Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day

Our New Giving Days Program

Exciting happenings continue here at YouGiveGoods!

We had such a wonderful response to our #GivingTuesday matching gift initiative last year, we decided to do the same in honor of one of our favorite, and most inspirational holidays, Martin Luther King Day on January 19. On that day too, the work done was so tremendous, we were inspired to keep the momentum going and to keep doing our part throughout the year.

Thus we are pleased to announce our new Giving Days program. The mission for our Giving Days program is to promote community involvement and inspire social responsibility. The initiative covers 6 dates in 2015 when we will match individual donations of $50 or more with a 5% cash gift to charity (10% on #GivingTuesday!).

Through our Giving Days program, we aim to provide added support to our team captains and charity partners by adding value to donations made on these special days. As YouGiveGoods celebrates Giving Days, we hope to build excitement for all of our partner teams, drives and the causes they support.

This Saturday, we celebrate the culmination of International Random Acts of Kindness Week with our first all-weekend matching gift event on Valentine's Day Weekend, February 14 - 15. We have enjoyed the stories and ideas that were shared all throughout #RAKWeek2015. We'll keep the kindness going with our 5% matching cash gift to charity on donations of $50+ made on both days of February 14 and 15. Who doesn't love a good Valentine's Day gift?

We look forward to our future 2015 Giving Days:

4.22.15 - Earth Day

9.11.15 - 9/11 Day of Remembrance and Service

10.24.15 - Make a Difference Day

12.1.15 - GivingTuesday (10% matching gift!)

As we celebrate these special days of giving, we are also celebrating our wonderful YouGiveGoods community. We are inspired daily by the commitment of our team captains, courageousness of our nonprofit partners, and the endless generosity of our donors. We pledge to continue to grow, evolve and work earnestly to merit being your partner of choice in your community service. Together we are doing great things!

C-USA Student Athletes Make 53,000 Meals Possible for Local Food Banks

Student athletes bring a lot to every college community. Their enthusiasm, hard work and dedication to their sport is a source of pride for students, alumni and the local community.

This past fall of 2014, the Conference USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee took a stand to make an even more powerful philanthropic contribution by running its annual “Let’s SAAC Hunger” program. This conference-wide community service initiative challenged 14 participating C-USA schools in a competition to raise the most food for their local food banks.

YouGiveGoods is very proud to have partnered with C-USA in this program. Schools offered an online drive option through our platform to supplement in-person food collection boxes around the schools and at school events. North Texas won the “Let’s SAAC Hunger” title by collecting over 20,000 pounds of food for the Denton County Food Center.

In the end, this conference-wide program earned food donations (both online and on-site) totaling over 62,618.76 pounds! That comes out to approximately 53,000 meals for the served food banks. Now that’s community service at its best.

Congratulations to all who contributed to making the “Let’s SAAC Hunger” program such an amazing success. Check out their full press release for all the fun stats and details of this inspiring initiative.

Building a “Beloved Community”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. raised the conscience of an entire nation; encouraging people to embrace the differences of others, to live in peace, to serve each other and create a “Beloved Community”. His message resonates as strongly today as it did during his lifetime. In honor of his legacy, we celebrate Martin Luther Kind Day as not only a federal holiday but as a National Day of Service.

The federal holiday in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was legally established in 1983. In 1994, Congress further honored Dr. King by naming the King holiday as the first ever annual national Day of Service. The MLK Day of Service calls upon all Americans on this day to volunteer, to do work to give back to their communities and to band together in acts of service.

The Martin Luther King Day of Service has grown steadily since 1994. The nationwide acts of service on this day not only make a significant impact on needy communities but create solidarity in a movement of volunteerism across America.

The figures of the day are inspiring. The Corporation for National and Community Service quoted the following statistics as early results of the 2014 Day of Service:

• 15,000+ economically disadvantaged people received job placement, financial literacy, and job skill development training

• 38,000+ veterans, military families and active duty military service members received assistance

• 58,000+ children and teens tutored, mentored or otherwise educated

• 100,000+ people received training in disaster preparedness, response and recovery

• 360,000+ received emergency food

YouGiveGoods celebrates the efforts of all those who will take part in the 2015 Day of Service. We're excited and looking forward to all the good deeds, to be embarked on in the name of the great man we honor on January 19.

