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

Mother’s Day – Musings on the Meaning of Mothering

image source: flickr: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

image source: flickr

As a child (and an only child, at that) I was frequently jealous of the attention, love and mothering my mom would give to other children in our community.

Working individually with kids at my elementary school (and later on in her long career in the juvenile justice system), my mom focused intently on helping children with special needs. She treated them all with love, kindness and respect, which is the very best way to teach those qualities. She did everything as a volunteer—from large-scale organizing to providing childcare and tutoring, and even raising awareness about diversity and body positivity—issues that continue to be important to me to this day.

Truly a mother to anyone who needed one, my mom was a lifelong nurturer. At home, she never said no to me . . .  even when I brought in a foundling stray kitten, or once, a pair of miniature aquatic crabs we found inexplicably crawling up Fillmore Street in San Francisco. In addition to the cat I have now adopted, her social justice work and her extensive networks of friends and family, my mom left behind a large number of rather brilliant abstract paintings, a sassy assertiveness I strive to emulate every day, and a deep respect for treating all living things with kindness and care that’s instilled in me.

When my mother passed away unexpectedly on April first of this year, I created a charity registry in her name, to raise funds for animal rescue and nonprofit veterinary organizations ASPCA and Pets Unlimited, plus our local Make-a-Wish chapter. And you know something? Each heartfelt donation and sympathy message that came through my registry made me feel incredibly cared for and loved. It’s amazing that even someone who might not be related to me, or know me very well, can give me that kind of love, strength and support with a simple gesture. It’s certainly made this time a lot easier.

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Source: Alex Mechanic

I honor my mother by striving to carry on her legacy of compassion, in the warm, giving spirit remembered by all who knew her. And the best feeling lately has been having that same warmth and generosity offered to me by all the various people in my life who I know in so many different ways. They have all been caring for me like one of their own.

Anyone can nurture like a mother does. It doesn’t depend on gender. It doesn’t even have to entail raising children. Caring and compassion are universal: Every one of us can give love and nurturing to anyone else – a child, adult, plant, or animal.

My good friend Sara can’t help but rescue a dying houseplant whenever she comes across one. It doesn’t matter what type of plant it is, she revives them back to health with a little work and TLC. That’s a perfect example of someone taking time to nurture the world around us in just the way a mother might.

So while it’s in my mother’s honor that I remember to smile and say hello to my neighbors and their kids, offer a listening ear to anyone I see having a bad day, and will continue to adopt as many animals as fit in my house, my models of mothering extend beyond her personal example.

I will never have children of my own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to be mothering, and nurture everyone I share this earth with for some finite time. We can all do it. All we need to do is care for each other.

—Alex Mechanic, Service Team Manager

The Guy Who Has Everything

My Dad has everything.

A tie (one).  It has The Beatles on it, naturally. He wears it anytime he needs to wear a tie, which isn’t often due to a carefully planned career of self-employment, entrepreneurism and a California lifestyle.

Geeky Dad sandals that he appropriately pairs with socks and a Hawaiian shirt.  “It’s special,” he says, “because it is the same shirt Lieutenant Dan wore in Forrest Gump”.

*Caveat: The shirt in this photo is not THE shirt, but you get the gist.

The coolest, most brag-worthy and up-to-the-minute technology.  Literally, his watch pulls the accurate-to-the-second time from the Atomic Clock in Colorado and glows when he flicks his wrist (powered of course by a built-in solar panel which collects its energy from the sun).  Over the years, I have learned to expect no less from this savviest of Dads.

Three stupendous daughters, if I might say so myself, who make him proud with their education and do-gooding and to which he always repeats “don’t get me anything, I have everything I need.”  Sometimes when mom says this, it not-so-secretly means “you better get me my favorite flowers and a spa package,” but with my Dad, we comply and settle for a breakfast on the town and a cheesy card he’ll soon misplace in a pile of WIRED magazines.

