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

Latest Trends in Workplace Giving

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America’s Charities recently released Snapshot 2015 – The New Corporate DNA: Where Employee Engagement and Social Impact Converge. The third in a series, this year’s report includes insights, trends and best practices for workplace philanthropy and employee engagement.

Findings were collected from an online survey of executives from 120 companies in the third quarter of 2015. Their responses represent more than 600,000 employees and 17 unique industry groups, geographically dispersed, and equally distributed between large companies (more than 5,000 employees) and small to midsize companies (5,000 and fewer employees).

Snapshot 2015 makes the case:  It’s not enough to say giving of time, money and skills is important. Leaders must be involved in employee engagement, authentically, and it must be embedded in a company’s DNA—part of its culture, values and actions.

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One of the most prominent trends, according to Steve Delfin, President and CEO of America’s Charities, is the changing expectations around social impact:

  • Companies want more evidence their charity resources help with strategic social responsibility goals.
  • Employees want more transparency, accountability and proof their donations are helping make a social impact.

Millennials care about social impact—and companies are expected to do more to engage their employees and support causes they care about. Their CSR efforts create a valuable competitive business edge for recruiting and retaining talent.  And 92% of Snapshot 2015 respondents (from small to large companies) believe customers expect them to be good corporate citizens too. So companies need to step up with more sophisticated and responsive engagement programs.

What a difference two years makes

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When it comes to workplace giving, for many years, a payroll deduction program was the most common way to engage employees. Those programs have grown steadily. But now they’re only part of the picture.

According to Snapshot 2015, giving programs have changed quite a bit in the past two years. Today, almost two thirds of small, medium and large companies offer employees year-round giving opportunities; this is becoming the standard. Compare that with 2013, when just over one third of companies were moving beyond fall campaigns to year-round giving. Differences by size of company:

  • 85% of large companies offer year-round giving, and 70% have matching campaigns.
  • 44% of small to midsize companies offer year-round giving, and 28% have matching campaigns.

Survey respondent and Director of Corporate Responsibility for PwC US, Heather Lofkin Wright commented, “Giving at the office is about the change we can affect when we work together. . . meaningful ways to be a part of that collective impact.”

platformsYear-round volunteering has emerged as a core part of employee engagement programs. Something that was just coming into the picture in Snapshot 2013, volunteer opportunities are now offered by 92% of large companies and 60% of small to midsize ones.

For all the best practices in workplace giving and to read the latest findings, download the complete Snapshot 2015. And take a look at other reports in the Snapshot series.

Contact us if you’re ready to improve your company giving program or looking for ways to better engage your employees.

– Andrea Lloyd
Director of Programs

P.S. To keep up on the latest philanthropy insights, subscribe to our Blog and follow JustGive on LinkedIn.

 

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

JustGive’s 15 Years of Philanthropy

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It’s JustGive’s 15-year anniversary! As the year of celebration starts, Founder Kendall Webb took time to talk about how JustGive got started, and reflect on accomplishments.

Q: You started JustGive as a nonprofit when others said it couldn’t be done.  Tell me about that.
Akendall: We started JustGive to create a single technology platform so all nonprofitssmall and large—could have equal access and outreach at a low cost. We thought it was important to operate as a nonprofit to maintain a single mission and build trust. But everyone in the Internet sector literally said we couldn’t do this because of the cost of technology. I didn’t want to “take the poor public” so I found a way. I got the community involved, asking for every kind of support. It was the early Internet days and we had a lot of companies who believed in us and helped by contributing their contacts, money and pro bono services. That made it less expensive for us to launch, and we got high quality services for free.

Q: How has JustGive kept going when it got tough and continued to make things happen?
A:
We’ve sustained ourselves during market crashes and are better suited to do this because we’re a nonprofit. We have more channels of support and capital that are not available to for-profit companies, and there’s no venture capital investment to overextend or distract us.

We’re not doing this for a quick expansion or to go public and make money. Our single goal and focus is to increase giving and we’re 100% guided by our mission.

