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The Ultimate Guide to Charitable Giving

Make every dollar count by donating to a worthy cause

The following article was published by InMyArea.com, a division of Consumer Goods, on November 28, 2018. The Alliance of Hope is grateful to have been featured as one of four charities deemed to be doing “incredible work.”

‘Tis the season for charitable giving. 

During the holidays, we all start thinking about giving back and making donations to charity. In fact, nearly one third of all charitable donations are made during the month of December, as a result of the tax benefits they can offer at the year’s end, along with the desire to give during the holidays. With well over one million charities to choose from, deciding where to donate becomes an overwhelming task.

In the spotlight: Four charities to donate to this holiday season

To make the process easier, InMyArea has compiled a list of four charities doing incredible work that are more than deserving of your donations this holiday season, as well as year-round. We’ve also gathered some tips and resources to make choosing a charity as simple as possible. That way, you’ll never have to wonder if your money is being put to good use.

Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors

When compared to individuals who have lost loved ones to sudden natural causes, “individuals bereaved by suicide are 80% more likely to drop out of school or quit their jobs – and 64% more likely to attempt suicide.” Suicide loss survivors go through grief and pain that many of us could never imagine, which puts them at very high risk. Someone who understands this grief is Ronnie Susan Walker, the founder of Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors.

Walker, a clinical health counselor who lost her stepson to suicide, founded Alliance of Hope in 2008. When she first founded the charity, Walker simply wanted to create a site that could provide healing and support to other survivors. What started as a “labor of love” has grown to an online community of over 15,000 members.

She always says that it was like a grenade going off in the family, where each of us was wounded and struggling to survive in our own way.

Heather Shadur is Ronnie Susan Walker’s daughter and the Director of Public Relations & Fundraising for Alliance of Hope. Shadur grieved the loss of her stepbrother along with her mother and the rest of her family. “In our circumstances,” Shadur recalls, “[my mother] always says that it was like a grenade going off in the family, where each of us was wounded and struggling to survive in our own way … For suicide loss, most people don’t realize that for the people who are closest – like the mothers, spouses, best friends, or siblings – it’s as if every bone in someone’s body is broken, but you can’t see it.”

Because suicide loss survivors’ wounds aren’t typically external, it can be difficult for them to understand and express their pain. Many survivors are left to grieve alone, feeling as though no one else understands what they are going through. Though every survivor’s loss is unique, the organization provides a community of survivors who are experiencing similar grief.

When a suicide loss survivor visits Alliance of Hope’s website, “they can find our support group,” Shadur says, “which is an online forum overseen by a mental health professional and a trained team of moderators who are themselves suicide loss survivors. It’s a peer-based forum where people can come 24/7, and they can receive support from people who understand what they’re going through.”

Many of the forum’s users live in rural areas where in-person support groups are hard to find. Shadur notes that other members live in urban areas where there may be more support groups available, but often times the meetings don’t fit the survivor’s schedule, or they might not even be able to get themselves out of bed to go, as the grief is so great. Alliance of Hope allows suicide loss survivors to receive support at any time, day or night, no matter where they are.

In addition to the online forum, Alliance of Hope offers several other resources for users. The organization provides distance counseling for those who wish to speak to a professional over the phone or through Skype. The charity’s website also has a directory for individuals to find in-person support groups in their area. Alliance of Hope runs a blog with hundreds of posts written by suicide loss survivors about their own experience and dealing with different kinds of loss. The site also provides resources about the grief journey and coping with various aspects of grief, whether it’s dealing with guilt, anger, confusion or trauma.

Why Donate to Alliance of Hope?

When you donate to Alliance of Hope, the funds go directly towards providing support to survivors of suicide loss. Shadur notes that “a lot of people don’t understand what it takes to run the forum. It’s heavily moderated, because we want to make sure it remains a healing culture. We get thousands of people who are going through the darkest hours of their life, so we make sure that the atmosphere stays a healing place. There’s a lot of work needed to do that … we really run on a shoestring budget.”

Without the support of its donors and those who volunteer their time to help moderate the site, Alliance of Hope couldn’t offer the serve the thousands of grieving individuals who use the site. According to Shadur, the organization receives “emails, we call them expressions of gratitude, on a daily basis from people who say that Alliance of Hope is their lifeline, or that the Alliance of Hope has saved their life.”

The support that Alliance of Hope provides is known as “postvention,” which is a form of suicide prevention. By providing support and healing to those who have lost a loved one to suicide, Alliance of Hope is able to help reduce the risk that the survivor will attempt suicide.

You can read many of these stories and expressions of gratitude on GreatNonprofits, where hundreds of individuals have posted about how Alliance of Hope has impacted them.

GreatNonprofits is a well-known and trusted evaluator site for charities. Alliance of Hope has received a GreatNonprofit Top-Rated Nonprofit Award for 2018, which indicates that it is one of the site’s highest ranked charities, according to members, volunteers, and the community.  

The holiday season can be an incredibly difficult time for those who have lost loved ones to suicide, which makes this a great time of year to donate. If you’d like to donate, or if you or anyone you know is a suicide loss survivor, you can find immediate support here at the Alliance of Hope website.

Taylor Shuman is the Lead Editor for Consumer Brands. As a writer, she is the most passionate about health news and mental health topics in particular. View her full article here.