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Giving Tuesday: Two Great Organizations, Thousands of Participants, One Day to Give

Giving Tuesday 2014

Today is Giving Tuesday, a chance to donate vital funds to worthy nonprofit organizations across the country. Now in its third year, the charitable social media event is bigger than ever, drawing in thousands of participants and raising millions for nonprofits.

Giving Tuesday in and of itself is a fantastic campaign and social media event. It challenges consumerist culture and invites people to give back rather than take during a time of year when storefronts and countless ads are telling us all to thoughtlessly consume. By now you’ve likely seen the trending hashtag #GivingTuesday on social media, but have you put any thought into who sparked this charitable campaign?

Giving Tuesday was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. According to the Giving Tuesday website, “Together with a team of influencers and founding partners, we launched a global movement that has engaged over 10,000 organizations worldwide.” In addition to the dozens of individual influencers, Giving Tuesday is made possible with help from Giving Institute, Lodestar Foundation, Giving USA Foundation, The Case Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CECP, and others.

92nd Street Y is a “world-class cultural community center where people all over the world connect through culture, arts, entertainment and conversation,” explains the organization of its more than 140 years as a leader in community building through the arts. “92Y enthusiastically welcomes and reaches out to people of all ages, races, faiths and backgrounds while embracing Jewish values like learning and self-improvement, the importance of family, the joy of life, and giving back to our wonderfully diverse and growing community, both locally and around the world,” says the organization.

The United Nations Foundation “links the UN’s work with others around the world, mobilizing the energy and expertise of business and non-governmental organizations to help the UN tackle issues including climate change, global health, peace and security, women’s empowerment, poverty eradication, energy access, and U.S.-UN relations,” explains the organization. It’s the Foundation’s mission to fosters a more peaceful and just world, and works towards this goal by supporting programs like Giving Tuesday.

Interested in learning even more about the partners and founders of Giving Tuesday? Be sure to visit the campaign’s official website!

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Sid Lee and the Movember Foundation Cohabitate in LA

movember no shave november mustache
Image: via Movember.

Two years after it’s first American opening in New York, advertising agency Sid Lee is arriving in Southern California with a new office named Sid Lee L.A. In a somewhat surprising move, the company has now embedded its employees in the office of the Movember Foundation.

As the New York Times remarks, “If, as the saying goes, advertising is a relationship business, an agency, Sid Lee, and one of its clients, the men’s health charity known as the Movember Foundation, have entered the cohabitation stage,” of the recent office merger. Reportedly, the agreement between the two companies calls not only for Sid Lee to share space with the foundation but also to consider the foundation’s office its home.

“We will be joining the Movember Foundation in the Culver City location as a partner, fully integrated in the space,” said Will Travis, chief executive of the Sid Lee USA division of Sid Lee. “We will be located there until further growth demands otherwise, and then the expansion may be together.”

Sid Lee is an international ad agency, with offices in New York, along with Amsterdam, Paris, Toronto and its Montreal headquarters. The office will work for the foundation pro bono, but has paying clients like Adidas, Facebook, Intel and 99 Cents Only Stores. Mr. Travis says the office will have a total of about 16-20 employees once it’s up and running.

“Part of the reason we’re doing what we’re doing now,” said Mark Fewell, senior vice president and head of market development for the foundation, who is based in Culver City, is that Sid Lee “offered to be a strategic resource for us not just in the U.S. but globally.” This collaboration is great for an organization like Movember that began in Australia and this year took place in more than 20 countries.

The Movember Foundation is one of the premier organiztions that addresses men’s health issues in a positive, groundbreaking way. Movember is part of a larger, charitable “moustache movement,” that has raised vital funds and awareness of health risks on behalf of men globally. Learn more here.

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German town Tricks neo-Nazis into Raising Thousands for Anti-Extremist Charity

Sometimes, even the most outlandish pranks can have a tremendously positive outcome. Neo-Nazis were pranked this week as they found themselves gathered in a small German town raising over 10,000 euro for an anti-extremist organization. For many decades, the far-right extremists have marched through the town of Wunsiedel in Bavaria. But the organizers Rechts gegen Rechts (Right against Right) took a different approach, for charity.

Local residents and businesses sponsored the 250 participants of the march on November 15th in what they dubbed Germany’s “most involuntary walkathon.” For each meter the participants walked, ten euro went to a program called EXIT Deutschland, which helps people escape these extremist groups.

A statement released from Exit Deutschland after the event explained:

Under the motto “Right-wing extremists against right-wing extremists,” the most unwillingly entered charity walk in Germany took place today. […] This year, Wunsiedel decided to take a different approach and turn the funeral march of the neo-Nazis into the most unwillingly entered charity walk in Germany.

Campaigners hung humorous posters to make the march look more like a sporting event with slogans such as “If only the Fuhrer knew!” and laid out bananas with a pun-tastic sign, “Mein Mampf” which translates to “My munch” for the participants like snacks that might be at a normal charity walk. At the end, there was even a sign thanking the marchers for their “donations.”

The reason the neo-Nazis come to this particular town is because Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess was once buried there. Although his remains were later exhumed in 2011 and his grave destroyed, the extremists still flock to this particular town. Residents of Wunsiedel have staged protests and filed numerous legal complaints in the past but to no avail.

“We want to show what else you can do, what other courses of action you have,” said Fabian Wichmann, a Rechts gegen Rechts organizer and education researcher for EXIT. “You can do more than just block the street or close the shutters.”

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The Mustache Movement for Charity is Going Strong

movember no shave november mustache
Image: via Movember.

If you’ve noticed your male coworkers or pals sporting mustaches or big beards this month, they might just be growing out their facial hair for charity. Last year, we discussed the growing popularity of the Movember Foundation, an organization “committed to changing the face of men’s health.” Since its 2003 beginnings in Australia, the Movember Foundation has encouraged giving, promoted men’s health awareness, and has invited millions of people around the world to participate in a month long mustache-growing event for charity.

During “Movember,” which takes place annually in November, thousands of men around the world don freshly grown mustaches to raise awareness about illnesses such as prostate and testicular cancer that affect men in particular. According to the organization, 2.3 billion conversations were had as a result of Movember 2013, and $136 million was raised globally by participants.

Although Movember is arguably the largest and most popular charity foundation for men’s health, it isn’t the only one. No-Shave November is another charitable initiative to raise awareness about men’s health that involves facial hair. “No-Shave November is a unique way to raise cancer awareness,” explains the organization. “What better way to grow awareness than with some hair?” it asks.

no shave november mustache
Image: via No-Shave November.

According to the campaign, which is partners with The American Cancer Society, “The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.” Both initiatives celebrate facial hair and mustaches as a fun way to tackle the difficult topic of cancer and men’s health awareness, and have been instrumental in getting more men to consider and talk about their health.

For more information about the impact of Movember, be sure to check out the organization’s 2013 report.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Purchases You Can Feel Good About

breast cancer awareness
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Image: via Facebook.

October is a big month for doing good and reaching out, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. You have probably found yourself bombarded with products from the beauty industry to bring attention and garner funds for a cure. While some are just pink and pretty, others truly are helping to make a difference.

Below are six products that either donate all sale proceeds to charity, or a small portion. No matter the size of the financial contribution, you are supporting the cause and women and men fighting this horrible disease.

  • Estee Lauder teamed up with Elizabeth Hurley and created the Dream Pink collection. It includes a lipstick, two nail polishes and a cute pink makeup pouch. With each purchase 20% of the retail price will go towards the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

breast cancer awareness products

  • Purchase Shiseido’s Dollface lip-gloss during the month of October and $5 will be donated to Cosmetic Executive Women’s Cancer and Careers arm, that helps working people living with cancer.
  • Jane Iredale has stepped things up in a big way with this one. Buy their ‘Smell the Roses Hydration Spray’ and 100% of its profits will go to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
  • If you pick up Sonia Kashuk’s Proudly Pink Brush set from Target, they will donate 15% of the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
  • Need a new lip gloss? Pick up Smashbox’s ‘Be Legendary’ lip gloss and $5 will go towards the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.
  • Nest has created a candle that was inspired by Evelyn Lauder’s work with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Picking up this candle with scents of warm sandalwood, garden roses and flowering pitoporum, will give 10% of proceeds to the foundation. Available at Lord & Taylor.
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4 Ways to Do Good this Halloween

halloween candy

Halloween is one of those holidays that, in its contemporary application, doesn’t have a lot of meaning. Kids (and kids at heart) dress up, they trick-or-treat, and then they go home. It’s a little spooky, a lot of fun, and over before you know it.