Our founding team in 2000—Lynda Greenberg, Orla McKiernan, Claire Bowen, Kristin Kennedy, Kay Kirman, Doug Abrams, Kendall Webb, Kirsten Johnson, Jen Chapin
Our founding team in 2000—Lynda Greenberg, Orla McKiernan, Claire Bowen, Kristin Kennedy, Kay Kirman, Doug Abrams, Kendall Webb, Kirsten Johnson, Jen Chapin

Q: In the first five years, JustGive sent $37 million to charity. At 10 years, it was $130 million, and today, it’s more than $450 million. What are the driving forces behind growth?
A: Two key things. One: At first, individual donors were scared to give online. Over the years, they’ve become more comfortable with the Internet, know it’s safe and trust the process. It’s commonplace now and we’re a trusted brand in the sector.  Our products are not just a nice option for online giving—we make giving easier and provide something donors need.

Two: We’ve leveraged our growth through corporate partnerships that help us expand our products and connect with a much bigger audience. Companies are in a great position to offer charitable programs, extending our reach.

Q: Over the years, JustGive has launched a lot of new products, including charity fundraising registries, charity gift cards, rewards points for charity, and more. What new giving are you most proud of?
A: All new giving excites me, because it increases philanthropy.  But I’d have to say I’m most proud of charitable redemption points because it’s a big channel of fundraising that we identified, developed and operated before others did. Individuals and companies were accumulating huge volumes of rewards points, and CEOs felt torn about what to do with this build up of points. We gave them a solution. This got companies to think about their philanthropy more—outside of their foundations—and was a launching pad for corporate social responsibility. Redeeming rewards points for charity helped them connect philanthropy to their products and location, and give back in local communities. That kind of new giving shows JustGive’s uniqueness and creativity from start to finish—and our overall impact.

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JustGive’s 15 Year Timeline

Q: Did you envision JustGive would be what it is today?
A: We’re much bigger in scope than I thought we’d be. It’s been exciting to grow beyond direct, 1-person-to-1-charity donations (where we started) to fundraising, charity gifts, corporate giving and social responsibility programs. I’m thrilled to see how charity has penetrated into so many parts of life, and how multiple products are used in so many different ways!

Q: What other JustGive accomplishments are you proud of in the past 15 years?
A: I’m proud of all the unique channels of giving we’ve built. Like working with Monster.com to use $1 million of charity gift cards as a trade show giveaway. And expanding the definition of a benefit concert with The Dave Matthews Band by letting fans choose the charities to receive money.

2014 Year In Review
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I’m proud of the level of respect and integrity JustGive has built as a trusted leader for companies, nonprofits and donors. I know we’ve earned this through hard work and staying true to our mission.

And I’m incredibly proud of our longevity. Withstanding all the changes in the stock market (2 crashes and recession) and in the charitable market is amazing. It’s strengthened who we are.

I’m proud of our prominent national exposure—from TV mentions on PBS NewsHour and CBS News, to articles in the New York Times, USA Today, and Huffington Post.  Not to mention being recognized as one of the best of the web by Forbes.

I am most proud of our team. Their passion has fueled our growth, and the impact we’ve had on a limited budget is mind blowing. That’s because our team is creative and really believes in what we’re doing.

Q: What are the most important changes you’ve seen in philanthropy in the last 15 years?
A:

  1. The Internet has become a common channel for giving, and it’s given small organizations a louder voice.
  2. Young people are more involved in giving at a younger age. They consider philanthropy part of what they do, who they are, and what they expect from a company where they work.
  3. There’s been a huge increase in peer-to-peer giving, crowdfunding and the social side of giving.
  4. Corporate social responsibility has grown tremendously. Companies used to manage giving through their foundations, and philanthropy was about giving for branding reasons. Now it’s an important way to be good corporate citizens, and they’re becoming more proactive, with strong and directed giving.

Q: What would you like to see companies do to make more of a difference for philanthropy?
A:
I’d like to see more companies invest in the business value of charity – including it in their budget so it’s not funding they have to “find.” I’d also like to see them integrate charity into their large gift giving funds for holidays, incentives and loyalty rewards. And overall, to continue to be open minded and consider more creative ways to make charity an integral part of their business.