Maybe this year we can get him something that’s not a “thing”…

One of the reasons we moved to northern California in my youth was for the unparalleled scenic beauty and the fact that there are “more trees than people” as my Dad always says. And one of the products my Dad developed in his long technology career is a programming language for kids that teachers are using in schools to get students learning, for instance, to develop and build games – not just play them.

Just by being himself, my Dad both appreciates the finer things in life like music, technology, and the environment, and he inspires me (and others) to do the same.

So I’m planning a unique tribute to him this Father’s Day – JustGive style – a charity Gift Collection that donates to the causes that embody what is best about my Dad. Like a Plant Trees  or Inspire Children & Change Their Lives gift collection that spreads support to four charities working to make a difference.

My sisters can upload a special photo of us and personalize a GiveNow charity gift card that lets him choose to benefit a special charity, like Bay Area Community Resources where he does IT work. We’re excited to celebrate the day with him in a special and unique way. Giving him something that means so much more than any “thing” we could ever find – that he would probably lose!  🙂

How are you celebrating with your Dad? Share your story on Facebook and let’s keep the great ideas flowing because our Dads deserve it.

Author: Michelle Koffler

A Gift from the Heart

Mother’s Day is a time when we look at the mothers in our life, appreciate all that they do for us, and try to give something back to them.

Turning 30 this year made me realize I have been giving funny little gifts to my mother and grandmother over the years. Not only is it hard to think up new gifts to buy them, but I find they no longer need or want things. They already have too much stuff as it is.  As a mother of a three year old, I also think about what I would really want from her on Mother’s Day.  Although it sounds cliché, a drawing or something that she makes for me—from her heart—would make me the happiest.

I’m older . . . and crayon masterpieces for my grandma or mom don’t quite cut it. Then there’s the flower option: Most women (including me) love receiving flowers. They brighten up your living space and are a nice treat. But for me, they’re not quite enough. So I’ve found another way to honor the special women in my life – with a gift that’s a bit more personal, from my heart.

My Grandma was a wonderful elementary school teacher for many years, so I made a donation in her name to DonorsChoose.org — a great organization that helps teachers raise money for special projects or classroom materials that they need. Since she doesn’t really like to use computers, I didn’t want her to have to go online and search for a project or an organization. So I printed the donation confirmation to enclose in a special card with the flowers I’ll give her, letting her know how I am honoring her on Mother’s Day.

I wanted to do the same thing for my mom. She supports organizations that protect the environment, and gives to local food banks and rescue missions. The arts and public education are also important to her. And I wasn’t sure which organization to donate to: What would she appreciate the most this year? So I decided to give her a charity gift card with a bouquet of flowers. Letting her make the choice. She can go to JustGive.org and find the charity (or charities) she wants to support right now…there are more than a million on the site. And I’ll know that her donation will make a difference for a cause that is both meaningful and personally close to her heart!

This Mother’s Day, consider a charity gift collection that gives back and says thank you from your heart—donating to a cause that’s special to your mother’s (or grandmothers, or wife’s, or…you get the point) heart!

If you’d like to honor all she’s done in a bigger way, all year round – make it a monthly recurring donation.

Enjoy a very special Happy Mother’s Day!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes

Share the Love

I’ve celebrated Valentines Day many ways – from quiet nights at home with take-out and chick-flicks, to roses and fancy dinners with reservations made weeks in advance. Most years I felt a twinge of regret after the flowers wilted and the dinner bill was paid.

So last year I gave homemade gifts. From heart-shaped cat nip pouches to conversation heart cookies, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Living is my go-to site for fun and thoughtful gifts for all the Valentines on my list.

 

This year I’m taking it up a notch with personal gestures of love that last longer and make a bigger impact. For my animal-loving sister, I’m giving a gift collection, with donations to four charities dedicated to animal rescue and protection. For my Mom, who is new to philanthropy and loves discovering local charities, I’ll select a GiveNow charity gift card that lets her choose and make a difference for one of them.

