Two CSR Conferences, One Common Challenge

We are feeling very invigorated after attending two great conferences in March. We love taking a step back from our daily operations and connecting with the people and organizations that we aim to serve with our online drive system. Tapping into the needs, frustrations and new opportunities of corporate social responsibility and giving professionals has been the impetus for us to change, expand and improve YouGiveGoods year after year.

Corporate social responsibility

Interestingly, one common challenge resonated throughout both conferences: how to create programs that are mutually beneficial for the nonprofit and the corporation and that truly meet both of their needs. Corporations ultimately want to offer creative, rewarding engagement opportunities for their employees that are accessible to all, regardless of their location. Nonprofits aim to provide the maximum amount and highest quality of services to their populations. These two goals don’t always make for a seamless relationship.

Nonprofits welcome the support of corporations but not if they feel the relationship is one-sided. YouGiveGoods is uniquely positioned to understand both sides and be able to offer solutions to all members of any giving event – the employee participants and donors, the nonprofit and the corporation. YouGiveGoods works with corporations and nonprofits every day and are well versed in the disparate needs of each group. We work as a conduit between these worlds and offer a platform that is measurable, simple and inclusive of all employees and a service that caters to the tangible needs of the nonprofit. And, we keep expanding our technology to meet the changing needs of this growing field. For example, our latest offering is a new, free mobile checkout app that makes purchasing on YGG drives faster than ever. Our corporate partners can’t get enough of this easy-to-use, hassle-free system for supporting their favorite charity.

So, how did these insights come to light? Let’s give credit where credit is due and talk about our first conference, the ACCP (Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals) in sunny San Diego, CA. Attendees here were enthusiastic, knowledgeable Corporate Social Responsibility executives looking to share common stumbling blocks, solutions, successes and innovations. Topics of discussion included increasing employee engagement, utilizing technology, and methods for measurement and reporting of the positive social impact businesses are making in communities everywhere. We met some amazing people that we look forward to working with in the future. We’ll definitely be signing up for next year’s ACCP conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Next we were off to Charities@Work in the heart of New York City. Here we mingled with more movers and shakers of the CSR and nonprofit world. We are always inspired by the good that gets done daily by this group and this conference reminds us that all that good takes a lot of elbow grease. These professionals were on the lookout for innovations that could help them expand their employee engagement opportunities and function as efficiently as possible while still meeting the needs of their nonprofit partners, and not “painting the same wall seven times.” They were in search of keys to creating lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with nonprofit partners all over the world.

The lively exchange of ideas at these conferences was energizing. YouGiveGoods drive system continues to be well received by both groups. We are listening closely and adding new features and improvements to meet your evolving needs. We were reminded again of how much we love what we do. Thanks ACCP and Charities@Work – see you next year!

Bottled Water Drives for Flint Michigan

Click Here To Start A Bottled Water Drive For Flint Residents Today

Today residents of Flint remain in daily crisis-mode while they await a long-term solution to the problem as well as the long-term health consequences the lead exposure may have caused, especially in young children.

It’s hard to watch this tragedy unfold. Many people across the country are left asking, “What we can we do to help?” A great place to start is the website helpforflint.com. This website will help you direct your efforts.

There are a number of organizations that are collecting funds to help residents of Flint by purchasing water, filters and test kits and supplying emergency support services. Organizations that are collecting funds to directly benefit Flint include The Salvation Army of Genesee County and the United Way of Genesee County.

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has set up a fund to help with the long-term health needs of the children of Flint and the American Red Cross of East Central Bay-Michigan is accepting volunteers for distribution of water and supplies to the residents.

Guidelines for the donation of water bottles can be find here. Donations of cases of water bottles are being received by Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties and donations of more than 100 crates of bottles water is being accepted by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

YouGiveGoods makes it easy to start a drive for the residents of Flint. You can simply pick a charity in Michigan from our database, like Catholic Charities or Salvation Army locations near Flint. After picking your charity, you can populate your storefront with bottled water packages. Then all you have to do is finish up and share your drive with friends, family and co-workers! All bottled water purchased in your drive will be shipped directly to the Michigan charity you chose, and they will distribute the bottles to the residents in Flint for free!

Please consider starting your own drive today. We hope that YouGiveGoods makes supporting our neighbors in Flint, Michigan so simple that even more people are able to help.

