Tag Archives: generousity

Look To The Stars

13 Mar

Sure, they’re famous.  True, they’re wealthy.  Of course, they’re entertaining.  But SOME are very generous as well.  Here are a few stats to give you an idea of how many.  Below that, photos of the top 5 major contributors rated 1 through 5 (1 being the most charitable)

Children   613 charities, 2115 celebrities                 
At-Risk/Disadvantaged Youths   249 charities, 910 celebrities
Health   492 charities, 1928 celebrities
Education   287 charities, 1046 celebrities
Poverty   199 charities, 1173 celebrities
Cancer   180 charities, 1084 celebrities

Elton

Oprah Angelinajolie bono Ellen

1. Elton John - Number of Charities: 48

2. Angelina Jolie - Number of Charities: 29

3. Bono – Number of Charities: 35

4. Oprah Winfrey – Number of Charities: 21

5. Ellen DeGeneres – Number of Charities: 38

CharitableStars

Shine a Light: TODAY

17 Jan 2D11012620-shinealight.blocks_desktop_medium

As the new year begins, the TODAY Show unveils a new outreach project called Shine a Light, a year-long initiative focused on service and giving back to communities in need. 

Each anchor has picked a worthy cause to support throughout the year:

today-shine-140106-01.vembedmedMatt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie will help give kids safe places to play.  Matt and Savannah will help convert an abandoned lot into a playground, working to help provide secure locations for kids to exercise both their bodies and their imaginations.

“Recess was my favorite subject in school. I loved to go outside and run around. And I can’t imagine growing up and not being able to sit on a swing set and take flight,” Savannah said. “I would love to do something that brought joy to kids who have too little of it.”

“I want to take what is perhaps an eyesore in that neighborhood — a vacant lot, you know, broken bottles, rocks, graffiti — and I want a community to get motivated … After it’s been transformed from rubble, I want to be there as we swing that gate open for the first time,” Matt said.

Why is this cause important? Sixty-nine percent of low-income parents say there is no playground in their neighborhoods, and children in neighborhoods without a park are 26 percent more likely to be obese.  Track Matt and Savannah’s progress on our Shine a Light TODAY Facebook page.

2D11048280-today-shine-140107-01-social-Al.blocks_desktop_mediumAl Roker’s goal is to join a USO tour, helping to bring a little bit of America to our more than 127,000 troops stationed all around the world.

“A few years ago I went to Afghanistan … You see it on TV, but nothing can prepare you for what these men and women are dealing with,” Al said. “We still have a lot of American troops in harm’s way, and I want them to know that they’re remembered.”

Natalie Morales hopes to run the Boston Marathon, helping to raise awareness and money for victims of last year’s bombing attacks as their challenges continue.  “They’ve shown us not only how to be Boston strong, but America strong,” she said.

Willie Geist will renovate a homeless shelter, making it a safe place for kids and families.  “There’s just not enough space for kids,” he says. “We can do better than that.”

CarsonCarson Daly will fight childhood hunger in America, raising awareness and inspiring others to help feed their neighbors.  “I’m a father. And I wake up every day and, you know, breakfast with my kids is a big deal to me,” Carson said. “There are millions of kids who wake up and they’re not eating. And it’s certainly not by choice. It’s because they can’t.”

“People are hungry not just in the slums of America, not just in the poor parts,” he said. “It’s the kids who are sitting next to your kids in well-to-do areas, in middle class areas and poor areas.”

Tamron will focus her efforts on raising awareness about victims of domestic abuse.  “I’ve worked with victims, survivors, of domestic violence for many years now. But for me, that work changed after the death of my sister,” she said. “For years, my sister had been the victim of domestic violence, and I look back at our relationship, our friendship as sisters, and I wonder, ‘Could I have done something to save her?’”

Approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year, and three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day.  Tamron said she’ll connect with young girls in this situation who feel like they’re alone. “I want them to know that these hands are reaching out to them. And we’re going to pull them out of that dark hole into the light.”

today-shine-140109-split-03.vembedmedHoda Kotb is making it her mission to help kids with cancer, working closely with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.  “As a cancer survivor myself, I know what it feels like as a grownup,” Hoda said. “But what I can’t even fathom, even now, is what it feels like to be a kid … struggling with this grown-up disease, something they shouldn’t have to deal with. And all you want to do is reach out and help and hug.”

