September 25, 2014
The summer months certainly flew by. Suddenly we are faced with the usual barrage of “Back-to-School” sales, lists of school supplies to buy, and getting the family ready for the fall routine. But don’t forget about the needs of your local school; students and teachers can use your help, too.
Here are some suggestions, organized by level of involvement and skills required. These may help you identify a worthwhile and meaningful way to make a difference to kids in your community.
- If you are short on time
- If you have some time to spare
- If you have time to mentor or share your professional skills (more…)
July 2, 2014
In a recent blog post, Helping Kids Make a Difference, we covered simple ways to get kids involved in philanthropy and giving – ideas as simple as a peanut butter and jelly drive or fostering an animal. We’re following on to that blog post by highlighting a few Top-Rated nonprofits using our site.
Check out these top-rated nonprofits and learn how kids are participating in their volunteer activities!
April 2, 2014
Amid the woods and swamps of rural Citrus Country, Fla., Mission in Citrus—a small nonprofit offering homeless shelters and services—has garnered a whopping 178 reviews on GreatNonprofits. Despite the fact that it operates on a shoestring budget with two paid employees, Mission in Citrus also receives an average rating of five stars (the highest rating possible). We inquired with its founder, Pastor James Sleighter, to learn more about how Mission in Citrus earns such high marks from those it serves. (more…)
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.
November 20, 2013
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!
November 19, 2013
Pine trees. Gilded glass ornaments. Big gold boxes wrapped with shiny red ribbons. The image of the holidays we have is one of people cozying up next to the fireplace stockings in their knitted reindeer sweaters with a plate of gingerbread cookies in one hand and a present in the other.
For most of us, our biggest worry is whether to buy the green scarf or the blue scarf for our mother-in-law, or which Lego kit was the one our son wanted. Yet for many others, presents are the last thing on their minds this holiday season – they’re just thinking about how to last the winter months with enough food and warm clothing.
November 19, 2013
Most of us reach a point in our careers where we need a new challenge. A little change once in a while spices up our lives and motivates our work. What better way to introduce change than to inspire change by serving on a nonprofit board? Nonprofit board members witness the social impact of their great causes while also offering advice, oversight and support. Read on to learn about an array of benefits that come with serving on a nonprofit board.
November 12, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan has left millions of families and children in need in the Philippines. As many as 2.5 million people require assistance. (more…)
September 5, 2013
By Brad Jamison: contributing writer and founder of Good Citizen.
Back-to-school time is an annual reminder of the many service opportunities we have to help ensure kids have a fun and productive school year.
While I find great joy in doing all sorts of service, one of the things that delights me the most and provides enormous satisfaction is working with a nonprofit that benefits kids. In fact, last year, when I conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days – I spent nearly one-third of my time volunteering to help kids.
One of the most exhausting, yet rewarding, days of my thirty came when I volunteered with KaBOOM!. On that 90 degree day, I joined 200 others to build a new playground for the kids of an LA-area community. When we arrived at the site there was nothing to be seen other than a vacant space where an old dilapidated playground once stood and a sea of people eager to help. But, when we left there was a gorgeous, safe place for kids to play. It reminded me of the types of play space I was fortunate enough to grow up with, which is why I love doing these builds.
It is on a day like this, one when strangers come together with a common goal that I am reminded of the truth in one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” On that day, we changed the world for the kids in this community.
Another thing I love about service is seeing the impact I have on the person I am helping. One place that happens for me, over and over, is at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. I have been on the Board of the Club for more than four years, a role that brings me great joy and satisfaction. But, from time to time, I also volunteer with them in other ways.
During my Thirty Days of Service, I spent an afternoon helping kids with their homework in the Club’s learning center, which is where I visibly witnessed the impact I was having. I was sitting working with a young man struggling with his math assignment, something I could relate to, as I was never a superstar when it came to math. As I tried to help him, offering up various ways he could approach the equation, he grew more and more frustrated and was nearly begging me to just give him the answer. Not one to give in too easily to the charms of sweet kids, I kept working with him when suddenly something I said clicked with him and he was able to arrive at the correct answer. That little moment felt like magic for both of us!
Speaking of magic, the folks at Playworks might not be magicians, but they are experts at transforming schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. I have seen firsthand how their hands-on approach helps build self-esteem in kids through play in a positive, supportive and non-threatening environment. As a kid who was frequently teased and picked last in gym, I know how intimidating the playground can be and I wish Playworks had been around for me. The day I served with Playworks, I wrote the following in my blog, “Many of life’s lessons are learned on the playground and I am thrilled that these kids, and kids at other Playworks schools, have an opportunity to learn those lessons in a safe and supportive environment. For the kids, it might seem like it’s just playtime, but we adults know it’s much more than that.”
So, whether it’s helping a teacher or kid, playing or instructing, there are so many ways to give to our next generation of leaders. I hope that during this back-to-school season, you will join me in pledging to find a way to serve this school year and help ensure a bright future for all.
About the author
Brad Jamison is a pro-social marketing expert, speaker, writer, producer, service advocate, philanthropist and founder of Good Citizen. A volunteer since he was 8, last year Brad conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days, for which he was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award, which recognizes the power of the individual to spark change and improve the world.
See Brad live:
Below is a video of Brad on day 28 of his service with Kaboom. For more videos, click here.