YouGiveGoods adds children's books!

start a book drive

Happy Read Across America Day! Every year on March 2, the birthday of the beloved Dr. Seuss, schools, libraries, book stores, and more across the country commemorate Read Across America Day with festivities of all kinds celebrating the unique rhymes and general wackiness of Dr. Seuss. As a kick-off to Reading Awareness Month, the day reminds us of the importance of introducing children early and often to the joys of reading.

YouGiveGoods is celebrating Reading Awareness Month in a very special way this year – we have added children’s books to our site! Now anyone, anywhere can hold an online book drive and get brand-new books into the hands of children who may have none. The gift of a book can help build a reader which in turn develops language, communication and thinking skills.

book collections

YouGiveGoods offers books by age group, from pre-k through 5th grade. Titles include bestselling favorites like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Where the Wild Things Are, Green Eggs and Ham, and Stuart Little. Book sets may include both hardcover and paperback books.

Let's show the children in our lives that reading is fun and important by reading to them every chance we get. In the words of Dr. Seuss, "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child."

YouGiveGoods' community starts 2016 strong

YouGiveGoods' community starts 2016 strong
A letter from our President, Lisa Tomasi
Giving really is contagious!

We continue to be amazed by the generosity and enthusiasm of our YGG community.

The 2015 holiday giving season saw food, toy and cold weather gear drives raise a record number of much-needed goods for nonprofits across the country. We were thrilled to receive some thank you photos full of beaming kids with their new toys!
But 2016 ushered in on a disturbing note with the unfolding of the dire situation in Flint, Michigan. Individuals and corporations wanted to help and YGG was there.

Most notably, the employees of Meritain Health, an Aetna Company, wanted to support their fellow Michiganders and start a water drive ASAP. They quickly raised almost 80,000 bottles of water (that's two semi-trailers full!) for residents of Flint.

Feeling inspired? You can start a drive for the residents of Flint or for any charity close to your heart. Our hope is that the simplicity and transparency of YouGiveGoods helps get more tangible support to those in need.

Thank you for being a continuous source of inspiration for us. We can't wait to see what great things spring has in store.

Happy Giving!

Lisa Tomasi
What's New

Residents of Flint Need Your Support
Looking for a way to help the people of Flint? Get information on ways to help at helpforflint.com.


Visit the site
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YGG Flint Water Drives
YouGiveGoods is working with Catholic Charities on water bottle donations. Start your own Flint water drive or donate to one today.


Purchase water now
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February is National Canned Food Month
We bet you didn't even know we are in the midst of National Canned Food Month! Food banks and pantries need your help to stock their shelves. It's quick and easy to run a YouGiveGoods drive and your efforts make a tangible difference in your community.


Start a drive
Image credit to helpforflint.com.

Help Flint now and for the long haul

It is with shock and dismay that we all became aware in early 2016 of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Water dangerously tainted with lead had been flowing to residents of Flint since April 2014. Only in January 2016 did the Govenor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, in his State of the State address, admit officially and publically to the residents of Flint that, “Government failed you at the federal, state and local level.”

Today residents of Flint remain in daily crisis-mode while they await a long-term solution to the problem as well as the long-term health consequences the lead exposure may have caused, especially in young children.

It’s hard to watch this tragegy unfold. Many people across the country are left asking, “What we can we do to help?” A great place to start is the website helpforflint.com. This website will help you direct your efforts.

There are a number of organizations that are collecting funds to help residents of Flint by purchasing water, filters and test kits and supplying emergency support services. Organizations that are collecting funds to directly benefit Flint include The Salvation Army of Genesee County and the United Way of Genesee County.

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has set up a fund to help with the long-term health needs of the children of Flint and the American Red Cross of East Central Bay-Michigan is accepting volunteers for distribution of water and supplies to the residents.

Guidelines for the donation of water bottles can be find here. Donations of cases of water bottles are being received by Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties and donations of more than 100 crates of bottles water is being accepted by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

YouGiveGoods is working with Catholic Charities on multiple water drives for Flint and we hope drives will continue to start as the need is overwhelming and on-going. Anyone, anywhere in the country can easily start a water for Flint drive on yougivegoods.com. Our largest water drive was started by the Michigan employees of Meritain Health, an Aetna company. Their companywide drive has raised over 69,000 bottles of water to date! What an oustanding effort from a company that cares.

Please consider donating to a Flint water drive or starting your own today. We hope that YouGiveGoods makes supporting our neighbors in Flint, Michigan so simple that even more people are able to help.

Toys, coats, food, pet supplies: #GT 2015 was a great success

#GT 2015 Thanks

Thanks to all who participated in #GivingTuesday 2015. GivingTuesday.org estimates that $116.7 million was raised this year supporting over 700,000 nonprofit organizations – that’s up from $46 million in 2014!

Our YouGiveGoods community was active and generous on #GivingTuesday this year as well. Together we raised an estimated 11,000 items for people in need across the U.S. during our #GivingTuesday event (Dec. 1 – 2). In additional to much-needed items, our drives' nonprofits have been issued checks from YouGiveGoods for our GIVE10 event.

Looks like our furry friends fared very well on #GT. Our top two most raised items were for the kitties: Purina Cat Chow and Friskies Cat Food. YGG’s animal shelter drives were very busy during our #GT event. Our pet lovers have commented that they are so pleased to have the opportunity to take part in #GivingTuesday by giving goods to their favorite animal shelters.

Our $50 boxes are perennial favorites, and #GivingTuesday was no exception. Our third most popular item was the $50 Supplies Box for Two Children. The $50 Food Basics box and the $100 Food Kids Love box were other favorites. Food in general was a top seller which is good news for food pantries looking to stock their shelves for a long winter.

Another very popular segment was our cold weather gear. Four of our top ten most purchased items were in this segment: the girl coat, the boy coat, the toddler coat and blanket. These four items alone totaled 99 items. We are touched that 99+ children will be warm thanks to the generosity of our YouGiveGoods community on #GT!

Finally, we can’t talk YouGiveGoods #GivingTuesday and not discuss our most popular toys. Both the classics and new toys are well-represented in our top ten #GT toys:

  1. Matchbox car
  2. Playground ball
  3. $50 toy box
  4. Hi Ho Cheerio
  5. Alex Bracelets™ Kit
  6. Basketball
  7. Disney Frozen Anna or Elsa doll
  8. Barbie Glitz doll
  9. Chutes & Ladders
  10. Disney Sparkling Princess doll

Thanks to you, so many children will have a happier holiday this year!

We are delighted with our #GT 2015 results. Let’s keep the giving going throughout the holiday season. It is estimated that 30% of total U.S. charitable giving happens in December and that a full 10% happens between December 29 – 31st.* So, let’s spread the word: giving feels especially good this time of year!

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to our YGG community. We couldn’t be more grateful for our dedicated team captains, our tireless nonprofits, and our generous donors. Together we are doing great things.

*Source: https://www.mobilecause.com/year-end-fundraising/

January 18, 2016: What are you doing for others?

MLK Day image

Each year on the 3rd Monday in January, we celebrate the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Day, when Americans across the country join together to serve and give back to the community. The date was selected to commemorate his birthday, January 15, and to celebrate his life of service. After more than 15 years of campaigning for a national holiday in his honor, Martin Luther King Day was first officially observed in 1986. And, in 1994 the holiday was further designated as a national day of service.

The Martin Luther King Day of Service belongs to United We Serve, the President's call to service initiative. This day continues a national legacy of service, in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who conveyed the powerful significance of community through word, action, and heart.

We are all called to serve, but where do we start? In addition to United We Serve, a great place for MLK Day information is the National Service website, http://www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday, which includes a tool to search out volunteer opportunities by zip code using the website http://www.allforgood.org.

But not all of us can commit to a physical act of service. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to serve the community and even seemingly insignificant acts can build a more powerful movement. Below are some ways you can celebrate this day's message of civic duty and compassion.

1) If you're running a YouGiveGoods drive, mobilize your friends and family to support your cause. Use social media, email, and conversation to invite them to supply tangible aid to those in need by supporting your drive. Participating in a drive benefits the charity and provides a chance for your close ones to be part of this year's MLK Day.

2) Inspire your workplace by giving to a cause. Demonstrate social responsibility and commitment in honor of Martin Luther King Day. Team up with coworkers or your department to give back. Choose to support a local charity.

3) Unable to volunteer on January 18? Good news! Charities need help all year through. On MLK Day spend some time researching, choose your charity, make that phone call and find out how you can best serve them in the future.

4) Simply spread the word. Tell a friend or family member about MLK Day and its purpose. Forward this page, and encourage them to find a charity and cause close to their heart to support.

Finally, in recognition of the holiday's national volunteer work, YouGiveGoods is providing a 5% cash gift to the charity on any goods donation of $50 or more to any YGG drive. Simply use code MLKDAY at checkout. Make a donation to one of our current drives and help a stranger in honor of MLK Day.

Let’s all take Dr. King’s lead and do something to help someone in need and strengthen our communities. You’ll feel great and together we’ll be a powerful force for change.

Happy Thanksgiving

We here at YouGiveGoods are thankful for many things this Thanksgiving. We are thankful for friends, family and good health. We are thankful for a year that brought many laughs and milestones. We are also thankful to be a part of YouGiveGoods. Not only are our colleagues wonderful, but pretty much every person we come into contact with is actively working to help others. Especially in a time when the headlines are so disturbing, we are grateful that when we come to work everyday we are reminded of the inherent goodness of people. Every person who starts or donates to a drive and every nonprofit volunteer and administrator offers a helping hand to someone who needs it most. The goods they supply bring tangible aid and their desire to help lifts up those feeling low and alone just by extending the notion that someone out there cares. So, we are very grateful for you, our YouGiveGoods community, for all that you do and for including us in your service. Happy Thanksgiving!

#GivingTuesday Countdown

As the holiday season arrives, it often brings with it mixed emotions. We love the anticipation of those delicious holiday meals and the opportunity to make a special someone smile with a thoughtful gift, but there is another, more cynical side to the holidays; the over-commercialized, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, "spend, spend, spend" side. It's an unavoidable part of the season, but every year it seems to be more intrusive.

According to one survey, up to 40% of shoppers purchase for themselves on Black Friday and Cyber Monday isn’t much better. Self-gifting as it has been coined is a practice on the rise and an understandable one. And men, you’re guilty of it even more than women! (Women tend to purchase gifts for others more often than men.) Not only do we all work very hard for our wages which have been close to stagnant for the past decade, but we also have access to so many unique things right at our fingertips on sites like Amazon.com, Pinterest, TouchofModern, Etsy and countless more ways to spend that hard earned dough. Not to mention going out to eat & travel expenses. You can see, it is easy to talk ourselves into indulging a bit during the holidays.

Chris O'Meara/AP Photo/File from CSMonitor.com
Photo credit: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo/File

It was only less than four years ago that some very creative thinkers at the 92nd Street Y in New York City hoped that they could harness the excitement of the opening of the holiday season for good, by creating a new movement, one that celebrated service and giving back. Hence #GivingTuesday was born. It is observed the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and kicks off the charitable giving season. Of course, they couldn't be sure how their idea would be received. #GivingTuesday encourages you to resist the urge for self-gifting and instead give to a charity or organization that supports those in need all year long. Would it catch on?

The answer has been a resounding, "Yes!" According to #GivingTuesday.org, approximately $13.5 million was raised for nonprofits in #GivingTuesday's inaugural year (2012), $28 million in 2013, and a whopping $45.7 million supporting over 15,000 nonprofit organizations last year. That's a 240% increase from its inception. It seems that even in the face of the media and cultural push for consumerism, as expected, people have it in their hearts to help others. A movement like #GivingTuesday gave many the means to contribute to the comfort and care of the needy during the holiday season.

In addition to donations, #GivingTuesday also encourages volunteerism. Community clean-up projects, tutoring sessions, and plain-old small acts of kindness all have a place in #GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a viral sensation. A hashtag is in its official name, so you know social media plays a key role. #GivingTuesday.org urges supporters to post "UNselfies" to grow the movement. Simply hand-write a sign about your reason for giving and your cause, and post to social media using the hashtags #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday. What an incredible idea: to turn the inherent self-centeredness of a "selfie" completely upside down with the selfless UNselfie! An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that recapped the 2014 #GivingTuesday campaign, noted that there were 698,000 #GivingTuesday tweets on the day in 2014, up from 269,000 tweets in 2013! And, from Usher to President Obama, celebrities and public figures have gotten involved and tweeted their UNselfies and #GivingTuesday endorsements.