Hoda will help lift children’s spirits by creating a music video with them. It’ll be “an anthem about being brave and being strong,” she said, and expressed her hope that the message will spread from hospital to hospital across the country.

Kathie Lee Gifford will spend the year raising money for a worthy cause by encouraging families to make 2D11012620-shinealight.blocks_desktop_mediummemories with their loved ones.  “2014 is going to be the year that my family celebrates 20 years in the same home. So I started chronicling pictures and things and hopefully, by the end of the year we will have a coffee-table book,” Kathie Lee said. It’ll be called ‘Good Giffts, One Year in the Heart of a Home.’”

Proceeds from the sale of Kathie Lee’s book will go to the Salvation Army.

“I want this book to be a blessing to whoever picks it up,” she said. “I want to put a smile on their face. I want to put a prayer of gratitude in their own souls for the blessings that they have in life.”

Track the anchors’ progress and join to help make an impact on the Shine a Light TODAY Facebook page. And tell them on social media how you’re pitching in, using the hashtag #ShineALight.

Tis The Season for Giving

22 Dec

Give gifts that keeps on giving!santa-claus3

A big chunk of holiday tension comes from figuring out what gifts to give. Sure, there’s the run-of-the-mill sweater for mom, tie for dad, and gift certificate for Uncle Gerry (who is always difficult to shop for). But what do these gifts really say other than, I couldn’t think of anything else to get you?

Luckily there is a positive trend in gift giving that may be just the right cure for holiday-shopping anxiety.  This holiday, give a gift with extra meaning. Provide clean drinking water for people around the world, help for disadvantaged kids — and much more.  Besides the above giftcard, there are many ways you can give gifts to your friends and family while giving to those in need as well.  Here are some examples:

TisBest Charity Gift Cards empower your gift recipients to support good causes they are passionate about. The Card is a donation gift that works like a conventional gift card but instead of buying stuff, the recipient “spends” the TisBest card by selecting which of our 300+ charity partners receives the money. Personalize the card with your own message, image and/or company branding.  Eco-friendly, customizable, and #1 ranked, TisBest Charity Gift Cards make ideal business giftsteacher gifts, wedding favors, Hanukah gifts, and Christmas donation gifts. TisBest Philanthropy is a Top Rated 501(c)(3) nonprofit and earned the Gold Seal from GuideStar.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
image.howitworks

This holiday, give a gift with extra meaning. Provide clean drinking water for people around the world, help for disadvantaged kids — and much more.  Besides the above giftcard, there are many ways you can give gifts to your friends and family while giving to those in need as well.  Here are some examples:

Help For The Troops  -  Even when a service member finds out that he or she can take off for the holidays, sometimes the good news comes so last minute that it’s impossible to find a reasonably priced ticket during peak travel time.  That’s when Let’s Bring ‘Em Home steps in.

Since 2001, the organization has been collecting donations in order to purchase tickets for servicemen and servicewoman so that they can spend the holidays with their families, no matter the ticket price.  Last season, the organization booked 122 flights. It received more than $80,000 in donations and more than half a million frequent flyer miles.

acspc-041567Help For Cancer Patients - Did you know that there are many people who must travel great distances on a daily basis to receive treatment? Who pays for that?  I just recently noticed the American Cancer Society’s TV campaign asking for text donations of $10 to raise money for hotel rooms to help traveling cancer patients.  American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, which provides free housing in 31 locations throughout the U.S. We also (as humans) get caught up in the holiday activities forgetting that cancer doesn’t take a break for the holidays. People still need treatment. People can’t be home. Imagine the tears. Extended Stay America and Hope Lodge are especially important this time of year. They help ease some of that sadness and some of the financial stress. I will be home for the holidays this year, will you?  Donate to American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge HERE.

The universal theme that circles around every December–regardless of one’s religion or spiritual practice–is to put others before yourself. And what better way to do that than to give gifts to the people you love that benefit the people you know need help? Charity gifts tug the heartstrings. You can’t always hold them, but you can feel them, which means they stand a chance of living in your memory longer.

To you and yours, have a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!!

 

 

For The Child

13 Dec

Tis the season to think about our children.  What do they need?  What do they want?  What will they pester you to death for?  Have they been good (for goodness sake)?  Christmas is for the children and makes kids happy – some kids.

hp3

There are many abused and neglected children right here in our community.  They have been given a voice by Piedmont CASA (court appointed special advocates).  Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Inc. provides trained volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children, promoting and supporting safe, permanent and nurturing homes for child victims before the courts of the 16th Judicial District of Virginia. Piedmont CASA promotes awareness about child abuse and neglect through community education and outreach.

“My task is to talk to every person in these children’s lives – lives that have already been compromised and scarred – and piece together a recommendation that will help them to heal, to find stability, even to grow.”  - Volunteer Phoebe Frosch.

Volunteers Working to Stop Abuse and Neglect, One Child at a Time.kid-vert

Each year in the Charlottesville / Albemarle region, hundreds of children are victims of violence, sexual abuse and severe neglect.  CASA is an organization that trains Court Appointed Special Advocates, who work one-on-one with abused and endangered children to assist the courts in determining the best environment to ensure each child’s safety and well-being. Volunteer court advocates may be the only voice that can truly speak for these children.

Make a contribution online now!  The support of our generous donors enabled Piedmont CASA’s volunteers to advocate for 204 children last fiscal year. In order to continue serving children in our community who need our help, we rely on the support from caring individuals and businesses.

No fees are charged for the services of the Piedmont CASA program, and no other agency provides community volunteers to serve as child advocates in juvenile court proceedings.

As the need for CASA services continues to grow, additional resources must be secured to make sure that CASA is able to meet those needs effectively. Your financial support will help Piedmont CASA speak up for children in our community.

Donate by mail:
Check should be made payable to Piedmont CASA
Piedmont CASA
818 East High Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Donate over the phone:
(434) 971-7515

Contribute through the United Way:
Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign with CVC Code 3836:

State employees, remember that you can designate Piedmont CASA to receive your donation through the United Way’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. Piedmont CASA’s designation number is 3836.

Building Goodness

1 Dec

secHammerThe mission of Building Goodness, a Charlottesville-based charity, is to build community and improve lives.  What they do is greatly needed in our area and I’m happy to support their efforts.

Building Goodness brings together volunteers from every part of the construction industry to design and build structures for communities in need. Together with partners, they use donations of time, money, materials, and expertise to build clinics, schools, community centers, and specialized housing for those who need them most—both in our own community and around the world. Non-construction volunteers are a critical part of their team. And, beyond the bricks and mortar of a new structure, BGF volunteers build lasting relationships with the people they are helping—relationships that profoundly improve the lives of all involved.

Currently, Building Goodness Foundation has projects right here at home in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area making structural improvements on homes and nonprofit organizations’ facilities. Following the desire to help beyond or our own community, BGF volunteers are also working at the Mattaponi Reservation near Richmond, VA, and several rebuilding sites in Haiti. In addition to ongoing local work, our volunteers have completed numerous buildings in Gulf Coast town of Pearlington, MS, in Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador since 1999.

Founders, volunteers and community members talk about the inspiration and connectedness of BGF–from that first trip to Haiti to the reality of 13 years of building community and improving lives here and abroad.  Watch the BGF video

A few of Building Goodness’ current projects. Please CLICK HERE to lend your support for any of their projects:

Barrett Early Learning Center, CharlottesvilleBarrett

Founded in 1935, Barrett Early Learning Center is Virginia’s oldest preschool. The center provides a nurturing, educational, and healthy environment for some of our community’s youngest residents, with a special focus on children from low-income families.

We’re honored to yet again partner with this Charlottesville institution. We’ll be working to ensure the safety of the students, as well as the educators and staff entrusted with their care. BGF volunteers will install two steel fire escapes, replacing the aging, wood fire escapes.

CODEP Depot

CODEP Depot - Leogane, Haiti

In an effort to address the daily hardship in the mountainous area of Léogâne, Building Goodness Foundation partners with CODEP, Haiti Fund’s Comprehensive Development Project. CODEP families participate in education, reforestation, tropical agriculture and healthcare initiatives, improving their own living conditions.

The CODEP Depot for Community Development will be a multi-use building that supports the CODEP animators and their business development. The building will provide space for the production of coffee and textiles, storage for tree-planting supplies, and a market for fruits and vegetables. The Depot will serve as a micro-business development center, providing training in business development, accounting, and economics. It will also be used as a meeting place for the CODEP animators, group leaders for the different CODEP regions.

CODEP works with 30 small communities and 600 Haitian farmers (200 of whom are women) to improve their lives and those of their families. Just a few of CODEP’s accomplishments include:

  • Planting over 7 million trees since 2000.
  • Digging over 1,000 miles of contour ditches to prevent further erosion.
  • Installing/Building over 100 cisterns and almost 90 houses as incentive awards/earthquake replacement homes since 2000.
  • Impacting the lives of over 50,000 people in the Léogâne Commune.

Arc

Arc of the Piedmont, Charlottesville

BGF is once again partnering with Arc of the Piedmont, this time to make some much needed repairs to one of their residences right here in Charlottesville. The Arc strives to improve the lives of those living with physical and intellectual disabilities through a number of programs including assisted living. The residence on Jefferson Park Circle is home to six adults, and provides a structured atmosphere where they can live more independent and empowered lives.

BGF volunteers will be installing air conditioning units in two bedrooms on the second floor, as well as tackling some basic carpentry and roofing repairs around the house.

 

Tax Deductions

10 Apr

taxes-1Ah yes.  It’s tax time again.  Time for all of us to figure out how much we must give to our Uncle Sam so he’ll leave us alone for another year (well… not really).  Fact is, if we give to a more WORTHY cause than our Uncle during the year, we are able to declare that amount for tax deductions.  Here’s the scoop:

Donations to a qualified, tax-exempt charitable organization are tax deductible expenses. These donations can reduce your taxable income and lower your tax bill. Not everyone will be able to deduct their charitable contributions, however.  You will need to itemize your tax deductions in order to claim any charity.

“You may deduct charitable contributions of money or property made to qualified organizations if you itemize your deductions.” (IRS Publication 78)

Keeping Records of Your Charityman-laying-head-on-financial-documents

Taxpayers are required to keep excellent records of their charitable contributions. Under the Pension Protection Act, you must keep written records of all cash donations. Your records must indicate the name of the charitable organization, the date of your contribution, and the amount your contribution. Canceled checks work well as a written record, since the name of the charity, the date of the gift, and the amount of the gift will all be recorded on the check. Bank statements showing a gift paid by debit card and credit card statements showing a gift paid by credit card are also contain these same elements needed for your records.

Charitable organizations will often provide donors with a written letter acknowledging the gift or with a receipt for the donation. These acknowledgment letters should also be kept with your tax records. If a tax return is audited, the IRS can disallow charitable donations of $250 or more if you don’t have the written acknowledgement from the charity that documents your gift. The IRS advises, “If you made more than one contribution of $250 or more, you must have either a separate acknowledgment for each or one acknowledgment that lists each contribution and the date of each contribution and shows your total contributions” (from Publication 526).

Non-Cash Contributions of PropertyDonations-300x199

Contributions of property (other than cash) are subject to strict record keeping and substantiation rules. You must be able to substantiate the fair market value of the goods or property you donated, plus keep any written acknowledgments you receive from the charity.

Limits on the Charitable Contribution Deduction

Your charitable contribution tax deduction may be limited. There are limits specific to charitable contributions, and there are general limits on itemized deductions.

50%, 30%, and 20% Limits on Charitable Contributions

  • Generally, you can deduct cash contributions in full up to 50% of your adjusted gross income.
  • Generally, you can deduct property contributions in full up to 30% of your adjusted gross income.

  • Generally, you can deduct contributions of appreciated capital gains assets in full up to 20% of your adjusted gross income.

Charitable contributions in excess of these limits can be carried over to the following tax year. The excess contributions can be carried over for a maximum of five years.

 

World Water Day

22 Mar

wwdlogoWorld Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.  An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

WHY WATER?

Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. (source) Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.

90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are in children under five years old. (source) Many of these diseases are preventable. The WHO reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

charity waercharity: water  is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

It’s hard not to think about water today. In the western world, we face growing concerns about our stewardship of the world’s most precious resource. There’s talk of shortages, evidence of reservoirs and aquifers drying up, and of course, plenty of people who simply don’t care.  Most of us have never really been thirsty. We’ve never had to leave our houses and walk five miles to fetch water. We simply turn on the tap, and water comes out. Clean. Yet there are 800 million people on the planet who don’t have clean water.  One in every nine people on this earth do not have clean water.  Something we can’t imagine going even 12 hours without.  Those people didn’t choose to be born into a village where the only source of water is a polluted swamp.

charity-water-largeThe charity: water organization doesn’t offer grand solutions and billion dollar schemes, but instead, simple things that work.  Things like freshwater wells, rainwater catchments and sand filters.  They need support from the rest of the world to fund programs that supply those things and they need people to help them raise awareness of the lack of clean water to many parts of the world.

