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Tag Archives: giving

Family-to-Family

Family-to-Family

Many families look for ways that they can give as a family.  Giving provides teachable moments for children to learn about generosity and gratefulness.  I wrote about one organization called Doing Good Together that offers many suggestions.  Today’s organization provides direct connections between families who wish to give and families that have a need.

In the fall of 2002, the New York Times ran a series of articles on poverty in the United States.  One article featured stories of poverty from Pembroke, Illinois where “some still live in crumbling shacks with caked-dirt floors and no running water.”  The article went on with other staggering statistics such as 98% of their school children qualify for free lunch and the average per capita income was less than half the national average.

Pam Koner, a mom and entrepreneur living in Westchester, New York, read that article and felt compelled to help.  She contacted an outreach worker in Pembroke to share her idea of linking families she knew with the neediest families in Pembroke.  She was given the names of seventeen families and then convinced sixteen friends and neighbors to help.  They began sending monthly boxes of food and letters – one family linked to another family.  The seventeen families quickly grew to 60 families, then after a flurry of media attention, they grew to 900 families linked across the United States.  The Family-to-Family organization was born.

They currently help approximately 2,000 moms, dads and kids in 22 communities across the United States.  Families sponsored through the program continue to be identified by local outreach partners who have specific knowledge of the needs of families in their communities.

Learn about the founding of Family-to-Family directly from founder Pam Koner in the following video:

The mission of Family-to-Family is to alleviate suffering, one American family at a time.  They started by providing groceries to supply seven dinner type meals for a family of five, but have expanded to help families in need in a variety of ways including sponsoring meals for families, a variety of literacy projects, donating seeds to a family to grow their own garden, and much more.

Learn about a recent addition to their program offerings where children in need are enabled to help other children in need to learn how it feels to give to others in the video below.

 

How can you help?

Family-to-Family offers a variety of opportunities to get involved.

  • You can sponsor a family.  They have multiple options on their website including packing and shipping your own sponsorship or sponsoring a family though an online donation.
  • Give a child in need a birthday party including a gift, decorations, and a cake through the Birthday Giving Project.
  • Give the gift of books through their Books for Life or One Book at a Time program.
  • Help a family build their own garden by donating seeds to one of the Family-to-Family community partners.
  • Help children with less learn how it feels to give by supporting the Giving Works program.
  • Monetary donations can be made on their website.  These donations help purchase food for families who are not currently sponsored, expand to additional communities, or general operating expenses.
  • Explore the Family-to-Family website to find additional opportunities to help.
  • You can also watch this video to see how you can help.
  • You can also help by spreading the word.  You can share this post using the share buttons below to encourage others to make a difference.

You can learn more about Family-to-Family on their website, family-to-family.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Milk + Bookies

Milk + Bookies

I recently read a report on the Social Impact of Volunteering by the Points of Light Institute.  This report states that “individuals who volunteer at a young age are more likely to sustain their participation in later life.”  The report also outlines several positive effects on volunteers as individuals; they see an increase in their self-esteem, enhancement of various skills and capabilities, expanded career path opportunities, and better physical and mental health.  Today’s organization offers one easy way  to incorporate giving and service into

The mission of Milk + Bookies is to promote service learning and literacy promotion.  They are a nationwide charitable organization based in Los Angeles, California that inspires children to give back, using books as its currency.

In 2004, Meredith Alexander had one small child and wanted her family time to involve something meaningful from time to time.  It was difficult to find community service projects or fundraisers geared toward families.  She decided to invite all her friends with small children to a lovely children’s bookstore on a Sunday afternoon.  The children chose books to purchase and donate to a local low-income preschool.  She setup coloring tables to decorate bookplates for the kids to inscribe their selections.  When the line to checkout was 30 minutes long, she knew that she wasn’t the only parent looking for this kind of day with their children.

Milk + Bookies is now a 501c3 nonprofit.  They promote holding events for kids to donate books to their peers who do not have access to books of their own.  The organization combines the two essential and worthwhile efforts of literacy promotion and service learning.  The events plant a seed of giving into the young guests which spark feelings of importance, self-confidence, and the desire to give again.

In just three years since becoming a 501c3 nonprofit in 2009, they have raised almost 35,000 books and inspired nearly 9,000 kids to participate in giving back.

How can you help?

The program is designed so that anyone can host their own event.

  • For $30 you can buy a Bookies Box.  This toolkit provides you with “I donated” stickers, book plates, bookmarks, and balloons for your event.
  • There are also toolkits for birthday parties, class projects, and other types of events on the Milk + Bookies website.  The organization will help you find a local organization to donate to if you don’t already have a recipient in mind.
  • After you hold an event, fill out a short post-event form to share your experience and help the organization track their impact.
  • You can also donate and shop for other Milk + Bookies merchandise on their website.

You can learn more about Milk + Bookies on their website, www.milkandbookies.org or by watching the short video below.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Related Posts: Read Indeed, Adopt A Book, and Little Free Library

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Tips for Supporting a Legitimate Charity

Note: These tips are for non-profit organizations based in the United States.

It may sound horrible, but there are fake organizations that are out there trying to get donations but aren’t doing the good deeds they claim.  Here are a few tips and resources to help you find an appropriate non-profit to support with your money or time:

  • Don’t donate through telemarketers or other third-party fundraisers.  These fundraisers typically keep some portion of each donation, so more of your donation will go to the cause if you donate directly.  It is recommended to never provide your credit card or bank account number over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Research before making a donation.  Don’t just donate to everyone seeking funds.  Instead find causes you have a passion for, research the organizations supporting those causes and then donate.  I have provided some resources for this research below.
  • Keep records of your donations.  If you wish to receive a tax deduction for your donation, ensure that your donation fits within IRS rules and you have keep appropriate records of your donation.  Here is some information from the IRS website: Donation Tips and Donation Rules.
  • Trust your gut when making a donation.  If they seem too good to be true or anything seems fishy, trust your gut and find a similar organization to receive your donation.  If an organization is pressuring you, not disclosing their finances, or not willing to provide you details of their programs, they are likely not a valid charity.
  • An Internet search for the charity will also typically give you a good idea about an organization.

Resources:

  • Great Nonprofits is a website that allows people to post reviews and ratings of websites that have impacted them.  People who rate nonprofits on this site have donated their time or money or benefited from their services.
  • Charity Navigator rates nonprofit organizations based on their financial health, accountability and transparency.  You will only find larger nonprofits on this site since they only review organizations who receive public support over $500,000 and total revenue over $1,000,000.  They also require four years of IRS records before they will review an organization.
  • GuideStar pulls together IRS records with other financial data and information provided by nonprofits.
  • Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance is a division of the Better Business Bureau which provides information in national charities.
  • If you have been scammed or suspect a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Do you have additional tips to share or other resources that should be included above?  Please share them in the comments.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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MN Blogger Conference Charity Recap

A couple notebooks, a few pens, a cool phone screen cleaner, a flash drive…these are just a few things I brought home from the Minnesota Blogger Conference this past weekend.  Even though that stuff was cool, they weren’t the best things I found there.  I found some great connections with other bloggers.  One blogger suggested a non-profit for me to write about, another wanted to connect with a non-profit for an opportunity, and others were excited to check out my blog.  It was exciting to connect with other passionate bloggers and learn ways to improve my own blog.

Another exciting part of the conference was the opportunity to feature a local charity with all the attendees.  The planning committee selected Free Arts Minnesota and at the conference we collected art supplies.  Bloggers brought supplies that filled two boxes to help Free Arts Minnesota to further their mission of bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families.  A local photographer, Mandy of Glimpses of Soul Photography, took headshots in exchange for donations toward Free Arts Minnesota.  We collected $938.71 in cash and check donations – not even counting the online donations that were made that day.  If you would like to make an online donation, you still can at FreeArtsMinnesota.org

Donations of Art Supplies to Free Arts Minnesota

We are excited that our monetary donations will also be matched by a recent grant that the organization received from the Pohlad Family Foundation.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Other

 

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The PROP Shop

Many communities have a community resale or thrift store that offers assistance for individuals and families in need through donated items.  So, in that regard, today’s organization is not unique.  However, today’s organization does serve as a great example of the community coming together.

The PROP Shop

The PROP Shop is located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and has a mission to provide basic support for families in need through volunteers, community, and other organizations.

The PROP Shop’s creation was a direct result of the rapidly changing demographics of the Eden Prairie community.  According to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Eden Prairie experienced a 541% increase in food shelf usage between 2000 and 2004.  A separate non-profit food shelf and community service organization called PROP (People Reaching out to Other People), received increased pressure to provide food and emergency services.  Due to significant limitations on space and resources, PROP was unable to meet the growing need for clothing, household goods, and furniture.  Concerned community members saw a need to expand the services available to local families and looked to other nearby communities to see how they met these needs in their communities.  These community members then decided to form an organization that would accept donations to provide free clothing and furniture to families in need.  After several attempts to secure a free space were unsuccessful, they adjusted their vision to include a resale store to cover the operating costs of the organization and raise funds for social service agencies.  In April 2007, the PROP Shop opened and is celebrating their 5th anniversary this year. 

The PROP Shop has truly been a community effort from the beginning.  In their first five years more than 1,300 people have volunteered and more than 6,900 people have donated goods.  With those donations, 1,400 families have been helped with basic needs such as clothing, household goods, and furniture conservatively valued at more than $500,000.  They recently gave out our 725th bed to a family in need.  They even do their best to pass forward donations they cannot use.  For example, ratty towels go to Humane Society and single bed sheets go to a local church for a quilting project.

The PROP Shop helped a family who recently immigrated to the United States from Moldova, a country in Europe bordering Romania and Ukraine.  When staff and volunteers first met the mother of this family of four, she spoke practically no English and needed a translator.  The PROP Shop provided the family with beds, a kitchen table and chairs, clothes, and much more.  The next summer, she began volunteering at the PROP Shop to practice her English.  She wanted to give back to the PROP Shop for all of the help that it had provided to her family.  She quickly formed friendships with volunteers and has most recently launched her own catering business.  She still volunteers at least once a week and often helps us translate with other clients.

The PROP Shop also calls out specific needs on their Facebook page.  One day I saw a post for a double stroller and just happened to have one we were no longer using and posted a comment.  I dropped it off that weekend and it went to a family in need.

Recently the PROP Shop received even more support from the business community.  They were trying to determine how to expand their space.  Hansen Thorp Pellinen Olson, Inc (HTPO) was recommended to help them survey the land around their building.  HTPO helped them navigate changes and wetland appraisals to donate time for land surveying, civil engineering, and landscape plans.  The Eden Prairie campus of the Hennepin Technical College located just miles from the PROP Shop, agreed to do carpentry as a part of a course.  Then the project hit a roadblock, their plans for a separate building were put in jeopardy because of their location near a pond.  It was then that the PROP Shop attended a local Rotary meeting to give a presentation about their organization and happened to meet an architect that volunteered his time to design an addition rather than a new building.  The architect also connected them with a structural engineer to examine the structure of the building.  This construction project has received support from the community by one person connecting them to another person or company.  They now have their paving, dirt, and landscaping lined up as well as discounts on other necessary work.  You can see up-to-date information on their construction project as well as a list of all their supporters on their website

How can you help the PROP Shop?

  • They always need volunteer for all times they are open (currently Tuesday through Sunday) for tasks such as donation sorting, displaying merchandise and organizing items for families in need. 
  • They also accept in-kind donations of household items, furniture, and clothing.  You can see what items they can (and cannot) accept on their website.  If you have something they cannot accept, they even offer suggestions of other organizations that can accept it. 
  • They also accept monetary donations on the website, in person, or through the mail.

You can learn more about the PROP Shop on their website, www.propshopep.org.  You can also follow them on Facebook and sign up for their e-mail newsletter (which includes resale store coupons) on their website.

Related Posts: Amy Nylander and Sue Grady

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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I Do Foundation

The summer months are wedding season in Minnesota.  Just yesterday I was enjoying some time with friends at a local restaurant when a wedding party caught our eye across the street.  Fun pink dresses and pink vests for the wedding party paired nicely with the bride’s pink high heels.  When I got married, I remember all the gifts we received, and then all the returns of duplicates!  Today’s organization is for those couples who would rather give back on their big day. 

The I Do Foundation is a national pioneer in wedding occasion giving.  The organization was launched on Valentines’ Day in 2002 by a group of nonprofit leaders to link engaged couples with charitable wedding choices.  The organization works closely with corporate and nonprofit partners to provide a variety of ways for couples to give back and Celebrate Generously™.  In 2009, I Do joined forces with JustGive

I Do Foundation allows couples to give back on their big day.

