How You Can Support and Donate to an Animal Shelter

May is National Pet Month! There is no denying that we Americans love our pets. In fact, an astounding $62.75 billion dollars is forecasted to be spent in 2016 in the U.S. pet industry.1 Most pets are considered treasured family members and enjoy lots of love and affection. In stark contrast to the lives of our pampered pets is the plight of the tens of millions of strays that roam across the U.S. Many animal lovers are left wondering what they can do to help.

We rely on animal shelters to do the hard work associated with caring for strays. There are approximately 13,600 independent community animal shelters in the U.S. that exist to rescue, nurture, protect and ultimately find homes for as many animals as possible. Their job is an exhausting one with about 7.6 million companion animals entering shelters nationwide every year.2

Aid to animals also comes in the form of pet pantries. More and more pet pantries are popping up across the country to help families who struggle to afford food and supplies for their pets. Without these pantries, many of these beloved family pets would end up in animal shelters.

Pet pantries and animal shelters operate largely on donations from the community. So just how can you show your support? There are four main ways you can help your local animal shelter:

  1. Cash donations. Without cash donations most shelters and pantries would be unable to run their operations. Any amount large or small can make the difference in the life of an animal.
  2. Volunteering. Contact your local animal shelter and schedule time to help out at the shelter.
  3. Donating items. Every item donated frees up cash for other areas of the shelter’s operation. While individual animal shelters have specific needs, the following are top items that are generally in high demand at all animal shelters: cleaning supplies (bleach, laundry detergent, soap, garbage bags), treats, toys, and pet beds and linens.
  4. Virtual volunteering. This simply means using the internet to support a charity. Perhaps you can do some bookkeeping from your home computer or help with their website or run an online drive.

A YouGiveGoods drive is a great option for you to support an animal shelter. It is a form of virtual volunteering since you don't ever have to leave your house! And, it is the most efficient, engaging way to get most-needed items delivered to the charity. Start a drive today in honor of National Pet Month and be a source of aid and comfort to countless animals.

1 APPA (American Pet Products Association)

2 ASPCA

How to Incorporate Charitable Giving into Your Business

There is much written about the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Reasons that companies benefit from CSR include attracting and keeping the best talent and instilling positive public opinion. But, the idea of creating and executing these programs can be overwhelming, especially when staffing at many companies is already stretched.

Our president, Lisa Tomasi, offered up some simple, concrete suggestions for companies looking to start a CSR program in an article written for CBS Small Business Pulse in February 2016. Below are her four top suggestions from the article:

Keep it Local

Look within your community and you might be surprised to discover many wonderful charitable organizations right in your own backyard. Ask for employee feedback about what causes and local charities are close to their hearts. Consider food pantries, boys and girls clubs, battered women's shelters, homeless shelters, diaper banks and animal shelters.

Use Technology

Emerging technologies are available that enable you to engage busy employees at a time and place most convenient to them. You can do an entire giving event online or incorporate it into a physical event for maximum participation. Using an online component allows you to engage all your employees at multiple locations, including contractors, off-site and part-time employees.

Make it Fun

Use social media to create excitement and encourage employees to do the same. Gamify your program by creating a friendly contest and measure results in real time. Get top management involved in the fun to show that the giving program is an important part of the corporate culture at all levels.

Celebrate Your Success

Have a goal and make it measurable. When your initiative is complete, share the results with employees and convey the impact the company has collectively made on the community. Recognize individual employees who showed extra effort, leadership, creativity and just plain enthusiasm. Finally, celebrate a job well done with a volunteer event at the charity or a simple party at the office.

We're going to add one final suggestion, and we can't stress this one enough: just go for it. Some of our best drives were built around the idea and enthusiasm of one employee. A comprehensive plan is ideal, but the fact is that from one person and one event a really wonderful program can eventually evolve.

Check out the full article on CBS Small Business Pulse.

Spring Food Drives Aim to Stock the Shelves

Spring has (finally) sprung! For some, spring means budding trees and flowers. For others, spring means baseball and barbecues or spring cleaning. But, for food banks and pantries across the country, spring means Spring Food Drives.

To food banks, spring means that just around the bend children will be home from school for the summer and will no longer have access to the free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch that many families rely upon. Also, the large holiday food donations that helped feed clients all winter long are typically running low in spring and food banks are looking for renewed sources of support.

food drive

How big of a problem is hunger in the United States? Unfortunately, the facts and figures of hunger in America are startling:

  • 1 in 7 Americans have sought food assistance1
  • 46.5 million Americans, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors, utilize a food bank1
  • 69% of Feeding America client households have had to choose between food and utilities1
  • More than 20% - 1 in 5 – children live at risk of hunger2
  • 1 in 8 American households receives benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps)3

Acts of generosity and the kindness of strangers helps feed those struggling to put food on the table every day. You can make a difference in the lives of the hidden hungry in your community. Monetary donations, food drives and volunteering are the best ways to support food banks and pantries. Corporations, individuals, groups and schools can make an impact by running a spring food drive using YouGiveGoods. YouGiveGoods online drives break the geographic barriers of a traditional collection box drive – now employees, friends and family all over the country can donate food to support your drive.

A simple way to lend your support is to donate to an existing YouGiveGoods spring food drive. With the click of a button you can donate needed food to the St. Patrick’s Spring Food Drive, Food for Freedom Food Drive, St. Peter’s Prep Replenish the Pantry Shelves (Jersey City, NJ), and Food Drive by Koshish to name a few.

As you enjoy the beauty and renewal that spring brings, remember that with a simple act you can be part of the renewal of a struggling family by offering your support to a food bank today.

1FeedingAmerica.org, Hunger in America 2014

2USDA.gov, Household Food Security in the Unites States in 2014

3Bread.org, Facts on Hunger and Poverty in the United States

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.