High Magnitude Earthquakes Hit Ecuador and Japan

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It’s Monday morning and rescuers are searching for survivors and missing people in Ecuador and Japan. Over the last few days both countries have experienced high magnitude earthquakes resulting destruction, death and injury.

The island of Kyushu, Japan has been experiencing powerful earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks since April 14, 2016 when a 6.2-magnitude quake struck the island. The worst the island has felt was a 7.0-magnitude quake on April 16th.  Rescuers in Southern Japan are working to help injured and displaced people while hoping the death toll doesn’t rise higher than its current 42.

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The coast of Ecuador was also hit Saturday, April 16, 2016, with a major 7.8-magnitude quake along the coast. With nearly 300 dead in Ecuador and more than 2,500 injured, rescuers are rushing to find survivors.

It is devastating to see these quakes happening at the same time. Rescue forces are in place.  Please make a donation to support the relief efforts for Ecuador and Japan:

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-Julia Hughes
Product Manager

Giving From Your Heart

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Follow your heart. Listen to your heart. Your heart knows the way.

There are a lot of clichés that encourage you to be guided by what you feel and take action based on what you believe in your heart. And in this National Heart Month, rather than focus on physical heart health, let’s talk about emotional heart health.

15910043680_5b040e7726_mYou never know when one word or one helpful gesture or act of kindness can mean the world to someone else. Giving them reason to go on, to believe in goodness again, or to get through a rough patch. You don’t know when a smile hides incredible sadness and pain, and how reaching out in some way when the inclination strikes you can change the course of a life. The best we can do is to follow our hearts and try . . . not shying away from feelings, but paying attention to ­­­­them.

The emotions and beliefs we have about giving are not something we talk about as much in the business world as in nonprofit circles. Disasters and deaths, though, can break through our veneer and are when we more publicly express emotions.

When it comes to charity, we give because of the good it will do—and the impact it can make. We also give because something that happens in life gets to us, and we want to make things better. We give because we care.

I’m borrowing from a familiar credit card commercial message, but I believe giving from your heart is “priceless.”

3211153569_b93ba33f2a_mI know we’re a month past making resolutions for this year, and actually, I’m not asking you to make a new resolution for 2016. I’m asking you to make a resolution for your life: make giving from your heart a part of how you show up in the world.

I’m not going to try to sell you on the benefits of giving or why it makes us happy. I’ll just say this: giving money away can improve your health and is, quite literally, good for your heart.

And this heart month, I challenge you to listen, find what connects for you, and take action. Starting now.

Support what touches your heart

Have you lost a loved one to a terrible disease or personal tragedy? Give to help find a cure for the health issue that has personally touched you, to keep tragedy from striking other families, and to provide support for someone else who has to deal with it.

kitty_love_unsplashAre the commercials that show abused animals so hard to watch you switch the channel? Don’t push those emotions away, do something about it. If you aren’t in a position to give money, volunteer your time or donate old blankets—doing what you can for something you feel so strongly about. Put your energy to work so the day comes when there’s no reason for those commercials to exist.

Are you frustrated by our education system, worried that kids don’t have all the resources and opportunities they need to succeed, and concerned about what they’re not getting at school (food, support, exposure to the arts, more)? Give them access to what they need to change their lives.

Do you believe we need to make sure the basic needs of others around the world are taken care of?  Support the nonprofits sending them global aid—for better health and life-saving services that we too often take for granted.

I have a sensitive heart. I feel things deeply, and family members and friends know that about me. But I don’t make any excuses for who I am. And I hope I’m known for being true to who I am, all the time. When I care, it’s sincere. When I feel it, I react. And when I give, it’s from my heart.

This month, I challenge you to do the same.  Give from—and for—your heart. For your life.

If you need help finding a charity:

And if you want to help with today’s pressing issues, read our blog. Better yet, subscribe and we’ll automatically send you an email every time we post a new blog.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2015

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Thanks to your giving and support, JustGive sent more than $30 million to charity in 2015!

Our charity gift cards continued to be popular in 2015, showing a 300%+ increase thanks in part to a much-improved process for companies and individuals to order gift cards in bulk through the JustGive website.

This year, we redesigned our Fundraisers product, making it easier to raise funds for charity through a nonprofit campaign or for a special occasion or cause, an upcoming wedding, or in memory of a loved one.

We also improved the Nonprofit Services section of our website to make it simpler for our member charities to use JustGive’s online donation tools to collect and track their donations.

And we’re proud to have helped our many partners by developing and supporting corporate giving programs as part of their social responsibility efforts.

Here’s a glimpse of our impact—and what we accomplished together— in 2015.

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We’re working hard in 2016 to do more good, and continue fulfilling our mission to make charitable giving a part of everyday life.

Thank you for giving!

– Andrea Lloyd
Director of Programs

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Real Help for the Homeless

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Living in California for the last 20+ years, I see people who are homeless more than I ever have in my life.  As the weather gets bitter, I shudder when I think about men and women sleeping on cardboard in San Francisco. I’m also haunted by the growing number of homeless teens I see hanging out at a local gas station. And I know there are so many more….