Q: Where are your personal hopes for JustGive in the years ahead?
A:
My hope is that JustGive continues to be a leading force for philanthropy, generating new pools of capital for the nonprofit sector.

Q: If there was one message you could get out in the world about charitable giving: What would that be?
philA:
Make giving a part of your everyday life. I’m not just talking about giving money, but about volunteering your time, and helping out in your community or doing something for someone in need. Giving isn’t isolated to a charity. It’s something we can all do every day with little moments of helping make things better for a person, a community, and ultimately the world. These small acts of kindness become contagious, spreading goodness that can make a difference.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

Disney’s Great CSR Example

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Despite your first thoughts: For The Walt Disney Company, it’s not all about having fun, and creating memories for families and kids. It’s also about acting responsibly, and corporate social responsibility is an integral part of their brand.

mickey“Our efforts to be a good corporate citizen have a direct impact on our financial strength, as well as our reputation as one of the most trusted and admired companies in the world,” commented Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo in the 2014 Disney Citizenship Performance Report.

To Disney, citizenship also means motivating others. The company believes that the example set by its more than 180,000 employees is nothing compared to the impact it can have when it inspires the millions of kids and families it reaches every day to take action and make a difference.

Three guiding CSR principles

Disney works to embed citizenship into all its daily decisions and actions, guided by three core principles:

1. Act and create in an ethical manner and consider the consequences of decisions on people and the planet. This includes not just ethical conduct, but also responsible content, environmental stewardship, respectful workplaces and a responsible supply chain.

  • disneyheroOne recent accomplishment: In 2012, Disney launched Heroes Work Here with an initial goal to hire more than 1,000 veterans by 2015, and then made a commitment to hire an additional 1,000 veterans. As of October 31, 2014, the company had hired more than 3,800 veterans in 31 months.

2. Champion the happiness and well-being of kids, parents and families – Help make healthier living fun and accessible, and strengthen communities around the world through strategic philanthropy.

  • In 2014, Disney gave nearly $87 million in cash donations to nonprofit organizations and schools. It continued its more than 50 years of support for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, adding a new sponsorship for the National Youth of the Year program, and investing in the club’s Great Futures campaign so it can serve more members, more often.
  • Donating 18 million books to organizations for children in need and encouraging story telling was their goal. By the end of 2014, Disney had donated more than 23 million books in two years.
  • mickey_check-iconMickey Check at all their table and quick serve restaurants in domestic parks and resorts, including Disney Cruise Lines, makes it easier to identify nutritious choices. (BTW, Disney was the first major media company to establish nutritional guidelines for its brand and characters in 2006.)

3. Inspire kids and families to make a lasting, positive change in the world. This involves nurturing creative thinking skills for kids as well as connecting them to nature to build lifelong conservation values.

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Click to view full size
  • In 2014, Disney inspired kids and families to take 3.7 million actions, ranging from pledging online to protect the planet and volunteer in local communities, to supporting programs raising thousands of dollars, to unlocking donations to deserving nonprofits around the globe.
  • Disney exceeded its goal to connect 35 million kids and families with nature experiences by 2015. About 26 million of these experiences were through its theme parks and resorts, and the other 12 million came from grants to organizations which get kids and families involved with nature. In two years, Disney connected more than 38 million kids and families with nature.

Setting and measuring results

In 2012, Disney published measurable targets to track its citizenship performance. The company offers detailed reporting on its progress regularly and in its annual Citizenship Performance Summary.

Consistently ranked near the top of the annual list of the World’s Most Reputable Companies, Disney earned the #1 spot last year (sharing top honors with Google). The 2014 list, published by Reputation Institute, a leading reputation management consulting firm, evaluated 130 companies through an online survey with more than 55,000 consumers across 15 markets around the globe.

The Walt Disney Company may be an international and large family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments (media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media), but their commitment and approach set a great example and give any company ideas it can use.

Disney clearly understands how to be a good citizen, and takes pride in doing it right! Read more details in their annual performance summaries, which are great resources for setting CSR goals.

Inspired to improve your citizenship efforts? We can help you include philanthropy that supports your goals—just contact us.

Don’t miss the latest CSR and philanthropy news and insights: Subscribe to our blog, and follow us on Linked In.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant