Nonprofit Spotlight: Ipswich River Watershed Association

blog_NPO spotlight_title_image_ipswich

The Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA) is the voice of the river—a group of people helping make sure there is enough clean water for the 350,000 people and businesses in 14 communities on the North Shore of Massachusetts, protecting nature, and providing great ways to have fun outdoors.

It takes a team to care for such a critical resource. With a staff and board of less than 20 people, more than two dozen conservation and governmental partners, and the help of scores of volunteers, this small but mighty organization has safeguarded the Ipswich River since 1977.

In 2006, Dr. Joseph (Bob) Petranek generously donated his house and 15 acres on the river to the organization. Over the years, an additional 9 acres was donated by the Smith Family and the Congress Corporation, and the Riverbend became the association’s headquarters. The property is permanently protected for public use and enjoyment, and contains a canoe dock, trails, green building, green roof, water-wise demonstration projects and gardens, and association offices.

What IRWA does

As the river watchdog, IRWA exists to keep the river out of danger and ensure a sustainable water supply for the area, by:

10496199_837602052951073_5591434803170071825_oRestoring the physical habitat. Among its many efforts to support native fish and wildlife, this includes removing migration barriers—dismantling obsolete dams and replacing culverts that are either too small or poorly installed.

Monitoring water conditions. Through the RiverWatch water quality monitoring program, the group assesses the health of the Ipswich River at 31 sites throughout the watershed. Volunteers collect data monthly from March-December on weather conditions and rain; water color, odor and clarity; water temperature; conductivity; and more.  The organization also conducts a herring count each spring, and monitors macroinvertebrates and streamflow.

Advocating for the river. These efforts ensure that federal, state and local water policies, water withdrawal permits, and regulatory decisions protect ecosystem health and include prudent conservation measures. Most recently, IRWA and friends of the river participated in hearings to voice their concerns about gas pipeline construction along the Peabody Rail trail.

11329892_957750550936222_3338448078620285410_nGetting people out to enjoy the river. The Ipswich River is the premier paddling river in the area, and IRWA’s recreation guide includes a list of parks and other public spaces to go fishing and clamming, swimming, camping, biking and see wildlife. The association has installed interpretive kiosks and education signs along the river, and regularly hosts padding, walking, and birding events for people of all ages and abilities.

“One of our biggest challenges is that the river is ‘loved to death’ and to protect it, we want people to use less water,” says Executive Director Wayne Castonguay. So the organization educates towns, businesses and residents about water conservation, presenting many programs each year as well as promoting ways to Save Water, Save Money, and care for yards and gardens using less water and chemicals.

Good Giving Practices

When this membership association started accepting online donations in 2006, it partnered with JustGive for services. The association uses a JustGive link for its own Donate button that appears on every page of the website, has customized it Donation Page with a logo and gift levels—and also links to the Donation Page in numerous places throughout the site. Both the Support and Membership sections of the website offer donors the online giving option.

“Most of our new donors are coming from online giving, and it’s a critical tool for us,” comments Castonguay. “JustGive meets our needs and has been really responsive.”

In addition to its Donation Page, IRWA recently used other JustGive services, setting up an advocacy campaign (with a Registry) to raise legal funds to fight the gas pipeline.


A hub for environmental conservation in the area, the Ipswich River Watershed Association brings together conservation groups, municipality partners, research centers, businesses and volunteers to create solutions and make a difference.

11750684_999594036751873_6495840608048644213_nIn 2011, the association convened the Parker-Ipswich-Essex Rivers Restoration Partnership (PIE-Rivers), a regional network of 18 organizations. And in 2013, a group of PIE-Rivers partners received federal money from the Hurricane Sandy Grant Program to support restorative work. Ipswich River Watershed Association is a part of the collective group that’s investing nearly $2 million of those dollars in a Free Our Rivers Campaign to improve habitat conditions through dam removal and ecologically safe bridge and culvert designs.

Last year, IRWA engaged nearly 800 people in events and activities, had its canoes and kayaks used 640 times, worked with about 215 volunteers, and helped get 327 culverts surveyed. This small but mighty association is successfully leveraging its staff, partners, volunteers and nearly 1,000 members to support and protect the lifeblood of the area, the Ipswich River.

Give now if you’d like to support the good work of the Ipswich River Watershed Association:


– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

P.S. If you’d like to be featured in the JustGive Blog, submit your nonprofit!

Nonprofit Spotlight: Bubble Foundation

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

At first blush, the Bubble Foundation seems like an unusual name for an organization that helps kids live healthy and happy lives, but then again…. Not wanting to pigeonhole their holisticbubble_logo efforts or be heavy handed about wellness, the name was chosen to keep it fun and focused on kids.

Funders ask about our name, says Executive Director Lizzie Redman, but never the kids. In fact, it’s a contagious echo in school halls where kids are heard chattering about “Bubble, Bubble.”

Bubble’s mission

Bubble believes every child in the United States, regardless of socioeconomic status, should have access to activities, food and information that helps them live healthy and happy lives. To accomplish this in New York City, they partner with schools in underserved communities, supplying core curriculum and program activities to fill a gap. They provide – free of charge – information, food and activities for schools, students and families who would otherwise get little or no health and wellness education.

