Beyond Holiday Giving

Countless people are looking for ideas on how to give back this holiday season. We want to help those in need and make sure that they have the same opportunities that we do. Thankfully, there are many different ways to get involved with your community this holiday season. Here are four strategies for giving back this holiday.

Donate to your Local Food Bank

Hunger can affect anyone at any time. In the United States, one in eight people struggles with hunger, about as many as those in California and Texas combined! During the holidays, food banks are bustling because more people need them to provide for unexpected guests or extra meals.

In addition to donations of non-perishable items from your home, consider donating time to a local food pantry this year. Alternatively, consider volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen.

Adopt a Family in Need

In addition to hunger, poverty can affect families and individuals of all different backgrounds. Many people struggle with poverty year-round, but the holidays are a callous time for those coping with financial stress.

By adopting a family in need this holiday season, you can ensure that they have everything they need while also showing them that they have not been forgotten. Adopting a family can be as simple as providing them with presents or hosting a meal, but the potential ways to help are limitless.

Host an Event at Your Local Homeless Shelter

Although homelessness affects millions of people each year, we must remember that the homeless population is not just made up of adults. Roughly thirty-five% of homeless people in the United States are under the age of eighteen.

By hosting an event at your local homeless shelter, you can help provide for these kids who often go without food or gifts during the holidays.

Send a Letter to Troops

During the holiday season, many of us go home to be with our families. For those who are serving overseas, family is just a letter away.

By sending letters to troops during the holidays, you can help make their Christmas brighter! You can write about anything you want, but it’s especially nice to hear about why they are so special to you.

Conclusion

Giving back at any time of year can leave the world a little bit bright. So get involved today!

Ways to Fundraise for your Charitable Organization

A charity needs money in order to run, and not all charities can rely on organic donations to keep going. There are times when those working at a charitable organization must figure out fundraising ideas to bring in money for that organization.

Yard Sales Help Organizations Raise Money

When a charitable organization is looking to raise a bit of money quickly, they can ask for donations and then put on a yard sale. Those setting up the sale might put prices on each item or they might ask customers to give a freewill donation. A yard sale helps people clear out their closets while helping out an organization.

Golfing Events Can Keep a Charity Going

Those who are able to plan a big event might put on some type of golfing competition. This can get golfers in the area excited, as it allows them to do something good while pursuing their hobby. Area businesses might donate prizes for the event.

Setting Up a Table with Information and Handouts Might Work

There are certain seasons when stores see a lot of customers, such as during the holiday season. Some organizations can benefit from working with a store to get a table set up somewhere near the entrance with information, handouts, and a donation box available.

Social Media Fundraisers Can Take Off

If a charitable organization has a large following on social media, they might be able to get a fundraiser started on their page and see that take off. The organization might encourage its followers to share the fundraiser and get their family and friends to join them in supporting the cause.

Putting on a Race Can be a Great Fundraising Option

Those who are looking to raise money for charity might get local businesses together to help them put on a 5K or another type of race. They can hype up the event and get the whole community excited to support their cause.

There are many ways for a charitable organization to go about earning money. Fundraising does not have to be boring work, and there are times when people will get excited to be part of a cause.

How to Start Your Own Nonprofit Organization

Many people desire to make the world a better place but lack the resources or skills needed. Starting your nonprofit organization is an excellent way to make a difference in your community and reach those who need help the most. This blog post will discuss four steps that you can take today towards starting your own nonprofit organization.

Do Your Research

You won’t be able to start your nonprofit organization without knowing what you want to do and how you’re going to go about doing it. Please research nonprofits similar to the one you hope to form and find out what they did while still starting. What challenges did they face? How does their mission statement compare to yours? If they have any advice for you, now is the time to find out. Next, figure out what your mission statement will be and how that will guide your organization. You can even write a complete business plan, which includes a detailed outline of what type of research you will need to conduct, what your goals are, what challenges you may face in the future, and how you’re going to overcome these obstacles.

Get Incorporation and State Forms

To start your nonprofit organization, you will need to file some official paperwork. A great place to look for legal advice is with a local attorney experienced in this field, who can provide a more detailed explanation of what forms and processes are needed. You may also wish to check out your state or county website, where you can find a list of all the requirements needed to incorporate a nonprofit organization.

