YEAR IN REVIEW: A LOOK BACK AT 2014

Image Source: Flickr
Image Source: Flickr

Thanks to your giving and support, JustGive expanded philanthropy and sent more than $30 million to charity in 2014!

We passed a major milestone in May, processing our 1 millionth donation, and are proud that 24 percent of giving came from 2013 donors returning to use the site. We also saw charity gift card purchases grow by 9 percent. To be more accessible and expand our services, we launched our mobile responsive site and added the ability for companies to independently buy a quantity of gift cards.

Here’s a glimpse of our impact—and what we accomplished together—this year.

Infographic_final2
Download the PDF

We’re charging into 2015 eager to do more good, fulfilling our mission to make charitable giving a part of everyday life. Here’s to making more of a difference!

Help us kick off the year in the best way possible: Set up an automatic monthly donation to your favorite charities today.

button_get_started_purple

Thank you for giving.

—Andrea Lloyd, Director of Programs

THE MANY FACES OF HOMELESSNESS: HOW YOU CAN HELP

blog_title_image_homelessnessKnowing how to help a homeless person can sometimes feel difficult, confusing and overwhelming. The dollar you give might be used to buy drugs or alcohol. Even offering food can be a problem – imagine handing an apple to a homeless man and then discovering he has no teeth. Just as there are many reasons people become homeless, there are also many ways to help. Understanding the leading causes of homelessness is often the best way to learn what the homeless need and how you can make a positive difference in their lives. The chronically homeless, who often struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, need a safe and stable living environment where they can get counseling and health care. To help them, consider volunteering at a local shelter or halfway house that provides longer-term housing. Donating clean towels, pillows and blankets can also help create a comfortable and safe living environment. The majority of homeless youth bw_homeless_teens_21461332have been kicked out of their homes or abandoned by parents or guardians. Others who left on their own accord have suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their families. For many, trusting another adult or authority figure can be difficult. One of the best ways to help is to simply ask them what they need. Maybe it’s a hot meal, a warm coat or a clean pair of socks; or maybe it’s information on how to get into foster care, enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program or register for the GED. Taking the time to listen to their needs, and to follow through, can go a long way in helping them regain their trust in others and get off the streets. imm needs housing homelessFor many veterans, physical disability, mental anguish and post-traumatic stress can make readjusting to civilian life very difficult. This can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, the inability to hold down a steady job and homelessness. Because many veterans have very specific needs to help them get back on their feet—job placement services, medical services, housing assistance, counseling—there are numerous ways to get involved. Consider donating your time or money to organizations which help homeless vets:

While we need to address the problem of homelessness as a whole, the more we can understand each person’s individual circumstances, the more we can help. Before making assumptions or judgments, take the time to ask some questions and do a little research. It can make all the difference. The Face(s) of Homelessness

  • Number of homeless in the United States: 610,042
  • Number of chronic homeless: 109,132 (18%)
  • Number of homeless youth under 18: 380,000
  • Number of homeless veterans: 57,849 (9%)

For more charities helping the homeless with shelter, counseling services and job training.

-Amelia Glynn, Marketing Contractor

Hunger and Food Justice: Community Building for Food Equality

blog_title_image_hungerjustice
Image Source: Flickr

Hunger: it’s a daunting problem the world over. Even though I was eager to research and write on this topic, when I started to dig into it, I got more and more overwhelmed with how broad and profound the issue is. The stark facts saddened and discouraged me.

In the United States, almost half of all food is wasted, while 1 in 4 go hungry.

Here’s what shocked me the most: 16.2 million children in the U.S. are without adequate food and nutrition. And we know poor nutrition in early childhood causes lifelong problems with mental and physical development (Journal of American Medical Association, 2013).

It’s hard to believe it happens at home. Many American families can’t adequately feed their own children. Parents and grandparents have had to choose between paying heating bills or putting a meal on their table. When I read through stories on the Feeding America website, many moved me to tears. Not just because of the sadness of the situations, but also because they were stories of hope. I learned that food banks are a pretty wonderful resource. They connect community members with life-saving food supplies, and even offer health and nutrition based programs for people with special health concerns like diabetes.

Then I started to think: what can I realistically do—locally— to help?

Outside of governmental programs, I knew that taking a holistic approach, including equitable food distribution, sustainable agricultural practices, and nutrition education was the most positive way to make a difference in the fight to end hunger. That’s when I discovered the Food Justice movement .

I didn’t know much about this community-based movement, but the name alone made me feel empowered and reminded me that hunger is actually a social justice issue. I started checking out local groups involved in this activism.

Food Justice is the right of every person to have access to fresh, nutritious food. Food justice groups are caring individuals who create food production techniques that are healthy and sustainable (often in underused public spaces); raise awareness; teach waste reduction; and offer nutrition programs, gardening and other resources for schools and communities. These are actions anyone could take to make a difference in the world.

