Many people lack the same opportunities we have in the developed world – opportunities enabled by privilege, choice, freedom, and democracy. That awareness and our abundance mindset (one of our 6 Guiding Principles) compels us to seize on the opportunities afforded us and to fight to make the planet a bit more hospitable for everyone. That's what the NVR Project is all about: Expanding Opportunity. Each year we select a Charity of Choice (or a few!) and get involved in a variety of altruistic endeavors. Here's a look at what we’ve been up to.
Based on our deep, personal experiences with each, we fully recommend any organization you see listed below. Click on the links for more information. Want more options? Consider an Effective Altruism charity on this list.
2018 - With the gap between rich and poor widening at a rapid pace (especially in places like our home base, Seattle), we got much more involved with our own community. We advocated for transit and building laws that favor a diverse population, and we deepened our support for organizations like Seattle Art Museum, which – via initiatives like the Olympic Sculpture Park – strive to keep art (and space!) available to all people. 2018 was also about influencing people to vote in the mid-term elections. In Orlando for a travel campaign with Disney just prior to the election, we jumped on the opportunity to walk the theme parks spreading the word. Finally, 2018 was about further cultivating our relationship with the ACLU and getting involved with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
2017 - In 2017 we, once again, leaned heavily into the Effective Altruism movement. Oxfam was, for the second year, our charity of choice. We also continued to make donations based on our walk/hike/run mileage total throughout the year and crossed 3000 miles (our goal for the year) on November 7th. Additionally, we took our relationship with the ACLU to a new level. We live in a turbulent world, and few organizations can protect vulnerable populations like the ACLU can. We were happy to become part of the ACLU's advocacy movement in Seattle. Because #solidarity!
2016 - In 2016 we leaned heavily into the Effective Altruism movement. Effective Altruism is all about evaluating altruistic options and acting in a way that positively supports the greatest possible impact. It's also about making decisions in your own life that support a "take only what I need" mindset. Tough stuff to grapple with, for sure. In addition to continuing to support charities we love, we embarked on a fun partnership with Oxfam that capitalized on our love of walking / running / hiking.
2015 - Our Charity of Choice was the ACLU. We especially love that the ACLU strives to give all people equal footing and, in 2015, that they were at the forefront of the fight for marriage equality. We negotiated a travel writing assignment that combined our passion for travel and LGBT advocacy. The assignment took us to several cities where we were able to participate in critical LGBT advocacy events (including several Pride celebrations and a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court during marriage equality deliberations). Also, we were again in the midst of all sorts of other advocacy in an attempt to do our part in making the world a better place, in general.
2014 - In addition to focusing on our Charities of Choice, CARE and Share Our Strength – we leaned heavily into our passion for LGBT advocacy. We did some exciting work with the Normal Heart Foundation and drummed up support for Broadway Cares / Equity Flights AIDS (BCEFA). Thanks to some help from one of our generous, altruistic corporate clients, we hosted a fun meet up in NYC and a group attending BCEFA's signature annual event. As always, though, it's the day-to-day mindfulness that excites us the most. We encouraged NVR readers to share their "best advice" rather than leaving comments on the site. For each nugget of wisdom received, we donated a $1. That, in addition to several other advocacy blitzes during the year, led to about $7000 in donations to our Charities of Choice.
2013 - We're one step further along on the road to marriage equality. Early in the year, we had a great advocacy trip to DC to rally for the cause. We then celebrated (hard!) when things went our way with the Supreme Court in June. This year's summertime “advo-camping” adventure was all about small acts of kindness. While hiking/walking/running 250+ miles, we made it our aim to bust out an act of kindness each day. During the last quarter of the year, we again ramped up our food security advocacy and – in conjunction with World Food Day and our trip to the New York City Wine and Food Festival – rallied support for Share Our Strength. They work to ensure that every kid in America gets the needed nutrition.
2012 - During the 5 year anniversary of our living this NVR life, we made a commitment to take things – including our advocacy – to a whole new level. Things went well! We travelled to Washington D.C. to advocate for religious freedom and healthcare for all. Once again, we were all about spreading the word on food security / poverty reduction, and we took that message on the road during our annual “advo-camping” adventure. In 2012, we were big on being better local citizens in Washington State and Seattle. Of course, we fought like crazy for marriage equality – it was successful!
2011 - Early in the year, we advocated along side CARE in Washington D.C., and the impact was immense. Just as we did last year, we set out on another camping/hiking “advo-cation” (2 actually!) and made huge progress in our quest to integrate some sort of advocating into our everyday life and travels. In 2011, we were especially proud to further incorporate advocacy into our business plan, raising clients' awareness and donating a portion of fees to organizations, like CARE, that are working to expand the circle of opportunity. We closed out the year by championing new initiatives from Oxfam and the Opportunity Finance Network.
2010 - In 2010, we were especially inspired to make a difference by the fact that 1 in 6 world citizens are chronically hungry. Not cool, so we wanted to help change that. A highlight of the year was our “advo-cation” to Wyoming, where we shared that disturbing statistic and motivated people to act. Throughout the year, we continued to make our Charity of Choice (Mercy Corps) a big part of our business plan. They did/do a lot of great work in Haiti, which we were thrilled to support. A clear highlight of the year, though, was traveling to Washington D.C. in order to advocate our representatives on behalf of the world's poor. Thanks to another charity we dig, Care International, we had an incredible experience. During the year, we also scoped out volunteer opportunities in Mexico.
2009 - Honoring our ability to live deliberately – doing exactly what we love – we officially integrated giving back into our business plan. We enjoy donating our professional services to struggling individuals and like-minded organizations. Also, we selected Mercy Corps as our first "Charity of Choice" and began advocating for their incredible work via our business. Integration feels good and we admire the work that Mercy Corps does towards "alleviating suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities."
2009 - While on a return trip to South America (Argentina), we connected and did some work with Idealist, a fantastic non-profit that's all about helping others to "lead free and dignified lives." A perfect fit for us! We think Idealist is especially cool because they help to facilitate positive action on behalf of people / organizations that want to change the world.
2008 - On a road trip across the USA, we learned a lot more about the inequality and despair that exists right here in our own country. Retracing some of the steps of the Civil Rights movement reminded us that the struggle is recent and ongoing.
2007/2008 - Inspired by our journey to Africa, we initiated a personal fundraising campaign to support the education of kids back in "our" community in Zambia. The money we raised (thanks to generous friends / family!) paid the school fees of over 100 kids.
2007/2008 - Forever changed by what we witnessed in Africa, we set out for South America where we had arranged a volunteer opportunity in a shantytown outside of Quito, Ecuador. This is where we got the best "education" of our lives. The months we spent there provided a mind-blowing opportunity to dig into the reality of poverty and how to best advocate for more equality in the world.
2007 - With the help of an incredible charity, we were able to learn about the reality of abject poverty by visiting one of the most poverty-stricken places on the planet, Zambia. At the same time, though, we were inspired (and ultimately changed forever) by the hope that exists amidst the most treacherous conditions you can imagine. Visiting the girl / family / community we support (pictured), we saw first hand what can happen when you lend a hand to bolster infrastructure.