The Diabetes Epidemic: Risks & Resources

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Image Source: Flickr

Each year, the American Diabetes Association designates a day in March as Diabetes Alert Day. It’s a wake-up call for all of us to find out if we’re at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. And that’s important since 1 out of 4 people with diabetes don’t know they have it!

Every 17 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. To you, that may sound like just another statistic – but it’s personal for me. I live with someone who has diabetes and wasn’t diagnosed until his late 40s. He’s one of nearly 30 million American children and adults with the disease (10 percent of the U.S. population). Worldwide, nearly 400 million people are living with diabetes.

The bad news: Diabetes can develop at any age for both Type 1 (previously known as juvenile diabetes) and Type 2.

For Type 1, the body doesn’t make enough insulin and there’s no known way to keep it from happening. For Type 2, the body can’t use insulin properly. At least one out of every three of us will develop Type 2 diabetes in our lifetime.

The good news for Type 2: In most cases, it’s preventable.

Are you at risk for Type 2 diabetes?

It only takes minutes to take a Risk Test and answer a few questions about weight, age, family history and other risk factors.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

If the test says you’re at increased risk, talk to your doctor. There are several definitive ways to diagnose diabetes.

While there is no cure yet for the disease, you can manage it. From my nearly 10 years of experience living with someone who has diabetes, it’s not that hard. Balancing the food you eat with exercise and medicine (if prescribed) helps control weight and keep blood glucose levels in the healthy range. Many people with diabetes live long and active lives.

You can make an impact for diabetes

There are many charities helping educate us about diabetes, providing services, and working to find a cure. Here are three:

American Diabetes Association: The American Diabetes Association delivers services to hundreds of communities, helps fund research, and is a go-to source for information about diabetes.  Raising awareness is one of the organization’s main efforts, guided by its vision of a life free of diabetes and all its burdens.

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Diabetes Research Institute Foundation: The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, founded in 1971 by a small group of parents of children with diabetes, has evolved into an international coalition of families, patients, business leaders, celebrities, scientists, clinicians and more. Its sole focus is on finding a biological cure.

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Joslin Diabetes Center: In 1898, Elliot P. Joslin, M.D., launched the effort to understand, treat and potentially cure diabetes. He started by taking his written patient observations to the lab to conduct research. Today, Joslin’s research team of more than 300 scientists make it the most comprehensive program dedicated to diabetes in the world.

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Want to get involved in diabetes efforts in your community and volunteer? Check out events in your community from American Diabetes Association. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of more Americans every year than AIDs and breast cancer combined. Let’s change that – and give of our time and money to make a difference.

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-Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

One From the Heart – February is American Heart Month

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Image Source: Flickr

I’ll be the first to admit it. I get stressed.

Stress affects our health in many ways, but heart disease is a common result in the United States, particularly among women. As a woman, this is a stressor in itself. Worries and perfectionism aside, what are some simple, everyday ways you and I can decrease our stress and be kind to our hearts?

A plant-heavy or plant-based diet is a wonderfully heart-healthy eating plan. Personally, I switched from a vegetarian to a vegan diet 2 years ago, and everything I continue to learn about its health benefits encourages me to keep at it. Avocado and olive oil are my favorite plant-based ways to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol while leaving heart levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol intact.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Hobbies that include movement are a low-stress way to get your heart pumping stronger. Dance class (or dancing around the house), gardening, vigorous cleaning and yoga or stretching are some relatively low-impact and low-cost ways to get your circulation up and flex your heart muscle.

But what about the mental stress? It’s the biggest factor in many of our busy lives. Mindfulness meditation is one way to change your mindset and even regulate the rhythm of your heart. Look for a zen or yoga center in your area for more information. Lucky for me, San Francisco is home to a beautiful Zen Center that hosts a variety of programs, classes and retreats.

My personal favorite fact about preventative heart health? Doing good for others lowers your stress levels.

This is something we can all do anytime and it doesn’t have to cost money – sharing time is just as valuable.

Image Source: Flickr:

Image Source: Flickr

If you’d like to find volunteer opportunities in your area, you can use our Act Locally search option and contact local charities to see how you can help. Bonus points on volunteering: It gets you outside – and being in nature is another great de-stressor.Even if you live in a city, you can likely find an urban gardening project to volunteer your time. Check out The National Gardening Association’s Kids Gardening program, which empowers every generation to lead healthier lives, build stronger communities, and encourage environmental stewardship through gardening programs.

If you’d like to support their efforts:

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The most sobering fact I uncovered in my research: women are more prone to suffer from undiagnosed heart disease. Women’s symptoms tend to differ from men’s, and women are more likely to suffer a silent heart attack.