So what am I going to do, now that I’ve educated myself about hunger? I’ve signed up to volunteer with the Oakland-based organization Planting Justice. I’ve promised myself I will be more mindful and less wasteful about the food I bring home, and I may try building my own food-producing garden…even if it is just one basil plant and one rosemary plant for now! One step at a time, right?

How you can get started

vegetablesHere are a few Food Justice-focused charities working to bring together nutritional resources, sustainable food production and distribution practices, and community growth:

There are also some wonderful organizations helping end hunger on a broader scale, in schools, and around the country and world:

The organization’s No Kid Hungry campaign is focused on ending childhood hunger.

Other things we can all do to help combat hunger, waste and food inequality:

  • Practice economical food usage. Store leftovers and freeze or donate the extra.
  • Volunteer our time at community gardens and food banks.
  • Raise awareness by educating ourselves and talking with our friends, family and neighbors. It’s the first step to building strong communities.

-Alex Mechanic

Customer Service Manager

One Million Donations and Counting!

blog_title_image_millionWe reached a major milestone in the history of JustGive last week when we processed the one-millionth donation on our website.

Who was behind this auspicious donation? His name is Al Danish, and he hails from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

Al made his donation to PathWays PA, a nonprofit dedicated to helping to keep low-income, vulnerable women together with their children by offering programs and services that help families stabilize their lives.

“If my donation can help in a small way, then that makes me feel good,” Al said about helping PathWays.

Al said his role as a grandfather of two makes PathWays’ mission even more relevant to him. “I liked the idea of making a donation for something specific like a case of diapers for a baby,” Al said.

Pathways PA is also a JustGive nonprofit affiliate. Since 2008, they’ve used our nonprofit services to accept donations through their website.

With just a few clicks, PathWays created a customized donation page, allowing their donors to select from a list of suggested gifts like $25 to “provide basic toiletries to a mom in need,” or to enter in any desired donation amount.

“JustGive is a wonderful avenue for our online donors to give in a quick and easy way,” said Fran Franchi, Director of Development for PathWays. “We are so grateful for supporters like Al Danish. Thank you, Al for your continued support of PathWays PA’s mission and congratulations on being the one-millionth donor.”

Al was gracious about his 15 minutes of online donor fame when we first shared the news, saying, “You made me feel very good about helping out with a donation.”

JustGive was one of the first nonprofit organizations to channel the power of the Internet for online giving. Since 2000, we have sent more than $400 million to over 70,000 charities working throughout the world—and every day, we are inspired by donors like Al Danish to create new ways for people to find, learn about, and support virtually any charity, anytime.

Thank you to Al and PathWays PA for helping us reach this important milestone!

 

—Sarah Bacon, Director of Product

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.

Help Hungry American Children

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized how much children rely on adults for help. In the best cases, a child has parents and a loving extended family, and wants for nothing. In the worst cases, a child has a neglectful family, and doesn’t get basic needs met, emotionally or physically.

Some children have loving parents who work their hardest, but still can’t make ends meet. Many lost their jobs when the economy crashed, and providing essentials for their children became next to impossible. I can only imagine what it might be like to not be able to meet my child’s needs: I would be devastated. For families like these —including 16 million kids (one of every 5 children nationwide)—hunger is a very real concern.

Children have no control over their situation. When their parents can’t provide for their basic needs, it is our responsibility to step in and help. According to No Kid Hungry, nearly half of the recipients of food stamps are children. About 9.8 million kids get free or reduced price breakfast at school, but 10.6 million eligible children receive nothing. And of the children who receive reduced price lunches, only one in seven receives breakfast during the summer.

The impact of hunger on children is distressing, according to Feeding America:

  • Kids who face hunger are 90 percent more likely to have their overall health rated as “fair/poor,” and face increased hospitalizations, developmental problems, and illnesses.
  • Ninety percent of teachers say that a healthy breakfast is key to academic achievement. Hungry children are unable to concentrate, have poor academic performance, and complain of headaches and stomach aches.
  • Childhood hunger is linked to significant health problems in adulthood.

It is heartbreaking to think that millions of American children go to bed hungry every night, only to wake up to no breakfast. The good news is this: You can help.

Raise Awareness. Did you know how dire the hunger problem is? I certainly didn’t, and chances are, you have friends and family who don’t know either. Talk about it! Tell your loved ones. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter. Start a conversation.

Donate. There are a lot of charities doing fantastic work to fight hunger in the United States. And surprisingly, it takes very little to make a huge impact. For example, a donation of just $46 to No Child Hungry can feed a child for an entire year. And $25 to Feeding America provides an incredible 200 meals for hungry families.

Tomorrow, when you have your breakfast – whether it’s a bagel on the run, or a French toast feast – think about the kids who have nothing, and make a decision to help. Forfeit just one meal at a restaurant in favor of a meal at home, and donate the difference—you’ll help a lot of hungry kids. Just imagine their smiles, and how grateful they’ll be to have food to eat.

