Help Girls Overcome Media Pressure and Reach Their Potential

photo source: flickr
photo source: flickr

There is no better time in history to be a girl. All around the world, countries are realizing that investing in girls has the potential to change the world. In the United States, girls outpace boys in test scores, college enrollment and graduation rates, and high school leadership positions.

But alarming statistics show that girls still face enormous challenges. As they approach adolescence, self-esteem in girls plummets—and that’s true across ethnic, racial, and socio-economic lines. According to Rachel Simmons, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Leadership Institute, this is the time in girls’ lives when they become aware of pressure to be conventionally feminine: to be liked at all costs, to be pleasing, to be passive, to be modest, and to become conventionally beautiful women.

In adolescence, girls become obsessed about their appearance. According to Confidence Coalition, 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat. When we look at the messages the media sends girls, it’s no wonder their self-esteem is in shambles. Fifty seven percent of rock music videos portray women as a sex object, a victim, as unintelligent, or in a condescending way. On the movie screen, female characters are scantily clad, even in G-rated movies—which surprisingly show the same amount of skin as R-rated movies.

As adults, women enter professions that pay less and offer less prestige. In 2011, only 15 percent of board positions and corporate leadership positions were occupied by women. By no coincidence, in family-rated movies, 81 percent of employed characters are men. For every 15 movie characters holding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics) titles, one is female.

photo source: flickr
photo source: flickr

On the whole, women are underrepresented in the media. In family films, there is only one female character for every three male characters. In group scenes, only 17 percent of the characters are female. The media is literally sending the message: women and girls aren’t as important as boys and men. Our culture revolves around media, and women don’t take up even half the space.


How to Make a Difference

Change the Media Message

According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, TV and movies have an incredible impact on women’s choices and perceptions. The one science-based profession that “employs” an equal number of women and men on television programs is forensic science. As a result, colleges now can’t keep up with the number of women applying to become forensic scientists. Similarly, people who were familiar with the show Commander in Chief, which featured a female president, were 68 percent more likely to vote for a female for president than those who were not familiar with the show.

The Geena Davis Insitute concluded, “if she can see it, she can be it.” With that belief, the institute focuses on changing media messages to feature more women and girls. If you’d like to get involved to help make this change, consider donating:

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media researches how gender is portrayed in the media and its impact on women and girls, then directly educates content creators. Sixty eight percent of creators who heard the Institute’s presentation said it impacted two or more of their projects. Forty one percent said it had affected four or more of their projects. The goal: 50 percent female representation in all TV shows.

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You can also get involved directly! Check out The Representation Project’s #Notbuyingit campaign. By getting vocal on Twitter, people just like you changed Superbowl ads to be less sexist. For example, has a history of hyper-sexualized Superbowl ads, but in 2014 after being railed against by the #notbuyingit campaign, they chose to tone it down.


Help Girls Discover New Choices

In addition to changing media messages, you can help educate girls about all their options by supporting these amazing girl-oriented nonprofits:

Girls Leadership Institute offers camps and workshops designed to teach girls, educators and parents about emotional intelligence, healthy relationships, and assertive self-expression.

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Girl Up is a unique opportunity for American girls to become global leaders, channeling their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds. They focus on United Nations programs that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.

Donate Now

Girls Inc. equips girls to achieve academically, lead healthy and physically active lives, manage money, navigate media messages, and discover an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Donate Now


And for free girl power and inspiration, follow organizations like A Mighty Girl and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls on Facebook. A Mighty Girl is a resource for girl-friendly media, toys, and clothing. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls is a resource to help girls and women find their authentic selves.

While the statistics show we still have a long way to go, we have made incredible progress. Together, we can move toward gender equity in both the media and in business leadership.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

photo source: flickr
photo source: flickr

Creative Approaches to Solve the Poverty Crisis

image source: flickr

According to World Bank, 1.4 billion people – or 20 percent of the world’s population – live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day. And unfortunately, it’s getting worse. Seven out of 10 people in the world live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

The question of how we solve this problem has become a source of debate, but one thing is clear: what we’re doing isn’t working.

The most recent thinking is that we can’t solve the poverty crisis by simply throwing more money at the poor. Instead:

  1. We need to consider social services a necessary safety net to keep the bottom from falling out.
  2. We need to empower the poor to improve their own lives, so they can work to get themselves out of poverty. A one-size-fits-all solution will not work—we need to help people as individuals.

Check out what these three nonprofits are doing to change the face of poverty by empowering the poor.

