One Million Donations and Counting!

blog_title_image_millionWe reached a major milestone in the history of JustGive last week when we processed the one-millionth donation on our website.

Who was behind this auspicious donation? His name is Al Danish, and he hails from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

Al made his donation to PathWays PA, a nonprofit dedicated to helping to keep low-income, vulnerable women together with their children by offering programs and services that help families stabilize their lives.

“If my donation can help in a small way, then that makes me feel good,” Al said about helping PathWays.

Al said his role as a grandfather of two makes PathWays’ mission even more relevant to him. “I liked the idea of making a donation for something specific like a case of diapers for a baby,” Al said.

Pathways PA is also a JustGive nonprofit affiliate. Since 2008, they’ve used our nonprofit services to accept donations through their website.

With just a few clicks, PathWays created a customized donation page, allowing their donors to select from a list of suggested gifts like $25 to “provide basic toiletries to a mom in need,” or to enter in any desired donation amount.

“JustGive is a wonderful avenue for our online donors to give in a quick and easy way,” said Fran Franchi, Director of Development for PathWays. “We are so grateful for supporters like Al Danish. Thank you, Al for your continued support of PathWays PA’s mission and congratulations on being the one-millionth donor.”

Al was gracious about his 15 minutes of online donor fame when we first shared the news, saying, “You made me feel very good about helping out with a donation.”

JustGive was one of the first nonprofit organizations to channel the power of the Internet for online giving. Since 2000, we have sent more than $400 million to over 70,000 charities working throughout the world—and every day, we are inspired by donors like Al Danish to create new ways for people to find, learn about, and support virtually any charity, anytime.

Thank you to Al and PathWays PA for helping us reach this important milestone!

 

—Sarah Bacon, Director of Product

Five Charitable Causes That Need More Help During the Holidays

image source: flickr

image source: flickr

During the winter months, charities need extra assistance as they work with the challenges of cold weather and the holidays. These five causes need additional help right now, and can do more with your donations of supplies and money.

1. Children

Low-income and foster kids have an especially hard time during the holiday season, when a lack of money can mean no Thanksgiving or holiday meals, and no toys under the tree.

How you can help

2. Animals

This time of year, many animal shelters are overrun with animals, and, cold weather means they face even more challenges. .

How you can help

3. Hunger

In a season that revolves around food, charities that help the hungry are stretched to fill food packages and supply meals.

How you can help

4. Homelessness

The homeless need extra care during the freezing-cold winter months. Help them stay warm and provide the basic necessities.

How you can help

5. Disaster Recovery

Many victims of recent natural disasters lost all their possessions and may have no place to live during a time of year that should bring comfort and joy. Give them a reason to smile this season by helping them recover.

How you can help

Donating supplies may seem like a great idea, but an influx of tangible items is often difficult to handle and to deliver after a disaster, when systems are overtaxed. Donating money is a better choice and allows nonprofits working in the area to provide what survivors need most—even sourcing items locally that can help rebuild their economy.

Donate money to help survivors recover from:

This holiday season, put your money in the hands of the charities making a difference for these pressing causes. That creates a happy holiday for you and for those in need.

Help Hungry American Children

image source: flickr

image source: flickr

It wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized how much children rely on adults for help. In the best cases, a child has parents and a loving extended family, and wants for nothing. In the worst cases, a child has a neglectful family, and doesn’t get basic needs met, emotionally or physically.

Some children have loving parents who work their hardest, but still can’t make ends meet. Many lost their jobs when the economy crashed, and providing essentials for their children became next to impossible. I can only imagine what it might be like to not be able to meet my child’s needs: I would be devastated. For families like these —including 16 million kids (one of every 5 children nationwide)—hunger is a very real concern.

Children have no control over their situation. When their parents can’t provide for their basic needs, it is our responsibility to step in and help. According to No Kid Hungry, nearly half of the recipients of food stamps are children. About 9.8 million kids get free or reduced price breakfast at school, but 10.6 million eligible children receive nothing. And of the children who receive reduced price lunches, only one in seven receives breakfast during the summer.

The impact of hunger on children is distressing, according to Feeding America:

  • Kids who face hunger are 90 percent more likely to have their overall health rated as “fair/poor,” and face increased hospitalizations, developmental problems, and illnesses.
  • Ninety percent of teachers say that a healthy breakfast is key to academic achievement. Hungry children are unable to concentrate, have poor academic performance, and complain of headaches and stomach aches.
  • Childhood hunger is linked to significant health problems in adulthood.