School programs that deliver

The power of going directly into schools is how Bubble succeeds. Not just with kids, but their parents and school leaders too. Redman explains, “We reach kids while they’re young and expose them early on. We also bring in parents for family meals and workshops where we work with them about how to make healthy changes at home. We plant the seeds for healthy habits and empower school leaders to carry it forward.”

Bubble’s programs make “food, fun and fitness float”:


Bubble EATS is nutrition education delivered through weekly classes, cooking demonstrations and more from volunteer teachers. For instance, “kids may never have seen broccoli before, but they learn about it, cook it and find it enjoyable to eat,” describes Redman.

Bubble GROWS teaches the science of how food grows and basic farming and irrigation principles, and includes visits from farmers and to community gardens. Bubble brings portable grow boxes into classrooms and starts outside or rooftop gardens where there’s space available.

Bubble MOVES connects the school to other organizations and experts for fitness classes, recess programs, sports clinics, and special programs like yoga and African dance.


Started in 2010 as a small organization to help one school – the Mott Haven Academy in the Bronx – Bubble will partner with eight schools during the 2015-2016 academic year. A few stats:

  • Bubble programs teach 1,200bubble2 students each week
  • Around 50 volunteers work for Bubble each semester – 30 teach weekly and 20 others support special programs
  • School partnerships last for 2 years (with support afterward)
  • Impact: 5 schools are successful program graduates, 6 schools are currently partners, and 4 more are being added next year

Giving practices

JustGive is proud to help the Bubble Foundation raise money online. “The ability to have a platform we can easily use is huge,” comments Redman. “And from a data perspective, to know where the money is coming from is valuable.”

Following best practices, Bubble has its Donate button built into every page of its website, and has customized its Donation Page, telling donors exactly what different size gift can do.

Check out how you can help the Bubble Foundation do even more.

– Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

P.S. If you’d like to be featured in the JustGive Blog, submit your nonprofit!


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.


Thank you for giving.

—Andrea Lloyd, Director of Programs

Hunger and Food Justice: Community Building for Food Equality

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

Planting trees with money?

The old adage says, “money doesn’t grow on trees.” We all learned that the hard way and the new question for today’s generation is: “How do we make trees grow with money?”

Over the past couple years the environment has jumped to the top of the list of global concerns along with world hunger, HIV/AIDS and more. Whether you believe in global warming, have watched the Story of Stuff or Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, you know that oil is a finite resource, the global population is growing, there are less and less places to put our ever-surmounting piles of waste, and the ozone is impacted by our daily emissions.

Not to be a downer…

On the bright side, people are actively taking steps in their everyday lives by turning their Starbuck’s cups into compost and recycling (or better yet bringing a thermos), shutting off the water while they brush their pearly whites, using energy-saving light bulbs (or better still, turning off AND unplugging) and taking public transportation or riding bikes to work. But what about the larger environmental campaigns? How do we make the most out of our efforts and raise a savvier generation?

1. Make your home energy efficient. Close up gaps and cracks in your home where heated or cooled air might leak out, insulate, change your lighting, upgrade with the most efficient appliances when they need upgrading, increase your thermostat a few degrees in summer and decrease it in winter. You might spend some money on the efficiency upgrades, but all of these will eventually pay you back, since you’re actually decreasing the amount of energy that needs to be generated.

2. Support green energy alternatives. You can do this by purchasing accredited green energy from your utility company or by investing in on-site renewable generation via solar PV panels, solar hot water, heat pumps, etc. Make sure your home or business is well suited to this. If not, see #3.

3. Offset. Fully assess your lifestyle and where you can’t reduce your usage (like that vacation flight this summer!) or switch to green energy, purchase certified offsets for your remaining carbon footprint. Visit to learn more.

4. Educate. Support organizations that educate the public about climate change and which lobby the government to make a positive change.  The problem is GLOBAL and while many individual actions can make a big impact, doing it “silently” can mean you end up working against yourself.  Advocate if you can or want – but if you don’t, support leaders who can and do. Tell your children about the things you do every day to protect their earth. Teach them your good habits and explain why it makes a difference.

Read and listen to the latest news and to continue educating yourself as well. There’s something new to learn everyday about how we can be a part of the solution.

Author: Michelle Koffler

Celebrating & Honoring Grandparents Day

Grandparents Day

My grandmother is 104 years old. She’s actually in wonderful health, though she lost most of her hearing years ago. This may be a blessing when all 10 great-grandchildren are running around creating chaos. She loves to play Scrabble™, work a crossword puzzle or read a good book. What she loves most of all is sitting in the warm summer sun by the water.

Sunday, September 12th is Grandparents Day. Though this isn’t a widely celebrated holiday, it’s the perfect opportunity to plan a family dinner in honor of your grandparents or even your parents who may be grandparents in their own right. (Or, you can honor the day by scheduling a visit to a nursing home or taking a moment to help an older adult in your neighborhood.)

