January 7, 2015
The holidays may be over, but the good will and spirit of sharing doesn’t have to stop. In fact, the winter weather continues for at least a couple of months and we have far too many neighbors and residents in our cities spending frigid nights outside, with no shelter. If you were overcome by activities over the holidays, maybe now, in the new year, you’ll have a chance to help those in need. Here are some organizations that work year round, collecting warm coats, shoes, and blankets. Hopefully you will be moved and encouraged by their stories to help those in your own community who are in need.
A “bag of love” filled with a handmade blanket, a stuffed animal, and a few of life’s necessities give a child a sense of security in uncertain times. Top-rated by GreatNonprofits in 2014, Bags of Love, based in Eugene, OR, has distributed over 5,000 bags to children in crisis since 2008. As one volunteer states: “…each person plays an important role in making Bags of Love reach as many children in our community as possible, whether it is sewing bags and quilts, filling bags or delivering bags, serving on the Board, or helping with fundraising events.”
In partnership with firefighters, Rotary and other civic clubs, local
businesses, and community agencies, Operation Warm provides brand new winter coats to at-risk children who live in need. The gift of a brand new winter coat brings a child happiness and warmth and empowers her to attend school and play outside on cold winter days. Located in Chadds Ford, PA, Operation Warm helps kids across the US. “Working with this organization has opened my eyes not only to the problems facing the underprivileged in our country, but that there are thousands of volunteers and campaigns to do something to stop it.”
Cradles to Crayons (C2C) provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. With locations in Boston and Philadelphia, C2C’s special “Gear Up for Winter “campaign supplies kids with the cold weather gear that they need to stay warm and safe from October through February. At the Boston office, kids over the age of five are welcome to volunteer. Kids and adults inspect, sort, and package all new and like-new donations into customized “KidPacks.” It’s never too early to start teaching your kids how to give back to their community.
From its headquarters in San Francisco, CA, One Warm Coat (top-rated by GreatNonprofits in 2014) works to provide any person in need with a warm coat, free of charge. What a simply stated, heartfelt goal! The organization began as a coat drive on Thanksgiving weekend in 1992. Last year over 600,000 people in need received a coat of their own and over 17,000 children received a new coat. When a recipient puts on a new coat, he or she is warmed physically and spiritually, by knowing that someone cared.
The staff and volunteers at My New Red Shoes believe that every child, regardless of his or her circumstances, should feel confident and positive about going to school. Ultimately, their goal is to provide new shoes and clothing to as many young people in need as possible. For those who give, My New Red Shoes cultivates compassion by connecting the broader community to its mission and the children they serve through volunteerism. As one volunteer said, “Growing out of a simple idea to offer homeless children the dignity they deserve on the first day of school, the organization impacts thousands of youth in our community.”
What good can a simple item, like a warm coat, do? According to Operation Warm, a recent survey sent to organizations that receive coats recorded these positive answers from respondents:
- 99% believed that the coat reduced the financial burden on their family.
- 75% believed the coats had a positive impact on school attendance.
- 100% believed the coats had a positive impact on their children’s emotions and self-esteem.
Survey respondents went on to state that the coats helped their children feel happy, smart, proud, or worthy.
It’s not too early to start a little spring cleaning. You might find a little used or gently worn coat that would be the perfect gift for someone in your community who could really use it. Check out your local churches, social service or local government agencies that serve your area. Chances are, someone can direct you to an organization that would gladly take a coat or two off your hands. Or check out the organizations described above; they all accept online donations. GreatNonprofits is another wonderful source of information about caring organizations in your neighborhood and across the globe.
December 10, 2014
This year “GivingTuesday” generated at least $45.7 million for nonprofit organizations. That’s up roughly 65 percent from 2013 according to givingtuesday.org. Here are five ways to keep that momentum going through December and beyond:
Cultivate Social Media
Interact with donors and viewers on social media by thanking them, re-tweeting, or replying to direct messages. For example Irwin Naturals, an alternative health company, posted a picture showing how their fundraising project helped a retirement home decorate for the holidays.
Also amplify your message with visuals and infographics. Utilize free tools like Picktochart, Visuall.y and InfoActive. You can find the top 12 websites at http://www.practicalecommerce.com/. Another option is to upload and edit videos with your iphone using videolicious and camtastic.
Tools like storify or tagboard.com can showcase mentions to donors. This tagboard from GreatNonprofits’ 2014 Top-Rated awards exemplifies how nonprofits are using videos, testimonials, and awards in their social media. The Cambodian Children’s Fund combined a visual of their clients with the award. Summit Adventure featured one of their participants talking for 30 minutes about the impact of their program. You can also use certificates like the one on the right. (more…)
November 5, 2014
So the day we’ve all been waiting for is here! #GivingTuesday – a national movement and brainchild of the 92nd Street Y– The idea is to create a daylong national effort to help charities raise money online during the holiday season – and right on the heals of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. We’ve been preparing for months. But what do you do when the day is here? Here are tips depending on who you are!
June 13, 2014
You’ve been wondering, what has GreatNonprofits done for me lately? We’ve listened to what you’ve wanted, and here are the details about our latest release’s new features! (more…)
May 22, 2014
Summer’s almost here; time to start making those vacation plans. As you glance through guidebooks, you’ll be sure to see lists of “don’t miss” monuments, parks, and museums. But take a little time, and you’ll also find places where the local population strives to keep local cultural heritage and customs thriving Look for places where people are working together to save a remnant of history, turn an urban landscape into a swath of greenery, or keep a cherished craft alive. The places highlighted below are just a small sample of what awaits you on your travels – we’ve highlighted nonprofits promoting our cultural heritage in the Northeast, Southeast, South, Midwest and West.
January 30, 2014
Guidestar – our partner – has declared February the month of February Nonprofit Love (we concur!). To help nonprofits, Guidestar is launching a series of webinars that are coming up in February. Both of these webinars are topics we at GreatNonprofits care about – transparency and feedback. And, we’re speaking at one of the events. So please, come one, come all. Register for the events below. Collectively, we can’t wait to have you.
January 30, 2014
The World Of Corporate Giving Has Changed
Did you know that:
- Less than 6% of the $320 Billion that is donated annually to North American charities is done online.
- Less than 5% of that amount comes from corporations.
- 70% of employees are not engaged in their jobs – and 25% are actively disengaged.
These are all statistics that Benevity, a software social enterprise that helps companies engage their customers and employees through giving back, hopes to change. And they highlight issues that corporate social good efforts, like employee giving and volunteering programs, are evolving to address. “Doing well by doing” good is more than just a tagline; it’s a business imperative. The good news is that an increasing number of companies are doing more – they’re part of a significant shift towards integrating support for causes into their operations. (more…)
January 29, 2014
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’m still rounding up stray pine needles stuck in the rug and eating the few remaining arms and legs of broken gingerbread men. I really don’t need a tempting box of fancy chocolates or a lavish prix-fixe meal out on the town. How can I bring more meaning to a day that has become yet another opportunity to show affection and commitment through expensive presents and bouquets of flowers forced to bloom in the dead of winter?
You don’t have to look far to figure that one out. People in our communities need help all year long. We feel good about ourselves during the holidays when we buy a gift for a needy child or serve a holiday meal at a shelter. Why stop there when you can volunteer or donate to a local nonprofit or charity.
According to last year’s “Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey” by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, the average annual Valentine’s Day spending reached $13.19 billion. The amount the average American spends on Valentine’s Day is $116.21. Think of how a local nonprofit might spend that money.
Here are five ways to involve nonprofits or volunteering to celebrate Valentine’s Day with meaning.
Instead of going out to dinner, stay in and cook a special meal for your loved ones. Consider donating the money you saved to a community meal program, like these 2013 top-rated nonprofits:
- FOCO Café (Feeding Our Community Ourselves), Fort Collins, CO. “This team is focused on providing access to healthy, delicious and sustainable food to all members of our community.
- Widbey Island Nourishes, Whidbey Island, WA. One of the volunteers says this program “…provides highly nutritious, ready-made meals at no cost to food insecure youth on South Whidbey Island. Meals are prepared with love by volunteers using high-quality ingredients, including produce from local farms and fruit gleaned from trees throughout the community.”
Rather than a buying a bouquet of flowers, give to a community garden. Your donation will continue to give back as the months go by; those flowers will droop in just a few days. Check out these top-rated nonprofits:
- Square foot gardening, Ogden, UT. Volunteers are enthusiastic: “I support this foundation because it saves the environment, promotes healthy lifestyles, reduces our carbon footprint (no more local than in your own yard!) and helps the poor cut their food bills.”
- Generous Garden project, Greenville, SC. Here’s a thoughtful volunteer’s comment about this project: “I have truly enjoyed the work and getting my hands dirty, but most of all it’s the people that make the difference. It is great to meet new people each week and to know that we are all working to help other people in need.
Instead of a romantic weekend away, a donation can help people find a caring place to sleep during the harsh winter nights. Check out these 2013 top-rated organizations:
- Aurora Warms the Night, Aurora, CO. The mission of this organization is heart-felt: Preserve the life, health and stability of Aurora’s men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. “Aurora Warms the Night is a compassionate organization that reaches out to help the homeless of Aurora with vital and life-saving housing assistance on the coldest of nights.”
- Beverly’s Birthdays, North Huntingdon, PA. All children need to be recognized and feel valued. This organization provides birthday celebrations for homeless children living in shelters. As one volunteer says: “I think the most rewarding thing when attending a Beverly’s Birthdays party is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces.”
Set a wonderful example for your kids, showing them ways to embrace others. Ask them to help you pick a need that your donation can fill. These two organizations were top-rated in 2013:
- Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake, Sebego, ME. This camp provides respite, support, joy and hope to children with life-threatening illnesses and their immediate families from around the world through the various stages of their journeys. Says one volunteer: “I have now had the opportunity to volunteer at camp four times and will be returning this weekend to volunteer again. As a former client served I cannot even begin to describe how much of an impact this organization has had on my family and my life.”
- GlamourGals, Foundation, Commack, NY. Teen volunteers in GlamourGals chapters around the country make regularly scheduled visits to senior homes to perform complimentary facials and makeovers. This comment from one volunteer captures the spirit of this organization: “Joining Glamour Gals, I hoped to gain experience and give back to the community. I lost my grandparents a couple years ago and it was very hard because I was so close to them. It left a huge hole in my heart that I thought would never heal. Glamour Gals has healed that hole in my heart. Every month I’m spending time with grandparents who aren’t mine, and it’s a blessing.”
Help someone in your own neighborhood. You may discover that a senior living near by needs a lift to the doctor or help getting groceries. Here’s one organization that matches drivers with riders:
- Neighbor Ride, Columbia, MD. This 2013 top-rated organization connects people: “volunteers drive – seniors thrive.” One volunteer summed up the experience this way: “While helping others, I get to meet some wonderful people who often touch my life with joy.”
For more inspiration, read through the descriptions of GreatNonprofit’s 2013 top-rated organizations here: http://greatnonprofits.org/awards/browse.
Contributing writer: Big thanks to our volunteer writer, Kathryn Maclaury for her time and contribution to this article.
January 3, 2014
Think about the last time you bought something online. Did you look at Amazon or Google reviews first? Did you use Yelp to find a great local restaurant? Did you use TripAdvisor to help coordinate your last adventure? Or go to CitySearch to find a hotel?