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

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

Charity: Make it Your Wedding’s “Something New”

When planning a wedding, online access to friends’ wedding albums, DIY blogs, a parade of competing vendors and a plethora of websites can be inspiring…and overwhelming. In an industry where advice is handed out like candy and society sets expectations for everything from ring size to dress size to guest list, it‘s hard to remember that a wedding is not a competition. (Well, unless you’re on a reality show. But who can keep up with the Kardashians anyway?)

I was in three weddings this past year, each with its own flare. And it’s not the fancy meal, the lighting, or the color of the bouquet ribbons I remember. It’s the personal touches like receiving Save the Date cards on Willy Wonka-inspired golden tickets, watching the bride walk down the isle to Pure Imagination, laughing at the groom’s delivery of a comedy routine before the vows, and being asked to share marital advice using an antique typewriter. (This inspired moments of hilarity from my 20-something peers who had never used such a “high-tech” device. Luckily the parents stood by to help.) Now those were unforgettable moments.

Of course you want your wedding day to be special and express who you are as a couple. And ultimately, when all the elements come together to really capture that spirit, it makes an impression.

What’s trending now?

Many couples are personalizing their weddings by registering for charity and requesting donations for causes they care about. With organizations like I Do Foundation, it’s easy to manage a charity registry online, simple for guests to donate, and convenient to get a ready-made gift list when it’s time to send thank you notes. As a serial bridesmaid, I know anything that makes the after-wedding rituals simpler is appreciated!

For some couples like Annette Toutonghi and Bruce Oberg of Seattle, Washington, registering for charity made perfect sense. “We have everything we really need,” they said. “Physical gifts seemed wasteful. We are passionate about human rights, the environment, and the arts. And have quite a few loved ones who we’ve lost to cancer. What a wonderful gift to feel like our special day could benefit these causes.”

They’re not alone in their thinking. With nearly 70% of couples living together before marriage and many waiting until later in life to get married, home and kitchen items just aren’t needed. They want to make their day about something else. Charity gifts are an inspired, eco-chic option that shares the love in a feel-good and meaningful way.

For other couples, a charity registry offers a chance to give back locally. “We lived for decades in Minneapolis before moving to California just before our wedding, and wanted to benefit a charity that serves that local community,” explains Eric and Becky Bausman of San Mateo. “The notes from our guests reflected the true spirit of our celebration—they completely understood that this was about choosing to celebrate our joy by sharing our blessings with the world around us.”

What a wonderful world

Take a cue from popular wedding songs to personalize the charity choice for your wedding:

  1. Marry Me – The most important part of your day is joining the two of you as a couple. What causes and issues do you and your partner care about individually and together? Charity registries let you select favorite organizations so you can share your love with others.
  2. Celebrate good times – Weddings reunite family and friends and are a time to remember someone special who is not there to celebrate with you. Why not honor them and their health struggle by giving to make a difference for the cause? It’s a great way to include them in your day.
  3. Shout! – Let guests know about your registry by sharing a custom link in an email, on your invitations, and through social media—telling them how their gift to charity will mean the world to you.

“We felt giving our guests the opportunity to donate on our behalf would add to the good energy and feelings of love surrounding our wedding. It can be easy to get caught up in table decorations, favors, or any number of small details,” comments Elizabeth James of Santa Monica, California.

When it comes to starting a marriage off on the right foot and remembering what’s important, I think there’s no better way than to include charity on your special day. When I plan my own ceremony, I know I want to represent who I am and my dedication to charity, and I’m confident my partner will share this passion with me. I would love for my guests to be a part of the causes I hold dear and to leave the wedding feeling like we made a difference together.

Charity makes it easy to celebrate generously and creates not-to-be-forgotten wedding memories.

P.S. Still looking for inspiration? Visit A Soolip Wedding – they’re having events in San Francisco and Los Angeles, offer Ways to be Green, and support conscious vendors (like I Do!).

Check out I Do Foundation on Facebook!


– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

This holiday, let’s reconnect.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard (and probably made) comments about the holiday season already: Why was jingle music playing while shopping for Halloween costumes? Why are snowy decorations overtaking stores before Thanksgiving? How will I afford gifts for everyone on my list and a sequined holiday outfit with my budget? And how much stuff do we really need for Christmas?

Hearing and joining in on the negative remarks has made me take pause. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed or get swept up in all the consumer hogwash, I’d rather enjoy the season. My sisters will be back from college and the holidays are the perfect time to reconnect—with my family, my community, and the true spirit of the holidays. Showing my loved ones I care in new and meaningful ways without breaking the bank or gifting unwanted items seems like a great place to start.

Here are some great charitable gifts that can change lives:

  • Charity Gift Cards. Take advantage of JustGive’s Cyber Monday promotion: fee-free GiveNow cards*. Pull out your favorite photos to upload, and on November 28th, create customized gifts for your friends, family, and colleagues – with ZERO fees. You chose the amount, they choose the charity (from more than 1.8 million on the site). >>Buy Gift Cards
  • Personal Charity Registry. Create a wish list and ask for charity as your holiday gift. It not only makes you feel good, but also spreads holiday cheer to others in need. Select organizations working to make a difference for your favorite causes, and share your wishes by email or on Facebook. It’s a selfless way to celebrate the holidays. >>Create A Registry
  • Charitable Donations. Donate in your friend or loved one’s name to a local charity that means the world to them. Or choose a collection of four charities supporting a specific cause like animals, the military, or children. Experience the joy of giving back. >>Give Locally   >>Select Charity Collection

Spending and cherishing time with family is another way of getting back to what’s most important about the holidays. I know that gifting charity will let them know this year is different. Imagine how things would change if we all did the same.

Spread the spirit—Like us on Facebook and share what you’re doing. We’re posting up creative and inspiring ideas for the holidays.

*Promotion Terms & Conditions – Eastern Standard Time

– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Keep your “stuff,” I want CHANGE!

I Care: About supporting charity. It’s my thing.

My Friends: They’re everywhere.

Facebook. Twitter. Google+ (I’ve got circles and hangouts galore). I even have blogosphere followers.  Okay so they probably aren’t all friends, but in the social media generation, I’ve got a big network that reaches from the kids I went to elementary school with, to college dorm mates, to travelers I met abroad, to my friends and coworkers of today.

My Event: Is going to make a difference.

I’m having a birthday celebration and raising money for several of my favorite women’s health charities. It’s just one way I can personally create change—but the possibilities are endless: You can run that marathon you’ve been meaning to get in shape for, shave your luscious locks (or hard-earned moustache), throw a holiday party or tie the knot while incorporating charity.

                    

My Plan: I’ve decided to combine my thing, my people, and my event to do something AWESOME.

In a world with a gifting currency of “stuff,” for my birthday I’m requesting a charitable donation instead. (And you can too.) I find online registries to be one of the best ways to raise money and track my progress.

For my birthday I simply:

  • Set up an account with JustGive
  • Added my favorite women’s health charities
  • Wrote a quick story about what this cause means to me
  • Uploaded a photo, and invited my friends to join!

If you also care about women’s health issues, October (breast cancer awareness month) is the perfect month to fundraise–there are plenty of races and charities that will plan the event for you! You can also create a Memorial Registry in honor of a loved one who battled a health related illness and raise money to support research and education.

For any reason and every cause, it’s easy to raise money through an online registry.

>>Facebook: Tell us what inspires you. How are you creating real change?
>>Wedding Charity Registry: Are you getting married or do you know a couple that is? Charity is the perfect way to share the love.
>>Memorial Registry: A meaningful way to honor a life. Read about my aunt and how my family celebrated her legacy.


— Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Women role models, World travel, and Weighty lessons

An American Girl

Did I really need to wear a shoelace necklace?

As a young girl, my mom told me that I could do anything and be anything–and I believed her. I took the classes I wanted, played the sports I wanted, and wore what I wanted (much to the dismay of my future self as I look back now on old photos).

Today, as a woman in the workplace, I have yet to experience the glass ceiling or to be slighted because of my gender. The fact that I have not thought much about my “role as a woman” outside of suffragette history lessons or worried that my salary may never reach the level of a male counterpart shows I live in a country which boasts an (arguably) equal and open playing field.