In fact, heart attacks are responsible for the loss of half a million women per year in the U.S. alone. Heart disease is the number one killer of women even though many women are more afraid of breast cancer.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

I lost a friend and community member, far before her time, to silent heart disease. After her untimely passing a few years ago, another friend organized memorial donations in her honor to WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. It’s a charity that provides support and research and was started by three women who have personal experience with heart disease issues. Women Heart was the first – and is still the only – national patient-centered organization focused exclusively on women’s heart disease.

If you’d like to donate to help WomenHeart carry out its work:

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Education, information and advocacy are our greatest weapons against killer heart disease. Together, we can multiply our strengths in fighting the battle against heart disease with a unified front. We have to watch out for each other, right?

-Alex Mechanic

Customer Service Manager

YEAR IN REVIEW: A LOOK BACK AT 2014

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Thanks to your giving and support, JustGive expanded philanthropy and sent more than $30 million to charity in 2014!

We passed a major milestone in May, processing our 1 millionth donation, and are proud that 24 percent of giving came from 2013 donors returning to use the site. We also saw charity gift card purchases grow by 9 percent. To be more accessible and expand our services, we launched our mobile responsive site and added the ability for companies to independently buy a quantity of gift cards.

Here’s a glimpse of our impact—and what we accomplished together—this year.

We’re charging into 2015 eager to do more good, fulfilling our mission to make charitable giving a part of everyday life. Here’s to making more of a difference!

Help us kick off the year in the best way possible: Set up an automatic monthly donation to your favorite charities today.

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Thank you for giving.

—Andrea Lloyd, Director of Programs

THE MANY FACES OF HOMELESSNESS: HOW YOU CAN HELP

blog_title_image_homelessnessKnowing how to help a homeless person can sometimes feel difficult, confusing and overwhelming. The dollar you give might be used to buy drugs or alcohol. Even offering food can be a problem – imagine handing an apple to a homeless man and then discovering he has no teeth. Just as there are many reasons people become homeless, there are also many ways to help. Understanding the leading causes of homelessness is often the best way to learn what the homeless need and how you can make a positive difference in their lives. The chronically homeless, who often struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, need a safe and stable living environment where they can get counseling and health care. To help them, consider volunteering at a local shelter or halfway house that provides longer-term housing. Donating clean towels, pillows and blankets can also help create a comfortable and safe living environment. The majority of homeless youth bw_homeless_teens_21461332have been kicked out of their homes or abandoned by parents or guardians. Others who left on their own accord have suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their families. For many, trusting another adult or authority figure can be difficult. One of the best ways to help is to simply ask them what they need. Maybe it’s a hot meal, a warm coat or a clean pair of socks; or maybe it’s information on how to get into foster care, enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program or register for the GED. Taking the time to listen to their needs, and to follow through, can go a long way in helping them regain their trust in others and get off the streets. imm needs housing homelessFor many veterans, physical disability, mental anguish and post-traumatic stress can make readjusting to civilian life very difficult. This can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, the inability to hold down a steady job and homelessness. Because many veterans have very specific needs to help them get back on their feet—job placement services, medical services, housing assistance, counseling—there are numerous ways to get involved. Consider donating your time or money to organizations which help homeless vets:

While we need to address the problem of homelessness as a whole, the more we can understand each person’s individual circumstances, the more we can help. Before making assumptions or judgments, take the time to ask some questions and do a little research. It can make all the difference. The Face(s) of Homelessness

  • Number of homeless in the United States: 610,042
  • Number of chronic homeless: 109,132 (18%)
  • Number of homeless youth under 18: 380,000
  • Number of homeless veterans: 57,849 (9%)

For more charities helping the homeless with shelter, counseling services and job training.

-Amelia Glynn, Marketing Contractor

#GivingTuesday Tools & Tips for Nonprofits

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 is the event known as #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. Charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

As a nonprofit organization, #GivingTuesday offers you a great opportunity to energize your supporters to participate in a worldwide movement. Lasting just 24 hours, #GivingTuesday creates a sense of urgency, motivating them to give.

We want to make #GivingTuesday as successful as possible for all JustGive’s nonprofit partners (Not a partner yet? Sign up here – it’s free!).

Here are a few tips and tools to help you make the most of #GivingTuesday:

Brand Your JustGive Donation Page With #GivingTuesday        

Help drive donations by customizing your JustGive donation page with #GivingTuesday branding.Upload a logo that incorporates #GivingTuesday, add special, jg_gtsuggested donation amounts like $122.14 (12-2-14), or add a special program designation for #GivingTuesday contributions. The more your donation page and communications leverage the #GivingTuesday campaign, the more inspired your donors are to give.