Family Independence Initiative

FII logo orangeThe Family Independence Initiative helps people toward independence by encouraging them to help themselves. In the past decade, they’ve learned that three elements are critical for building personal social and economic mobility:

  • Connections – No one makes it alone. They need family, friends, and colleagues to provide support, information, advice, resources, and a sense of accountability.
  • Choice – Rather than being directed or controlled by social services, families must have control over their own choices to succeed. This takes giving them a range of options related to finances, housing, health, education, and other opportunities needed for well-being.
  • Capital – The biggest difference between low-income families and upper-income families is money — not intelligence or resourcefulness. Families need access to financial capital to gain control and improve their lives.

The Family Independence Initiative wants us to recognize that low-income families have strengths, capacities, and initiative, and will work to get themselves out of poverty; they just need the resources to see that it’s possible.

Like what they’re doing? Make a donation so the Family Independence Initiative can continue their inspiring work:

Donate Now


PovertyCure_Logo-colorPovertyCure is a global network uniting organizations and individuals who recognize that we need to work together to alleviate global poverty. They examine the economic, social, political, and spiritual foundations for sustainable human development. Specifically:

  • Enterprise solutions to poverty. Some people are able to rise out of poverty using intelligence, action, will, and ingenuity to make money.
  • Dignity and capacity of the poor. Many people look at the poor as though they are incapable of improving their situation or getting out of poverty.
  • Private property rights. The poor do not own land. As a result, they can’t borrow money against it to set up businesses or pay taxes, and they don’t have access education and investment incentives.
  • Entrepreneurship. Poor regions can meet their wants and needs through enterprise and grow their way out of poverty, but they need proper legal and social structures.
  • Foreign Aid. Foreign aid is a controversial topic. Proponents insist that it is a moral duty for wealthy nations to assist the poorer nations. On the other hand, wealthy countries developed themselves through trade, innovation, and business.
  • Microfinance. Unlike foreign aid, microfinance gives someone the capital they need to help themselves, using their own abilities to provide for their family.

PovertyCure feels the question “What causes poverty?” is the wrong one to ask. Instead, they focus on the antithesis of poverty, questioning, “How do we encourage people to flourish?”

If you like PovertyCure’s approach to poverty, consider donating to support their work:

Donate Now

Grameen Foundation

e06d287baa343075a704c88b7297bdecGrameen Foundation believes that all of us want to improve our lives, and that even the poorest among us can reach our full potential if given access to the right tools and information.

Grameen Foundation focuses primarily on women to provide :

  • Financial services. Financial tools, which are typically not available to the poor, can help people create businesses, build savings, manage their money, and plan for the future.
  • Better health care. Mobile technology can improve patient care, increase efficiency of health care providers, and make medical information relevant and easily accessible.
  • Agricultural help. By developing phone applications and human networks, Grameen Foundation helps farmers get relevant and timely agricultural information to increase their productivity and raise their income.

The Grameen Foundation is thoughtful about creating long-term solutions, and partners with like-minded companies, organizations, government agencies and more.

Interested in supporting Grameen Foundation’s work? Make a donation to help them do more:

Donate Now

Poverty is an incredibly complex issue and a growing problem. It is essential that we work together as caring, global citizens to lift each other up—because we all deserve the opportunity for a better life.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Save Three Lives in One Hour: Donate Blood

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Giving blood is easy and saves lives. (In fact, one pint of blood can save up to three lives!)

In one hour, you could watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, or you could help one of the five million real-life patients who need blood every year.

Why donate blood?

People need blood for a variety of reasons:

  • Much of today’s sophisticated medical care (for premature babies, transplants, heart surgeries and more) relies on an available blood supply.
  • Car accident and trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more transfusions.
  • Cancer patients, including children with cancer, depend on multiple blood transfusions to win their fight.
  • Bone Marrow transplant patients may require blood from more than 100 donors.

What is involved?

The process of donating blood takes about an hour, including registration. Here’s what happens:

Step 1, Registration: Fill out a donor registration form with your contact information and brief health history.

Step 2, Health Screening: A technician checks your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, and reviews your health history. If you meet all donor requirements, you begin the donation process.

Step 3, Donation: A specially trained technician draws your blood, which takes about 10-12 minutes. You give a little less than one pint of whole blood in a standard donation. Fun fact: Your body replaces the plasma within 24 hours and the red blood? cells within 4-8 weeks.

Step 4, Refreshments: After your donation, you relax and enjoy a snack (like cookies!) in the refreshment area for 10-15 minutes.

Where do I donate?

Find a local blood bank by searching in your area. Or make an appointment with the Red Cross.

More ways to help

Not eligible to donate or want to make a bigger difference? Support your local blood banks with a monetary donation:

Donate Now

Make an exponential difference: Spread the word about giving blood! Share this post, and convince your friends and co-workers to join you in donating.