GIVE TO CLEAN WATER

dirty-water

 

Love To Give

14 Feb

loveThis Valentine’s Day, forget the wining and dining. Do something that matters.

Like most people, I’ve had good Valentine’s Days and, well, not so good.

The not-so-good dates back to middle school, when I, like many of my classmates, anxiously awaited one of those pink-dyed carnations from what I hoped would be a secret admirer.  Some years the carnation never came and it left me feeling uneasy about the 14th of February almost every year.

I later came to realize that Valentine’s Day is about much more than getting flowers or conversation hearts that say “Hot Stuff” or “Be Mine.” I love it that there’s a day in our busy lives when we officially celebrate love. I’m not just talking romantic love, but the real-deal, universal stuff-of-life that makes up who we really are. Behind all our roles and personalities and professionalism, each of us, at essence, is a living, loving being. Sure, on the other 364 days of the year we might try to fake it, but on this one day, the world agrees: Love is where it’s at. Call it spirit, call it sweetness — whatever you want to call it, we’ve all got it. It’s just a matter of what we do with it.

There are plenty of ways to do good and feel good this Valentine’s Day. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Will You Be My…Volunteer? There’s no shortage of ways you can help. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, animal shelter, or favorite nonprofit, or offer to tutor a child in reading or math. You can find loads of opportunities on VolunteerMatch, or check out DoSomething, which helps younger folks rock the causes they care about.

2.  Put the “Fun” in Fundraising. If you’re taking that special someone out for a pricey dinner, why not have your bill go to a good cause? Check your newspaper or online city pages for Valentine-themed fundraisers that support local nonprofits. Or better yet, throw your own happy hour or party and donate the proceeds to charity.

3. Give a Little Bit. Sometimes a little helps a lot. Looking to put your money where your mouth is? Donate a dollar a handday to a cause that calls to you through Philanthroper. Or support students and classrooms in need in your hometown through DonorsChoose.

4. Send Love Letters. Not just to your sweetheart, but to people and organizations that are doing good things for the world. Tell them why you respect and appreciate their work, and that they really do make a difference. If you’re feeling extra romantic, include a donation.

5. Reach Out to Those in Need. Deliver homemade Valentine’s cards or heart-shaped cookies to the sick, the elderly, the homeless — and their caregivers. Call a local children’s hospital, nursing home, domestic violence or homeless shelter and ask how you can donate an hour or two of your time.

6. Give Gifts That Give. There are dozens of charitable shopping sites and online nonprofit stores selling gifts for a good cause. Look for red Motorola phones, Gap T-shirts and iPods from Apple to support the (Red) Campaign, or find cause-specific gifts to alleviate hunger, breast cancer, deforestation and more at Greater Good. Can’t find the perfect gift for your special someone? Give a Good Card through Network for Good.

7. Love Your Mother (Earth). Take the trash challenge: For one day, see if you can generate zero trash. Zip, nada, loveearthnothing. No cardboard boxes, no disposable containers, no bottled water. Think of what you can reduce and re-use, and call your county or city waste management to find out about local compost programs.

8. Get Your Heart Pumping. Charity walks and runs raise money for a good cause and get you moving in the great outdoors. Bring the family or your co-workers along to make it a team event. To find an event, check your local American Heart Association or a local runners’ club, such as Road Runners Club.

9. Adopt a Pet for a Day. Offer to take care of a pet for an ill or homebound neighbor. Volunteer at your local animal shelter to take the dogs for a walk. Or adopt an endangered species through the World Wildlife Fund, and you’ll get a lovable stuffed pet and adoption certificate.

10. Say “I Do” to Charitable Weddings. Tying the knot this year? Consider creating a charitable gift registry through the I Do Foundation and its many retail and nonprofit partners.

Aside

Do Something Good Day!

21 Jan

goodday

There has never been a greater need for people do something good.  The world is sometimes sad, sometimes scary.  Doing good reinforces GOOD and makes the bad fall away.

When a tiny pebble is dropped into a pool of water, ripples spread out across the entire surface of the pond. We believe that, like the pebble, a good deed makes a ripple that spreads across the entire planet spreading happiness, gratitude and good will.  I know what you’re thinking… “Ugh…  my teeth hurt that was so sweet”.  Sure.  But you catch more flies with honey, they say.  The idea of PAY IT FORWARD is a goody goody, sweet and syrupy one, but it is an extremely effective way to spread good in a world that DESPERATELY needs some.

Take a moment to imagine what it might be like if every person in your neighborhood were to do just one simple good deed — like picking up the paper for the elderly man who lives around the corner; or helping the young mother across the street with her many bags of groceries; or perhaps it’s simply a wave and a friendly smile for the garbage man. What a difference that would make and doing so is almost effortless.

January 21st is DO SOMETHING GOOD DAY.   This to honor Martin Luther King Jr Day.  King wanted everyone to be treated the same… now, we want everyone to be treated the SAME and BETTER.

Smiles are nice. Cards are nice. Gifts are nice.  All the “standards” are nice–and all, at least in part, are somewhat expected.  If you really want to make someone’s day, do the unexpected. It’s not hard. Little things truly can go the longest way.

Be thoughtful, simply because you can.

A friend of mine pulled into a service bay to get his oil changed. As he got out of the car one of the techs said, “Man, those are nice wheels… too bad they’re so dirty.” He smiled, just teasing.  “I know…” I said. “I guess i’ll go to the car wash next.”  Then he went inside to wait.

When he walked to my car to leave he was just standing up, filthy rags in his hand. “Took some work, but I got ‘em all clean,” he said. Every rim sparkled. Every speck of brake dust was gone.  “Wow, that’s awesome… but you didn’t have to do that,” he said.  “We’re not very busy,” he shrugged.  “I had time. Figured I would make ‘em look better.” Just then a car pulled into another bay so he hustled away, saying over his shoulder, “Have a good day.”

That was four years ago. But my friend still hasn’t forgotten it. Instead of turning idle time into “me time,” use your free time to do something nice: Not because you might be expected to, but just because you can.

Say something good about something old.Smiley_Face

One day I was waiting to check into a B&B and overheard this conversation:  The man said, “A few years ago my daughter’s fiancée was deployed to Iraq and they decided to move up their wedding. She needed a venue that could put the reception together on two days’ notice. I told her not to get her hopes up because there was no way anyone could pull that off.  “But you and your folks did. You can’t imagine what having a real wedding meant to her. And I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to see her so happy. I just wanted to thank you again.” They shook hands, the man walked away, and the owner’s eyes stayed on him until he disappeared out the door.

It feels great to receive compliments for something you’ve just done. It feels even better when someone goes out of their way to compliment you for something you did in the past–not only do they still appreciate what you did, they went out of their way to say they remember.  Find a person you can thank or compliment for something they did a long time ago.  Everyone appreciates–no, everyone loves–to be remembered.

Say who referred you.

We all get recommendations from friends or colleagues (I LOVE THEM, BY THE WAY). Sometimes we act on them.  When you do, say so. Tell the owner John referred you. Tell the manager Mary said the food was awesome and you just had to try it. Say Mark said you won’t find better service anywhere else.  The person you tell will feel good because it’s a double compliment, one from you and one from the referrer. They’ll feel good because they’ll know their hard work is appreciated, which is nice, and that their hard work is paying off–which is even nicer.

And John, Mary, and Mark will appreciate it because they’ll know you respect their opinion and because you helped make their professional relationship with another business a little more personal.

Compliment for something you aren’t expected to compliment.compliments

I was third in line. The guy at the front of the line was huffing and puffing and threatening to blow the smoothie shop’s house down because, I don’t know, maybe because he felt he wasn’t being treated with the deference due a Wolf of Industry. He left in a huff (albeit a huff insufficient to blow said smoothie shop down.)  The kid at the counter stayed nice, stayed polite, and stayed professional. It was an impressive performance for a high school student working a part-time job.  The woman in front of me placed her order. Then she said, “You know, you handled that really well.”  The kid was startled. “Um…” he stammered.  “No, really,” she said. “He was being a jerk. But you handled it perfectly. I have customer service professionals working for me that would not have done nearly as well as you did. You should be proud of yourself.”  “Thanks,” he said. He turned to make her smoothie, his shoulders a little broader and his back a little straighter.

