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TechSoup Global

TechSoup Global

I have worked with and written about many nonprofits in the last decade.  One common issue that many share is the lack of funding for technology.  Computers and software are necessary to run most nonprofits, but much of it is expensive.  Today’s organization is making a difference for other nonprofits.

In 1987, Daniel Ben-Horin was inspired by discussions in an early online community to create a program that connected those with technology skills with nonprofit organizations who wanted to learn more and start utilizing new technologies.  The organization created in 1987 was called CompuMentor because those with computer skills “mentored” nonprofits on new technologies.  In 2008, CompuMentor formally announced a name change to TechSoup Global to better reflect the organization’s evolution to serve nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world.  As of March 2013, TechSoup is the largest not-for-profit provider of technology assistance services to NGOs, libraries, and other organizations worldwide.

Since their founding, the organization has aimed to harness the power of technology as a means to accelerate social impact.  They believe that a strong civil society is as critical to local communities as healthy business and government sectors.  Technology has a significant role to play in strengthening an organized civil society because it can democratize access to information and resources to achieve effective, system changing outcomes.  This has inspired TechSoup Global to continue their work with partners to deliver relevant, innovative, and scalable programs.  They have support from 90 leading technology companies including Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Cisco, Intuit, and Redemtech and have reached more than 208,000 NGOs around the world.  To date, they have distributed more than 11 million software and hardware solutions and enabled recipients in 56 counties to save more than $3.62 billion (US dollars) in technology expenses.  You can see their impact on their local impact map.

In 2012, they had 209,660 unique visitors per month to their websites from over 190 countries.  Their websites include articles, webinars, and forums.  They also delivered newsletters around the world to over 200,000 subscribers in 16 languages.  In addition, through their NetSquared program, local groups hold regular in person events.  Together with their partners, they strive to ensure technology solutions are complemented by practical, locally relevant educational content.

How can you help?

  • Please spread the word about TechSoup to any nonprofits or NGOs that you work with.  Encourage them to visit techsoup.org to learn more and explore the various discounted software and hardware options available.
  • You can also contribute your knowledge – learn more about their knowledge sharing programs on their website.
  • TechSoup makes use of volunteers in a variety of ways at their headquarters in San Francisco as well as in their Europe office in Warsaw.  Please direct any inquiries to pr@techsoupglobal.org.

You can learn more about TechSoup on their website, techsoup.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Givepocalypse

Givepocalypse

The end of the world came and went on December 21, 2012.  The end of the world also did not happen on December 31, 1999.  I am not up on my apocalypse dates, but I am sure there are many other end-of-the-world scenarios that we have lived through and many more prophesized.  One man, Joe Oakland, decided to turn the most recent apocalypse on its head and create a “Givepocalypse” instead.  I asked Joe a few questions just before the “Givepocalypse”.

 

Why are you doing the Givepocalypse?

About a year ago, while watching T.V., I had noticed the ridiculous amount of End of the World/Apocalypse programming on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Science Channel, etc. I thought, “With all of these organizations trying to capitalize on the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse, why is nobody trying to actually do some good around it?”  Somebody should do something good around this idea- why not me?

Then something occurred to me that I had seen in an episode of the NBC show, Parks and Recreation.  In this show, one of the greatest characters of all-time, Ron Swanson, explained how he made a killing selling hand-carved wooden flutes to a group of Pawnee residents that predicted the apocalypse a few times every year. They would spend the night preparing for the apocalypse by playing these flutes in a park.

Predictably, the apocalypse never came, but Ron still was able to grift his ill-gotten flute money. Then I had a thought that made me laugh; if I could bring the two ideas together and organize people to donate to charity on the day before the apocalypse (instead of buying flutes) I could really do some good – and maybe give people a chuckle, too. The Givepocalypse was born.

After shelving the idea for a few months, revisiting it, and finding it basically unworkable, with too many moving parts in the concept of the organization I thought I would need to pull it off, I re-shelved the idea (maybe permanently this time).  But on November 26th, 2012, while feeling a little guilty about letting my Givepocalypse idea die on the vine, I thought “maybe I am completely overthinking this idea,” so I scrapped all of my previous ideas, and looked at the Givepocalypse anew.  I had the answer almost immediately – become an advocacy group for giving, plain and simple.