File for Tax-Exempt Status

To accept donations and begin applying for grants, your organization will need to be recognized as tax-exempt by the IRS. In most cases, this is as simple as filling out a form requesting tax-exempt status from the IRS and waiting for your request to be approved.

Conclusion

Nonprofit organizations provide people with the opportunity to make a difference in their community. If you follow these four simple steps, you will be well on your way to starting your nonprofit organization!

How to Encourage Philanthropy in Your Family

Philanthropy is a powerful tool for social change and building communities. The need for philanthropy is increasing across the globe since many developed countries are experiencing massive economic growth with the rapid development of technology, 

Philanthropic activities create charities and organizations that help the world have played a significant role in developing civilizations. People create charities because humans are motivated to help those in need, which is an admirable goal. However, a generous, giving attitude is not something that arises spontaneously in people. Instead, it directly results from how children are raised. Teaching children values such as caring, compassion, and empathy makes philanthropic giving and charitable organizations possible in the first place. 

However, not all children in families are encouraged to support charitable works. In this article, we will share ideas from famous philanthropists about teaching children about kindness, from sharing toys on the playground to getting involved in volunteering for charitable efforts when they grow older. 

Charity Should Be Viewed as a Developmental Stage in Children 

Director of Development at Shriners for Children Medical Center Aaron Hanson believes that a charitable disposition is not genetic but a learned behavior. For this reason, it’s possible to view the idea of putting others first as a significant developmental milestone that leads to a happier life. 

A Giving Attitude Creates Happiness 

Hayley Cordaro from Boy Scouts of America points out that research shows that children who learn about the value of giving are more likely to have a happy and joyful disposition. 

Developing a Positive Attitude Toward Charity Is Like Developing a “Skill Set” 

Senior Manager of National Events & Brand Campaigns for Youth at Make-A-Wish® America Dana Gold suggests empathy is a learned skill. Children who develop it appreciate the value and benefits of charitable contributions. 

Conclusion  

The world would be a better place if parents raised children interested in improving the world. Families can contribute to a better society and environment by cultivating values like empathy in children. The world is currently in a state of apathy and turmoil. To change this, families need to appreciate the benefits of philanthropy and charity when raising children.

 

The Difference Between Charity and Philanthropy

When people think of making a difference in the world, they commonly picture either charity or philanthropy. Charity and philanthropy are about helping, but the two have differences, although people use them interchangeably. The explanation below sheds light on the difference between charity and philanthropy.

Charity

Charity usually is a short-term giving as a natural and emotional reaction to an abrupt situation. Charity can be in the form of volunteering or monetary donations. Charity correlates strongly with donations, charitable giving, and children. It also relates strongly with charity ratings and organizations.

Charity is defined as the act of giving – help, money, items, anything. It’s the humanitarian thought behind the action that earns it this classification, as the ultimate goal is to put some good back into the world.

Philanthropy

Philanthropy is about addressing the cause of social issues. It requires a long-term and more strategic approach. A significant number of philanthropists engage in advocacy in addition to volunteering and giving money. People searching for philanthropy relate it to creating, managing, research, knowledge, and organization.

Charity & Philanthropy

Sometimes charity and philanthropy congregate during particular situations like disaster relief. We all feel obliged to assist with the essential necessities when we learn about a tragedy on traditional or social media platforms.

An example is the reactions after tragedies like hurricanes and tsunamis. The number of Google searches for “charity” and correlated keywords were at an all-time high around 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Sri Lanka Tsunami in 2004 was second for charity searches. The number of searches for both cases increased approximately fivefold during peak times.

The approach to helping by one form of intervention shows the difference between charity and philanthropy. Philanthropy goes further than just helping by focusing on the entire disaster relief life cycle. It looks at prevention, preparedness, and recovery. Donors can decide to focus on specific populations like the poor, children, or elderly as a part of their strategy. Others choose to improve systems by working directly with the stakeholders.

There is a place to fit between charity and philanthropy when we get beyond definition to start giving. The charitable will always give even when they can only afford a little. They up their name when they have more and start connecting with philanthropy at this point. There is a place for both whether you think your assistance to be philanthropy or not. We can all choose the place that will help us make the most impact, including the ratio of charity and philanthropy that we plan to engage.

Tips For Volunteering Overseas

Volunteering is a beautiful way to make a difference while supporting the nonprofit organizations that you love. It makes you feel like you have a purpose in the world while making the lives of others better.

The idea of volunteering overseas can be both intimidating and appealing for many potential volunteers out there. Yet, there is specific advice that they should try to follow. This advice will help keep them from making mistakes and unintentionally causing more harm than good.

Know the Organization

Unfortunately, there are a few pitfalls volunteers need to be aware of when considering volunteering overseas. When looking for an organization, keep exploitation concerns in mind. Some less scrupulous organizations may be willing to overcharge volunteers for the opportunity to help others.

While other organizations out there care less about causing a lasting positive change and more about making a profit. These organizations are at high risk for causing more damage in the long run and should be avoided at all costs. 

When it comes to organizations hoping to connect volunteers with vulnerable children, it is imperative to look closely at what is happening. Look at child protection policies, and make sure they are in line with common sense and ethics.

Keep Reading

Once you’ve found an organization that meets your needs – and the standards mentioned above – it is time to look more closely at the project itself. Generally, when an organization sends out volunteers, they do so with a purpose.

There is a vast difference between heading overseas to help build houses versus providing additional aid and education. Now is an excellent time to read up on the program itself and better understand what skills will be needed.

Research

Now that the organization and location have been decided upon, it is time for the next round of research. It’s time to research the area itself! Look up essential tourist guides to start – safety, advice, language tips, etc. 

This is a good starting place. Also, look up where you’ll be staying, what the cultural norms are, and if possible – reach out to volunteers who have gone before you. This will help create a better understanding of the location and what will be asked of you.

Benefits of Service Dogs

Service dogs play a critical – yet oft-overlooked – role in the daily lives of many people. Service dogs can change the quality of life for many of those with disabilities and those with chronic conditions.

It’s essential to know how service dogs can help improve life, if for no other reason than to appreciate and respect these animals and their important work truly. Listed below are some of the benefits of service dogs – though it is by no means a complete list.

Aiding Mobility

Service dogs are trained to provide physical aid to their owners. For example, they can reach wheelchair users’ items and provide basic tasks for those that can’t, fetch objects, press buttons, etc. 

Medical Alerts

Some service dogs have been trained to be on alert for people experiencing a medical crisis. Specific episodes can be alerted in advance, allowing the person to either get to a safe place or request help. Otherwise, service dogs can provide a safe space, get help, or stand watch as needed.

Fall Prevention

Service dogs provide a critical service for those that deal with fatigue, physical challenges, pain conditions, or just have trouble walking. These dogs are specially trained to help a person who is struggling with their balance. They can brace a person about to fall or help soften their landings. Furthermore, they can provide help by fetching items (reducing the risk of getting up needlessly). 

Independence

Thanks to service dogs, many people have gained a level of independence that they would otherwise not have been able to reach. They no longer have to rely on those around them and can always trust their service animal to provide whatever aid is needed.

Companionship

Having a service dog comes with the added benefit of always having a companion around. Yes, that companion is working, but they are incredibly loyal and willing to help out however possible.

As such, service dogs can help reduce certain adverse emotional states, such as anxiety, depression, and loneliness. All while boosting positive ones, including self-confidence and happiness.

It’s important here to note the significant differences between a service dog and a therapy animal. While both have their benefits, ultimately, they do provide vastly different tasks. Be sure to properly research both before deciding which one is right for you.

Ways to Support Breast Cancer Awareness in October

Alan Rasof Breast Cancer AwarenessWays to Support Breast Cancer Awareness in October

Every year, the US and other nations commemorate those suffering from, recovering from, and living cured of breast cancer throughout the month of October. Individual people and companies will wear pink to show their support for those with the disease and to raise money for research and treatments for patients. From Yoplait to the National Football League, products and people sport pink for breast cancer awareness and fundraising. If you want to personally support the people suffering from the disease or the families of the patients, here are some ways you can get involved.

Donate directly to a local hospital: A number of exposes have criticized such organizations as Susan G. Komen for spending less than 10% of the money they raise on the patients, victims, and their families. The rest of the money gets tied up in overhead, pink products, and ad campaigns. If you want to ensure that your money goes directly to the people in need, their medications, and their families, talk with your local hospital or oncological clinic and send money to them rather than to a third-party fundraising organization. You can also browse sites like GoFundMe and donate to individuals who are raising money for treatments, travel, and reconstructive surgery.