Five Years for Haiti and a Seed of Hope

On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, taking the lives of an estimated 300,000 people, leaving 1.5 million homeless, and destruction and debris in its wake. Five years later, we reflect on the unfathomable number of lives lost on this tragic day and on a country still working daily to rebound from this disaster.

The milestone of the Haitian earthquake means something a little different to us at YouGiveGoods. The impact of the event and the witnessing of difficulty on such a scale, laid the seeds for the idea that, a year later, would become a means to help charities and the wider community.

In 2010, seeing the devastation in Haiti and moved to help, our founder and president, Lisa Tomasi, like so many others, set out to deliver aid. Given the scope of the disaster and resources needed for recovery, there was an international push to donate funds to networks of agencies and charities.

However, in seeing the dizzying array of organizations involved in Haitian aid and the struggles of the Haitian government with coordination, Lisa questioned the effectiveness of a monetary donation. Instead, she turned her efforts to the donation of items, to put tangible, necessary goods in the hands of those who needed them most in Haiti.

But she found the donation of goods to Haiti to be an arduous task. Upon further research, she was surprised to discover that the donation of goods to the needy within the United States proved to be a difficult process as well. Lisa and her husband, Paul, put their heads together to solve this logistical problem.

A year later, YouGiveGoods.com was created: a platform for those to run drives and crowdfund food and supplies to benefit charities; a way for people to tangibly build up the very institutions that are so crucial to any community.

The Tomasis believe that while many people may hesitate with monetary donations, there is a comfort in knowing exactly what one’s giving. YouGiveGoods’ role is to help community members efficiently provide tangible assistance to charities; and in doing so, to help the needy gain a footing in their lives with necessary items.

As we somberly reflect on the tragedy of January 12, 2010 and keep those lost in our hearts, we are also inspired to celebrate the human spirit that calls so many of us to help our fellow man in times of need.

We are in awe of Haiti’s resilient spirit, and of those who have worked to rebuild their families, their communities, and their country over the past five years. And through our work, we look forward, along with so many others, to a brighter future.

Service, Duty, Compassion: The MLK Way

A Timeless Message

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

At YouGiveGoods, we are excited to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which falls on January 19 this year.

Nearly half a decade ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. electrified the nation with his message of unity, peace, and love. His vision of an America as one of purposeful freedom for all individuals was transformative, a vision that leapt social barriers such as age, race, and geography.

The spiritual timelessness of his message is why we celebrate, along with the nation, every third Monday in January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; a federal holiday that marks his birthday, and officially observed as the only national day of service.

MLK Day As Catalyst for Action

The day is a call to action that encourages individuals from all backgrounds to work together to solve our nation’s most pressing social problems. As part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative, the holiday every year moves us closer towards Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community”, one empowering community act at a time.

For Dr. King, the practice of service to one’s community is not a suggestion, but a moral imperative, linked to ideas of justice and duty. His principles of nonviolence were empowered by his belief in human potential; and his conviction that we are all ultimately neighbors, and so, beholden to giving back — to each other, and to the institutions that sustain our larger community.

Service, Our Core Value

Why does this holiday speak especially to us at YouGiveGoods? Service is at the heart of our mission. The idea of duty to and compassion for one’s neighbor is the exact sentiment that inspired the founding of our company years ago.

For us, facilitating the raising and delivery of tangible goods to charities, is about shoring up the heroes of our communities — food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, animal shelters, and other organizations that support our neediest.

We firmly believe that by strengthening our community’s institutions whose mission is to care for our neediest, we can in turn multiply the reach of their impact.

Increased resources in the form of needed tangible goods, from fresh vegetables to cold-weather items like gloves, means more served; and even one more served makes an impact in the community. Finally, when tangible goods are supplied to the charity, resources are freed up to provide even more services.

Answer the Call to Action

So for MLK Day this January 19th, we invite you to join us and others across America in giving back to a cause closest to your heart. Learn more about the campaign. Use an online drive to guide your giving efforts to a charity, or to supplement your existing activities for MLK Day.

