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5 Valentine’s Gifts That Give Back

February 14th is right around the corner, a day that many adore and others loathe, depends on who you ask. Whether you are spending Cupid’s special day with a significant other, or celebrating by yourself with some much deserved TLC & heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, you can spread the love to the rest of world.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

So while you’re showing affection for a loved one or yourself, don’t be indifferent to the less fortunate. YOU can make a difference.

It’s very simple, simply shop through giftfluence.com and a percentage of the purchase will go to a charity or non-profit of your choice, at absolutely no extra cost!

So go ahead, give your sweetheart the gift you know they’ve been eyeing, whether that sweetheart maybe a partner, a pet or yourself. Make the world feel your love with giftfluence.com.  Every dollar counts.

Here are some gift suggestions that give back. Go to giftfluence for many more choices.

  1.  A Dozen roses          

    Perhaps the most classic of all Valentine’s gifts. And classic means it never goes out of style. Surprise your love with a stunning bouquet of roses by having them delivered at1-800-Florals and 15% of your purchase will be donated. PSA: guys love flowers, too.

  1.  Customized M&Ms                    

    You only have one girl/boyfriend (I hope), so don’t they deserve something just as unique as they are? You can put their names, faces, sappy love quotes, or personalized messages at mymms.com & satisfy the chocolate requirement at the same time. Two birds, one love arrow (bad pun, sorry not sorry).

  1. Beauty products          

    I’m sure you have seen those pictures floating around, of girls showing off a huge box filled with makeup from their boyfriends. I always wonder how the boys know exactly what to buy, because chances are most of them are overwhelmed they moment they step inside a Sephora. So save yourself the trouble, shop online at Sephora.com, or buy a gift card instead. Let her do the work for you.

  1.  Jewelry                     

    If you’re looking to make a grand gesture of love, or just the make the rest of the population look terrible, jewelries (rings, bracelets, watches, etc.) are the way to go. Macy’s and Nordstrom always have impressive selections. From a simple but meaningful heart necklace to a few karats worth of love, there is a perfect gem for your gem (I love bad puns.)

  1.  A romantic getaway          

    Looking for a sweet escape from ordinary life with your special someone? Either to sunshine and blue ocean, or an exciting city you both have never been to, book your trip through Expedia and give 1.5%, or stay at Best Western and give 3.75%

charitable-donations

Charitable giving is booming: Here’s why that isn’t great news

Charitable giving is at an all-time high in America. Last year, Americans donated $373 billion to the nonprofit sector. This represents a 10% increase since 2013. A boom in charitable giving must be a sign of good things to come, right? Not so fast. While this surge may seem like a positive development, many troubling trends point to major problems for nonprofits.

Contributions are down for most Americans

Although the total amount of donations is growing, almost all of this growth can be attributed to the top 10% of earners. A combination of charitable trust legislation

charitable donations by income levels

Source: http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Gilded-Giving-Final-pdf.pdf

and tax reform has created more incentive for wealthy earners to contribute to charitable trusts. In fact, charitable deductions for households making $100,000 or more has increased by 40% over ten years.

While donations among the top 10% are at an all-time high, donations among the other 90% are sharply declining. Contributions among households making less than $100,000 fell by over 34% during the last ten years. High earners are donating more than ever, but donations are declining among most Americans

Fewer Americans are contributing

Traditionally gifts of less than $10,000 have made up the majority of donations for most nonprofits. In 13 of

change in charitable donations by year

Source: http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Gilded-Giving-Final-pdf.pdf

the past 14 years, the number of donors making gifts of less than $10,000 has declined. The only exception was in 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Rita, as well as the Indian Ocean Tsunami, led to more donations. Cumulatively, the number of donors making gifts of under $10,000 has dropped by over 25% in the past 10 years. Donations are up, but fewer and fewer Americans are donating every year

Why This Matters

To be clear, the recent rise in charitable giving is not an inherently bad thing. It does, however, mask underlying trends which may have unexpected consequences for charities.

Total donations have increased despite fewer donors, due to larger average gift size. As Target Analytics reported, the trend of receiving higher donations from fewer donors “may allow organizations to meet their revenue goals in the short term, but may not be sustainable over the long term”. Larger donations from fewer contributors creates more risk for nonprofits. To put it simply, each donor is responsible for a higher share of the overall fundraising efforts. If just one major donor decreases their gift amount, then organizations are at a major risk of underperforming.

As gifts grow and donors shrink, a more competitive fundraising environment will emerge. Many charities will vie for larger gifts from a smaller pool of potential donors. This will cause organizations to invest more resources into fundraising. Nonprofits tend to have limited resources, so investing more into fundraising may come at the expense of impact. That is not to say that higher levels of charitable giving must come at the cost of organizational impact, but rather that more competition for fewer gifts may force nonprofits to divide their resources in a different manner.

