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Top-Rated Scholarships & Student Financial Aid Nonprofits

If you are among the lucky ones, your college-bound senior has maintained a perfect GPA throughout high school and just aced the SATs. Or perhaps even more fortunate, your super-athletic kid can run a 4.3 40 or dunk from the free throw line. In either scenario, all their college expenses will be covered by the school, which is a huge burden lifted from your shoulders. But for nearly everyone else, the news isn’t particularly good: In 2016–17, the average tuition plus fees at private colleges was a whopping $33,480. At public schools, it was $9,650 for state residents and $24,930 for out-of-state residents. And that doesn’t even include room and board, which will generally add at least another $10,000 to the bill. Not enough sticker shock for you? Perhaps this will do the trick then:

  • A 2016 graduate has an average of $37,172 in student loan debt, a 6 percent rise from the previous class.
  • 44 million Americans are a combined $1.3 trillion in student debt.
  • 11 percent of student loans are delinquent by 90 or more days.

Those numbers are enough to scare potential college students, particularly ones who come from low-income families, away from pursuing higher education. Just as scary, achieving your dream and starting college, but soon realizing there won’t be the money to finish. Here are a few nonprofits committed to enabling all kids to fulfill their college dreams.

10,000 Degrees, San Rafael, Calif.

10,000 Degrees’ vision is that every student has the support and resources to earn a college degree and achieve his/her potential, regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. It awards scholarships and helps students find other financial aid grants, which has resulted in a total package of $21,148 per student.

“10,000 Degrees really helped me prepare financially and emotionally to go to college. Such a great program filled with caring and compassionate people who genuinely want to help students achieve their dreams!”

 

Blue White Scholarship Foundation, Wayne, Pa.

The Blue White Scholarship Foundation provides scholarships to deserving Villanova University juniors and seniors who have encountered gaps in funding and financial difficulty that could prevent them from achieving their goal of graduating with a Villanova degree. Its vision is to create a world where no Villanova undergraduate student should have financial hardship preventing him or her from completing their undergraduate degree program.

“Being a part of the Blue White Scholarship Foundation has not only been able to lift the financial burden for me this academic year, but has also connected me with a group of kind-hearted and motivated individuals and peers. I am forever grateful for the community of people that are a part of the Blue White Scholarship Foundation and also their dedication to helping students who really need it.”

 

Students Rising Above, San Francisco

Students Rising Above helps exceptional low-income Bay Area high school students who are overcoming tremendous odds of poverty, homelessness, and neglect, to fulfill their dream of a college education.

“SRA is a phenomenal end-to-end support program for Bay Area-based, low-income, first generation high school students. Rather than simply providing funding for a small subset of students and sending them off to college without proper guidance, they focus on helping them develop the skills necessary to succeed in college, internships, and future careers. This is clearly demonstrated by the 90% college completion rate, which is nine times the national average for low-income, first generation college students.”

 

To learn more about these and other nonprofits working to lessen the financial hardships associated with a college education, check out GreatNonprofits.

“An Incredible Sense of Purpose”

Watch John Palter of SVP Dallas discuss the incredible sense of purpose he receives from giving back, especially his experience with First 3 Years, a nonprofit that connects preschool teachers with high-quality training and education opportunities.Watch the video

Top-Rated Mental Health Nonprofits

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in America—nearly 44 million—experience a mental illness in a given year. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America live with a serious mental illness. 1 in 100 (2.4 million) American adults live with schizophrenia; 2.6% (6.1 million) American adults live with bipolar disorder; and 6.9% (16 million) American adults live with major depression. Mental health issues are by no means limited to adults, however:

  • 20% of youth ages 13–18 live a with mental health condition.
  • 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • 37% of students with a mental health condition age 14 and older drop out of school—the highest dropout of any disability group, and 70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10–24, and 90% of those who died by suicide had underlying mental illness.

Worse still, nearly 60% of adults (and nearly 50% of youth aged 8–15) with a mental illness don’t receive mental health services. Listed below are but a few of the many great nonprofits fighting to fill that treatment gap:

 

Teen Lifeline, Phoenix

“You’re not alone. We’re here to listen and to help.” That’s the message of Teen Lifeline, which was established in 1986 to impact the devastating problem of teen suicide through a free, confidential, peer-supported hotline and life skills development that empowers Arizona’s youth to reach their full potential.

“I am continually amazed at the time and sincere dedication this organization gives to the thousands of teens hurting from depression, bullying, unstable home lives, the pain which leads to suicidal thoughts. Teen Lifeline is there with open ears, hearts, and door. Such a wonderful outlet for our community.”