We here at YouGiveGoods celebrate the spirit of generosity every day of the year. But during the holiday season, we are even more excited as giving itself becomes a national topic of conversation. We were built on our belief that when giving is made easy and accessible, then more people will give.

#GivingTuesday fall on December 1 this year and we are counting down the days! And since #GivingTuesday is like our Superbowl, it is also our biggest Giving Day; we will donate an additional 10% cash to the chosen charity on purchases over $50 to any YouGiveGoods drive on December 1. It's our way of giving back on this day that kicks off end-of-year philanthropy.

YouGiveGoods makes it simple to give a gift of much-needed goods to a charity on #GivingTuesday and beyond. Just like your online shopping spree of Cyber Monday, simply shop online at YouGiveGoods on #GivingTuesday to be a part of the movement. You can purchase goods for donation to an existing YouGiveGoods drive or start a drive of your own for your favorite charity. Learn more about how you can use YouGiveGoods to support your favorite cause on #GivingTuesday.

This year, we've made it easier than ever to quickly give tangible goods to charities all over the country with our #GiveNow option. All you have to do is click the #GiveNow button and your shopping cart will be populated with an item for donation to one of the hundreds of active drives on YouGiveGoods. So, we dare you to close that "Big Box Store" shopping cart and instead fill a food bank, animal shelter or charity's shelves with much needed food, clothing, toys or supplies. Share your experience with your friends and family to help move the #GivingTuesday momentum forward and feel good about giving back this season. Try out our #GiveNow option below!

YGG in the News

YGG is in the News!

YouGiveGoods has had a very busy couple of weeks in the media. We couldn't be more excited! In the course of two weeks in October, YouGiveGoods has appeared in three great publications.

We were featured in an article on Bisnow on October 20 entitled, "The Web is Still a Great Place to Raise $$, If You Can Keep Up." The premise of the article is that nonprofits need to employ new and creative methods to engage donors online. The article explains YouGiveGoods' concept, highlighting it as an innovative online marketplace where people can purchase supplies for their favorite causes. In terms of benefits, the story notes that YouGiveGoods, "has been successful because it speaks to the convenience and love for online shopping. And donors get the transparency they want when donating to a charity." Well said, Bisnow!

Our next media mention came in none other than USA Today. The article is titled, "New Charitable Zeal Grips Tech Billionaires" and it was included in both the online and print editions (10/23/15 and 10/26/15). This was rather overwhelming for a couple of reasons. First, the shear number of people who USA Today introduced to YouGiveGoods -- we're talking a daily print circulation of 2.5 million people and almost 30 million unique online visitors per month. Second, we were mentioned alongside Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Bill Gates. Gulp! Gasp! What the?? It looks like we are taking this to the next level!

The article notes that YouGiveGoods epitomizes the intersection of tech and philanthropy. We are thrilled at this designation and hope that the ease, simplicity, and convenience of our technology will indeed encourage more people to give goods to charity. But, sadly, while we would love to rub elbows with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, we have to admit, there is not one billionaire among us.

The final part of our October trifecta of media coverage came on 10/26/15 in the Daily Record (print and online) with its article, "Mendham Woman Helps Givers Give," featuring an interview with YouGiveGoods' CEO and Founder, Lisa Tomasi. The article reveals that the impetus to create YouGiveGoods came from her frustration over trying to get much-needed supplies to Haiti following the massive and tragic earthquake of 2010. Lisa comments, "We do everything online, why couldn't I do that (purchase and donate goods online)? I felt this was something we should be able to do. So we've been moving forward ever since."

The piece goes on to discuss how YouGiveGoods first started by providing fresh produce for food pantries and food banks, and then quickly expanded to offer personal care products, animal shelter items, clothing, toys and more. The article states, "YouGiveGoods gives anyone the tools to create, customize, promote and manage their own charitable drive."

Looks like YouGiveGoods is really starting the catch the eye of reporters across the country. We hope as more and more people discover the benefits of YouGiveGoods, more goods will get into the hands of those who need them.

As we head into the busy holiday season we anticipate even more media coverage. Stay tuned!