I Do Foundation’s mission is to help engaged couples bring a charitable focus to their wedding.  The goal is to share the joy and wealth of these wedding celebrations with nonprofit organizations by providing couples with unique and easy-to-use I Do services. The foundation believes that giving brings meaning to life and they have a passion for connecting soon-to-be-wed couples with the charities and causes they care about most.

More than 10% of all engaged couples visit I Do each year to learn how they can give back through their celebration.  Over 100,000 couples have sent more than $5.7 million to charity through the I Do Foundation and its partners.  The average donation for charity through an I Do wedding is about $420.  The top five charities include: Doctors Without Borders, Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.

If you (or someone you know) is getting married in the near future, consider one of these no-cost ways to give back:

  • Through I Do’s Charity Registry, couples can share the generosity of their guests with a favorite charitable cause. Guests make secure online donations through I Do and support the chosen organization as their wedding gift to the couple.
  • A Gift Registry through the Wedding Channel allows the couple to register for gifts online with their partner stores and have up to 3% of guests’ gift purchases donated to their selected charity.
  • Favors for Charity allows couples to honor their guests and share their values by making a donation to a favorite charity for their wedding favors. They’re a great way to get guests involved in causes that are close to the couple’s heart.
  • Charity Gift Cards can be given to thank attendants.  These GiveNow charity gift card is a green gift for good that shows a couple’s appreciation by giving back by allowing the recipient to redeem it to the charity of their choice!
  • You can also shop for good for your honeymoon, invitations, and more to donate a portion to charity. 
  • The I Do website also offers several tips and suggestions on giving to your local community on your big day.  Some tips include recycling your wedding dress, donating your leftover food and donating your flowers.

Weddings aren’t the only way to give back.  JustGive also offers memorial registries to allow you to honor a loved one or gift registries to give back on your birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion. 

Just Give Allows you to Give Back in more ways

You can learn more about the I Do Foundation on their website, www.idofoundation.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You can learn more about JustGive on their website, www.justgive.org, and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts: Wish Upon a Wedding and Donors Choose.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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One Simple Wish

Many organizations offer amazing ways to help, but sometimes the link between the donator and the receiver are lost.  Today’s organization is different because it allows you to directly impact one person’s life.

One Simple Wish aims to brighten the lives of foster children and vulnerable families one simple wish at a time.  The organization educates people about the lives of children in foster care.  They also empower people to make a direct difference by allowing them to grant simple wishes online.  Granting a wish to a child or family in need can change a life, for just a moment or forever.  When you grant a wish, you’re planting a seed, a seed of hope.

One Simple Wish began as an idea of founder, Danielle Gletow, had more than a decade ago.  She thought it would be great to create a service that allowed everyone to see the needs of children and to be able to facilitate the fulfillment of those needs.  In 2006 she became a foster parent and made a decision to focus the organization primarily on the foster child population because it is so underserved and often depicted negatively in the media.  She knew that more people needed to hear these children’s stories and to be given simple, affordable ways to help.

One Simple Wish is based in Trenton, New Jersey, but they serve foster children and vulnerable families in 23 states.  They partner with more than 180 social service and child welfare agencies.  These approved agencies and organizations are able to login to the One Simple Wish website to suggest wishes to be granted.  Wishes typically range from $10 to $100 making it affordable for just about anyone to make a wish come true.

How can you help?

It’s simple, just go to OneSimpleWish.org and click on Grant a Wish to search through the current wishes.  If you find a wish you would like to grant, simply login or register to grant the wish.  In addition, One Simple Wish accepts monetary donations through their website and even has a variety of unique products available for purchase.  You can also visit their website to learn more about additional volunteer opportunities.

In addition to wish granting, One Simple Wish also holds a variety of other events including a Thanksgiving Meal Drive, a Holiday Gift Drive and a Prom Dress Drive that results in hundreds of girls receiving dresses for free or cheap.  In addition, they hold a huge annual event, A Night of 1000 Wishes with performances, awards and a sit down dinner to raise awareness and funds for their cause.  You can learn more about all the programs on their website.

You can learn more about One Simple Wish on their website, onesimplewish.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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