day, we did a fun photo shoot with their residents, doing their makeup and taking photos that they could have. To see the effect that it had on the women; having other women come alongside them to pamper them, tell them that they are beautiful, and be in community with each other, was phenomenal.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a difference, but isn’t sure where to start?
Start simple! For example, volunteer at Broad Street Ministry for one of their breakfast or dinner service opportunities. It always reminds me how important it is to break out of my normal day-to-day. Remember that we’re all humans trying to make the best of life, and the importance of treating each other with dignity and respect, always.
Do research! There are thousands of nonprofits in the Philadelphia area, and there is something that can resonate with everyone. Find an organization (nonprofit or otherwise) that speaks personally to you, and go beyond just giving money — get to know the team and make a real connection.
What is something people might not know about the cause you’re devoted to?
When people hear “cooperative” they think mostly about food co-ops; there’s a whole world of cooperative business out there, all dedicated to economic justice. I mostly work with worker cooperatives, which are businesses owned and democratically managed by the people who work there, and I don’t think a lot of people even understand that to be an option. I want people to know that democracy is possible beyond voting in May and November, and I’m eager to talk to people who want to know more!