Every day people around you do good things. Most of those people don’t work for you; in fact, most of them have no relationship with you, professional or personal. Compliment them for something they would least expect.

Expected feels good. Unexpected makes a huge, and lasting, impact.

Notice when someone tries something different.

Status quo is often status safe. Taking a risk, however small, is hard, especially if you’re insecure.  Insecurity feeds off silence, so mention when you see someone trying something different. Compliment the effort. Praise the risk.  Even if what they try doesn’t work, they will know you noticed.  Everyone likes to be noticed.

And they’ll know, regardless of how it turns out, that you respect them for trying.

Give someone credit they don’t deserve–yet.doheart

A friend of mine decided to tryout for cheerleading in the ninth grade.  She was nervous, scared, intimidated.  A week or so into practices, she heard the coach talking to one of the seniors. “That kid there,” he said, meaning my friend, “is going to be a state champion by the time she’s a senior.”  In that instant, my friend felt more confident, more self-assured… and incredibly motivated. Those feelings lasted for a long time, even though she was never a state champion – someone believed in her.

When you see a person struggling, give them hope. Let them know you see something in them that they don’t yet see – even if, sometimes, you don’t yet see it either.  Belief, founded or unfounded, is incredibly powerful–and when someone else believes in us, it’s unforgettable.

Top Rated Charities

23 Aug

 

You want your donation to go to the right organization, so here are some top places to consider according to charity-rating website Charity Navigator.  Here’s our top 5 list:

No. 5:  Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Featured previously as one of the best charities that receive no help from the government, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation uses donations to support members of the elite special forces units of all branches of the military — Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, Army Rangers and Air Force rotary and fixed-wing squadrons, as well as several others.

The group’s annual revenue (more than $13 million last year) goes to two very specific areas: providing educational scholarships to the children of special forces soldiers who die in the line of duty and helping families of severely wounded soldiers visit their loved ones in the hospital.

No. 4: Homes for Our Troops

 Another organization that comes to the aid of soldiers and military families, Homes for Our Troops collects donations and secures volunteer labor to build houses for disabled veterans or to modify existing houses so they are handicap-accessible. Managing revenue of more than $11 million in 2010, the group addresses the struggles of injured soldiers after they leave the hospital and begin to live with their injuries, an area of recovery and rehabilitation that the Veterans Administration addresses through Specially Adapted Housing Grants of up to approximately $63,000, which do not always cover the entire cost of construction. Homes for Our Troops steps in when those grants run out, and the group says it has completed projects in 30 states.

No. 3: The Navy SEAL Foundation

 Another military-focused charity, the Navy SEAL Foundation targets an even narrower group than the larger Special Operations Warrior Foundation (our No. 5 highest-rated charity) does, and with revenue of just less than $6 million, less than half of SOWF’s receipts. And in many (but not all) ways, the groups’ missions overlap.

According to the NSF, “Our programs center around three pillars: health and welfare, including tragedy assistance and family events; education and motivation, including scholarships and tuition assistance; and history and heritage, including the funding of monuments and memorials.”

No. 2: Patient Advocate Foundation

Congress may have passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the beginning of 2010, but a complex law to ensure universal health care is bound to have some holes. To fill them, the Virginia-based Patient Advocate Foundation manages more than $35 million in donations to provide comprehensive support to those struggling with health problems. The group helps the uninsured, disabled patients who need support in the workplace and patients whose medical-related expenses have become unmanageable. And by all accounts, it’s doing a great job: After a steep drop in donations from 2007 to 2008 (during a recession, remember), the organization’s fundraising in 2010 marked a 50% increase, compared with pre-recession levels.

No. 1: Give Kids the World

Featured previously as one of the best charities that receive no help from the government, Give Kids the World uses its revenue (more than $28 million in 2009, the last year for which filings are available) to bring terminally ill children to Florida’s famous theme parks, such as Disney World and Universal Studios. The organization even built its own theme park in the area, Give Kids the World Village, to provide its own fantasy vacations for sick children and their families.

With 93.2% of donations going to program expenses instead of administrative or fundraising costs, the organization also is notable for the conservative salary of its president, which is just shy of $190,000 and represents only 0.53% of the organization’s expenses.

 

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