It is heartbreaking to think that millions of American children go to bed hungry every night, only to wake up to no breakfast. The good news is this: You can help.

Raise Awareness. Did you know how dire the hunger problem is? I certainly didn’t, and chances are, you have friends and family who don’t know either. Talk about it! Tell your loved ones. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter. Start a conversation.

Donate. There are a lot of charities doing fantastic work to fight hunger in the United States. And surprisingly, it takes very little to make a huge impact. For example, a donation of just $46 to No Child Hungry can feed a child for an entire year. And $25 to Feeding America provides an incredible 200 meals for hungry families.

Tomorrow, when you have your breakfast – whether it’s a bagel on the run, or a French toast feast – think about the kids who have nothing, and make a decision to help. Forfeit just one meal at a restaurant in favor of a meal at home, and donate the difference—you’ll help a lot of hungry kids. Just imagine their smiles, and how grateful they’ll be to have food to eat.

Donate Now
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Talk early, talk often: Teach your children to avoid sexual assault

As a woman, it’s hard to grow up without exposure to sexual violence of some kind. While I was lucky to get out of my early childhood unscathed, I experienced sexual harassment from several peers beginning in middle school, and was involved in a verbally abusive relationship in high school, which led to choosing a verbally abusive marriage.

Even as I was making poor decisions in partners, my inner voice wondered, “Why am I doing this?” Pushing aside our inner voice is, I believe, one of the key reasons why I and so many other women find ourselves in the less-than-ideal situations that lead to sexual assault.

Sexual Assault is an umbrella term, which includes child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact (touching or grabbing), unwelcome exposure of another’s body (exhibitionism), domestic violence, and rape. This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The ultimate goal: raise our children with the core values that help them avoid sexual assault.

Encourage healthy sexuality at a young age

An awareness of what is wrong starts with an understanding about what’s right. And this, parents, is up to you. Sexuality needs to be discussed many, many times: think of it more as a series of moments where you can educate your kids, not one Big Talk. If you’re wondering how to educate your kids about sexuality, check out this great healthy sexuality PDF from National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).

It’s important to keep these conversations age appropriate, addressing different topics at each age. NSVRC offers another helpful PDF with an excellent chart to help parents understand what’s “normal” for sexual development at various ages, and which conversations to have.

A few months ago, we talked about how to protect our children from sexual abuse. You may want to revisit that post for tips about prevention.

Talking to your kids about sexuality is only part of the issue, though. My father was an OB/GYN and my mother a nurse, so I grew up knowing “the birds and the bees.” Yet, I still didn’t make good decisions.

Teach your children that they own their own bodies

At my daughter’s second birthday party, a friend tried to force her daughter to hug mine. My little girl is very shy, didn’t know this girl very well, and didn’t want to. My response? “You don’t have to hug anyone you don’t want to.” It is very important to me that my daughter knows that she owns her body and makes all decisions concerning it. This means she doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone she doesn’t want to, even if I’m worried the other person might be offended.

While well-intentioned parents have a tendency to force their kids to hug or kiss their friends or grandparents, this practice can send an unintended, detrimental message to kids: Push aside your own feelings to make someone else happy. This leads to children getting sexually abused, teen girls submitting to sexual behavior so ‘he’ll like me’ and kids enduring bullying because everyone is ‘having fun.’

If your children are huggers, teach them to ask others for permission to hug (“May I hug you?”). If you would like for them to hug Grandma, you can say: “I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it.” Teach them to respond with a hug, or a “no, thank you.” And mean what you say—don’t let any child feel disappointment or resentment from you. Explain your reasoning to family members, and remind them it’s not personal. Every child goes through stages where they don’t want to offer affection.

This is hardest for me as a parent, actually—I constantly want to kiss my daughter’s adorable little face, and at two, she often responds with a firm, “NO MOMMY!” Not wanting to squelch her currently strong inner voice, I usually respond with, “that’s okay, honey, it’s your body.”

Read more on this topic at CNN: I Don’t Own My Child’s Body

Understand and talk to your kids about teen relationship violence

After years of bullying during middle school, I was desperate for acceptance. When my family and I moved to another state during my junior year in high school, I became involved with a verbally abusive boyfriend. Though the relationship lasted only four months, the damage lasted much longer—and led me to a verbally abusive marriage. While it is embarrassing for me to admit I didn’t value myself, I know that I’m not alone. By talking about it, I hope to help more young girls understand the long-term repercussions of their choices.