Donate Now
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Talk early, talk often: Teach your children to avoid sexual assault

Talk Early, Talk Often: How to teach kids to avoid sexual assault
image source: flickr

As a woman, it’s hard to grow up without exposure to sexual violence of some kind. While I was lucky to get out of my early childhood unscathed, I experienced sexual harassment from several peers beginning in middle school, and was involved in a verbally abusive relationship in high school, which led to choosing a verbally abusive marriage.

Even as I was making poor decisions in partners, my inner voice wondered, “Why am I doing this?” Pushing aside our inner voice is, I believe, one of the key reasons why I and so many other women find ourselves in the less-than-ideal situations that lead to sexual assault.

Sexual Assault is an umbrella term, which includes child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact (touching or grabbing), unwelcome exposure of another’s body (exhibitionism), domestic violence, and rape. This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The ultimate goal: raise our children with the core values that help them avoid sexual assault.

Encourage healthy sexuality at a young age

An awareness of what is wrong starts with an understanding about what’s right. And this, parents, is up to you. Sexuality needs to be discussed many, many times: think of it more as a series of moments where you can educate your kids, not one Big Talk. If you’re wondering how to educate your kids about sexuality, check out this great healthy sexuality PDF from National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).

It’s important to keep these conversations age appropriate, addressing different topics at each age. NSVRC offers another helpful PDF with an excellent chart to help parents understand what’s “normal” for sexual development at various ages, and which conversations to have.

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

A few months ago, we talked about how to protect our children from sexual abuse. You may want to revisit that post for tips about prevention.

Talking to your kids about sexuality is only part of the issue, though. My father was an OB/GYN and my mother a nurse, so I grew up knowing “the birds and the bees.” Yet, I still didn’t make good decisions.

Teach your children that they own their own bodies

At my daughter’s second birthday party, a friend tried to force her daughter to hug mine. My little girl is very shy, didn’t know this girl very well, and didn’t want to. My response? “You don’t have to hug anyone you don’t want to.” It is very important to me that my daughter knows that she owns her body and makes all decisions concerning it. This means she doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone she doesn’t want to, even if I’m worried the other person might be offended.

While well-intentioned parents have a tendency to force their kids to hug or kiss their friends or grandparents, this practice can send an unintended, detrimental message to kids: Push aside your own feelings to make someone else happy. This leads to children getting sexually abused, teen girls submitting to sexual behavior so ‘he’ll like me’ and kids enduring bullying because everyone is ‘having fun.’

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

If your children are huggers, teach them to ask others for permission to hug (“May I hug you?”). If you would like for them to hug Grandma, you can say: “I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it.” Teach them to respond with a hug, or a “no, thank you.” And mean what you say—don’t let any child feel disappointment or resentment from you. Explain your reasoning to family members, and remind them it’s not personal. Every child goes through stages where they don’t want to offer affection.

This is hardest for me as a parent, actually—I constantly want to kiss my daughter’s adorable little face, and at two, she often responds with a firm, “NO MOMMY!” Not wanting to squelch her currently strong inner voice, I usually respond with, “that’s okay, honey, it’s your body.”

Read more on this topic at CNN: I Don’t Own My Child’s Body

Understand and talk to your kids about teen relationship violence

After years of bullying during middle school, I was desperate for acceptance. When my family and I moved to another state during my junior year in high school, I became involved with a verbally abusive boyfriend. Though the relationship lasted only four months, the damage lasted much longer—and led me to a verbally abusive marriage. While it is embarrassing for me to admit I didn’t value myself, I know that I’m not alone. By talking about it, I hope to help more young girls understand the long-term repercussions of their choices.

Talking with your children about healthy relationships is extremely important—second only to modeling good relationships. If you are not in a healthy relationship, your children are more likely to choose unhealthy relationships for themselves.

So how do you teach your kids about healthy relationships? Point out loving interactions, examples of good communication, and healthy boundaries when you see them, both in the media and in life. And point out examples of unhealthy interactions when you see them, as well.

Sit down and talk to your kids, long before they start dating. Not sure what to say? Love is Respect’s guide to Healthy Relationships is a good place to start the conversation.

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

If you suspect that your child is already in an unhealthy relationship, check out Love is Respect’s “Help Your Child.” This can be a very tricky situation to navigate, so if you need help, definitely get it — from a hotline, a counselor, or a domestic violence counselor.

Domestic violence and teen relationship violence can be difficult to understand if you haven’t been through it yourself. I encourage you to look at the warning signs of abuse, and the Power and Control Wheel.

Donate Now

Concerned and involved parents are key: what we teach our children truly can prevent sexual assaults. In addition, the wonderful charities mentioned in this post provide a wealth of information. Please donate now to help spread the word, fund research, and provide resources to parents, kids, and affected adults.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center is the voice behind Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and offers a wealth of information for preventing sexual violence. Brought to you by Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR).
Donate Now

 

KidPower teaches positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities from bullying, molestation, abduction, and other violence.
Donate Now

 

Love is Respect is a great resource to for engaging, educating and empowering young adults about how to prevent and end abusive relationships. Brought to you by Break the Cycle.
Donate Now

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager