Random Acts of Kindness Week 2018

This week we take a moment to celebrate the little things that make life better. Random Acts of Kindness Week 2018 is February 11-17 and there's no reason every one of us shouldn't take part. A quick search of #RAKWeek2018 or a visit to RandomActsOfKindness.org is sure to inspire you with ideas you can start acting on right away.

The Random Acts of Kindness movement aims to make the world a better place by encouraging people young and old to carry out small acts of kindness. The beauty of this movement is in its simplicity. Most take no planning, cost nothing and take just a moment of your time. And, not only does your act brighten someone’s day, knowing you have done a good deed will most definitely brighten your own.

So, what Random Act of Kindness will you work into your day? Check out the list below for help getting started.

RAKWeek 2018 is ending soon, but we challenge you to keep your random acts of kindness going all year long. Being kind is contagious so be the one to spread kindness in your community. Happy RAK Week!

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2018 CSR Month by Month

In 2018 a CSR program is no longer viewed as “nice to have” but as an integral part of a successful business strategy for companies of all sizes. But, just running one annual event is not going to cut it. In order to attract and retain the best talent, throughout the year employers need to offer comprehensive programs that create measurable social impact, speak to their corporate mission, and appeal to a diverse employee population.

Remember two important tips as you build your program. First, building a relationship with the charitable organizations is key as their needs are ever-changing. Becoming a real partner with a local charity(s) helps to build up neighborhoods which invigorates employees and boosts visibility and respect within the community and beyond. And second, getting C-Suite executives to buy in not only in principle but in action goes a long way to show that serving the community is indeed a priority for your organization.

It is important that your CSR program offers multiple opportunities and pathways for employees at all levels of the organization to get involved. Thoughtfully planning and organizing events all year long is no simple task. Thankfully, evolving technologies and services are available to assist you in your efforts. YouGiveGoods, for example, enables you to run online drive events for any charity(s) any time. An online drive to raise new goods to support ongoing charity programs and post disaster relief is an ideal way to diversify your program and can be worked into your schedule anytime of the year.

Opportunities to tie into bigger events and causes exist all year long. Below is a handy calendar of monthly observances around which you can host a corporate giving event:

It's not too late to build a calendar full of wonderful opportunities for your employees in 2018. Your company, your employees and the community will all reap the benefits.

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MLK Day Brings People Together

On January 15, 2018, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day of Service. On this annual federal holiday, celebrated on the third Monday in January, we honor the great Civil Rights leader who worked tirelessly to bring the values of equality, peace, community and love to reality. But this holiday is not just one of remembrance, it is an official day of service where all Americans are called to serve their communities.

So, you want to take part in MLK Day in a meaningful way but is it too late to get involved? The answer is absolutely not! A great place to start is the Corporation for National and Community Service’s MLK Day of Service website at nationalservice.gov/mlkday. The website is a great resource for information and educational materials and it contains a link to a searchable database of volunteer opportunities.

If you are unable to join a volunteer project on the holiday, there are still many ways to get involved. Below are some creative ideas of how you can celebrate this day's message of civic duty and compassion.

1) Educate and lead the way. The kids are home from school. Take time to sit them down and talk about the history and legacy of Martin Luther King. Then plan a service activity. Some ideas include writing letters to our military abroad, packing snack bags for homeless shelters, collecting outgrown or extra sports equipment from around the house to donate to a local kids’ charity, or making homemade gifts for a senior center. Show that volunteerism is important to your family and feels great too!

2) Raise goods for charity. You can make a big difference in your community when you supply a local charity with items they need to support their clients. New technology has made raising goods simple. YouGiveGoods is free and easy-to-use online drive event system that enables you to raise food and supplies for any charity. Invite your online community to take part in MLK Day by purchasing items for donation to your selected charity. All brand-new items ship directly to the charity at no additional charge at the end of the drive. Click here to start your drive.

3) Spread the word. Social media has made it easy to use your voice to support a cause. Use hashtag #MLKDAY to share Dr. King's inspiring ideals and famous words in honor of the holiday. You’ll find his words to be stunningly timely and relevant in today's world. Forward this page, talk about what you will do in honor of MLK Day, and encourage your circle of friends to take action to support the community.

4) Commit to service. Make this the year that you commit to getting involved in building up your community and use Martin Luther King Day as the starting point. Take time during the day to think about MLK’s words, determine which cause moves you, and consider various ways you can help. Charities will welcome your support all year long. Contact them with own ideas or simply ask how they could best utilize your help.

