Tag: local volunteering

Is Your Cause Ready To Matter More To People This Year?

Leave a Comment January 12, 2015

For an excerpt of, "Matterness" click on the image.

Here Are Five Steps to Get You Moving in the Right Direction from Allison Fine, author of “Matterness, what fearless leaders know about the power and promise of social media.” For an excerpt of Allison’s book, click here.

  1. Think Abundance. Do you spend more time in meetings discussing what could go wrong or what could go right? Is your organization afraid of what people out there could do to harm your organization, or are you excited about engaging in their natural creativity and enthusiasm? Are critics treated as whackadoodles intending to do harm or as friends who are frustrated and want you to do better?
  2. Start Speaking With Not At Your Constituents. Stop using social media to just broadcast messages at people and start using them to ask real questions the answers to which are important to your efforts.
  3. Work with Your Crowds. Get in conversation with your crowds wherever they are. Ask them to do something creative with you, learn something together, gather information and intelligence, co-create an event together – before your ask them to buy a ticket!
  4. Gather Your People On Land. Gather ten or so donors together in someone’s home and talk about your cause with them. Discuss whether and how you make them feel like they matter. Do your communications feel personal? Does it feel like you only communicate with them to ask for money? Are they learning more about the cause?
  5. Figure Out What Scares You Most About Social Media– And Do It. Find a friend to teach you how to tweet, and spend a half an hour a day on Twitter. Talk to a critic on your blog, directly, like a human being, for the world to see. Encourage your younger staffers to use social media to talk about the organization (with some ground rules and talking points) and let them make mistakes. The sky won’t fall – I promise.
    Allison Fine is among the pre-eminent guides to the social media revolution. Her new book is Matterness: What Fearless Leaders Know About the Power and Promise of Social Media. Matterness explains how and why people and organizations are better together with social media. It implores organizational leaders to stop focusing in the mythical fears keeping them locked behind their walls and to start working with rather than at people. In the end, the book explains that we don’t need better people; we need better leaders

10 Tips for Effective Video Storytelling

Leave a Comment January 8, 2015

Creating a video for your nonprofit organization can be a daunting task.  But the benefits of getting behind the camera, or in front of it, are worth it.  “1.8 million words is the value of one minute of video,” according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.  Videos inspire people to get involved or donate to a cause.  It is estimated that 100 million internet users watch online video everyday.  If you’re ready to get started, here are some simple guidelines for creating a video narrative: (more…)

Keeping Warm from Head to Toe

Leave a Comment 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.

Busting the Myth of Overhead: What Really Matters in Charitable Giving

Leave a Comment December 29, 2014

Image courtesy of Charity Defense Council

It’s the home stretch for donors to make tax deductible charitable gifts in 2014.  To help donors choose wisely during this season of giving, some websites focus on overhead costs to judge a nonprofits’ effectiveness. But contrary to popular belief, overhead costs don’t tell the whole story. “Don’t ask if a charity has low overhead.  Ask if it has big impact,” according to entrepreneur and author Dan Pallota. (more…)

How Nonprofits Can Keep the Momentum Going After #GivingTuesday

Leave a Comment 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…)

Nonprofit Love: Two FREE Online Events from GuideStar You Won’t Want to Miss

Leave a Comment 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.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Meaning; Include Volunteering or Donating to a Nonprofit

Leave a Comment 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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Golden Globe Nominees: Celebrities and The Causes They Care About

Leave a Comment January 3, 2014


As the Hollywood awards season begins to rev up, all eyes are front and center on the celebrities who will be strutting their stuff at the Golden Globes.  Celebrities receive much critical acclaim for their work on the silver screen, but beyond the glitz and the glamour of showbiz, many of these household names are quietly serving on the sidelines as active philanthropists.  Many celebrities are doing far more than just writing a check or turning up at a gala or cocktail party – some of the headlining nominees at this year’s Golden Globes are passionate volunteers, advocates, or founders of their own nonprofit organizations.  Here are some of the 2014 Golden Globe nominees who are dedicated to causes far away from the lights of Hollywood.