It is not my imagination that there are more homeless people in the Golden State. Latest statistics show five states—California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Massachusetts—accounted for more than half of the homeless population in the United States. This past year, according to US Department of Housing and Urban Development, California experienced the second-largest increase in the number of homeless people among 50 states.

The Face(s) of Homelessness

 

On any given night, the National Alliance to End Homelessness says nearly 579,000 Americans are homeless. Of that number, more than 362,000 are individuals, and over 216,000 are people in families.

While homeless young people are more transient and challenging to count, it’s currently estimated that about 50,000 youth in the United States sleep on the street for six months or more.

homeless-man-552571_pixabayIt’s hard not to look away from the homeless—in person, and in my heart. Whenever I’m asked for money or read a sign someone is holding at a light or freeway ramp, I get skeptical and wonder how they’d use any money I give.  So I pause.

The most recent data shows, in general, that the number of people sleeping in shelters and transitional housing is increasing.  This suggests communities and nonprofits are doing a better job getting people off the streets and under a roof. To me, that seems like a good place to start helping.

Three Ways to Make a Difference for Homeless People

Donate food and items.
The next time you’re in an area where you expect to see a homeless person, bring along an extra cup of coffee, sandwich, or a meal package with protein-rich foods like trail mix and beef jerky (the most sought-after food). If you have the time, take the homeless person to a nearby fast food restaurant to order the meal they want.

Contact your local shelters and ask what they need. (You can find one in your city here.) Are there specific food items they’re short on? Or are blankets, clothing, socks, band aids, lip balm, lotion, children’s toys or something else more in demand? Share the season’s spirit of giving; get your family involved in buying and dropping off a holiday care package.

Volunteer.
It’s easy to help prepare or serve a holiday meal at a local shelter or church this time of year. But volunteers are needed year round. What skills can you contribute? Consider volunteering on a regular basis, and offer to clean or help rehab buildings, design a website, provide accounting support, play with or tutor children, write resumes or help prepare a homeless person to interview for a job—depending on your talents. Access this directory to find an agency near you.

Give money.
One of the most direct ways to help the homeless is to give money. Donations to nonprofit organizations can go a long way:

  • At Front Steps, $25 takes care of basic hygiene needs. Donate now
  • With $60, the Covenant House gives a homeless child clean clothes and cozy bedding. Donate now
  • For $100, Big Sunday supplies 25 bags of everyday essentials for homeless people. Donate Now

For more charities helping the homeless, check out the JustGive Guide.

More Ways

These are a few ways to help the homeless—here’s a list of many more.

wanderer-814222_pixabayIf you’re not in a position to do any of these things, remember that a smile, kind word and respect go a long way. People who are homeless deserve our empathy.

As for me, I’m re-training myself not to ignore homelessness, and in any way I can, to help. Just as there are many reasons why people become homeless, I know there are just as many ways to start making things better.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

Fundraisers: Put Charity on Your Holiday Wish List

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I’m very lucky. Every holiday season my mother asks me, “What’s on your Christmas list this year?” To her frustration, I never have a good answer, so she just grumbles that I’m really hard to shop for. Love you, Mom! 🙂

6319712130_7c3283a6b5_mBut this year, I do. I’ll let her know that donations to my favorite charities are on my wish list.

Then I’ll tell her about a new product we launched here at JustGive: fundraisers. Now, I can create an online fundraising page to raise money for charities I care about during the holidays (or any time of year). So in lieu of other gifts from friends and family, they can come to my fundraising page and make a donation instead. That’s what I really want.

Here’s the inside scoop

Creating a fundraising page just takes a few minutes, and you can create one for any cause or occasion, including a memorial fundraiser for a departed loved one, or one for your upcoming wedding.

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My favorite part about JustGive fundraisers is how you can customize them. You describe your fundraiser, select a color scheme, add a photo or video to it, choose the charity or charities you want to fundraise for (built-in search tools help too), and you’re done. In a matter of minutes, you’ll have a link to share with friends, inviting them to contribute.

You can even write a custom thank you message that gets sent to your donors, set a fundraising goal, and add an end date to drive immediate action. As the date draws closer and your donations tally increases, it may surprise you to see which friends and family members rally to get you to the finish. And you can log in anytime to see your online donations report and know who has given to your fundraiser.

New JustGive Guide offers recommended charities

As part of the Fundraisers launch, we also revamped our JustGive Charity Guide.

CharityGuideThe new JustGive Guide contains around 150 recommended charities organized by cause. These charities are nationally-based and meet IRS standards, address today’s key issues, and receive the most support from our donors. With about a dozen charities for each cause, the guide makes it easier and faster to find the organizations you want to help.

When it comes to selecting charities for your fundraiser, you‘ll find the new JustGive Guide under the “Browse by Cause” tab. It includes cause categories for Animals, Children, Education, Global Aid, Hunger and more.

Create a fundraiser today

mapI hope you’ll join me and set up a fundraiser this holiday season to support your favorite charities. You can raise money for organizations that fight hunger and homelessness, or help a neighborhood charity that’s making a difference for your community.

