Sunday, December 30, 2007

10 Last Minute Ways to Give in 2007

One day left! Here are some last minute ways that you can end 2007 in the giving spirit:

1. Get online and make a last minute gift to your favorite charity. Don't have a favorite? Go to Network For Good, type in a keyword (hunger, cancer, children, arts, literacy... you name it!) and they'll give you some examples of great organizations that would be so happy to receive your donation.

2. Hosting a New Year's Eve soiree? Put out a jar, shoebox, or hat with a sign on top, inviting people to donate to XYZ charity. Get the ball rolling by throwing in a few bucks yourself.

3. Clean a couple of old sweaters, hats, or gloves out of the back of your closet and drop them off at a homeless shelter, place of worship, or your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

4. Give $10 and save 2500 square feet of rainforest! Go to the Arbor Day Foundation right now.

5. Do you listen to your local NPR station every morning? Call them up and make a donation!

6. You know that panhandler that you walk by every day, without giving him money, because you don't believe in giving to people on the street? (I don't either, so no judgment here...) Maybe today, for just ONE day, make an exception. Or buy that person a snack. Or just look them in the eye and say hello - acknowledge them.

7. Give blood. Find a local blood drive (which might be happening in the next few days or few weeks) and sign up for it through the American Red Cross.

8. Visit someone you know who is sick. Or call them on the phone and wish them a happy new year. Visiting the sick is so healing - for the person who is ill and for the visitor.

9. Stop by a local nursing home and drop of a basket of New Year's noisemakers, hats, etc. Or just give a beautiful burst of color with flowers or balloons.

10. Give a special treat to yourself - you deserve it. Really, you do!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Huge Online Giving Efforts Launch Today

In today's Washington Post there is an article about two HUGE online giving efforts that are being launched today.

The Case Foundation (started by AOL Founder Steve Case) is launching America's Giving Challenge, which will challenge everyday Americans to go online, find causes that resonate with them, and give as little as $10. There is a sister effort launching today with Facebook, where users can donate to online through Facebook's "causes" application and can encourage other people in their networks to do the same.

Here's what really excited me:

The Case Foundation is giving away a total of $750,000 in the two online efforts, which start today and end Jan. 31. The people who attract the most friends from their social networks to donate to their cause will get $50,000 to give to charity. The top 100 charities attracting the most online donations will each receive $1,000.

I love this for several reasons:
1. It's good for charities - it will really spread the word about the work they are doing
2. It's good for donors - you can feel a huge sense of empowerment by giving as little as $10.
3. It's good for business - Facebook obviously benefits from this, because people who are publicizing a cause and trying to get their friends to give are going to increase users of, and traffic on, Facebook.

There's a great quote in the Washington Post article from GlobalGiving's Dennis Whittle: "It used to be that if you wanted to give and have an impact, people thought you had to be Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey. But because of the way the technology works, you can be an 'ordinary Oprah.' If you've got $10 or $100 or $1,000, you can come and find a school in Africa to support, and you can get updates from the field to get responses to your support."

It's a win-win-win! You can find more info at

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Obama and Dodd talk about volunteerism

I have NOT made up my mind about the next Presidential election, however... I was intrigued to read about Barack Obama's plans to expand service/volunteerism opportunities, including:

  • Expand the size of Americorps from 75,000 to 250,ooo positions
  • Double the Peace Corps from 7,800 to 16,000 positions by 2011
  • A tax credit to pay up to $4,000 in college expenses for students who commit to 100 hours of community service per year

Obama's not the only one talking about service. Senator Christopher Dodd, a former Peace Corps volunteer, has proposed making community service mandatory for high school students, doubling the size of the Peace Corps, and expanding Americorps to 1 million participants.

Read all about it in the Chicago Tribune.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Graffiti of the Philanthropic Class

I can't take credit for the title phrase - I just saw it in a New York Times article by Charles Isherwood (December 2, 2007). In his article, Mr. Isherwood describes how every nook and cranny of cultural buildings these days seem to be scrawled with a donor's name: the staircase, the coat check room, the balconies... are water fountains and bathrooms next?

I found this tidbit particularly hilarious - fundraising so that areas of a building would NOT be named for a donor:

As The Associated Press reported last month, the dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business couldn’t find anyone to pony up a cool $50 million to get his or her name on the school. So the dean switched strategies and discovered that several givers were willing to chip in to ensure that, for 20 years at least, the school would not be personally branded, but would instead simply remain the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business (a long enough handle, surely). The non-naming fund eventually reached $85 million.