Together, we can save lives.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Depression: Help Those Suffering in Silence

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery.  We call them survivors.  Because they are. When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t.  We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.” –the Bloggess

Nearly all of us can remember a time when we’ve felt dark, overwhelming depression. The cause was something obvious that happened in our life: the death of a loved one, divorce, or unemployment.

For many, though, depression comes when everything seems to be going well. Sufferers experience one or more “episodes” per year, or know it as an ongoing, never-ending sadness. When experiencing depression, it’s easy to lose hope that things will ever improve.

Major depression—the kind with no cause—is unfortunately common, affecting 1 in every 10 Americans. That number grows by 20 percent each year, and even though it is one of the most well researched disorders, it’s one of the least talked about.

We live in a country that has no problem discussing the breakdown of our bodies, but goes silent when it comes to talking about what is perceived as mental weakness. Sufferers are afraid to get help because they don’t want anyone to know they have depression. In fact, 80 percent of people living with depression are not receiving treatment. Ironically, many hide their condition behind exuberant personalities.

Depression has become a worldwide health epidemic, and until we recognize and admit that it is a serious problem, this will not change.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If alcoholics who are depressed are included, this rises to more than 75 percent. (Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the United States.) For many depressed people, it is a daily choice to continue living.

How you can help

Learn about it

There are a lot of great resources online to learn more about depression, and what it feels like to be depressed. One of my favorites is this TED talk from a comic named Kevin Breel. He is an activist for mental health who bravely talks about what it’s like to hide his illness behind a public persona as someone who is outgoing and funny.

Have empathy

People are fighting this battle alone. Let’s not shy away from the topic of depression—you never know who is affected. Be a light for those living in darkness. First, recognize when someone needs professional help, and find resources so they can get it. You can also be a huge help by arranging an activity to get them out of the house. But most of all, be a good listener and learn how to be truly empathetic.

Donate Now

To help raise awareness for Major Depression and provide resources for those who need help, give to organizations working in this field:

It’s a time of year, after a holiday high, when many are looking forward to what they can accomplish in the next year. At the same time, others are down about what their reality is—feeling empty and low. Help break the stigma: don’t ignore the topic. And if you need help, please don’t be afraid to ask for it.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

JustGive’s Christmas Social Media Giveaway

Win a $500 Charity Gift Card

We’ve made our list and checked it twice…and we’ve decided our donors are nice! We’re giving away a $500 Charity Gift Card. You can enter on our Facebook page right now. You have seven days to enter (the giveaway ends on Christmas Eve at 11:59pm PST).

There are many ways to enter – submit one or more entries by liking our Facebook page, subscribing to our newsletter, following us on Pinterest, leaving a comment on our blog, tweeting about the giveaway, or referring your friends.

Makes a great gift…or redeem it for your own favorite causes.

Good luck! If you win, which charity or cause will you help?

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

35 Ways to Help the Homeless

35 Ways to Help the Homeless

The world of the homeless may seem very far from yours, but in some ways it is quite near. For any of us, the loss of a job, the illness or death of a spouse or a child, or a severe physical disability could be the route to total despair. Struck by personal tragedies, the people in shelters across America have lost their homes and been deserted by family and friends. What can you do to help them? Sometimes the smallest actions can go a long way.