 

Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Los Angeles

With more than 70 years of experience in serving those most in need and least able to pay, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has grown to become one of the most respected providers of quality mental health care in Los Angeles County.

“After my father’s suicide, Didi Hirsch had so much support to offer. From counseling to group meetings to monthly meetings, I was able to receive support, education, and resources to get me through the most difficult time of my life. Three and a half years later, I still look to Didi Hirsch for support and am so thankful for the love, care, and hope that their organization has provided to me.”

 

Active Minds, Washington, D.C.

By developing and supporting chapters of a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy group on campuses nationwide, Active Minds works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness, encourage students to seek help as soon as it is needed, and serve as liaison between students and the mental health community.

“Active Minds is an incredible organization that is changing the conversation around mental health. It’s such a taboo topic, but yet is so important to every single person in the world. Through their chapters on campus, passionate speakers bureau, and thought-provoking programs, they really are setting a new precedent for the way in which we should be discussing mental health.”

 

These top-rated mental health nonprofits are working nonstop to address the needs of the communities they serve by providing important care to individuals and families during some of the most frightening times of their lives. If you are interested in donating to or volunteering at these or other mental health nonprofits, please browse GreatNonprofits and get started on helping them out today.

Top-Rated Breast Cancer Nonprofits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity—about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. It’s the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women; the second most among white, black, and Asian/Pacific Islander women; and third most common among American Indian/Alaska Native women. Here are some other facts to consider, courtesy of breastcancer.org:

  • In 2017, an estimated 255,180 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. women, along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
  • About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from the disease.
  • In 2016, there are more than 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of it.

Scary numbers indeed, but there are many wonderful organizations doing great and important work to assist women throughout their horrible ordeal. Below are a few of them:

 

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Frisco, Texas

The National Breast Cancer Foundation helps women now by providing help and inspiring hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education and support services.

NBCF was founded in 1991 by a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 34. At the time of her diagnosis, there was little information about the disease, and she was forced to make a decision about her health with few options. After her treatment, she made a commitment to help women around the world by educating them about breast cancer and the importance of early detection.

“Our first charity campaign dedicated to the Breast Cancer Awareness Month was held in cooperation with National Breast Cancer Foundation. Its results inspired us to continue our charity initiatives and showed new ways of helping people. We’re thankful to NBCF for all important work they continuously do, for their support and motivation!”

 

Support Connection, Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

Support Connection provides emotional, social, and educational support services to women, their families, and friends affected by breast and ovarian cancer. The support provided enables women to help each other and empowers them to become their own healthcare advocates.

From diagnosis, through treatment, recovery, and beyond, the organization helps women navigate the changes they experience as a result of living with breast or ovarian cancer.

“I am a metastatic stage 4 breast cancer fighter. I am blessed to live close to Support Connections office. Which has come in handy when I have felt as though I am losing control. I have dropped in and always found a ‘friend’ to listen and help me process my latest crisis.”

 

Unite for Her, Pocopson, Pa.

When Unite for Her’s founder was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she began searching for information on therapies that would complement the medical treatments she was receiving. What she discovered was a lack of easily accessible resources on topics like nutrition, acupuncture, massage, yoga, counseling, and other ways for breast cancer patients to enhance their wellness and care for their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.

Since its establishment in 2009, Unite for Her’s cornerstone has been to bridge that gap for breast cancer patients, focusing on wellness initiatives that will positively impact their health, as well as the health of all women and girls.

“Unite for Her was the most uplifting experience during a downtrodden time! My mother has passed, I have no sisters and a house full of males who love me, but are not female. Unite for Her presented a sisterhood when I most needed it. Not a pity party, but a united front where we gained strength from one another and cheered each other’s efforts. No words can truly express my gratitude for the support, massages, organic vegetables, beauty classes, education, and the list goes on. This organization MAKES A DIFFERENCE!”

 

The aforementioned nonprofits are just a few of the great organizations working to provide care, comfort, and support to women and their loved ones during their battle with breast cancer. To donate or volunteer with these nonprofits and others like them, please check out GreatNonprofits.