My grandparents spent most of their lives on the Chesapeake Bay, so I want to honor my grandmother with a dedicated donation to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

When she was young, the Chesapeake Bay was a thriving body of clean water. But today, the Chesapeake Bay in the East and the San Francisco Bay in the West, along with many other U.S. waterways, have fragile ecosystems. Pollution, invasive species and climate change are threatening our waterways and all the marine and human lives they support.

As we have all seen and read about the Gulf Coast disaster, it is still unclear the long term impact the oil spill and dispersants will have on the health and habitat of water and wildlife.

By making a donation in her name to help restore the Bay, I’m giving my grandmother something meaningful—a link to the past and to the future, both of which she can share with her 10 great-grandchildren.

Notecard Sample

While normally I would send an email with a dedicated gift, my grandmother doesn’t quite get the Internet nor does she have email. That’s why I’m sending her a note card announcing the donation. The card lets me add a personal note, and JustGive conveniently sends it directly to her, through the mail, on my behalf.

-Andrea Lloyd, JustGive Director of Programs

This Grandparents Day, celebrate your grandparents—whether they’re with you or have passed on—with a gift in their honor. Donate Now.

Visit us on Facebook and tell us how you celebrate Grandparents Day.

Giving Green on Earth Day

Give Green on Earth Day

Forty years ago today, we celebrated our first Earth Day. Approximately 20 million Americans from all walks of life joined together to honor our planet. Whether your connection to nature is as an angler in the great outdoors or a community gardener in a dedicated urban space, Earth Day is about thinking of the small—and big—ideas that help to preserve our planet. Today, there are many easy ways to go green from recycling and composting to hybrids and public transportation.

My relationship with nature began when I was a young boy. My father left his job at Bell Telephone to start Newtown Gardens, a small plant nursery. I remember romping through the giant greenhouse where he worked, the fecund smell of heating compost, the seemingly endless rows of plants. It was amazing to witness his passion for working with natural things.

No doubt influenced by that passion, I went on to work for environmental organizations – the League of Conservation Voters and the Institute for Conservation Leadership – and making a difference for environment remains something in which I believe strongly.

Giving Back on Earth Day

Earth Day 2010 is expected to have at least 1.5 billion people take part in events and programs across the globe. Imagine the impact if each one made a $10 donation to an organization that works to protect the Earth long after Earth Day is over. Here are some powerful organizations that I’m thinking about today:

Earthrights International

Katie Redford and her group, Earthrights International (ERI) (link) introduced a simple and powerful idea into the human rights and environmental justice movements: that corporations can be brought to court for their role in overseas abuse. ERI seeks to end “earth rights” abuses, to provide real solutions for real people, and to promote and protect human rights and the environment in the communities where they work.


Thimmakka’s certifies green businesses through their efforts to produce less air pollution, reduce the costs of health care and landfill fees, consume and create less waste, and avoid the use of toxic chemicals. Using her connections within immigrant communities in the Bay Area, Ritu Primlani and her team have certified more than 125 restaurants. They report that, among other accomplishments, 19.4 thousand tons of solid waste (that’s about 245 loaded 737-400 Boeing jets) have been diverted from landfill.

Blackfoot Challenge

The Blackfoot Challenge is organized locally and known nationally as a model for preserving the rural character and natural beauty of a watershed. Led by landowners, their cooperative approach of focusing on the 80% that the US Fish and Wildlife Service, environmentalists, and they agree upon helped spur, in part, President Obama to announce his America’s Great Outdoors initiative.

For me, Earth Day brings me back to childhood – running through the rows of blooming flowers and climbing the mounds of wood chips. It makes me all the more happy to celebrate the day by giving back to groups whose passion to make a difference continues to inspire me. Visit us on Facebook and let us know about what groups are your passion!

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One Day. Thousands of Blogs. A World of Difference.

blog action day

JustGive is excited to take part in Blog Action Day 2009! For one day nearly 7,000 blogs, with more than 11 million readers in 130 countries will write about a single issue—Climate Change. The goal? Raise awareness for an issue that has global importance.

Imagine the difference 11 million people can make. Act locally! Find a charity in your neighborhood and volunteer to plant a tree or clean up a beach. Or visit VolunteerMatch and find on-going or one-time opportunities for everyone. Bring a friend or two and increase your impact.

If 11 million people donated $1 each, the National Arbor Day Foundation can plant 11 million trees. A $25 donation to American Forests plants 25 trees where they are needed most—removing carbon dioxide from the air and cooling the planet. Get five coworkers together and bring lunch tomorrow instead of going out. You’ll save $50, enough to “Adopt an Acre” or “Adopt a Reef” through the Nature Conservancy. The benefits of individuals acting collectively are huge! Join us and take action on October 15, with your gift of time or a donation—and be proud to take part in this international day of change.

Blog Action Day reminds us of the impact one person can make when we act together. Share these ideas with someone today and inspire change for a better tomorrow!

– Sarah Myers, Program Manager

P.S. JustGive is now on Facebook and Twitter. Come check us out!