  1. Understand who the homeless are – Help dispel the stereotypes about the homeless. Learn about the different reasons for homelessness, and remember, every situation is unique. One of the first steps in helping people is to see them as individuals and to find out what they need. Notice them; talk to them. Most are starved for attention.
  2. Educate yourself about the homeless – Learn about the long-term solutions for ending homelessness.
  3. Respect the homeless as individuals – Give the homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would accord your friends, your family, your employer. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance.
  4. Respond with kindness – We can make quite a difference in the lives of the homeless when we respond to them, rather than ignore or dismiss them. Try a kind word and a smile.
  5. Develop lists of shelters – Carry a card that lists local shelters so you can hand them out to the homeless. You can find shelters in your phone book.
  6. Buy Street SheetThis biweekly newspaper is sold in almost every major American city and is intended to help the homeless help themselves. For every paper sold, the homeless earn five cents deposited in a special savings account earmarked for rent.
  7. Bring food – It’s as simple as taking a few extra sandwiches when you go out. When you pass someone who asks for change, offer him or her something to eat. If you take a lunch, pack a little extra. When you eat at a restaurant, order something to take with you when you leave.
  8. Give money – One of the most direct ways to aid the homeless is to give money. Donations to nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless go a long way.
  9. Give recyclables – In localities where there is a “bottle law,” collecting recyclable cans and bottles is often the only “job” available to the homeless. But it is an honest job that requires initiative. You can help by saving your recyclable bottles, cans, and newspapers and giving them to the homeless instead of taking them to a recycling center or leaving them out for collection. If you live in a larger city, you may wish to leave your recyclables outside for the homeless to pick up — or give a bagful of cans to a homeless person in your neighborhood.
  10. Donate clothing – Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good shape, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless.
  11. Donate a bag of groceries – Load up a bag full of nonperishable groceries, and donate it to a food drive in your area. If your community doesn’t have a food drive, organize one. Contact your local soup kitchens, shelters, and homeless societies and ask what kind of food donations they would like.
  12. Donate toys – Children living in shelters have few possessions –if any– including toys. Homeless parents have more urgent demands on what little money they have, such as food and clothing. So often these children have nothing to play with and little to occupy their time. You can donate toys, books, and games to family shelters to distribute to homeless children. For Christmas or Chanukah, ask your friends and co-workers to buy and wrap gifts for homeless children.
  13. Volunteer at a shelter – Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services. For the homeless, a shelter can be as little as a place to sleep out of the rain or as much as a step forward to self-sufficiency.
  14. Volunteer at a soup kitchen – Soup kitchens provide one of the basics of life, nourishing meals for the homeless and other disadvantaged members of the community. Volunteers generally do much of the work, including picking up donations of food, preparing meals, serving it, and cleaning up afterward. To volunteer your services, contact you local soup kitchen, mobile food program, shelter, or religious center.
  15. Volunteer your professional services – No matter what you do for a living, you can help the homeless with your on-the-job talents and skills. Those with clerical skills can train those with little skills. Doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and dentists can treat the homeless in clinics. Lawyers can help with legal concerns. The homeless’ needs are bountiful — your time and talent won’t be wasted.
  16. Volunteer your hobbies – Every one of us has something we can give the homeless. Wherever our interests may lie — cooking, repairing, gardening, and photography — we can use them for the homeless. Through our hobbies, we can teach them useful skills, introduce them to new avocations and perhaps point them in a new direction.
  17. Volunteer for follow-up programs – Some homeless people, particularly those who have been on the street for a while, may need help with fundamental tasks such as paying bills, balancing a household budget, or cleaning. Follow-up programs to give the formerly homeless further advice, counseling, and other services need volunteers.
  18. Tutor homeless children – A tutor can make all the difference. Just having adult attention can spur children to do their best. Many programs exist in shelters, transitional housing programs, and schools that require interested volunteers. Or begin you own tutor volunteer corps at your local shelter. It takes nothing more than a little time.
  19. Take homeless children on trips – Frequently, the only environment a homeless child knows is that of the street, shelters, or other transitory housing. Outside of school — if they attend — these children have little exposure to many of the simple pleasures that most kids have. Volunteer at your local family shelter to take children skating or to an aquarium on the weekend.
  20. Volunteer at battered women’s shelter – Most battered women are involved in relationships with abusive husbands or other family members. Lacking resources and afraid of being found by their abusers, many may have no recourse other than a shelter or life on the streets once they leave home. Volunteers handle shelter hotlines, pick up abused women and their children when they call, keep house, and offer counseling. Call your local shelter for battered women to see how you can help.
  21. Teach about the homeless – If you do volunteer work with the homeless, you can become an enthusiast and extend your enthusiasm to others. You can infect others with your own sense of devotion by writing letters to the editor of your local paper and by pressing housing issues at election time.
  22. Publish shelter information – Despite all of our efforts to spread the word about shelters, it is surprising how many people are unaware of their own local shelters. Contact your local newspapers, church or synagogue bulletins, or civic group’s newsletters about the possibility of running a weekly or monthly listing of area services available to the homeless. This could include each organization’s particular needs for volunteers, food, and other donations.
  23. Educate your children about the homeless – Help your children to see the homeless as people. If you do volunteer work, take your sons and daughters along so they can meet with homeless people and see what can be done to help them. Volunteer as a family in a soup kitchen or shelter. Suggest that they sort through the toys, books, and clothes they no longer use and donate them to organizations that assist the poor.
  24. Sign up your company/school – Ask your company or school to host fund-raising events, such as raffles or craft sales and donate the proceeds to nonprofit organizations that aid the homeless. You can also ask your company or school to match whatever funds you and your co-workers or friends can raise to help the homeless.
  25. Recruit local business – One of the easiest ways to involve local businesses is to organize food and/or clothing drives. Contact local organizations to find out what is needed, approach local grocery or clothing shops about setting up containers on their premises in which people can drop off donations, ask local businesses to donate goods to the drive, and publicize the drive by placing announcements in local papers and on community bulletin boards and by posting signs and posters around your neighborhood.
  26. Create lists of needed donations – Call all the organizations in your community that aid the homeless and ask them what supplies they need on a regular basis. Make a list for each organization, along with its address, telephone number, and the name of a contact person. Then mail these lists to community organizations that may wish to help with donations — every place from religious centers to children’s organizations such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
  27. Play with children in a shelter – Many children in shelters are cut off from others their own age. Shuffled from place to place, sometimes these kids don’t attend school on a regular basis, and have no contact with other kids. Bring a little joy to their lives by taking your children to a local shelter to play. Plan activities such as coloring, playing with dolls, or building model cars (take along whatever toys you’ll need). Your own children will benefit too.
  28. Employ the homeless – Help Wanted – General Office Work. Welfare recipient, parolee, ex-addict OK. Good salary, benefits. Will train. That’s the way Wildcat Service Corporations Supported Work Program invites the “unemployable” to learn to work and the program works! More than half the people who sign on find permanent, well-paying jobs, often in maintenance, construction, clerical, or security work.
  29. Help the homeless apply for aid – Governmental aid is available for homeless people, but many may not know where to find it or how to apply. Since they don’t have a mailing address, governmental agencies may not be able to reach them. You can help by directing the homeless to intermediaries, such as homeless organizations, that let them know what aid is available and help them to apply for it. If you want to be an advocate or intermediary for the homeless yourself, you can contact these organizations as well.
  30. Stand up for the civil rights of the homeless – In recent elections, for example, volunteers at shelters and elsewhere helped homeless people register to vote . . . even though they had “no fixed address” at the moment. Some officials would not permit citizens without a permanent address to vote.
  31. Join Habitat for Humanity This Christian housing ministry builds houses for families in danger of becoming homeless. Volunteers from the community and Habitat homeowners erect the houses. Funding is through donations from churches, corporations, foundations, and individuals.
  32. Form a transitional housing program – One of the most potent homeless-prevention services a community can offer residents who are in danger of eviction is a transitional housing program. These programs help people hang on to their current residences or assist them in finding more affordable ones. The methods include steering people to appropriate social service and community agencies, helping them move out of shelters, and providing funds for rent, mortgage payments, and utilities. For information, contact the Homelessness Information Exchange at (202) 462-7551.
  33. Write to corporations – Some of the largest corporations in America have joined the battle for low-income housing. Through the use of the tax credit or by outright grants, they are participating with federal and state government, not-for-profit and community-based groups to build desperately needed housing in Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and dozens of other cities. Contact various organizations and ask them what they are doing.
  34. Contact your government representativesOur legislators rarely receive more than three visits or ten letters about any subject. When the numbers exceed that amount, they sit up and take note. Personal visits are the most potent. Letters are next; telephone calls are third best. Housing issues don’t come up that often, so your public officials will listen.
  35. Push for state homelessness prevention programs – While states routinely supply aid for the poor and homeless, many do not have programs provide funds and other services to those who will lose their homes in the immediate future unless something is done. Homelessness comes at great financial and human cost to the families who are evicted or foreclosed.

Five Charitable Causes That Need More Help During the Holidays

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

During the winter months, charities need extra assistance as they work with the challenges of cold weather and the holidays. These five causes need additional help right now, and can do more with your donations of supplies and money.

1. Children

Low-income and foster kids have an especially hard time during the holiday season, when a lack of money can mean no Thanksgiving or holiday meals, and no toys under the tree.

How you can help

2. Animals

This time of year, many animal shelters are overrun with animals, and, cold weather means they face even more challenges. .

How you can help

3. Hunger

In a season that revolves around food, charities that help the hungry are stretched to fill food packages and supply meals.

How you can help

4. Homelessness

The homeless need extra care during the freezing-cold winter months. Help them stay warm and provide the basic necessities.

How you can help

5. Disaster Recovery

Many victims of recent natural disasters lost all their possessions and may have no place to live during a time of year that should bring comfort and joy. Give them a reason to smile this season by helping them recover.

How you can help

Donating supplies may seem like a great idea, but an influx of tangible items is often difficult to handle and to deliver after a disaster, when systems are overtaxed. Donating money is a better choice and allows nonprofits working in the area to provide what survivors need most—even sourcing items locally that can help rebuild their economy.

Donate money to help survivors recover from:

This holiday season, put your money in the hands of the charities making a difference for these pressing causes. That creates a happy holiday for you and for those in need.