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Get The Most Out of #GivingTuesday

Comment (1) October 9, 2013

#GivingTuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y, a nonprofits cultural and community center in New York. The idea is to inspire giving and help charities nation-wide.  How? By creating a daylong national effort to help charities raise money online during the holiday shopping season – and do so right on the heals of Cyber Monday and Black Friday.  This is a big deal for nonprofits as last year alone the movement drew donations to about 2,600 nonprofits. (more…)

10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Earth Month With Your Kids

Comments (11) April 5, 2013

It’s Earth Month, and we have some great ways to get kids involved! Earth Month is the perfect time to get kids into appreciating the natural world and taking care of their planet. Here are some ways to celebrate!

1. Take a hike, and clean up!

Get outside and get moving–hikes are an easy way to show kids the wonders of their own backyard and with spring here, you might get to take in blooming flowers and wildlife. Many local nonprofits hold programs in parks and natural areas. Local nonprofits are also responsible for stepping up and helping out state parks during budget cuts. Find a local environmental nonprofit near you.

If you live near a beach, river or lake, chances are, a local nonprofit needs your help for its next cleanup! Many organizations ramp up their cleanup efforts for April. Don’t live near water? You can still pitch in to clean up in your own backyard at your local park, school or playground!

2. Visit an Animal Rehab Center

Get access to some amazing wildlife while learning about how humans affect wild animals and their habitats near you. Visit a raptor center, like Cascades and witness eagles and owls up close. Live near the water? Find a marine mammal center, like the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA,  to see how trash can entangle sea creatures, and how to help.

3. Go to a Car Wash

What kid doesn’t love being inside the car as it goes through a car wash? Why is it good for the environment? Car washes recycle their water, so much less water is used than when you run your hose at home to wash. And while your working on the car, check your tires, under-inflated tires can negatively affect your MPG, making your car less fuel efficient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Start a Garden or Visit a Farm

Gardening is a fun, hands-on way to teach kids about the Earth and about healthy food. Grow your own veggies, or create a garden full of flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies! If your kids are into critters, start a compost bin and be sure to add lots of worms! Many nonprofits hold programs to educate urban farmers, like the Seattle Tilth Association. You could visit your local community garden for more inspiration. Many working farms give tours geared toward kids that show the effort and care that goes into growing healthy, local and fresh food while kids can engage with the farmers and animals.

5. Feed the Birds

Make your yard or balcony a haven for hungry wild birds. Set up a bird feeder and keep track of your visitors. There are many local Audubon Societies that give local birding walks as well and can help you identify the birds at your feeder. Take a walk around your neighborhood one morning and try to see how many birds you can identify. Believe it or not, the local dump is actually a favored birding spot as well. Some dumps and recycling centers offer tours. (Also a great place for kids to see how waste adds up.)

6. Recycle Your Clothes and Toys

Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning. If you end up with a mountain of clothes that no longer fit your kids, or toys that they have outgrown, consider donating them to those in need. It’s easy to have kids help out. Gather all of your donations in a recycling bin and head to your local Goodwill together. Many local groups also accept clothing and toy donations for those in need.

7. Ride a Bike

Instead of driving to run errands, try riding bikes together to local shops. You’ll save gas, get exercise and help the environment. Many bicycle nonprofits advocate for bikers’ rights and/or offer safety courses for riders, like The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

8. Read a Book–or Write One!

Take a trip to your local library and check out some books about your local flora and fauna. (After all, the library puts ‘reduce reuse recycle’ into action every day!) Have a writing session with your kids and create some art about the Earth. Nonprofits like River of Words in Berkeley, CA work to foster both literacy and environmental stewardship through poetry.

9. Go to a Farmers’ Market

Get some tasty local fruits and veggies at your farmers’ market. Most markets will let kids sample lots of different foods. Talk with the farmers and ask about how they grow their produce. Bring your reusable bags and ask for recipes too! Then have the kids help out with preparing a meal with the fruits and veggies you buy.

10. Make a Reusable Bag

Don’t have bags for the market? Use an old t-shirt and make a reusable bag! Kids can have fun decorating it.

Know of a great environmental nonprofit doing work near you? Write a review and let other folks know about it!

 

 

 

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