Martin Luther King’s vision of a “Beloved Community” built on justice, equality and compassion is one we are still trying to realize today. This Martin Luther King Day take action to do your part to better your local community. Each of our seemingly small actions together can create great change.

December is the most important month for nonprofits

Another successful #GivingTuesday is in the books and early estimates say approximately $180+ million was raised. While the results are reason to celebrate, #GivingTuesday is more than a singular day of giving, it is an important kick-off to the biggest month of the year for nonprofits: December.

In fact, an astounding 30% of total annual philanthropic giving is done in December and a full 12% of nonprofit donations are made on the final three days of the year. If donations fall short in December, nonprofits have reason to be concerned about their operations for the entire following year.

Gratefully, every year Americans seem up for the task and generously donate to the nonprofits close to their hearts. And while finances may change the fact that giving actually feels good stays constant. Studies have shown that people who help others and feel they have greater purpose sleep better at night, have improved mental and physical health and even see an increase in longevity.

This December why not make a decision to include supporting your favorite nonprofit in your holiday plans? Here are some ideas to get you going:

1) Determine your cause. Donating money to any nonprofit is always a good idea but if you take the time to consider what cause really touches your heart you’ll help foster that feeling of contributing to greater purpose. Once you discover your cause search for a worthy organization to support and utilize a service such as Charity Navigator to be sure your selected charity is legitimate. Many people prefer to support organizations right in their own communities which makes it easier to volunteer and become involved.

2) Support in multiple channels. Nonprofits need our support however we are able to give it. Consider all the avenues that you can help in addition to writing a check like donating needed supplies or volunteer services. If you are donating goods be sure these are items that are of use to the nonprofit and are in good condition. And, take advantage of new technology that has simplified donating goods. For example, using YouGiveGoods you can run your own drive or make a donation of brand-new, most-needed food and supplies to any nonprofit. Donations using YouGiveGoods are tax-deductible and purchases made by 12/31 receive a receipt for a donation made in 2017.

2) Get your company involved Businesses large and small are incorporating social responsibility into their business plan. Consider making a case for your favorite nonprofit. If you show passion and initiative and get your company onboard you could make a real difference for your cause.

4) Lend your voice. Social media has made bringing awareness to a cause much easier. We suggest posting with some frequency and including interesting facts and personal stories about your cause. In addition to raising awareness you can increase your impact exponentially when you ask friends and family to support your cause with their own donations of money, goods or time.

Enjoy the holiday season even more this year when you support a nonprofit. You may discover a passion you never even knew you had while improving your own life and the life of a stranger in need.

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#GivingTuesday 2017 poised to be biggest yet!

#GivingTuesday falls on November 28 this year, and boy are we excited! As an organization dedicated to giving, this may be our single favorite day of the year. It's hard to believe this huge global giving movement is only in its 6th year. The first #GivingTuesday started modestly in 2012 raising $12 million for nonprofits and was considered a success. The founders could not have imagined the way the concept would catch on with people especially as a social media movement. In just 5 short years the event grew exponentially, raising an astounding $168 million in 2016.

While dollars raised is a great benchmark for the event, it is not just dollars or goods that define #GivingTuesday. GivingTuesday.org asks that people do what they can on that day to “help others through the gift of your time, donations, goods or your voice.” When it's put this way you can see there is an opportunity for everyone, young and old, to take part. Consider the ideas below and decide how you will take part this year:

1) Volunteer. A nonprofit simply cannot run without volunteers. If you've never volunteered before why not make this the year and use #GivingTuesday as a starting point. Utilize GivingTuesday.org’s searchable database of What's Happening Near Me to find a volunteer project nearby that works for you. If the logistics of volunteering on-site are just too overwhelming, consider virtual volunteer opportunities. Working from your home computer you can volunteer valuable skills to your favorite nonprofit like accounting, marketing, website design and data entry.

2) Donate goods/Run a drive. People love the transparency of donating goods because you know exactly how your donation will help. And, immediately following the holiday shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shopping for a cause on #GivingTuesday is especially appealing. Many individuals, businesses, schools and organizations are choosing to simplify the process using YouGiveGoods.com, a free drive event service. Simpy invite family and friends via email and social media to shop for a cause on your personalized online drive event page. Your supporters shop online and all items are delivered to your chosen charity at the close of the drive. And, just on #GivingTuesday, YouGiveGoods will gift 10% cash on purchases to your charity!

3) Donate funds. Charities rely on cash donations to run their organizations. If you are unsure about where to start, we suggest you focus on a cause close to your heart. Then use a service such as Charity Navigator to research reputable charitable organizations in your area.