Whatever cause you want to support, our fundraisers make it simple for you, and fun for your donors.

You’ll also make your Mom and friends happy, since they’ll know how to give you a gift this holiday that’s just what you want! And you’ll be spreading the spirit of the season around, making wishes come true for your favorite charities too.

– Sarah Bacon
Director of Product

Help the Hungry in 5 Ways

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It’s the season when get-togethers and festivities revolve around food. Many of us worry about eating too much at our Thanksgiving or holiday meals, or indulging in extra treats. But there are so many children and families who can’t even relate to that thought. Sadly, the latest hunger stats tell us:

  • 1 in 7 Americans go hungry every day
  • 1 in 5 children in the United States don’t have enough to eat

Not having enough food most affects:

  • 3 million households with seniors age 65 and older
  • 3 million rural households
  • 1 in 4 African American households
  • 1 in 5 Latino households

So while you and I may worry about weight gain, and even waste more than 20 pounds of food every month, the demand for food is growing.UNEP_photo-_needs_to_be_resized

This year, food pantries across the country are reporting shortages and long lines. Researchers think that’s happening because the employment gains we’ve seen as the economy recovers are from part-time and low-paying jobs which still leave people struggling to pay bills and put food on the table.

How can we make it better?

5 Ways to Make a Difference for Hunger

Good FoodDonate Food. Find a local food bank, grocery or bank that’s collecting food and donate canned goods. Or start a food drive yourself.

Fundraise. Create an online fundraiser and get others involved in raising money for charities solving hunger issues. You can set one up in minutes on JustGive and find charities to support, add your special message and compelling video/photos—then email friends and family, and post your appeal on social media. When someone asks what’s on your holiday gift list, tell them gifts of charity for the hungry would mean the most to you.

Volunteer. The holiday season brings out a lot of volunteers for food banks, soup kitchens and rescue missions serving meals and collecting food.  While always happy for volunteers, these charities could really use help more throughout the year. Their need is ongoing; offer to help as often as you can. (If you don’t know local charities, you can find them here.)

Give.  There are a lot of nonprofits doing great work to fight hunger, and your donation gives them the ability to do more. It doesn’t take much to make a big impact. We have a short list of recommended hunger charities on the JustGive site, and here are a few examples of what your gift can do:

$35 to No Kid Hungry helps children get 350 meals.
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$55 provides 550 meals through Feeding America’s nationwide network.
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With $70, Meals on Wheels can send home-delivered meals to 10 seniors.
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Raise Awareness.  Start a conversation with your friends and family about hunger. Share posts on social media—this blog and other videos and stories you see—and get more people talking. Raising the volume about the issue.

Let’s take action today and do something for the more than 49 million Americans who don’t have enough food to eat . . . so no one goes hungry.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

Deep River Snacks: Chips & Charity for the Holidays

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Our corporate customers use JustGive’s GiveNow charity gift cards in many creative ways — as employee incentives, thank you gifts for customers or clients at the holidays and throughout the year—and even as tradeshow booth giveaways. (Check out their stories.)

chipcharity_0Here’s the most recent innovative way one made-in-the-USA company is using our charity gift cards. Deep River Snacks, best known for their non-GMO, gluten-free kettle chips found in grocery stores and delis, recently launched a new charitable program for the holidays called “Chips & Charity.” When customers purchase a variety gift pack of their chips through Amazon, they receive a $10 JustGive charity gift card in the package, which they can redeem towards a donation to their favorite charity.

“The JustGive concept was a perfect way for us to manifest our cause-mission, and enable our fans to participate in it,” said Kristine Ford, Deep River’s Senior Director of Marketing. “With the JustGive cards, we’ve created a fun gift set that allows people to share our delicious snacks with loved ones for the holidays while giving them the ‘gift of give’ too.”

11196342_10152902549318262_4020349093341581813_nFord explained that supporting charity, or “giving a chip” as they like to call it, is a founding principle of Deep River Snacks. In addition to donating at least 10% of their profits to charity each year, Deep River also features a different nonprofit organization on the back of the bag for every chip flavor.

“Each of these charities has directly affected the life of a Deep River Snacks employee in some way, whether it’s PSC Partners (our founder’s son has Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a rare liver and bile duct disease) or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (our VP of Business Development is a Stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor),” Ford mentioned.

The JustGive charity gift card was the perfect vehicle for Deep River Snacks to empower their customers to join them and “give a chip.”

“I decided JustGive was the ideal partner because of the 2 million plus charities that you allow people to give to. Since many of our partner charities are smaller, it was critical that our gift card partner supported charities of all sizes,” Ford said.

The Deep River Snacks Chips & Charity Gift Set is available on Amazon for $24.99 and includes 12 varieties of chips plus a $10 JustGive charity gift card.

kettlechipsWith flavors ranging from Aged Cheddar Horseradish and New York Spicy Dill Pickle to Mesquite BBQ, customers are sure to find something to satiate their taste or a loved one’s chip appetite—and support charity at the same time.

Visit our website to find out more about JustGive charity gift cards, or contact us to discover how charity gift cards can enhance your company’s giving program.

– Sarah Bacon
Director of Product

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