 

 

Tips for Donating Your Car

Getting tired of looking at that old car that’s just been taking up space in your garage or driveway for way too long now? Perhaps it’s because you treated yourself to a new car. Or maybe it was left behind when a child went off to college. Whatever the reason, it’s time to do something about it, so why not donate it? But before you do, here are some things to consider:

  • Confirm nonprofit status. While a donation to a 501(c)(3) organization will be tax deductible, donating your vehicle to a 501(c)(4) will not be.
  • Cut out the middleman. Remember, every dollar a for-profit organization takes to facilitate the vehicle donation process on your behalf is a dollar that won’t be reaching a nonprofit. So do your due diligence and confirm that a nonprofit you’d like to benefit from your vehicle can process the donation themselves.
  • Don’t forget the DMV. Failure to properly transfer title of the car could cause you huge problems in the future with regard to parking tickets . . . or worse. And don’t forget to cancel your registration, as well as your car insurance.
  • Avoid the ire of the IRS. If you claim the vehicle you are donating is worth more than $250, you’ll need form 1098-C from the nonprofit. And you’ll have to file Form 8283 for cars valued at $500 or more. Consult IRS Publication 4302 for more detail.
  • Does it still run? Good, then find the keys and drive it on over to the nonprofit yourself. If you leave it up to the organization to pick up the vehicle themselves, any expense they incur—towing, for instance—is money taken away from the intended purpose.

These organizations have made car donations a centerpiece of their funding efforts:

 

The Original 1-800-Charity Cars (aka Free Charity Cars), Longwood, Fla.

The Original 1-800-Charity Cars seeks to provide free donated vehicles to assist struggling families in their transition from dependency to self-sufficiency. Operating the largest free nonprofit car donation/distribution program in the country, the organization has awarded more than 6,500 free vehicles nationwide.

“The giving from Free Charity never quits, they are always out there to help low-income families, ones who have nowhere else to turn, ones that no one will help. They not only get help but their lives are changed from one phone call. That was all it took for me. I love them.”

 

Kars4Kids, Lakewood, N.J.

Whether you consider it catchy or mind-numbing, you’ve probably heard their jingle on the radio. But most people probably don’t know much about Kars4Kids beyond the song. The organization funds educational, developmental, and recreational programs for Jewish youth and their families, with the goal of fostering a generation of well-balanced, productive adults.

“Donated my old car to them. I’m glad I was able to help this cause as children’s education is something I try to support. Kars4Kids also was very accommodating and helpful with working around my schedule and arranged a weekend pickup. Highly recommend!”

 

Cars for Kids, Dallas

Urging would-be donors to “Write Off the Car, Not the Kid,” Cars for Kids uses the proceeds from the sales of donated vehicles to support Texans Can Academies, which change the lives of at-risk youth by providing them the highest-quality high school education in an environment where they can flourish and graduate.

“After doing a lot of research, we selected Cars for Kids as our organization of choice. I am so glad we did! I could not be more pleased with my experience. Way to go, Cars for Kids! I wished every organization treated their patrons with the same amount of respect and courtesy.”

 

The above organizations are just a few of the many nonprofits across the country who can take that old vehicle off your hands and turn it into something much more for the people who depend on their services. Check out GreatNonprofits to find a nearby organization that can benefit from your generosity.

Matching Gifts 101: What Donors Should Know

Did you know there’s a way to quickly, easily double a contribution you make to your favorite nonprofit organization?

Yes, seriously!

Thanks to the magic of matching gift programs, you can exponentially increase your personal donation power by partnering with the company you work for.

Both small and large nonprofits can participate in matching gift programs, a valuable way that companies encourage employee charitable giving.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a crash course on gift-matching and show you how you can take advantage of these programs today.

Here’s an overview of our topics:

  1. Matching gifts basics
  2. Benefits of matching gifts
  3. Submission deadlines to keep in mind
  4. Top gift-matching companies

If you’re interested in maximizing your giving potential, read on!

1. Matching gifts basics

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Matching gifts certainly sound good (who wouldn’t love free extra money for your favorite cause?) but we know you’ve got some questions.

We’ll go over the basics of matching gift programs. Specifically:

  • What is a matching gift program?
  • What kinds of organizations are eligible?
  • How does the donation process work?

Now, let’s get started!

What is a matching gift program?

Matching gift programs are set up by companies as a method of inspiring charitable giving amongst their employees.

Essentially, these programs allow an employer to double or even triple an employee’s initial donation to any eligible organization.

By and large, most companies match at a 1:1 or dollar-per-dollar ratio.

Although that’s the standard, it’s not the only ratio you might see. Some companies match at .5:1 or as much as 4:1.

As well as following a preset matching ratio, companies also set minimum and maximum limits on donations.

A minimum limit generally falls between $1 and $100, but the average minimum is $25. Keep this in mind if you’re only able to donate a small amount, as your company may not match a donation below a certain amount.

Similarly, companies also set a maximum donation amount. Although these are less likely to be an issue, do keep these thresholds in mind as you plan your donation. Some caps are as low as $100, but most are closer to $1,000 or even $25,000.