Another concern with fewer Americans contributing to nonprofits is the potential for a disconnect between c

Annual changes in donors and volunteer rates

Sources: http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Gilded-Giving-Final-pdf.pdf http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/volun.pdf

charities and donors. As fundraising efforts focus more on large donors, it is likely that typical donors will feel “left behind”, further contributing to the shrinking base of donors. Donors also play a larger role than just their financial contribution. Charities rely on a large donor base to volunteer, raise awareness, and recruit new supporters. If you currently support a cause, the odds are fairly high that you were referred by a friend, colleague, or family member. The rate of volunteerism in America has fallen at a similar rate to the declining number of donors. Fewer donors and volunteers may signal less participation in philanthropy. Even if donations remain stable, charities may struggle to execute on their mission with fewer donors and participants 

How We Can Help

There are many factors causing fewer Americans to donate. Between student loan debt, rising credit card debt growing income inequality, and wage stagnation, there are simply fewer Americans with the financial resources to regularly donate to charity. While the shrinking base of donors represents a challenge to traditional  fundraising efforts, it also presents an opportunity for innovators. Fortunately, many companies are leveraging technology to make it easier for individuals to give back on tighter budgets. Below are examples of three innovating companies that make giving easier:

  1. charitable donations with GiftfluenceGiftfluence – Giftfluence turns online shopping and searching into charitable donations to over 840,000 great causes. Shop online at over 500 retailers and Giftfluence will donate up to 20% of the purchase price to charity. Every time you search the internet on Giftfluence’s Yahoo! powered search engine, a minimum of one cent will be donated to your favorite cause. To get started using Giftfluence, visit their website at http://www.giftfluence.com/ 

  2. charitable donations with Charity MilesCharity MilesCharity Miles is an exciting app that rewards charities for your physical activity. You can earn up to 25 cents for every mile that you walk or run and 10 cents for every mile that you bike.  Simple activities such as walking your dog, grabbing a coffee, going for a run, biking around the neighborhood, and even shoveling snow have led to over $500,000 in donations so far.  To learn more about Charity Miles and download the app visit their website: http://charitymiles.org/

  3. charitable donations with GivesuranceGivesuranceGivesurance partners with insurance companies to turn your insurance premiums into donation credits to charity. Register your insurance policy with Givesurance and they will turn up to 5% of your payments into donation credits. To learn more about turning the insurance payments that you already make into meaningful donations check out their website: https://www.givesurance.org/

Guess Which States Give The Most to Charity?

most_charitable_states_of_america__1-11-13According to Mint residents of Utah and Alabama give the highest percentage of their income to charity while residents of New Hampshire and Maine give the lowest percentage.

Interested in giving more to charity at no cost to you? Visit Giftfluence to give back to charity through your online activity.

7 Free Ways to Donate to Charity

Technology is making it easier than ever to give back to charity. These 7 companies are turning your online activity into powerful donations to great causes. Use these companies and you can donate thousands of dollars per year to charity, at no additional cost to you.

  1. Giftfluence – Giftfluence turns online shopping and searching into charitable donations to over 840,000 great causes. You can shop online at over 500 retailers and up to 20% of the purchase price will be donated to charity. Every time you search the internet on Giftfluence’s Yahoo! powered search engine, a minimum of one cent will be donated to your favorite cause. To get started using Giftfluence, visit their website at : http://www.giftfluence.com/ 

     

  2. cmlogoCharity Miles – Charity Miles is an exciting app that rewards charities for your physical activity. You can earn up to 25 cents for every mile that you walk or run and 10 cents for every mile that you bike. Simple activities such as walking your dog, grabbing a coffee, going for a run, biking around the neighborhood, and even shoveling snow have led to over $500,000 in donations so far. To learn more about Charity Miles and download the app visit their website: http://charitymiles.org/

  3. Give LogoGivesurance – Givesurance partners with insurance companies to turn your insurance premiums into donation credits to charity. Register your insurance policy with Givesurance and they will turn up to 5% of your payments into donation credits to top charities. To learn more about turning the insurance payments that you already make into meaningful donations check out their website: https://www.givesurance.org/

  4. Tab-for-a-CauseTab For a Cause – Tab For a Cause is a revolutionary browser extension that donates to charity every time your open a new tab on the internet. All you do is download their extension, customize your home page, and start donating just by using the internet. So far they have donated over $200,000 to charities just by opening new tabs in browsers. To get the app and learn more visit their website: http://tab.gladly.io/

  5. th521YN4OKFree Rice – Free Rice is an online game that donates 10 grains of rice for every question that you answer correctly. You can quiz yourself on everything from geography to SAT Test Prep, and can help end world hunger with every correct answer. Since 2013 they have donated enough rice for up to 10 Million meals. Start playing and donating today by visiting their website: http://freerice.com/

  6. th0M3O3DHSFree Kibble – Much like Free Rice, Free Kibble allows users to answer a daily question and in return will donate 10 pieces of kibble regardless of whether you answer correctly or not. So far they have served over 16 Million meals to hungry dogs and cats. Start playing and helping feed animals in need by visiting their website: http://www.freekibble.com/

  7. thRA6DEKN5Games for Change – Love playing games? Games for Change helps charities and great causes create inspirational games that engage contemporary social issues in a meaningful way. You can sign up to review these games for free, and give valuable feedback to game developers as they create games that will change the world. Making a difference is now as simple as playing a game and giving your feedback. Start reviewing games today by visiting their website: http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/

Dan Pallotta Explains Why The Way We Have Been Thinking About Charity Is Dead Wrong

Dan Pallotta is one of America’s most well known humanitarian activists, entrepreneurs and writers. Watch him explain the five ways in which non-profits are held back in ways that for-profit organizations are not.