What if this year, we all put a bit more thought into making Halloween a more charitable holiday? This would make it just as much an opportunity to have some fun as it would be to do good for your community. Here are 4 ways to do good this Halloween:

Host a Charitable Monster Mash. Halloween parties are aplenty this time of year, and it’s really easy to turn a holiday bash into a charitable event. Whether you’re organizing a small get together for your young children, or you’re throwing an adult bash, ask guests to bring a canned food item to donate to the local food bank.

Visit hospitalized children. This is something that anyone can do on Halloween to brighten someone’s day. Some hospitals organize internal trick-or-treating events, but the hospitalized children will feel extra special when families, college groups, and other kids come to see them all dressed in costume.

Purchase fair trade candy. Halloween candy starts making an appearance on store shelves as early as August these days; it’s another component of the holiday that a lot of people just don’t put much thought into. This year, educate yourself about where that candy comes from, and if possible, purchase fair trade candy or take part in campaigns like the Fair Trade Your Halloween program.

Organize a costume drive. Whether you’re making a Halloween costume or purchasing one from a store, it’s important to remember that not everyone in your community has access to craft supplies or the funds to obtain a costume. Organize a costume drive at your local school, church, place of work, or even your home! Simply ask families and volunteers to donate old costumes and craft supplies, and invite the community to come and find a new costume or make one on-sight!

How do you plan on doing good this Halloween?

Featured Image: Juushika Redgrave via Flickr CC.

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Hillary Clinton Encourages Tech Companies to Give Back

Hillary Clinton
Image: Alan Freed Shutterstock.com

While speaking at Dreamforce 2014, a tech convention for cloud-based data management company SalesForce, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton focused on the ways tech companies can—and should—give back to their communities.

“What we have to be really focused on now is making sure that the benefits of technology to people’s lives outweigh the pitfalls,” said Clinton, adding that it was important that companies such as SalesForce are “creating more jobs, connecting up more families and communities, and expanding our horizons.”

SalesForce in particular has focused on charitable causes with their 1/1/1 model, which commits SalesForce to donating 1% of its time, products, and financial resources to humanitarian organizations. That’s meant $68 million in grants and 680,000 volunteer hours from staff for more than 23,000 nonprofits and schools around the world in the last 15 years.

These comments come at a time when companies at large, and particularly tech-oriented businesses, are cutting back on philanthropic giving. In 1986, corporations were giving 2.1% of profits to charity; by 2012, that percentage had dropped to 0.8%.

And though tech companies are generally doing well financially, many have still seen fit to take from their communities instead of giving back: Twitter negotiated $56 million in tax breaks from San Francisco to support its expansion, and Oracle convinced the city to use public funds to host America’s Cup race, which cost $11.5 million after dismal fundraising attempts fell short.

On the other hand, Google remains one of the most philanthropic US companies, donating $1.1 billion to charity in 2012—8.5% of its profits. However, most of these charitable donations go to international charities, begging the question of whether or not tech companies should be focusing more locally, or if all philanthropy is equally necessary.

In the wake of these events, Clinton’s Dreamforce speech encouraged industry leaders to fulfill what she described as their duty to use tech for social good, potentially kickstarting a new wave of philanthropic giving.

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Kissed By A Pit is a Charity Challenge with a Hint of Slobber

kissed by a bit challenge
Look at that face! Who could say no to that? Image: via Facebook.

Pit bulls have a bad rap. Often perceived as mean and aggressive, these dogs continue to be feared and misunderstood by the American public. Pit bulls are the most bred dog in the United States, but are often confined to shelters because people are only familiar with the breed’s enduring bad reputation. Even more alarmingly, according to Esquire, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters annually, and experts estimate that nearly 1 million of those dogs are pit bulls.