 

For my friends getting married this year, I’ll remind them that the I Do Foundation has many ways to share the love! From creating a gift registry with stores like Target and Macys, where a percentage of purchases benefit their favorite charities, to choosing charitable favors with customized cards for their guests, there are many creative and budget-friendly ways to include charity in their special day. If you or someone you know is interested in creating an eco-friendly celebration with style, check out several great ways to Celebrate Green at I Do Foundation too.

 

Not only is February 14th Valentines Day, it’s also the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week! This site is full of simple sharing-the-love ideas for at home, at work, and at school – like donating used books to a library, making care packs for the homeless or offering to babysit for a family member.

 

Tell a friend about JustGive. Then jump over to Facebook and Twitter to tell us your thoughtful and creative plans for sharing the love this month.

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.

11,000 people celebrate a birthday every day in the US

Mine is next month. Instead of an expensive dinner and flowers, or jewelry that will sit in a box, when friends and family ask, “What can we give you this year?” I tell them what I really want are GiveNow charity gift cards.

Gift cards give me the freedom to choose the charities I want. At a time when so many need a little extra help, the best present is one that lets me give back to others. The animal adoption organization I volunteer for was recently raising funds for a kitten to have surgery to make her healthy enough for adoption. With GiveNow cards I can give throughout the year to projects that need it most.

As summer winds down and you’re getting together with friends and families—building sandcastles at the beach, enjoying a BBQ in the backyard, or listening to a concert at the park—you may be celebrating someone’s birthday too. Or an anniversary or wedding. Or you may just want to thank your host in a special way. For any of these occasions or reasons, JustGive’s GiveNow charity gift cards are a great choice.

And right now, it’s a hot gift that comes with some cool saving. Through the end of August, you can Buy one charity e-card and you’ll get each additional one free!

Summer Sale

This special JustGive summer offer and a new selection of e-cards for every occasion and cause make it easy to select the perfect gift. Saving you money ($2 on each additional card) while giving your recipients the freedom to choose their favorite charity.

Pass it along: Tell a friend how to give a hot gift and enjoy cool savings while making the charity choice.

– Sarah Myers, Program Manager

Mothers Day

I am a daughter, a grand-daughter, a niece, and hopefully someday a mother. I owe so much of who I am today and who I hope to become, to the love and guidance of my Mom, Grandma and Aunt. They are the women who made countless PB&J sandwiches for a very picky eater (“no crust please”), put band-aids on scraped knees, gave advice on love (and broken hearts), cheered through tears during college graduation, and helped paint the walls of new homes. Through their love, they taught me compassion and empathy. What child didn’t hear “there are starving children in …” as a plea to eat peas? Sorry Mom, I still don’t like peas.

One of the greatest lessons I learned is that giving really does feel better than receiving. Especially now, when times are hard for all, I know how giving even a little can mean so much for so many.

This Mother’s Day I want to thank all the “Moms” in my life with gifts that help others—giving back, in special ways, to honor how they have helped shape my life.

  • I was a late bloomer to the love of reading, but Grandma never stopped encouraging me to find joy in books. For all the stories Grandma read to help me sleep at night, I’m donating to First Book. A $25 donation buys 10 books for first time readers. For $50, a family in need will receive enough books for a year of bedtime.
  • My Aunt is passionate about supporting her local food bank. She lives by the saying “think globally and act locally.” JustGive lets me quickly find and donate to local charities. Or, I can donate $35 to Share our Strength to feed a child three meals a day for more than a month. For $75, Action Against Hunger will supply a family of four with grains and other food staples for two weeks.
  • Home is where the heart is. My Mom struggled with housing when I was young, but always made me feel at home. More than anyone I know, she taught me to give back to others because you never know when you will need help. In her name, a $10 donation to Habitat for Humanity will buy a box of nails for building a home.

You can find the perfect charitable gift for all the “Moms” in your life on JustGive.org, which connects you to nearly 1.5 million charities working throughout the world. Or, if you’d prefer to let your Mom choose a charity helping a cause she is passionate about, you can give her a GiveNow charity gift card.

Pass this idea along to friends and family. After all, didn’t Mom always say we should share?