If you’re looking to make a substantial gift (one that might contribute to your favorite organization’s capital campaign, for example), be aware that your company might not be able to match it.

These programs are great for you as a donor because it allows you to give more than you might normally be able to, and it’s even better for the nonprofits, since they get to see even more donation dollars toward their mission.

And yes, it really is as simple as it sounds!

What kinds of organizations are eligible?

While a large number of nonprofits are eligible for matching gift contributions, there are some limitations to keep in mind.

Most corporate giving programs will match gifts to a variety of organizations and institutions, including:

  • Educational institutions
  • Arts and cultural organizations
  • Environmental organizations
  • Community-based social services
  • Healthcare-based organizations

However, there are some organizations that are generally not eligible, such as political organizations, certain types of religious groups (usually those not attached to a social service or community organization), and sports teams.

These restrictions will vary by company, and there’s no way to know which organizations are universally eligible. The best way to make sure your company will match your gift is to check your employer’s specific guidelines.

How does the donation process work?

The exact methods might differ a bit from one company to the next, but generally speaking, there are a few steps you’ll probably be taking as you move through the gift-matching process.

Let’s take a look at what this looks like from your perspective.

  1. The first step is to make a donation. You can give directly to the organization, usually with a variety of payment methods.
  2. After your donation is complete, log on to your company’s matching gift portal, if they have one, or access a printable version of their matching gifts form online. (Hint: many nonprofits have a matching gift page on their website where you can easily search to see if your company has a program.)
  3. On the online portal, search for the organization you donated to and select them from the search results. If your organization cannot be found, you can usually add a new organization by providing some information about them. (Remember, not all organizations are eligible for every company’s program!)
  4. Next, you’ll need to enter some basic information about your donation. Generally this includes your payment type (i.e., credit, check, or cash), the date of the donation, and the amount. You may also be able to see the ratio at which your company can match the gift on this screen.
  5. Finally, submit your request! Verify your information and click “confirm.” Or, if you’re submitting a PDF of your form via email, send it to the designated address.

We told you it was easy! Now that you know how donation matching works, we can move on to discussing why matching gift programs are so great for everyone involved.

Takeaway: Gift-matching programs are set up by employers to promote employee giving. Most nonprofits are eligible, and the process for submitting your donation can be completed in less than five minutes.

2. Benefits of matching gifts

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Clearly, matching your donation is an easy process. But that’s not the only reason to take advantage of such a program!

There are a number of benefits to matching gift programs, both for companies and for donors (that’s you!)—we’ll talk through some of the most important advantages.

For Employers

Your company likely participates in a matching gift program for a combination of reasons.

Most evidently, these programs encourage employees to donate to charitable causes and do so often.

If your company organizes or takes part in nonprofit fundraising campaigns that challenge team members to fundraise independently (like a race or bikeathon), matching gifts make reaching those goals much easier.

Plus, it incentivizes employee donors to stretch their fundraising goals even more.

In addition, these programs enable companies to expand their own corporate donation power. With your help, companies will be able to donate significantly more funds, and diversify their giving across a wide variety of charitable causes.

This leads to a strong charitable reputation for companies and a larger social impact in general.

For Employees

First and foremost, matching gift programs allow you as a donor to give more fearlessly than ever.

When your donation is doubled, your impact is doubled! Matching gift programs empower you to make even greater contributions toward causes you care about. They allow you to give more than you might normally be able to, and encourage you to give more often too.

In addition, knowing this feature is in place with your company can jump-start a long-term relationship between you and a nonprofit (or multiple nonprofits).

If you’ve never considered giving, a program like this can open your eyes to a world of giving opportunities and all the benefits therein.

A matching gift program can be a great incentive for giving again and becoming more involved with local (or global!) fundraising and community service opportunities.

Speaking of community service, matching gift programs might lead to other areas of corporate giving, including volunteer grants. These are additional programs also set up by your employer to encourage employee volunteerism in your communities.

Through these programs, companies provide monetary grants to organizations where employees regularly volunteer. They’re a great way to expand your efforts from giving to actively serving and giving.

Thanks to programs like these, you get to have a say in your company’s philanthropic footprint! With your help, your company can begin making an impact on causes you really care about.

Takeaway: Both donors and companies benefit greatly from matching gift programs. Ultimately, the greatest advantage of these programs is that they empower more donations for nonprofits everywhere.

3. Submission deadlines to keep in mind

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If you’re worried that gifts you’ve already given might no longer be eligible to be matched, don’t fret!

Here, we’ll explain some general deadlines that go hand-in-hand with gift matching.

