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!

Make A Difference Day Is Around The Corner!

Make A Difference Day Is Coming!

If you haven’t yet, now is the time to think about what you can do on Make A Difference Day, Saturday, October 24th, 2015. #MDDAY is the largest volunteer day in the US and it grows larger every year. We challenge you to be a part of the solution.

A positively remarkable annual event is about to take place and it is coming up quickly. Doesn't it seem surprising when the weeks go by so fast? Nevertheless, we are in the grips of autumn and can enjoy embracing the season of giving. #MDDAY or Make a Difference Day, now in its 24th year, has become a staple in many communities around the country. It follows the growing trend of volunteerism, which is an integral thread in the fabric of this great country. USA Today, Gannett, Points of Light and Newman's Own Foundation have teamed up to encourage folks from all walks of life to give back!

Unfortunately, as much as we would like to, not all of us are able to get out and perform an act of community service on October 24. We live busy lives. You can still be a part of this important national movement by starting an online drive to support your favorite local charity.

We here at YouGiveGoods give back whenever possible, and Make A Difference Day is one of our favorite Giving Days of the year. In an effort to support the volunteer and service activities of the day, YouGiveGoods has marked Make A Difference Day as a Giving Day. On October 24th, YouGiveGoods will gift an additional 5% cash to charity on donations of $50+.

The coupon code to activate our Giving Days donation on this day is "IWill" and it will work on any order totaling $50.00 or more!

We encourage you to start a drive through YouGiveGoods and take advantage of our Giving Days Program. Be a part of the solution! It's easy to start a drive. Our support team is always here to help if you have any questions. It can be a great way to encourage giving or service within your group of friends, your family or your workplace. Simply start a drive for your favorite non-profit, church or charity, populate the online storefront with the goods that are requested by that charity (think Thanksgiving meals or winter coats), then share it on social media and watch the donations pour in! Real Goods, Delivered Directly to the Charity for FREE.

If starting a drive isn't an option for you at the moment, you can easily give to any drive that is currently active on YouGiveGoods.com/explore and feel good about being a part of this national initiative.

Thanksgiving Food Drives & YouGiveGoods

Thanksgiving, in its very nature, is a time for giving.

Sharing a meal with family, friends and neighbors is a wonderful thing, but this holiday represents compassion between people of all types. Giving to those less fortunate, caring for the elderly and sharing resources are attributes of the message of Thanksgiving.

Now is the time to create a buzz for your favorite food pantry, soup kitchen, food bank, church or homeless shelter by starting a Thanksgiving food & supply drive on YouGiveGoods.com. We exist to make giving easier! Create a drive online, populate the YGG web store with the products of your choice, then share the drive with your supporters, volunteers, family and friends! When your drive ends, YouGiveGoods will deliver, free of cost, all of the goods purchased directly to your nonprofit recipient. Learn more here and #HAPPYGIVING!

Fall Is The Season of GIVING

The summer transition into fall is often bittersweet. We say goodbye to beach days and camping trips and welcome comfy sweaters, hearty meals and the holidays. For families that are struggling, those simple pleasures that help make life worthwhile can become lost in the their consistent financial and emotional stress. For those of us fortunate enough to have stability in our lives, it’s important to think about what we can do to improve the lives of those in our community and across the country who are not as fortunate.

We’ve all been doing a better job at helping to increase the quality of life for those that are needy, with 2014 being the largest year for charitable donations to date! Communities, corporations, organizations and individual volunteers all over this country have consistently contributed more time and resources to philanthropy every autumn in particular. This year, we’re looking to break more records.

To quote Winston Churchill;

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

This sense of compassion is contagious and only beneficial for us all. We’ve taken a little time to list some prominent days for giving and service as well as some ideas to spark a charitable light within you this fall. Check it out below!

Make A Difference Day, October 24th, is the largest single-day of volunteering of the year. With the goal of having everyone do a charitable deed on this day, the sponsors USA Today, GANNETT, Points of Light, Newman’s Own Foundation and NBC News do a great job of spreading the word and getting large portions of the community involved. This will be it’s 24th year! A testament to the ongoing and growing charitable spirit in this country. For more info, click here. YouGiveGoods participates in this day by pledging 5% cash donations on all purchases of $50 or more made on 10/24. It pays to use YouGiveGoods on giving days!

Also, don’t forget that the 9/11 Day movement does not stop after 9/11, however it is meant to be a platform for volunteering, donating and creative philanthropic ideas year round! Their website can match you with a cause in your area so you can help make a difference at any moment!

Of course, Thanksgiving is approaching, and with that comes a great need from many local food pantries to be able to provide the best possible holiday meal to those less fortunate. It is as easy as typing “Thanksgiving 2015 food drives” into a Google search to realize that there are a lot of folks out there preparing for this important holiday meal rush. If you would like to start your own food drive for Thanksgiving supplies, we can help. Whether it is for a national nonprofit, a local church, food pantry or shelter, you have the power to help by setting up an online food drive for them through YouGiveGoods. All items purchased during the drive are shipped for free to the receiving charity. Real goods, delivered.

Then there is #GivingTuesday, December 1st, 2015. This is arguably the most social media intensive of the fall giving days. What a wonderful trend to spread via social media! Like Cyber Monday and Black Friday, the goal of #GivingTuesday is to have it be a staple of the holiday season, but instead of it being a shopping day, it is a giving day. Every year, YouGiveGoods participates in #GivingTuesday more and more. Being a web based platform for giving, our goals line up nicely with the #GivingTuesday movement. Use YouGiveGoods to easily contribute to this charitable day and YouGiveGoods will donate an additional 10% cash on purchases of $50+ made on December 1st to the charity your are supporting.

We are looking forward to a great fall season of giving. It is our busiest time of the year, and that is thanks to the generosity of people like you, willing to take a moment to make a difference in the life of a person in need of a helping hand. It can be a simple act, but out of small acts of kindness can come great things.