Talk about detection: Where it’s appropriate and where you’re among trusted friends, have a conversation about self-checks and proper preventative maintenance. In the vast majority of cases, breast cancer is highly treatable when it’s caught early, but catching it early is the trick. People with breasts should be on the lookout the twelve signs of breast cancer, as outlined in this handy infographic from Know Your Lemons.12+signs+of+breast+cancer+using+lemons

Help your family live healthfully: For breast tissue in particular, there are some common practices and behaviors of Americans that directly cause breast cells to function improperly and wreak havoc on the human breast. For example, certain soaps and shampoos that include parabens, which are known to disrupt breast cell reproduction. Similarly, evolutionarily, humans didn’t produce their own hormones for a long time, so breasts are to this day very receptive to any chemical that even mimics estrogen. Unluckily for us, though, plastic is similar enough that breasts absorb plastic molecules, which are well known to cause cancer once allowed into the body. Avoid microwaving in plastic or interacting with much heated plastic, including Keurig cups.

Sports Illustrated Honors Teen Who Led Cerebral Palsy Walks

In my last blog post, I wrote about the inspiring and heart-warming story of Hunter Gandee, a teen hero who has brought tons of attention and awareness to Cerebral Palsy, a disease that affects his younger brother, Braden Grandee.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated announced its annual list of accolades. Earning the first High School Athlete of the Year award was the 15-year-old high school sophomore, Hunter Gandee.

“What an honor! I’m truly blessed!” Hunter tweeted Monday afternoon.

Hunter was 14 and Braden was 7 when the brothers first walked 40 miles together to raise money for a handicap-accessible playground at Braden’s elementary school, as well as increased understanding of cerebral palsy — a brain injury that affects movement, posture and muscle coordination.

Throughout the entire June 2014 walk, Hunter carried his brother on his back. One year later, the duo was back at it — this time walking 57 miles. The second “Cerebral Palsy Swagger” event was a step up challenge-wise, but the goal was the same.

“One thing I wanted to show through this walk is the power of the youth in our society,” Hunter says. “We saw a problem, we had an idea to create a solution, and the only difference from us and a lot of other kids is that we went out and tried it.”

Since completing the walks, the brothers have received attention from national media organizations, hoping to share their story. Hunter has received countless awards for his strength and determination, including most recently the Sports Illustrated accolade.

Hunter’s story will be featured in the Sports Illustrated magazine issue that hits the stands Dec. 21. He has also been invited to an awards dinner in New York to honor the athletes featured in the magazine, including cover athlete and tennis legend Serena Williams.

Here is a 10 minute video I found that shows the beautiful relationship between these two brothers. Enjoy:

 

High School Students Use Their Engineering Club To Help A Fellow Classmate With Cerebral Palsy

A group of high school students in Green Township, Ohio, created a project for themselves that would help a fellow classmate, Jerry Potavin. Jerry is a student living with cerebral palsy.

Alan Rasof

Members of the Oak Hills engineering club designed and built a table to help classmate Jerry Potavin.

What started out as just another project for the engineering team at Oak Hills High School turned out to be much more then that for classmate, Jerry Potavin. Jerry is sitting easier now thanks to the selflessness of his peers at Oak Hills.

“I have always loved helping people, it’s just what I like to do,” says Oak Hills, senior, Dylan Noble. Dylan along with 5 other engineering students were contacted by their high schools engineering teacher to build something that would make Jerry a little more comfortable. “Once we finally delivered it to him, it was exactly what they wanted” says Dylan.

Alan RasofJerry has to spend a lot of time in his wheelchair every day and because of this he needs to spend a certain amount of time a day stretched out on a flat mat. Dylan and the engineering club built a table that would make it easier for Jerry to move around.

Laura Velasquez, one of Jerry’s teachers at Oak Hills said that when they brought the table down to show Jerry, their faces were lit up with joy and excitement. Their faces were just glowing, you could feel the overwhelming positive energy that they had, said Velasquez.

Velasquez said that the table has already made a difference for Jerry. “It makes him feel a lot more included, so that’s really wonderful,” she said.

Dylan Noble, along with the rest of his engineering team, have set such a great example for their peers. They have found a way to combine the skill sets that they have learned in engineering class with giving back to their community to most importantly, help a friend.

To read more about Jerry and his classmates, or to watch a video on this story, click here.