Although you should make a practice of submitting your donation match requests as soon as you’ve given, you’re not required to make those requests immediately.

Like almost every other facet of gift matching, you can count on some variations among companies.

But, more often than not, your employer’s submission deadline will fall within one of these standards:

  • Within a set amount of time. Many times, your submission deadline will occur 30 days, 3 months, or 1 year following the initial donation. (Hint: if you can’t remember when you donated, check your records! You’ll need to know the date when you submit your match request anyway.)
  • By the end of the calendar year. Some companies give you the rest of the calendar year to submit your requests. However, even if you make your gift in January, don’t put off submitting until December! Not only will you be more likely to forget to complete your submission, you’re also delaying those extra funds from making it to your chosen organization.
  • By the end of the year (plus a grace period). Your company may give you until the end of January, February, or even March of the next calendar year to complete your submission. That way, you have a little more time to tie up loose ends following the hectic holidays.

Takeaway: Don’t let your submission deadline slip by before you complete your request! Stay on top of things by being familiar with your company’s deadline, whether that be within a month, a year, or a longer period of time after the initial donation.

4. Top gift-matching companies

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After learning about all the benefits of matching gifts, you might be wondering what amazing impact large corporations are able to have on charities worldwide.

In fact, an impressive 65% of Fortune 500 companies make use of a matching gift program. That’s a lot of donations—and a lot of money toward charitable causes!

For a full rundown of the top-giving corporations, check out Double the Donation’s thorough analysis right here.

Here are some highlights:

  • General Electric (the first company to employ a matching gift program!) annually matches more than $35 million to registered nonprofits and accredited educational institutions.
  • BP offers a 1:1 matching ratio on all donations and guarantees a 100% match on any funds employees raise for charity runs, walks, or other active team fundraisers.
  • CarMax not only doubles employees’ donations, they also offer gift-matching for employees’ dependents until they turn 26. Talk about family fundraising!
  • Microsoft has definitely changed the gift-matching game. Since they’ve launched their matching program, the company has raised an astonishing $1 billion and counting.

With this in mind, imagine what your gift might be able to do when it’s matched by your company!

Takeaway: There are a number of sizable companies taking full advantage of matching gift programs and making a serious impression on the nonprofit world. One gift might not seem like a lot on its own, but thanks to these programs, donations add up—fast!

In Short

Matching gift programs encourage employees like you to give to nonprofits around the world.

Everyone benefits: the companies, the nonprofit organizations, and the donor.

Look to see if your employer has a matching gift program in place. By partnering with your company, you might be able to double your philanthropic impact.

Now that’s a two-for-one deal!

Adam Weinger is the president of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.

Tips for Compassion

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The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine was founded in 2008 with the explicit goal of promoting, supporting, and conducting rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior. Here are three tips for compassion by founder and director Dr. James Doty.

1. Realize that while you may be having a difficult time, in their own way, many around you are also suffering as well. Like you, they may be trying not to show it. Recognize this reality and be compassionate to others.

2. In a similar vein, when one acts or responds negatively towards you for no apparent reason, understand that their attitude or response may have nothing to do with you whatsoever. Being in pain or suffering often results in one responding or reacting negatively to all those around them. Recognize this reality when someone acts in such a manner and respond with compassion.

3. The greatest gift we can give to ourself and others often is a pause between a negative stimulus and our reaction. It is in this pause that compassion can be most powerful.

5 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Meaning

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’m still rounding up stray pine needles stuck in the rug and eating the few remaining arms and legs of broken gingerbread men. I really don’t need a tempting box of fancy chocolates or a lavish prix fixe meal out on the town. How can I bring more meaning to a day that has become yet another opportunity to show affection and commitment through expensive presents and bouquets of flowers forced to bloom in the dead of winter?

You don’t have to look far to figure that one out. People in our communities need help all year long. We feel good about ourselves during the holidays when we buy a gift for a needy child or serve a holiday meal at a shelter. Why stop there when you can volunteer or donate to a local nonprofit or charity?

According to last year’s “Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey” by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, the average annual Valentine’s Day spending reached $19.7 billion. The amount the average American spends on Valentine’s Day is $146.84. Think of how a local nonprofit might spend that money.

Here are five ways to involve nonprofits or volunteering to celebrate Valentine’s Day with meaning:

10307197_10152867365817220_938149246032744898_n1. Instead of going out to dinner, stay in and cook a special meal for your loved ones. Consider donating the money you saved to a community meal program.

Organic Soup Kitchen, Santa Barbara, Calif. “Of all the possibilities of non-profits I could be involved in I am proud to continue to support Organic Soup Kitchen and all their great work. What a wonderful job they do in the community, changing and improving lives daily using the power of food!”

Minnie’s Food Pantry, Plano, Texas. “It’s a joy every time I come to Minnie’s. You feel the love from the moment you step into the door. Don’t know where I would without them sometimes. I just love them all.”

2. Rather than a buying a bouquet of flowers, give to a community garden or beautification project. Your flowers will droop in just a few days, but a donation will continue to give back as the months go by.

Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Boston. “The Greenway is a great place to volunteer because you get to see your impact firsthand. When I walk through the park with my friends, I can point to bushes I helped prune and flowers I planted—in the middle of downtown Boston. Pretty cool!”

Friends of the Urban Forest, San Francisco. “Friends of the Urban Forest are the reason for our beautiful Olive tree on our front sidewalk. They have helped plant many other trees in our neighborhood and throughout San Francisco. Not to mention the sidewalk gardens they create.”

3. Instead of a romantic weekend away, a donation can help people find a caring place to sleep during the harsh winter nights.beverlys_birthdays-500x339

Aurora Warms the Night, Aurora, Colo. “The men, women and children who walk through the door are in desperate need of shelter and warmth. They leave AWTN with a voucher for a nearby motel, a safe and warm night off the streets, a package of food of several meals, toiletries and a warm coat. The compassion, empathy, and warmth shown by the staff would restore anyone’s faith in humanity.”

Beverly’s Birthdays, North Huntingdon, Pa. “Beverly’s Birthday brings light and joy to troubled, impoverished, and homeless children. The children that are so often forgotten by their families and/or society are celebrated on their birthday. If even for just a moment, they can forget all of their worries and just be a kid.”

4. Set a wonderful example for your kids, showing them ways to embrace others. Ask them to help you pick a need that your donation can fill.

Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake, Casco, Maine. “I’ve volunteered at this amazing place the past two summers and based on my experience, I can easily say this is the greatest place in the world. People say Disney is the most magical place on earth, but spending just hours at Camp Sunshine, there is no question this place beats Disney.”

Camp Starfish, Stow, Mass. “Camp Starfish saved our lives. It did more than just provide fun 24 hours a day. I had a sense of peace knowing that she was going to a camp that would understand her needs; she didn’t do very well in other camps. My daughter found it very difficult to make friends at school, but she made friends at Camp Starfish and looked forward to seeing the kids and counselors the following summer.”

5. Help someone in your own neighborhood. You may discover that a senior living nearby needs a lift to the doctor or help getting groceries.

Neighbor Ride, Columbia, Md. “We all know or are related to someone older who needs a ride for a doctor appointment, shopping, or a social visit (and we, too, will need such assistance someday). Neighbor Ride provides well over a thousand rides each month, free of charge to those who cannot afford it. This is community and volunteer service at its best.”

Drivers for Survivors, Fremont, Calif. “I have found the Drivers for Survivors team to be phenomenal! Both the office staff and drivers are so personable, kind, thoughtful, and generous with their time. Without having a car to go to all of my doctor visits and tests, it would be extremely costly for me to go to my appointments.”

For more inspiration, check out GreatNonprofit’s top-rated organizations.

Big thanks to Kathryn Maclaury for her time and contribution to the original version of this article.

Top 5 Romantic Ways to Give Back


With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, there’s no better time to show your local nonprofits some love. Want to make it a date? We’ve got some great, romantic ways to give back:

Go for a romantic walk . . . with a shelter dog: Many homeless puppies and dogs in animal shelters spend the bulk of their time in cages. Sign up to spend some time walking dogs together at a shelter.

Donate to your valentine’s favorite charity: Can’t volunteer together? Give your partner a gift card with money to put toward any charity he/she likes, or make a donation in your partner’s name to a favorite cause. Find charity gift cards at JustGive.

Cook for those in need: Not into the packed restaurant scene on Valentine’s Day? What about cooking a wholesome, hot meal for those in need in your neighborhood instead? Sign up together to cook or distribute food to the needy for a night.

Get the kids involved, or volunteer to help kids in need: Do your kids love making valentines? Why not deliver some to an elderly home? Do you both love working with kids? Volunteer together to mentor children in need.

Build something together: Work on a project together; it could be helping out at a Habitat for Humanity site, getting your hands in the dirt planting trees, or helping schoolchildren make art projects. Get creative!

Do you plan on volunteering this Valentine’s Day? Let us know how in the comments.

Ways to Help Syrian Refugees

On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on immigration that banned travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days, as well as suspended admission of all refugees for 120 days, and those from Syria indefinitely.

A supposed attempt to protect the United States from foreign terrorists entering the country—despite there not being a single fatal terrorist attack committed by a refugee in this country since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980—the ban has instead endangered the lives of thousands of Syrian refugees who are in fact fleeing from terrorism. Since the start of the civil war in Syria:

  • Approximately 400,000 Syrians have been killed
  • 4.8 million Syrians have fled the country
  • 6.3 million more have been displaced within the country
  • 54 percent of all refugees worldwide come from three countries­—Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia

syrian_refugees_having_rest_at_the_floor_of_keleti_railway_station-_refugee_crisis-_budapest_hungary_central_europe_5_september_2015

Want to help? Check out these organizations:

The American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU works tirelessly in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the Constitution’s promise of liberty for everyone in our country. And if this past weekend is any indication, it will be very busy under the Trump administration—the organization filed a habeas corpus petition on behalf of two men denied entry to the country and detained by U.S. Customs after landing at New York’s JFK, and an emergency stay was granted by a federal judge for New York’s Eastern District that temporarily halted the ban.

The ACLU raised more than $24 million online this weekend after Trump immigration ban was issued—roughly six times more than it usually receives in a typical year. More than 356,000 donors contributed.

“One of the greatest charities to support American civil liberties you will find. There are many people who find it fashionable to gripe about them and complain, however these people do not know civil law or their own Constitution. If these people knew anything about the Constitution, they would know what an outstanding charity the ACLU is. The ACLU will (and have) help ANYONE whose civil liberties are infringed upon. I applaud the work the ACLU does and am a proud supporter. I am honored to donate a portion of my paycheck every week to this great charity.”

Donate Now

 

International Rescue Committee

The IRC responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the organization offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. Working in more than 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, IRC restores safety, dignity, and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure.

“I have supported IRC for 15 years as a corporate and personal donor. I have visited their operations in nations in conflict and in the U.S. Harm to Home program. My daughter and several friends have worked for IRC as employees and volunteers. By every measure, IRC is the best of the best—no frills, pragmatic, non-sectarian, non-political, efficient, thoughtful and courageous. By supporting IRC, I am helping people in desperate need and at the same time, projecting U.S. values in the best way possible. The IRC will remain our principal charity recipient and will receive a bequest.”

Donate Now

 

International Orthodox Christian Charities

The IOCC offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination, and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond. It partners with DERD, which is the humanitarian arm of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, to send relief to more than 2.7 million Syrians.

“My parents were war refugees and wouldn’t have survived without an organization like IOCC. I have been a supporter of this faith-based global relief agency for 10 years and continue to support IOCC for three reasons: 1) They help people in need regardless of race or religion; 2) They are extremely efficient with the way they spend my donations; and 3) I am impressed with their track record of reaching places others are unable to. This is a small organization doing great work. They deserve to be supported.”

Donate Now

 

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. The organization currently has team members in eight countries helping approximately 2.5 million people affected by the Syrian crisis, and it helps about 470,000 people per month within Syria. Mercy Corps provides everything from the basics—like food and water—to art activities for youth to manage their stress.

“They do great work all over the world but what they’ve been doing in Syria the past 4–5 years during the civil war, it’s really impressive.”

Donate Now

 

Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA strives to alleviate suffering, hunger, illiteracy, and diseases worldwide regardless of color, race, religion, or creed, and to provide aid in a compassionate and dignified manner.

The organization has been able to serve more than 9.3 million Syrians in need, in Syria and in neighboring countries—giving items like food, medical aid, water, blankets, mattresses, plastic sheeting, plastic mats, shoes, jackets, hats, sweatshirts, gloves, waterproof coats, and socks.

“The first thing I noticed about this organization was how passionate the staff and volunteers were. It was evident that the people there wanted to be there and were helping wholeheartedly. Some of the best and kindest people I’ve ever met, hands down! I volunteered a few times for them and enjoyed every minute of it!”

Donate Now

 

These are but a few of the organizations working tirelessly to defend the rights of and providing humanitarian relief to refugees, both in Syria and around the world. Check out GreatNonprofits for others and help them continue the important and lifesaving work that they do.

The Gift of Life

Still short on funds after the holidays and no time to volunteer? Luckily, you still have something very valuable to give, and it’s something that can literally mean the difference between life and death for the people you are helping.

In proclaiming January as National Blood Donor Month, President Richard Nixon on Dec. 31, 1969, said:

Genuine concern for his fellow man has always distinguished the American citizen. That concern finds daily expression in countless acts of voluntary service to the less fortunate, the sick, and the injured.

No manifestation of this generosity of spirit is more expressive, and no gift more priceless in time of personal crisis, than the donation of one’s blood. The voluntary blood donor truly gives life itself.

With the advent of the New Year, it is appropriate and timely to pay high tribute to our nation’s voluntary blood donors for their generosity and to encourage more people—both women and men, and both the younger and the older—to join their worthy ranks by providing a steady and increasing supply of blood during each month of the year ahead.

And January is the perfect time to remind people to give: According to the American Red Cross, whether because of changing weather or increased cases of colds and the flu, it’s the most difficult time to attract donors. At the same time, unfortunately, wintry conditions could make the demand for blood increase.

But just because January is coming to an end doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance. The need for blood, as you can see in the graphic below (courtesy of www.bestmasterofscienceinnursing.com/blood), will always be great, so get out there and find an organization near you to support, or an upcoming blood drive.

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“Giving Has Been Very Liberating to Me”

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-44-29-pmWatch SPIN co-founder Nneka McPhee discuss her experience with the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado, whose mission is to continuously improve the professional and social trajectory of minority leaders through effective leadership training. Watch the Video

Every Little Bit Helps!

Simply being able to write a check for millions—or even billions—of dollars to help support issues you are passionate about would be wonderful, but it’s unfortunately not a reality for all but a lucky select few of us.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that we collectively can’t make a huge impact.

A classic example of this is the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, created by FDR to help combat polio. Making dimes the centerpiece of their fundraising campaigns, entertainer Eddie Cantor, appealing on behalf of the foundation, said: “The March of Dimes will enable all persons, even the children, to show our president that they are with him in this battle against this disease. Nearly everyone can send in a dime, or several dimes. However, it takes only 10 dimes to make a dollar and if a million people send only one dime, the total will be $100,000.”

5269294621_bfcfb307f0What followed that year were more than 2.6 million dimes addressed to the White House—and an eventual polio vaccine.

For a more recent example, one needn’t look beyond much more than a month or so ago as evidence: Giving Tuesday 2016 raised $168 million from 156 million—an average of roughly $107.

And although they weren’t donating to a nonprofit, contributions to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign were said to average a mere $27. And while that number may be more symbolic than accurate, at its core it did prove that much can be accomplished with seemingly very little.

Those political contributions weren’t tax deductible, though—but your donations to your favorite nonprofits will be. And no matter how small, they will go a long way toward helping your favorite organizations accomplish their goals. Below are but a few example:

  • $1 to the San Francisco–Marin Food Bank provides $5 worth of food
  • $1 to the Food for Life Global provides five to seven hot vegan meals in India
  • $15 to UNICEF can provide 20 packets of high-energy biscuits
  • $25 to Little Kids Rock will sponsor weekly music lessons for a student for a year
  • $1 per week to the United Way of Monroe County buys art supplies for 50 low-income teens participating in an after-school program

So next time you feel like you don’t have enough to make a difference with your donation, think again!

Start Earning Your 2017 Top-Rated Badge Today!

According to a study, the GreatNonprofits seal is the second most trusted ratings seal, after only the Better Business Bureau. In addition, 72 percent of people say that the presence of a badge increases their likelihood of giving.

And more donations mean that you’ll be able to continue and expand the scope of the great work that you do. With the looming uncertainty of the next administration, attracting as many donations as possible may be more important than ever before. So, what are you waiting for?

196996_0e5c4c416ed94b0e879c58bd95c6cc2amv2More than 1,700 nonprofits earned Top-Rated status from GreatNonprofits in 2016. Was yours one of them? If so, you may already know the benefits. In addition to receiving 2017 Top-Rated Badge, certificate, and press kit and marketing materials, you will be:

  • listed on our 2017 Top-Rated Leaderboard and 2017 #GivingTuesday Guide
  • promoted via social media, public relations, and via the Huffington Post and other mediums
  • mentioned by our sponsors and partners, and receive special designation on our site

The 2017 campaign has already started—it began on New Year’s Day and runs until Oct. 31, so there’s no time like the present to get started. But if you didn’t make the 2016 list (or did, and simply need a quick refresher), here’s how to qualify:

  1. Claim (or log in to) your nonprofit
  2. Invite clients, donors, and volunteers to share their story
  3. Get 10 or more positive stories (4- or 5-star rating) within the campaign period

Qualified organizations will be notified on a monthly basis starting in April and instantly get listed on the leaderboard.

Your nonprofit has provided both the tools and inspiration that have helped people change their lives for the better, and it’s time for everyone to know about it! Get started on gaining Top-Rated status today!