I love watching Alyssa Thomas play basketball. Not only because the University of Maryland three-time ACC Player of the Year is an uber-athletic, ridiculously talented, beautiful monster stat machine, but because she is also a giver. Watch her sometime; her focus is always on her teammates, the ball, the basket, and scoring. She applies her imagination and skill over every obstacle in a relentless pursuit of the win. And from her completeness and purity of effort ripples wave after wave of inspiration, to her teammates, the fans, the announcers, and those who witness.

Alyssa Thomas

Alyssa Thomas holding a ball with her teammates. Photo credit to Maryland Athletics.

All players give effort but not all give wisely. The ball-hogs, the floppers, the hackers— perhaps owing to impatience or inexperience— push winning a little farther away through sub-optimal use of their talent and time.  But Alyssa always seems to give her best; even under formidable demands, pressure and opposition, she gives wisely.

In the humanitarian arena, givers like Alyssa are needed and admired. Analogous to epic ball skills, charitable donors demonstrate focused, intelligent giving when “winning” involves helping people who are going through very tough times. On USAID CIDI’s home court of disaster relief, we cheer on donors who give essential aid through monetary contributions to relief and charitable organizations working directly with disaster-affected people. Cash donations play to the strengths of these organizations by optimizing their expertise and bulk purchasing power, which enable them to help more people quickly and for a longer time. Monetary donations are the alley-oop of charity.

As the college basketball season ends, Atlantic Hurricane Season approaches, and there may be occasions this year when others need an assist.  During the hard challenges, disaster-affected people are most effectively supported when donors team up with charitable organizations and follow-through with perfect form—just like Alyssa.

We love Fridays ☺ and are particularly fond of Fridays at 5 p.m. So imagine our delight when we heard about Friday5, a crowd-funding nonprofit that converts those happy Friday vibes into donations for seriously good causes. Through Friday5’s subscription model, users automatically donate $5 every Friday to a charity that’s carefully vetted and selected by Friday5. At the end of each year, every user will have donated to 52 different charities, a painless way to make a difference in thousands of lives while amping your charitable street cred, for a cost somewhere between a mocha latte and a mojito. Such a deal!

Rebuilding communities post-disaster takes years, so it is uber-helpful to give to reputable charitable organizations year-round, including and after an initial call-to-action. You can commit to a favorite charity and give weekly on your own, but if slacker philanthropy is your style, Friday5 is for you. Check out your new giving partners at


A true humanitarian film critic only posts the good stuff! Check out my favorite Video of the Week:

While not explicitly stated, cash donations go so much further than in-kind donations of canned food and allow food banks to purchase exactly what is needed, including perishables (fruits, vegetables, dairy, etc.) that are an important part of a healthy diet. A food bank can turn a $10 donation into as much as 100 pounds of food using their bulk purchasing power. The same $10 in the hands of an individual at a grocery store would purchase only about 5 pounds of food. For an idea of how far $10 can go in the DC area (USAID CIDI’s home base), the Capital Area Food Bank can provide 30 healthy meals to kids at risk of hunger for $10 through their Skip a Lunch Feed a Bunch summer campaign.