Here is the concept we have stuck to: On December 20th, 2012, the Givepocalypse, donate at least $5 to ANY charity that you support.  This was clean, simple, and doable – except that there were only 25 days until December 20th and nothing had been done besides registering email accounts and the Givepocalypse URL.

This difficulty turned into opportunity when I realized what an amazing achievement it would be to pull of any level of success in such a short period of time.  I created the concept of a “sprint-charity,” which, if I was writing the Dictionary definition, I would describe as: a charitable endeavor with a life-cycle that spans less than three months from concept development, to completion of the charitable goals or charter. Further, I would create my own blog on Tumblr called “Behind the Curtain: Making a Sprint-charity,” where I would chronicle my experiences with this new concept daily, and hopefully inspire others to chase their crazy ideas to create good as well.

Our mission was simple: Create the Givepocalypse sprint-charity drive, work extremely hard, and see how far we can get!

Finally, one of the cleverest parts of the Givepocalypse (if I do say so myself!) is the idea of giving to ANY charity that you support.  By giving to the charity that you already support, you are already motivated to follow through and actually make sure you donate on the Givepocalypse.  All we are asking you to do is make an extra donation of at least $5 on the Givepocalypse

So, how did it go?

In just 25 days from creation to the Givepocalypse and only $39 invested in its creation the co-founders Joe and Candice Oakland made a significant impact.

The following statistics are just those that were confirmed through the pledge forms and Facebook event.  The actual numbers may be higher since people may have been inspired to donate without making an official pledge.

  • 302 Pledges from Awesome People
  • At least $1510 in Donations Pledged to Organizations (though the estimate of actual donations is $6000 or higher)
  • 82 Organizations Supported – See these organizations listed the Pledge & Donate Page and keep supporting them!
  • 21 States reached including Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Connecticut, Virginia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, Maryland, Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri, New Hampshire, Kansas, and Hawaii
  • 6 Countries reached including the United States, Morocco, Costa Rica, Iraq, Sweden, and El Salvador

Do you see another Givepocalypse in the future?

For now, this was a one time event, but if we feel that there is more room from growth, and the idea of a day dedicated to giving, pure and simple, is an idea that people would like to get behind, we may look to do something like this again.  Rest assured though, if there is another apocalypse predicted, we will be there to do some REAL good before the “end.”

You can watch for updates on the Givepocalypse website, givepocalypse.com, and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Philanthropy

 

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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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Project Noah

Typically I write about organizations…but in honor of Geography Awareness Week(November 13-19, 2001) and the third annual Blog-A-Thon hosted by the National Geographic Society, I am posting something a little different today.  The theme for this year’s Geography Awareness Week is “Geography: The Adventure in Your Community” – the connections between people and their surrounding environments, local action, and, of course, geography education.  Today’s post is about something that helps people around the globe connect with nature and the environment.

Project Noah (which stands for networked organisms and habitats) is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.  The project began in early 2010 as an experiment to see if the team could build a fun, location-based mobile application to encourage people to reconnect with nature and document local wildlife.  They wanted to take advantage of the power and popularity of smart phones to collect important ecological data and help preserve global biodiversity.

In February 2010, the team’s first iPhone app was launched.  After winning some awards, the team attracted National Geographic as an investor.  By encouraging everyone to document their encounters with nature, the Project Noah team hopes to build a powerful force for data collection and an important educational tool for wildlife awareness and preservation.  According to National Geographic, “Project Noah harnesses the power of citizen scientists everywhere to discover the world’s organisms.”

You can sign up on their website, projectnoah.org for a free account.  If you have an iPhone or Android phone, you can also download their mobile app for free.  Using the app you can manage your spottings and participate in missions.  For example, one current mission is “Birds of the World” where you can document your bird encounters by taking photographs and adding descriptive notes.  You add as much information as you can about your spotting and upload it to the Project Noah website.  Then many dedicated community members help identify your spotting.  Other missions include spotting urban biodiversity, bats, spiders, and ladybugs.  One interesting mission I found was a local mission to monitor sightings of the Emerald Ash Borer – an invasive beetle from Asia that is killing trees around my local area. 

Even if you don’t have a smart phone, you can still participate by uploading photos directly to the Project Noah website.