4) Advocate. Many of us want to help but our situation just may not allow for the donation of time, money or goods. You can still help by building momentum for #GivingTuesday. Simply share interesting stats and info about the event with your social media community. Or use social media to give your voice to a charity close to your heart. It is helpful to remind people that problems like hunger, domestic violence, and homelessness exist right in their own communities. Building awareness will help to increase compassion and hopefully your information will call others into action.

This year when it comes to giving, let's also remember victims of recent devastating disasters in Texas, Florida, California, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Victims especially in Puerto Rico and the USVI will need our help for the long haul. An online drive event raising goods for people trying to rebuild their lives would be a great way to give back this holiday season. Check out current drives benefiting Puerto Rico and USVI.

Kick the holiday season off right when you join in on the wonderful event that is #GivingTuesday. If YouGiveGoods can help in your efforts click below. However you choose to participate you'll be a part of something truly great.

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YouGiveGoods delivers supplies and hope to Puerto Rico

The devastation in Puerto Rico from hurricanes Irma and Maria is unfathomable. The island’s entire power system has been wiped out leaving 3.5 million residents without electricity and no end is in sight. It seems the entire island is in survival mode and will be for the foreseeable future.

The people of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands simply can’t survive without outside help. There are many wonderful organizations accepting cash donations but since Puerto Rico is not mainland USA, donating goods to the cause is challenging. YouGiveGoods, a free, online service which specializes in raising and delivering goods to nonprofits, has been working feverishly to get systems set up to get most-needed items delivered to organizations on the ground in Puerto Rico. Learn more about online disaster relief drives for Puerto Rico and USVI.

YouGiveGoods’ team members are in direct contact with the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) in order to offer only most-needed goods for purchase online. Per the Salvation Army, items most needed right now include:

  • food & water
  • personal care items (soap, toothpaste, etc.)
  • personal clothing (socks, underwear)
  • diapers & wipes
  • sleeping bags, sleeping mats, mosquito nets

And, the conversation between YouGiveGoods and EDS is open and ongoing. In fact, just a few days ago the EDS alerted the YouGiveGoods team that toilet tissue was a greatly needed item and that same day, toilet tissue was added to all Puerto Rico drive events. As items are purchased and consolidated, YouGiveGoods will be shipping directly to the Salvation Army in San Juan and in the US Virgin Islands who will handle distribution to communities in greatest need.

YouGiveGoods has also partnered with Long Island Cares in the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico. Per NY.gov, “The effort brings together a wide range of civic, business and industry partners to provide needed services, goods and funds to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild, and provides opportunities for New Yorkers to contribute to the relief efforts.” Many NY government leaders and businesses are utilizing YouGiveGoods to raise goods for the effort. All goods ordered online will be shipped directly to Long Island Cares to be consolidated with donations from across the state and delivered to Puerto Rico.

Another nonprofit partner working with YouGiveGoods in the Puerto Rico relief effort is MAP International. MAP International provides medicine and health supplies to people in need around the globe. They are raising products for personal Disaster Health Kits which includes a wash cloth, soap, body wipes, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste and bandages. MAP International Disaster Health Kits represent the most immediate need to prevent the spread of sickness following disasters. All donated items will ship to MAP International headquarters in Georgia who will then handle distribution to areas in greatest need in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

YouGiveGoods is also working with Iniciativa Comunitaria, a local Puerto Rican nonprofit which is providing disaster relief services to the community. Items purchased for donation will be shipped to Iniciativa Comunitaria in San Juan.

Businesses are offering their help to areas hit by recent natural disasters but their employees want to help too. Businesses like Aetna, CDW and Diageo have found that YouGiveGoods offers a simple, efficient way for their employees to band together to make an impact in Puerto Rico. The simplicity of online shopping plus the ability to track real-time results help to make it an ideal solution for corporations and their employees looking to help. YouGiveGoods team members are on hand to help businesses large and small set up their own disaster relief drives.

Schools and universities are also utilizing YouGiveGoods to give their communities an opportunity to help Puerto Rico. The Brookstone School in Georgia alone raised over 3,400 items for MAP International disaster health kits!

Drive sponsors and donors alike can feel 100% confident working with YouGiveGoods which has been in business since 2011, is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise. All nonprofit recipients are fully vetted by YouGiveGoods team members. All items purchased online are brand-new and ship in bulk directly to the nonprofit organization. The non-profit knows exactly what is being received in the shipment and since items are bulk packed, there is no sorting necessary at the disaster site.

The people of Puerto Rico will need our help for many months to come. You can make a difference by starting or donating to a drive now or later as part of a holiday giving effort. Look for more updates from YouGiveGoods in the coming weeks.

View Puerto Rico Relief Drives

The right way to donate goods to disaster relief efforts

It’s been a dizzying and shocking series of events in the past few weeks. From raging wildfires to monstrous hurricanes, the entire nation has been rocked by unforeseen, natural disasters. The need for aid in the affected areas is overwhelming and many Americans want to help.

We’ve all heard the call for cash but there is also a need for food, water and certain supplies. Some people prefer donating goods because they feel secure knowing exactly how their donation will be employed. Charities during times of disaster as well as throughout the year incorporate donated items into their relief efforts. And, every donated item frees up cash to be utilized elsewhere through the organization. But, although every donation is made with the best intentions, not every donation actually helps the cause.

Consider the following before donating goods or running a disaster relief drive:

Donate only needed items. Be mindful of what is actually needed in each unique situation. For example, victims in Florida don’t need coats. And, there will be multiple stages during the relief effort that will require different items. The immediate need at a disaster relief site may be water, diapers, food and socks but later during the rebuilding phase items needed may be completely different like bleach, gloves, and paper towels.

Donate usable items. Opened, expired or otherwise unusable items cause an already stressed system even more trouble. Not only do volunteers spend countless hours sorting through donations, they also must find a way to dispose of unusable items. This use of limited volunteer hours and resources is terribly wasteful.

Determine a reputable charity and establish a contact. All donations should go to a vetted charity. Search potential partner organizations using sites like charitynavigator.com or guidestar.com. Contact the charity to be sure you are collecting or donating the proper item and discuss delivery options. Disaster sites are chaotic for many reasons and the unexpected arrival of deliveries and volunteers can cause a significant disruption in the relief effort.

You can make an even greater impact when you run your own disaster relief drive. Consider getting your company, school or organization on board as a sponsor. Be specific about items you are collecting and the charity recipient so supporters know all the details. Most importantly, spread the word! Social media and email has made this pretty simple. Share your drive multiple times as people typically want to help but need to be reminded a few times before they actually make a purchase. And, set a goal that you work towards meeting.

Disaster relief drives have been simplified with our free, online drive event service, YouGiveGoods , a Better Business Bureau accredited, certified Women’s Business Enterprise which handles all the logistics so you can spend your time spreading the word and getting more donations. Each charity partner is vetted by a YouGiveGoods team member and their wish-list confirmed. All items are new, presorted and shipped in bulk in shipments that are coordinated by YouGiveGoods and the charity recipient. There is no sorting once the items get to the charity so donations can get into the hands of victims as soon as possible. Learn more about online disaster relief drive events.

It's a wonderful instinct we have to step up and help those in need. Whether you donate cash, goods or volunteer hours, you help to bring relief and hope to people in their darkest hours. So however you choose to help, feel proud and be sure to talk about it. Your work of generosity may inspire others around you to do the same!

View current disaster relief drives

Simple Ways to Help Kids in Need this Summer

Summer 2017 is here and with it comes barbecues, beaches, camps, and NO SCHOOL! While being out for the summer makes a whole lot of kids very happy, for the 22 million kids who receive free or reduced price meals during the school year, summer poses a serious problem. How do struggling families fill this gap to keep their kids happy and healthy all summer long?

Local food pantries provide many low-income families with the support they need to survive, especially when the kids are home from school. But keeping a steady stream of food and supplies coming into food pantries during the summer months is especially hard. Organizations, schools and businesses that run food drives are typically quiet during the summer and individual supporters are hard-pressed to remember the needs of their local food pantry while in “summer mode”.

Perhaps you have stopped short of helping in the past because you are already juggling too much. But, times have changed and you can help your local nonprofit right from your own home and with minimal time investment. Check out these tips for caring for your community and helping your needy neighbors this summer.

1) Party with purpose. Are you planning a summer get together? Stress values of kindness and generosity by enlisting your whole family to help collect food donations at your event. Simply ask your guests to bring a canned good(s). Your kids will love setting up and decorating your donation table and your guests will love the opportunity to contribute with this simple act of giving.

2) Cook a meal for a cause. Often organizations have programs to provide meals for seniors, the ill and others in need. Include the whole family in the planning, shopping and especially the cooking. Teaching your children how to prepare a healthy meal AND show compassion for others is a great way to spend your time this summer!

3) Run an online drive. You can raise food and supplies your local pantry needs all from the comfort of your home or business. It’s easy to support any local charity using YouGiveGoods' free, online drive service. Customize your drive event page and share with friends, family, and colleagues via email and shortly media. And take advantage of your kids’ tech savvy when designing and promoting your online drive. Give them a project for good that involves social media? We say that’s the definition of a win-win-win situation! Learn more about online drives.

