Local charity LOV Movement helps create sustainable change in Skid Row and Africa

LOV Movement founder Jordan Minns stands next to one of the tanks that are used to hold clean water in Kenya's Giotto Slum. Antony Njoroge

Jordan Minns is a lover and a fighter.

Since graduating from UCLA in 2017 with a degree in history, Minns has split his time between mixed martial arts training and running his charity, LOV Movement, which he started in January 2018. The 23-year-old said that LOV Movement was born out of his history of helping the homeless, his own ideas of how to better run a nonprofit and the decision to take action.

“I’ve gone down to Skid Row every Christmas and giving away old clothes I had and goodie bags with cookies and some cash, but last year I just felt like I had to start doing it every month, which soon became every week,” Minns said. “I saw this as a launching pad for me to make an impact on the nonprofit space.”

The LOV Movement name is actually an acronym that came to Minns during a week when he reflected on what ideals are universal and unite all religions. He narrowed it down to three core tenets: love, oneness and virtue.

“When it came time to name the organization, I reflected on what this movement was about and it came back to love, oneness and virtue,” he said. “No one can oppose that and everyone can get behind it.”

Minns said a large issue with many nonprofits is the lack of transparency regarding how donations are spent. While Minns understands that companies need to use some of the donations to pay for overhead, he feels like many existing nonprofits take advantage of the donors’ generosity.

“My goal is for LOV Movement to become an organization that facilitates funding for grassroots projects,” he said. “People are cynical about the nonprofit space because no one knows where their money is going. I’ve always wondered why everything isn’t a hundred percent transparent with all the money going to the project, and that’s what I try to do. People who give me their money can see exactly where it’s going through photos and video.”

Hundreds of homeless people in Skid Row attended LOV Movement’s special Christmas drop off, which boasted 10 volunteers including three from Santa Clarita. Jordan Minns

Much of LOV Movement’s work is centered on helping the homeless in Pacoima and Skid Row. Each week, Minns and some volunteers purchase pizzas to feed 100 homeless people and also facilitate monthly donation drives for clothing, tents, toiletries and other necessities. His initial plan for this first year of operation was to feed 1,000 people and he said he was able to exceed that goal by more than triple and gave out over 2,000 articles of clothing, tents and other necessities. Minns attributes much of his success to social media.

“I said that people are cynical about giving but they want to do it, so once I posted about the donations I immediately got responses from people who wanted to donate and it snowballed from there,” he said. “People can see the genuine transparent giving and even though I knew I couldn’t do this without social media, I didn’t realize how much it would be an impact. Unfortunately sometimes people take that and say, ‘Oh you’re only doing this because of the social media.’”

In April, Minns began the process of registering LOV Movement as an official nonprofit and has since brought in a four-person board of directors to help him with his work, and found a stable crew of 16 volunteers. Six months ago, LOV Movement’s operations also spread to the Giotto Slum in Kenya.

While on a trip to teach martial arts in Kenya, Minns was connected to a local pastor who was working to help the residents of the slum. Since then, Minns has been able to partner with two local companies to provide all residents with clean drinking water and the elderly with fresh food each week. He also plans to begin building a school in late 2019.

Antony Njoroge, head of LOV Movement’s programs in Kenya, hands out school supplies at the special Christmas drop off. Ann Njoroge

“When we started this, Kenya was nowhere in our thought process so to know that we gave those people six months of clean water and over a thousand meals just shows the amazing growth and impact we’re having,” Minns said.

The areas that LOV Movement works in are often faced with strong public misconceptions, and Minns said that it’s important for people to know that many homeless people are just victims of circumstances outside of their control, like mental illness, and that Africa is not all jungles, but a continent of urbanizing countries that now faces urban poverty.

A large problem he has seen with other nonprofits is that volunteers are uneducated about the cultures of the places where they go to volunteer and are bandwagoning on the “voluntourism” trend or often feel a “savior complex.” Minns said this also leads to unscrupulous members of the local communities preying on donors and volunteers, then pocketing the money themselves.

“Wanting to help and save people isn’t a bad thing, it’s the idea that you’re going to save them just because you took a trip,” Minns said. “All giving should push towards having a sustainable impact, which is what separates charity from real change. It’s cool to give a homeless person a dollar but I would rather set up something systemic that will continue to make a difference. That’s why I was so big on the opportunities in Kenya.”

Looking forward, Minns wants to continue scaling his operations upward. He said he feels that the last few months have allowed the group to stabilize and find a solid foundation, and within a few months they will be able to pursue new projects.

“Because the vision I have for LOV Movement is so focused on helping facilitate local projects, we won’t need to pay this vast number of employees to expand,” Minns said. “I’d also love to expand to Nepal because I have connections there and I would rather deal with people I know because it’s closer to home and it decreases the chances that I’m dealing with anyone irreputable. Our volunteer base is also growing to the point that people I don’t know find us through social media and ask to volunteer.”

Minns said that one of the greatest lessons he has learned from LOV Movement is how generous people are.

“People are giving,” he said. “People always assume that it’s a lot harder to receive help than it is. All people need to see is that you’re doing the right thing and they’ll be on board.”

To find out more about LOV Movement, make a donation or volunteer, visit https://lovmvmt.com.

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