So, how can you get involved?  It’s easy – just sign up for free and start connecting with nature in your own backyard.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Other

 

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Catchafire

A few months ago I profiled an org called Sparked that connects volunteers willing to give a bit of time with organizations who could use their expertise.  Today’s profile is another organization that also serves this same purpose as a matchmaker between organization needs and volunteer expertise. 

Catchafire is based in New York City and serves organizations with a presence in the greater New York Area.  Their mission is to improve the quality of the volunteer experience by providing pro bono opportunities for skilled professionals.  They have a vision to make it easy for every professional to offer their skills for good and to make it easy for every nonprofit and social enterprise to access and effectively use pro bono assistance as a way to do more.

According to Rachael Chong, Catchafire’s Founder and CEO, “We’ve found that many professionals are looking for an outlet to do good, but don’t know where to go to make the greatest impact. At the same time, small nonprofits often struggle with limited resources, and professional services are simply unaffordable.  We aim to bridge that gap, so every professional who wants to give pro bono has an opportunity for a meaningful connection to a cause they care about, and every nonprofit has access to skilled professionals.”

Catchafire has plans to make a positive impact worldwide starting with an expandion to several other markets in the United States over the next year or so.

Chong founded Catchafire two years ago because she felt there was a lack of opportunities for professionals who wanted to contribute their professional skills to help a good cause.  “I used to work as a banker, and during that time, I had looked everywhere for ways to give pro bono — I wanted an alternative to the traditional model of volunteering, in which people stuff envelopes, plant trees, paint houses, etc.  While those types of activities are still very important, I believed that I could make the biggest impact using my expertise for an organization that wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford my services — and I knew many of my peers felt the same way.  That’s why I started Catchafire — to facilitate that connection so professionals can spend less time searching and more time doing pro bono work that matters.”

Currently they serve more than 1,000 social good organizations and more than 5,000 skilled professionals have offered their services. 

Catchafire projects are structured to be short-term with clear deadlines and deliverables.  This allows volunteers to maximize their impact while ensuring that projects do not drag on and on.  Projects are between one to three months in length and can be completed in five hours or less per week by one individual.  They also work with companies who want to offer pro bono opportunities for their employees.  Chong continues, “we think pro bono is a great way for employees to give back while strengthening their professional skill.”  Projects have included social media campaigns, board member searches, graphic design and more.  To find volunteer opportunities, search their Open Projects page.  You can even filter by area of expertise. 

Learn more about Catchafire at their website, www.catchafire.org or their blog.  You can also follow them on Twitter or on Facebook.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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1000 Prayers for Japan

In March we profiled Love & Water Designs - a company giving back one t-shirt at a time.  They recently launched a special relief project for Japan called “1000 Prayers for Japan” in response to the earthquake in Japan on March 11th.  Love & Water Designs has joined with the Nagagutsu charity, an on the ground group helping with immediate relief efforts in Japan by bringing rubber boots and cotton gloves to the workers and victims of the earthquake and tsunami.  Their work has helped refugees return to their homes and sift through the rubble to locate personal belongings.

An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane.  To honor this legend, Love & Water Designs is producing 1000 limited edition t-shirts created by artists – 200 each of five different designs – with 100% of the profits going to the Nagagutsu Foundation.  Attached to each shirt will be a postcard prayer to allow you to send a message back to Japan through Love & Water Designs. 

Nagagutsu’s “Delivering Boots Project” is helping earthquake victims who have lost families, property, homes, and belongings by giving them protection they need – boots and gloves – to dig through the debris. 

You can learn more about Love & Water Designs and order a 1000 Prayers for Japan shirt at their website.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Philanthropy

 

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Sparked

In today’s interconnected world, volunteering is evolving from something you must do in your local community to something you can do anywhere, for anyone, and you don’t even need to leave the house for!  A recent trend in volunteerism is micro-volunteering.  This is based on the concept that people who are connected all the time can use their spare time to help others.  For example, you could translate a document while waiting in line, you could mentor someone via e-mail, or help an organization apply for a grant.  Today’s profile is about the first online micro-volunteering network, Sparked. 