4) Use your connections. Dropping your kids at camp or swim practice? Why not combine forces and ask if the organization would sponsor a food drive. Again, if you are not up for managing the logistics of a collection box drive, you can run a YouGiveGoods drive together with the sponsoring organization. By expanding your reach you increase your potential impact exponentially.

5) Virtual volunteering is a thing. We know your intentions are good but your time is limited. Now you can share your talents and skills with a cause you care about without leaving your home. Simply contact the organization and let them know you are interested in virtual volunteering opportunities. Your expertise in accounting, marketing, technology, graphic design and more can provide a needed service that frees up valuable resources for other areas of operation.

Let Summer 2017 be a season of action and compassion. Take the first step and carve out just a little bit of time to help fight hunger in your own community. Not only will you likely continue with future charitable acts, the lesson you teach by example to your children and the action you may inspire in others grows your little effort into something quite grand!

Learn more about online drives

Commemorate and Show Support on Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2017 is here and with it we mark the unofficial start of summer. There are great sales, parties, and a day off from work and school. In all the excitement it is very easy to lose site of the solemn reason for this national holiday.

On Memorial Day we honor the 1+ million U.S. soldiers who have lost their lives in service. One way to honor the fallen is by visiting graves of soldiers and placing a flag or flower at each one. Another observance is flying the U.S. flag at half-staff. The official ceremony has the flag raised quickly to the top of the staff and then slowly lowered to half-staff. Then at noon it is returned to full-staff. While raised at half-staff we are called to remember all those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. When it is returned to full staff we are called to honor their sacrifice by acting to protect our freedom at all costs. Learn more about Memorial Day and its obrservances at USMemorialDay.org.

In addition to the traditional observances, we can also commemorate the holiday by showing our support to our current active military, their families, and our veterans. May is, in fact, National Military Appreciation Month. How would you like to show your support? A great reference is the article, Ways to Show Support to Military Families and Veterans.

One tangible way to support our troops is to start or donate to a drive collecting goods to benefit military members. You can support military far from home by purchasing goods that will be placed in comfort packages and mailed to our active duty troops overseas by Operation Support Our Troops – America via their We Support While You Serve online drive.

Or, choose to support military families here at home. You can purchase most-needed goods to help military families in need this summer served by Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst via their Summer Support for Military Families online drive.

So, amidst the fun and excitement of the weekend, let's all remember to take a moment to remember those brave soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our freedom and to support those today who have committed their lives to protecting our great nation and all its citizens.

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New products bring aid to worthy causes

Since 2012, YouGiveGoods has been helping people and organizations serve their communities by running online drives to raise needed products for nonprofits across the country. We’ve been so pleased to add new products each and every year to our service. Only four months into 2017 and we already have some exciting additions to announce.

One of our favorite new partners, TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization, approached us in February about holding a drive to support one of their causes, Dress for Success. Of course, we were very open to finding a way to bring aid to this cause which empowers women to break the cycle of poverty by providing professional attire and guidance in attaining a quality job.

Working with the passionate professionals in their Advance ERG (employee resource group) in collaboration with “TIAA Serves” corporate responsibility program we sourced great items for their Dress for Success drive: colorful chiffon tops, sturdy professional portfolios, and memory sticks.

TIAA employees loved the selection and exceeded the drive’s goal by purchasing 312 items for Dress for Success locations around the U.S!

Another one of our all-time favorite partners, St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, approached us in March about putting together a backpack of supplies for distribution to area homeless men. Specifically, they requested that we add an item that we did not carry but is in high demand at homeless shelters – underwear. We were able to source high-quality (Hanes brand) men’s boxers in time for the drive which offered a pre-packed box with a backpack, 2 sticks of deodorant, 3 bars of soap, a 3-pack of boxers and a 3-pack of t-shirts.

The drive, The Prep Serves the Homeless, raised 940 items for the Bethesda Project in Philadelphia to aid in their mission to “find and care for the abandoned poor”.

Based on continuing need, the packs of boxers have been added to our permanent list of available items. We know this fills a need and will be an in-demand item for homeless shelter drives. The tops, portfolios and memory sticks will remain as special order items available for possible inclusion in future drives. We hope you find our growth as exciting as we do! Every new product we add opens the door to supporting a new cause and supporting a person in need in a new and valuable way. A special thank you to TIAA and St. Joe’s Prep for including us in their inspiring service efforts. Look for more exciting happenings down the road from YGG!