Organizations such as 400 Paws, Safe Humane Chicago, and other animal advocacy programs know that pit bulls are intelligent, loyal, and gentle creatures, and are working hard to raise awareness about their real traits. Recently, Dog Park Publishing, a company that makes products that celebrate pit bulls, encouraged dog lovers to partake in the “Kissed By A Pit Challenge.”

The Kissed By A Pit Challenge is an initiative to raise awareness about pit bulls, debunk misconceptions about the breed, and partake in a massive social media conversation about animal rights and advocacy. Just like the #IceBucketChallenge, participants are encouraged to shoot a video or snap a photo of themselves being kissed by a pit bull, share it on social media, and donate $5 to their local animal shelter. The Kissed By a Pit Challenge not only raises funds for understaffed animal shelters, it shows love for pit bulls, while helping to change their image.

Dog Park Publishing co-founders Alisa Weberman and Jonathan Korzen recently told The Huffington Post, “We are thrilled with the response we have already received,” of the number of challenge participants. “It means we are showing pit bulls in a positive light and raising money for rescues and shelters across the world.”

Various celebrities took part in the Kissed By A Pit Challenge including Kevin Bacon, Adam Rose, Sophia Bush, Kelli Giddish, Tom Hardy, and many others. Their participation lent even more visibility to the cause, and helped to spread further awareness about this lovable breed.

Learn more about the Kissed By A Pit Challenge by visiting www.dogparkpublishing.com.

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Global Citizen Festival Fights Poverty with Star Power

Global Citizen Festival

Last weekend, the Global Citizen Festival took over New York City’s Central Park for the third year in a row, wowing audiences with its star-studded lineup. The annual concert had many stars performing like No Doubt, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The festival, drawing in an even larger audiences in its third year, brought 60,000 people to the Great Lawn.

Around six hours long, the show held speeches from charitable-foundation executives and videos from those suffering poverty. The festival is organized by the Global Poverty Project, which has a goal to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. All the performers donated their services.

Through a unique form of social activism, tickets could be earned by sending tweets, signing petitions, sending Facebook messages, along with several other methods. The concert also aired live for the first time on MSNBC. The Global Citizen Festival was designed to get people talking about important social issues like poverty, using social media, entertainment, and other contemporary outreach to do so.

Global Citizen Festival Obama

One of the speakers was the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon who declared, “Our world needs more solar power and wind power, but I believe in an even stronger source of energy: People power!” Among the celebrities in attendance last night, attendees included the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi; the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg; and Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank.

“Change only takes place when and where there is action,” said Jay-Z in a statement. “I’m joining the 2014 Global Citizen Festival because I believe through actions, whether it be by raising awareness, getting involved or educating ourselves, the goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is possible.”

The festival coincided with the United Nations’ General Assembly meetings in order to amplify its message to global leaders. The World Bank estimates that 1.2 billion people still live in poverty.

Learn more about the annual Global Citizen Festival and the Global Poverty Project by visiting www.globalcitizen.org.

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How to Give Back in Everyday Ways

Giving Benefits
IMG: via Shutterstock

One of the best things about giving back to your community is that doing good can be implemented in everyday ways. Rather than feeling like you need to book a trip to a foreign country to take part in humanitarian efforts or give your entire life savings to a charitable organization, there are many ways you can give back in realistic ways.

The first place to look is in your own bloodline. Rather than turning all your attention to finding a soup kitchen or nursing home in need of volunteers, look at those in your immediate circle and family to find those in need. Do you have a cousin or niece who doesn’t have money to get to school? Or how about an aunt who needs to be driven to the grocery store once a week? Remember, your family and circle of friends are just as deserving of your compassionate efforts to do good as anyone else.

Rather than just helping every once in awhile, find a way to give back regularly. When you donate your time and efforts consistently, especially with children, they can follow your example and you will inadvertently start a chain reaction. Your influence goes above and beyond just those you are in immediate contact with. Spread the influence, and “pay it forward” with regular good deeds and volunteer efforts.

Another easy way to give back with just a small change can be to rethink your birthday. Usually during the year, all our calendars begin to explode with all the things we have to do, and it seems like we will never have enough hours. This is when volunteering gets placed on the back burner. Instead, use a day like your birthday to give eight hours of service. This is one day that you can consistently dedicate to volunteer work each year.

How do you give back to your community in everyday ways?