Sparked is a website created and offered by The Extraordinaries, Inc.  They were founded in July of 2008 by Ben Rigby and Jacob Colker as a for-profit social enterprise (and a certified B-Corp) with headquarters in San Francisco, California.  Co-founders Ben and Jacob sought to make volunteering as easy and fun as checking Facebook, playing Farmville, or watching videos on YouTube.  According to Sparked communication manager, Shauna Carey, “Our mission is simple: to convert spare time into social good, and bring volunteering into the digital age.”  As the world’s first online micro-volunteering network, they seek to connect busy professionals and nonprofit organizations around the globe. 

We are all busy.  When we do have spare time, it typically comes in small increments – on bus or train commuting to work, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor office, or even while you wait to meet a friend for lunch.  You can use even those bits of time to make a difference!  Shauna continues, “Sparked delivers small, discrete volunteer tasks to the computers and mobile devices of busy professionals so that they can use those spare minutes to help nonprofits increase capacity. With most nonprofits being greatly understaffed, even a few minutes or hours of time from an expert in marketing, graphic design, or IT can be invaluable.”

Since 2008, over 150,000 people have used the tools offered at Sparked.com to micro-volunteer for organizations worldwide.  They also recently launched Sparked Enterprise, which allows corporations to run their employee volunteering programs through their site, and engage employees in service from their own desks.

How can you get involved?

  • Sign up as a volunteer at Sparked.com.  The website asks about your interests and your skills to match you up with current needs.
  • Non-Profits can also apply for free at Sparked.com to list current needs. 
  • Corporations can also sign up for a new approach to employee volunteering.
  • You can also help by spreading the word to others you know who have a spare moment to make a difference! 

Learn more about Sparked on their website, www.sparked.com.  You can also follow them on Twitter or Facebook.    

For more information on micro-volunteering, take a look at this page at Sparked.com or this article from National Public Radio.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Philanthropy

 

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Love & Water Designs

It isn’t just organizations making a difference in the world.  Many companies are also making a difference.  It isn’t just big Fortune 500 companies giving back a portion of their proceeds to the community, many small companies are founded on a principle of philanthropy. 

One such company named Love and Water Designs was founded in 2009 by Alexis Fedor.  Love and Water Designs’ mission is to connect artists with charities to create unique, cause-inspired works of art as Wearable Philanthropy. 

Love and Water Designs began when Fedor was planning to start her own business.  She states, “I wanted to start a company with the mission of giving back to good causes at its core.  I also knew I wanted to engage artists in this effort, and the idea of building a community that consists of artists and charities really inspired me.”   She began with the idea of having artists create new designs for t-shirts inspired by charities.  A portion of the profits are given back to the charities while spreading the word about their mission.

Love and Water Designs is a for-profit company that gives up to 50% off all profits back to the causes that inspire the designs.  Any member of the website can submit a design inspired by a charity.  Members also help choose which shirts are printed and tell the company which causes to focus on at any given time.  Fedor states, “We are open to spreading the word about charities that give back in new and exciting ways. 

The Love and Water Designs website provides a platform for artists who are interested in giving back to create work and share that work with other artists and causes.  Fedor continues, “We want our artists to interact with each other, and with the causes they are creating work for.”  The company also serves as an opportunity for artists to gain unlimited exposure by sharing their designs online and on the shirts that are purchased.  They also provide additional exposure and help raise awareness for each charity featured on the site.

Love and Water Designs is currently in the process of implementing a Youth Division and have recently received over 15 design submissions from high school students for our select charity project in the name of Global Glimpse

How can you become involved?

  • Become a member of the Love and Water Designs website.  Membership is free and you even have an opportunity to earn a free shirt by suggesting charities or inviting your friends to join their community. 
  • Submit t-shirt designs or encourage your artistic friends to submit a design.
  • Browse the charity profiles featured on the website to learn more about them.
  • Suggest a charity for the site to profile.  Each charity with a profile on their site must have a 501c3 status, must be based in the United States or Europe and must be providing services and/or programs that aim to support a humanitarian issue.
  • Vote for the designs that have been inspired by various charities.
  • Shop a wide selection of designs and know that up to 50% of the proceeds are donated to the charity that inspired the design.   

Learn more about Love and Water Designs on their website, www.loveandwaterdesigns.com.  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbler.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2011 in Philanthropy

 

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