Get Your Graphics and Links Ready

The #GivingTuesday website has a library of images and graphics you can use on your website, in emails and on social media to drive donations. Just be sure to use your custom JustGive donate page link with the graphics.

Plan Your Communications

#GivingTuesday only lasts 24 hours so it’s important to make the most of your communications that day. Plan how you’ll communicate on social media and by email. gtWe recommend emailing your donors early in the morning on #GivingTuesday, asking them to donate through your JustGive link, and encouraging them to follow your progress on your social media channels.

Then, throughout the day, use social media to update your supporters. Be sure to use the #GivingTuesday hashtag in your communications. Make it easy on yourself and take advantage of ready-to-use materials: visit the #GivingTuesday website for free nonprofit tools, sample messages, logos, and more.

Track Your Donations In Real-Time

Donors love knowing that they’re part of a bigger effort, and nothing motivates giving like seeing others give. Share your #GivingTuesday progress with your supporters throughout the day on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. To get your real-time donation data, log into your JustGive Nonprofit account to view reports. Then thank your donors for their contribution with a tweet or Facebook post (we recommend first name, last initial to preserve people’s privacy). A post like “Thanks for making a donation this #GivingTuesday, Sarah B.!” makes Sarah feel good, and will inspire others to join in.

To find out more about #GivingTuesday and get even more tips and toolkits, visit http://www.givingtuesday.org/. Here’s to a very successful December 2!

- Sarah Bacon

Director of Product

Notice of changes to our donation product

At JustGive, we’re very thankful to all our users who make charity a part of their everyday life.

As a nonprofit ourselves, we work hard to efficiently manage costs so we can maximize charitable giving. Over time, the cost of processing and sending donations has increased. As a result, we need to increase our fees for JustGive.

Effective today, November 1, 2014, a flat fee of 35¢ will apply to donations made at justgive.org.

If you’re an individual donor who uses justgive.org to make donations to your favorite charities, you don’t need to take any action. The next time you make a donation, we’ll simply deduct the 35¢ flat fee from the amount sent to the nonprofit organization(s) you support.

If you send monthly (recurring) donations through justgive.org, we will apply this fee to your donation(s), starting in the month of November. If you would like to view or modify your monthly donations, log in to Your Donor Account.

If you are a nonprofit organization that uses JustGive’s custom links or buttons to drive donations, this new 35¢ flat fee does not apply to donations made through your custom JustGive links or buttons. Fees stay the same for donations made through our nonprofit links.

We appreciate your understanding about this necessary change. Together, we’ll continue making a difference.

Thank you for giving,

The JustGive Team
www.JustGive.org

Hunger and Food Justice: Community Building for Food Equality

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Hunger: it’s a daunting problem the world over. Even though I was eager to research and write on this topic, when I started to dig into it, I got more and more overwhelmed with how broad and profound the issue … Continue reading

Not Just a “Family Matter” – Domestic Violence in the U.S.

Image Source: Flickr

Domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and battering are all different names for the same alarmingly widespread social problem. It affects more people than you think—one in every four people experience abuse—and what we see in the media isn’t the whole picture.

Recently we’ve seen domestic violence news about high-profile celebrities, framed in a typical manner: a male abuser and a female victim. Although every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten, domestic violence isn’t just a problem between women and their male abusers. It affects us all.

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Image Source: Flickr

Domestic violence affects entire families, endangering the safety and mental development of young children. And elderly adults and disabled family members are often the most vulnerable to domestic violence, due to dependence on caretakers and lack of mobility. Family pets are often treated cruelly too. A study from 11 U.S. cities revealed that a history of animal abuse is one of the four largest indicators for potential domestic abusers.

Domestic violence doesn’t only affect women.  More than 830,000 men fall victim to domestic violence every year in the U.S. (National Violence Against Women Survey). Men, women, same-sex couples, and gender variant folks are all victims. Recently, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) survey showed that one in five trans people experienced domestic violence for their non-conforming gender identities.

Intimate partner violence doesn’t begin in adulthood. One in five high school girls has been physically or sexually assaulted by a dating partner. Sadly, eight U.S. states don’t consider a violent dating relationship domestic abuse, leaving teens unable to obtain a restraining order for protection from their abuser.

Domestic violence is closely related to gun violence. While it can, and often does, extend beyond physically abusive behavior to include sexual violence, financial exploitation, stalking, harassment and emotional abuse; tragically, it commonly ends in gun violence. According to an analysis of mass shootings since January 2009 released by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (a coalition from around the country), “There was a noteworthy connection between mass-shooting incidents and domestic or family violence.” A majority of the mass shootings in the four-year period studied were domestic-violence related.