Planting a Seed

Growing up, I looked to my Great Aunt Charlotte as our family matriarch: a strong woman with outspoken ideals about human and animal rights and global politics. A woman who never followed the pack.  I especially admired her sacred travel room. Floor to ceiling bookshelves were full of worldly trinkets, endless photo albums, and vials of sand from exotic beaches and terrains like the Galapagos Islands, Fiji, the Italian seaboard and more.  Each piece had a story from a different time and place, both intriguing and inspiring.

Setting Sail

With the  travel bug rooted in my genes and dreams, I gathered the funds and support to study abroad with Semester at Sea for my last semester of college. Along with 700 other students from around the US, I took classes on the MV Explorer and docked in cities around the globe. We traveled from the Bahamas and Brazil, around the southern tip of Africa, to various ports in Asia, and back to California for more than three months of compounding culture shock.

The MV Explorer

Photo Credit: Micah Diamond

A Global Education

Our weeks at sea were spent learning about the countries we would visit – their history, politics, language, art and music, and cultural nuances. Each professor would give us assignments that involved interacting with the people, visiting sites of cultural or historical relevance, and observing daily life through the lens of a particular subject matter. My human sexuality class not only discussed anatomy and relationships, but also delved into gender roles: specifically, how women in society differed from country to country and in various contexts.

  • In Brazil, to the sounds and colors of Carnival, women wear revealing clothing with confidence and empowerment.
  • Women in South Africa wear bright colors and walk tall with heavy loads on their heads and backs, standing proud amidst a painful history of apartheid.
  • In Malaysia, Muslim women wear hijabs, which inspired me and my friends to cautiously cover up in sleeved tops and long bottoms so we didn’t inadvertently offend any passerby.
  • In India, women ride behind their men on the back of motorcycles. Despite the sweltering heat, they drape themselves in traditional sarees and adorn their forehead with a glittering bindi while males almost exclusively sport ‘western’ clothing.  The vast difference in gender freedom echoes a long history of practices like arranged marriages and class pyramids.
  • In Cambodia, women fill massage parlors, will walk on your back or provide “happy endings.” A not-so-subtle reminder of the sex trade and horror stories about trafficking through Thailand, Myanmar and other parts of Asia.Tokyo-Japan
  • In Japan, young, almost cartoon-like harajuku girls contrast the rural/traditional idea of Japanese modesty with their miniscule skirts and tall stockings. My friends and I were turned away from a “pod hotel” reserved only for businessmen and we were gazed upon with disapproval as we reserved a room in a hotel normally intended for extramarital affairs.

In class, we watched a graphic documentary about female genital mutilation that still occurs in many countries in Africa, and learned about the staggering ways and alarming rate at which HIV continues to spread. Visiting a clinic in a township in South Africa, where the HIV rate was 12% of the population, was emotional and eye opening.

Bringing it Home

After visiting each port, I would write back home to my family about the experiences I had and the cultural extremes I witnessed. My Aunt Charlotte would respond with stories about traveling as a woman in the 1950s and 60s and give me her ongoing and entertaining political commentary.

Unfortunately, Aunt Charlotte passed away soon after I returned from my travels, but her life taught me to explore all that you can and to give back as much as you can. At her funeral, loved ones were asked to donate to her favorite charities in lieu of flowers. She continued to inspire even as she departed.

Life Lessons and Paying it Forward

Through the strong women in my life, messages of empowerment, and the gift of travel, I have an unwavering appreciation for my rights as a woman: to my own body, to vote, to dress how I like, to practice any or no religion, to work in nearly any profession, and to travel as I please. Not only am I thankful for being American (despite any shortcomings as a country), but also for the generation I was born into and the opportunities available to me.

It is my hope – with care, persistence and generosity – that other women around the globe may someday have the same experiences and freedoms that I enjoy. And through our time, our charity, our advocacy, we can help make it a reality! As a proud young American woman, I can’t think of any greater legacy.

Author: Michelle Koffler