Find a way to serve your community, however small: your neighbors will thank you for it.

Happy Holidays from the YouGiveGoods team!

Happy Holidays from the YouGiveGoods team

A Peek at YouGiveGoods Operations Office and Warehouse

With our excellent food distribution vendor in the Eastern Tri-State area, we looked west to set up a distribution network. Sunny Phoenix was our choice!

Mark, experienced in warehouse and inventory operations, joined YouGiveGoods in November to lead the warehouse crew. Numerous pallets of new toys arrived, and almost as soon as they filled warehouse shelves, flew right out to the drives that ended right after Thanksgiving.

It is fun to see the classics survive! The PlaySkool form-fitter box that entertained my kids is still a toddler's favorite. And we still play the Catch Phrase game with friends and family!

Now that a warehouse has been added to our operations, it is exciting to envision the new types of drives that can be started now. We have already sent out a great round of winter hats!

While our seasonal toys are wrapping up for the holidays, we are adding gloves, mittens, blankets, socks, personal care items to help tide many throughout the cold winter season; and new items (a surprise!) for an upcoming February campaign. Possibilities are endless!

In 1986, I began working at software companies that used a variety of innovative technologies. In a different field now, I find joy in using my past experiences to support YouGiveGoods' platform, and running operations of online drives to help others.

An online drive can do so many things: feed the body, give warmth, nourish the spirit. Our mission is to help others give goods, and in doing so, help others give joy and hope.

Janice Kwiecinski
Director of Operations

Featured Interview: Lisa Tomasi in NJBIZ

Last week, our president Lisa Tomasi was featured in online publication NJBIZ.com to speak on the founding of YouGiveGoods, the importance of work-life balance and to provide a few crucial tips for women at work.

We've highlighted a few key excerpts below:

The best part of working at YouGiveGoods
"No matter what happens in a workday, knowing that later in the week we will be delivering thousands of pounds of food to a food pantry or toys to help children or pet supplies to animal shelters makes my job the best job ever."

The most important takeaway from education
"How to learn, solve problems and manage time in order to accomplish your goals. ..If you can master critical thinking and learn to look at problems and solutions in unique and intelligent ways, successes in and out of the classroom will find you."

Top five things for successful women to master
"Believe in their abilities and intelligence. Lead by example and actions. Be fearless. Know that failures are a part of success. True failure is not learning from the mistakes. Be your own person. Make decisions and take actions that are true to you and your beliefs."

Best advice regarding work/life balance
"The most useful thing to balance the pulls of work and life is fun. To be happy and fulfilled, work-life and life-life has to contain a high degree of enjoyment and satisfaction. If one part of life (or both) does not have the “fun” element, then the balance will fail and personal, financial and business success may be elusive."

Visit the full article at NJBIZ.com.

Our Record of #GivingTuesday's 2014 Moment

2014 was a watershed moment for this big day — the year #GivingTuesday officially moved from campaign to national holiday status: blessings received from The White House; high-fived by a whole line of celebrities and stars, from Hugh Jackman to Yo-Yo Ma to Ellen Degeneres; and championed by no less than 68 countries around the world.

To YouGiveGoods too, this new tradition was important to honor.

We decided to hold a site-wide #GIVE10 event. For two days, on #GivingTuesday, and the day after, we offered to the public a gift code that granted an additional 10% cash donation on top of any donation of $50 or more to any charity drive hosted with us.

The turnout was inspiring. Together, for the two-day event, we raised nearly $20K for charity: in soup kitchen basics, pets supplies, toys and more — pounds of profound impact.

In that spirit of thanks, we're excited to share with you our recap of our #GIVE10 event. View the full list of participating partners and beneficiaries, browse through key highlights from #GivingTuesday conversation, learn a few fun facts (most popular donated toy! The three most popular donated food items!), and top it off with a letter from our president Lisa Tomasi, looking towards #GivingTuesday 2015.

A holiday like #GivingTuesday is a jumpstart of inspiration at the end of the year, to remind us always of our original mission, and to continue into the New Year with open arms hearts and hearts.

Thank you again for your inspiration!