Talking with your children about healthy relationships is extremely important—second only to modeling good relationships. If you are not in a healthy relationship, your children are more likely to choose unhealthy relationships for themselves.

So how do you teach your kids about healthy relationships? Point out loving interactions, examples of good communication, and healthy boundaries when you see them, both in the media and in life. And point out examples of unhealthy interactions when you see them, as well.

Sit down and talk to your kids, long before they start dating. Not sure what to say? Love is Respect’s guide to Healthy Relationships is a good place to start the conversation.

If you suspect that your child is already in an unhealthy relationship, check out Love is Respect’s “Help Your Child.” This can be a very tricky situation to navigate, so if you need help, definitely get it — from a hotline, a counselor, or a domestic violence counselor.

Domestic violence and teen relationship violence can be difficult to understand if you haven’t been through it yourself. I encourage you to look at the warning signs of abuse, and the Power and Control Wheel.

Donate Now

Concerned and involved parents are key: what we teach our children truly can prevent sexual assaults. In addition, the wonderful charities mentioned in this post provide a wealth of information. Please donate now to help spread the word, fund research, and provide resources to parents, kids, and affected adults.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center is the voice behind Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and offers a wealth of information for preventing sexual violence. Brought to you by Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR).
Donate Now

 

KidPower teaches positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities from bullying, molestation, abduction, and other violence.
Donate Now

 

Love is Respect is a great resource to for engaging, educating and empowering young adults about how to prevent and end abusive relationships. Brought to you by Break the Cycle.
Donate Now

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Encouraging your child to read

Encouraging your child to read

Source: Sara Olsher

Every night after my daughter and I climb into bed, she picks three books for me to read to her. In the morning, the first thing she does after she opens her eyes is reach for a book to “read” out loud.

Children have a natural curiosity for reading that amazes me. My daughter has gone from literally eating her books at 6 months old to reciting them from memory at 2 years old. She has a veritable library full of board books to choose from, and at the end of most days, they’re scattered all over the living room.

How does the average parent encourage literacy?

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to teaching my daughter (Charlie) to read. We sing the ABC song and we read aloud every day—but is that enough?

The nonprofit Reading is Fundamental (RIF) is an amazing resource for learning more about literacy and teaching your child to read. As it turns out, a big part of early reading is simply learning the joy of storytelling—which means I’m doing all right so far. In addition to reading books, you might try singing, finger plays (like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot”), and nursery rhymes, which are great ways to get small children excited. Toddlers who love for someone to read to them often begin “pre-reading,” which is what Charlie is doing when she tries to recite her books from memory. This is the first step toward literacy.

Reading books out loud helps children understand that letters have meaning, and you can emphasize this by teaching them the ABC song, making letters out of pipe cleaners, letting them play with flash cards, or shaping letters out of play doh. You don’t need to drill your two year-old with flash cards, though—simply making the commitment to read to them every day is the most important thing you can do.

Toddler enjoying books

Source: Sara Olsher

For older children, the goal is to learn to read fluently, not to read every word. This means resisting the urge to jump in every time they skip a word or miss a sound. If your child understands what he or she is reading—that is, the meaning behind the story—they’re on the path to a lifetime of reading. Not sure? Ask detailed questions about the book to encourage comprehension.

Ultimately, children learn by example, so pick up a book and read with your little one. If you enjoy reading, it’s likely your child will want to try it, too.

For fun resources, check out RIF’s Learning to Read section (which is also available in Spanish).  I am madly in love with their “finger plays” page, which teaches all the hand gestures to popular rhymes like Pat-a-Cake.

What about kids who don’t have these resources?

RIF, sharing books with children

Source: RIF

Unfortunately, not every child has a parent with the ability to encourage reading. Did you know that two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have NO books at home?By the fourth grade, an astonishing forty percent of children do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency. According to RIF, African American and Hispanic students are, on average, nearly three academic years behind their White peers at this age.

It’s clear that having access to books at home is key for helping children learn to read: fourth graders who reported having 25+ books at home had higher scores on reading tests than children who didn’t have that many books (NCES, 2003).

Organizations like RIF are working to encourage literacy for all children. In addition to the awesome resources I listed above, they have a variety of programs aimed at helping children who don’t have easy access to books. One of their programs is called Books for Ownership, which distributes 15 million new, free books to 4 million children in all US states and territories. Two other programs, Care to Read and Family of Readers, empower childcare staff and parents with the resources they need to encourage reading.

Motivated to help? I am super inspired by Reading is Fundamental (their bumper sticker is now on my car), and I encourage you to support this amazing organization with your donation:

For just $10, you can provide 4 books for children in need.

Donate

For 20 more charities providing valuable educational and reading resources, check out the JustGive Guide. And you could be the difference in a child’s life!

Thank you very much to Margaret Carter and Samantha Louk from Reading is Fundamental for the images and statistics about this important topic.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Summer of Fun, Sun, & Giving Back!

School is almost out, kids can’t wait to enjoy their summer vacation, and it’s time for parents to figure out how to keep them entertained! It is great to encourage our children to be outdoors and active all year ‘round, but during the summer months especially when the sun is shining and the days are long. There are many organizations to choose from that help us find ways to do just that and offer a variety of interactive classes, camps, and full summer programs.

As a kid I went to camps through my local YMCA, an organization that strives to strengthen local communities. The Y works side-by-side with neighbors to give everyone the opportunity regardless of age, income or background, to learn, grow and thrive. I remember singing Y-camp songs on the bus up to the lake for swimming and hiking in our local national park. There were also barbeques with plenty of hot dogs – very exciting for a 10 year old!  Most YMCA locations still offer both summer and year-round programs for campers of all ages including a variety of activities from games, sports and art, to science experiments and cooking. This year I enrolled my 3 year old in swimming lessons. She looks forward to seeing her teacher every day and jumping in the pool with her green floaties.

JustGive’s Founder and Executive Director, Kendall Webb, participates in the Fresh Air Fund programs each summer with her family:

“For the past 2 summers, we have had the opportunity to host an amazing girl named Kayla, now 10, through the Fresh Air Fund. Fresh Air’s programs give New York City children a chance to live outside their low-income communities and experience many special new activities, sports and opportunities they might not otherwise enjoy. The program lets children get to know themselves through personal challenges of culture, food, and communication—and gain personal confidence, providing life-long growth for both the child and host family. Kayla has brought the gift of open-mindedness, patience and humor to me. I have given the experience of bike riding, swimming, blueberry picking and walking on grass barefoot to her. Kayla came to us a visitor but is now an integral part of our family. We are so excited to have her spend time with us again this summer for the third year. I hope more families will consider hosting through the Fresh Air Fund….there is a lot to learn as a host family. We opened up our home, but Kayla has opened up our hearts.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are several other great organizations with summer programs to check out for yourself. Many offer life-changing opportunities to children throughout the year:

  • Girls Inc is a nonprofit organization that inspires and empowers all girls to be strong, smart, and bold and to reach their full potential while asserting their rights.  Girl Power!
  • Soccer Without Borders runs community-led, year-round youth development programs in under-served areas. Soccer provides these youth with an avenue for positive interaction, personal growth, and a brighter future.
  • Drawbridge is an expressive arts program for homeless and formerly homeless youth that provides a supportive community and a place to foster creativity.
  • Camp Good Days is dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families who have been touched by cancer through summer camping experiences.

Support these innovative youth organizations by starting a recurring monthly donation today!

What are your best tips and summer activities? Take a few minutes to jot a note on Facebook—share what works for you while making life just a little easier for someone else. You can help them enjoy the summer even more!

JustGive
Marketing Team

Make a Difference for Children

Photo Credit: Allison Shelley (All Rights Reserved)

This past weekend, I lowered our eight-month old son’s crib since he is beginning to pull up on the rails. I know what you’re thinking…those folks at JustGive do nothing but party.

We’re in a mad dash to child proof our house–cordoning off areas, stopping up outlets, replacing curtain cords. Our son is making his first attempts at crawling, flapping around on his stomach like a happy, smiling fish. As with everything he does, it’s amazing.

With summer in full swing, some of us at JustGive are taking advantage of the extra daylight to enjoy a few extra moments with the little ones in our lives. It makes sense that July would be National Make a Difference to Children Month.

This observance gives us the chance to reflect on how each of us can change a child’s life. There are many ways to make a difference, including: volunteering as a mentor, tutoring a child or signing a petition to advocate for children’s rights. One way that extends far beyond your arm’s reach is to support an organization working to improve the lives of children…every day.

Whether you already involved with an organization or need some guidance (visit the JustGive Guide for great ideas!), JustGive can help you celebrate this month generously. If you’re interested in helping disabled, disadvantaged or sick children and their families or supporting art, sports or outdoor experiences for them, it’s easy, online, to find and give to a charity working throughout the country or even in your local community.

Personally, one of my favorite youth programs is Omega Boys Club/Street Soldiers.

Teen program offers a different path

Photo Credit: Street Soldiers

In 1987, Dr. Joseph Marshall, a middle school teacher, and Jack Jacqua, a school counselor, started Omega Boys Club/Street Soldiers with the idea that well-intentioned prevention programs for children were not enough to address the ingrained culture of violence in their lives. To keep young people alive and unharmed by violence and free from incarceration, Street Soldiers provide young people with the opportunity and support to build positive lives for themselves and move into contributing roles in society.

Photo Credit: Street Soldiers

Marshall and Jacqua spread the Street Soldiers approach throughout local communities by training hundreds of interveners in community organizations and public schools. They also reached out through their radio show and contacted policymakers who are helping make the Street Soldiers methods the norm in violence prevention.

To date, Street Soldiers can claim 141 college graduates (another 60 Omegas are in colleges across the country), 63 nationwide projects which use their violence prevention methods, and 13 radio station affiliates which carry the Street Soldiers syndicated radio program.

But the numbers don’t adequately show the organization’s impact. The Potrero Review (San Francisco, CA) summarized:

“If Omega Boys Club had a poster child, it’d be Andre Aikins. Aikins grew up in Oakland and found himself entangled in the world of gangs and violence. His tough attitude and disinterest in education got him kicked out of numerous public schools. But his life changed when he met Marshall at a high school assembly.

Aikins was skeptical but intrigued by Marshall’s refrain of “If you knew what I knew, you wouldn’t do what you do.” Aikins confronted Marshall after the assembly and demanded to know what he meant. Marshall said he’d show him, and brought Aikins to Omega. Shortly after, Aikins became a regular participant, and with the help of the Academy, he received his GED and attended college on an Omega scholarship. After graduating with a degree in Math Education, Aikins got a job teaching at a middle school that’d kicked him out years before, and eventually became the school’s Vice Principal.

Today, Aikins is Omega’s Operations Manager. Aikins wears crisp, white sneakers and thin-framed glasses. His tattoos peek out of a tucked-in polo shirt. “I wouldn’t have the life I have now if it weren’t for Omega,” he said. “I had to give back in the way it was given to me.” Aikins isn’t the only one to stay loyal to the program; two other former students also serve on the board.”

My baby boy may only be about to crawl, but every day I work at being that positive force in his life that guides him in the right direction. He is also the reason why I support organizations like Omega Boys Club/Street Soldiers with big ideas to make the lives of all children better.

What’s your favorite children’s charity? Visit us on Facebook and share your story.

Pass this on to friends and family who care about making a difference for children.

Philanthropy for a new generation


In the wake of National Philanthropy Day, and with the holidays right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to inspire the giving spirit in a new generation. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Being involved in your community is a powerful way to teach children about caring for others, and finding their own passion for giving.

Need some ideas?

Learning To Give understands the importance of teaching philanthropy to new generations. They offer over 1,200 K-12 lessons and educational resources for teachers, parents, youth workers, religious instructors, and community leaders free of charge. Lessons focus on educating youth about the importance of philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and civic engagement.

Technology raises awareness and makes giving easier.

New research and nonprofit experts credit technology with the rising trend in philanthropy among the nation’s youth. “Technology is democratizing philanthropy so giving is not only easier for people of all ages and means, but also trendier. And children are starting to organize at the grass-roots level to give” says Phillip Rucker, a staff writer for the Washington Post. Adds Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, “The next step is to help kids move from that awareness to action.”

Young people as agents of change

With a passionately active and philanthropic new generation, it’s no surprise young adults are inspired to get involved beyond the usual annual donation. JustGive is proud to feature stories about how Jean and Brandon, as children, thought about giving and made a difference for years to come:

Jean Beale, at age 7 – “When I was a baby, my mom and dad would push me in a baby jogger. We would pick up soda cans while my mom and dad ran. We store the cans until we get a lot of them, then we take them on our friend’s big truck to the recycling place. One time, I sold 410 pounds at once. I help the world by making the roads, the lakes, and the trails prettier, and because all my cans are recycled.”

Brandon Keefe, at age 8 – One afternoon at a parent-teacher meeting to discuss the building of a library for a children’s home, Brandon heard how difficult it was to get books and thought “everybody had books on their shelves that they’d outgrown, why not give the ones we’ve already read to kids who need them?” What began in 1998 as a community service project for his class is now the grassroots nonprofit organization BookEnds. To date, over 170,000 student volunteers have filled 499 barren libraries throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, delivering more than 1.4 million books into the hands of over 401,000 at-rish students.

Want to spread the word? Tell a friend.