The epidemic of domestic violence affects every one of us. We need to stop it together. Here are a few resources that help victims, and actions we each can take to make change happen.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Resources

The Hotline provides crisis intervention, information and referrals for victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. Their toll-free number is available nationwide—helping victims find the courage to act and a local shelter.

The National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory lists resources for free legal help for survivors of domestic abuse.

SafeLink is a government-provided safe phone service for survivors.

What you can do to help

Give to organizations that provide resources to survivors and work to end violence:

Image Source: Flickr

For more charities working to end domestic and gendered violence, take a look at this list.

-Alex Mechanic

Service Team Manager

Get involved in the fight for Alzheimer’s disease

blog_title_image_alzheimersTwo of my good friends have lost their mothers to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a heartbreaking experience. I watched as the women I knew disappeared into themselves and blankly became someone who didn’t recognize their own child.

One friend described it as losing her mother twice – once to Alzheimer’s and once to death. And it’s the ultimate role reversal: The parent who taught you how to tie your shoes now needs you to do it. That’s true for so many simple, everyday actions.

The sixth leading cause of death in the United States, flickr_ann_gordon_mom_handsAlzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Every 67 seconds, someone in the US develops the disease. Today, more than 5.2 million Americans are living with it.

Recent studies found low Vitamin D can double the risk of Alzheimer’s but didn’t show a direct cause and effect link. Why it strikes older adults is still a mystery, and scientists don’t yet understand what causes the disease. It’s most likely a mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

As the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s continues to soar (tripling to 16 million by 2050), it’s maddening there are no clear ways to slow or stop the progression of this life-robbing disease. It’s the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that can’t be cured.

What can we do?

Fund research and advocacy.

Here are three organizations making a difference through research and policy changes:

The Alzheimer’s Association, started in 1980, is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Committed to accelerating the progress of new treatments, preventions and ultimately, finding a cure, the association reaches millions of people affected by the disease across the globe. If you’d like to support Alzheimer’s Association and get some exercise at the same time, join one of the Fall Walks to End Alzheimer’s. Find one in your area here.

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BrightFocus Foundation supports research and provides public education to eradicate brain and eye diseases, including Alzheimer’s. The foundation awards research money annually to fund highly innovative, experimental ideas it believes will lead to revolutionary therapies.

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The Alliance for Aging Research advances scientific and medical discoveries that can maximize healthy aging, independence and quality of life for older Americans. Founded in 1986 in Washington D.C., it has become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. The Alliance believes that research helps people live longer, happier, more productive lives, and reduces health care costs, long term.

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Give to organizations that support caregivers.

Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) is one of those organizations. Founded in the late 1970s, FCA was the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. The alliance raises awareness about caregivers’ daily challenges, provides the assistance they need and deserve, and helps improve the quality of life for them and those they care for through education, services, research and advocacy.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15.5 million caregivers provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in 2013.

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Be there for friends who are caregivers.

Don’t shy away or do nothing when you learn a friend has a family member with Alzheimer’s. Instead of asking them to let you know if they need something–just step in and help: Tell them you’re bringing over dinner on a given night. Or when flickr_Susumu_Komatsu_ALZ_TYyou’re stopping by with groceries. Send them cards of encouragement in the mail.  Call or visit when it’s convenient, and listen while they vent. On any given day, you have no idea how much it can mean to them!

While there is no single answer for tackling Alzheimer’s disease, I know the care I’ve shown and donations I make can help . . . until a cure is found. I challenge you to do the same. Join the fight today.

-Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

A fond adieu to Kelly after 7 years at JustGive

We have a great crew here at JustGive and many of our team members have been working here for over 5 years.

Today, we said a bittersweet farewell to Kelly, who has worked at JustGive for 7 years. In those 7 years, Kelly has worked or helped out in pretty much every area of the company whether it be marketing, customer service or tech. And she’s always done it with a smile and as we know here in the office, a snazzy ‘do.

Like many JustGive team members, Kelly has a charity registry on our website to help support the organizations that matter most to her.

“I care deeply about bringing awareness to the issue of violence against women —particularly providing services and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. Check out the inspiring video below and then help me raise money to provide services and advocate for survivors. ”

Kelly, we’ll not only miss your great style, but also your laugh, your big heart, your willingness to help out with anything, your penchant for purple, your inclusion in “dance breaks” and most of all, your dedication to JustGive and what we do.

We will miss you and wish you all the best in your endeavors.

The JustGive team