“So we’ve all been taught that charities should spend as little as possible on overhead things like fundraising under the theory that, well, the less money you spend on fundraising, the more money there is available for the cause. Well, that’s true if it’s a depressing world in which this pie cannot be made any bigger. But if it’s a logical world in which investment in fundraising actually raises more funds and makes the pie bigger, then we have it precisely backwards, and we should be investing more money, not less, in fundraising, because fundraising is the one thing that has the potential to multiply the amount of money available for the cause that we care about so deeply.” – Dan Pallotta

What Happens When You Donate Your Hair

Many people consider donating their hair to charity, but few understand how the process actually works. Thanks to Buzzfeed and Wigs for Kids, we can now see exactly how your donation empowers children to look and feel like themselves. Next time you consider donating your hair, think how your donation will make an impact on Bridget and the over 2 million children per year that are in need of hair replacement services.

To learn more about how you can help make a child’s life better visit Wigs for Kids here. As you can see from the video, your donation makes all of the difference in the world.


This Man Ignored Doctors Orders and Spent Every Night Last Year Handing Out Over 500,000 Meals to the Hungry

Nothing will stop Allan Law on his mission to help the hungry and homeless in his home town of Minneapolis. Battling through prostate cancer, arthritis, and bitter cold weather, Allan has spent every night over the past 15 years delivering food and other supplies to people on the street during times when shelters and other support centers are closed. His doctor ordered him to stop for his health, but even after undergoing prostate surgery Allan has refused to miss any of his late night shifts (which start at 9 PM and end at 10 AM the next morning).

He has volunteered over 175,000 hours and spent almost $500,000 to help those in need. In 2014 alone he delivered over 520,000 sandwiches, sleeping just two hours per night in his van. His dedication to public service has been recognized by three U.S Presidents, and he has received numerous other awards, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Gold Medallion. Law is the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary “The Starfish Throwers“, which follows the work he and two others are doing to fight hunger.

You can learn more about Allan and the work he is doing by visiting his charity’s website: http://www.363days.org/

KA is on a Quest to Cure Muscular Dystrophy

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Why It Matters

One out of every 3,500 to 6,000 males is affected by muscular dystrophy.

Duchenne

Infographic courtesy of Servier

Muscular dystrophy has a drastic affect on quality of life and leads to a significant financial burden. By the age of 24, 90% of those affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy will be resigned to a wheelchair. The healthcare cost for someone affected by muscular dystrophy can rise to over $300,000, causing financial struggles for many families.

What They Do

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatment and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. The MDA provides assistance to over 100,000 individual annually including covering 55,000 visits to over 200 clinics. They have funded over 250 research projects in 12 countries, with the average grant size surpassing $300,000. Around $62 million is invested in patient services, which include clinic visits and 35,000 trips to MDA summer camp. They are the first nonprofit ever to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association, and are designated a “Top-Rated Charity” by the American Institute of Philanthropy.

Every semester the Kappa Alpha Order at the University of Houston (KA Gamma Mu) runs fundraisers for the MDA. Since their inception in 2013, the University of Houston Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order has donated thousands to fund research for over 43 muscular diseases. Their donations have been instrumental in helping the MDA invest in over 67 clinical research trials that are currently underway.

How to Help

There are more ways than ever to support  KA Gamma Mu’s efforts to fundraise for the MDA. They recently partnered with Giftfluence, so that you can support this great cause through your everyday activity. Visit Giftfluence.com to shop at popular retailers such as Groupon, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Fandango, Best Buy, and Walmart. The average purchase creates a donation of over $5, so start shopping today! Visit  http://www.giftfluence.com/shop/?eid=58109981&ID=52 to get started.

To learn about the MDA, visit http://www.mda.org/.  More information about KA Gamma Mu can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Kappa-Alpha-Order-at-University-of-Houston/.Home Page Slider (4)

CURE is on a Mission to Save Lives

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Why It Matters

One in twenty-six Americans will have two or more unprovoked seizures in their lifetime. This scary condition is called epilepsy and in more than half the cases of epilepsy, the cause is unknown. Many of the 3 million Americans with epilepsy are children, who can experience up to hundreds of seizures a day. The mortality rate among people with epilepsy is two to threeCURE Image times higher than the general population and the risk of sudden death is twenty-four times greater.

Although epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder, research in epilepsy is severely underfunded. Epilepsy costs the United States approximately $15.5 billion each year, and the costs associate with uncontrolled seizures are seven times higher than that of the average for all chronic diseases. Epilepsy affects more people than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s combined – yet received fewer federal dollars per patient than each of these.

What They Do

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), is the leading nongovernmental agency fully committed to funding research in epilepsy. Since its inception in 1998, CURE has raised more than $32 million to fund research initiatives that will lead the way to a cure for epilepsy. CURE funds grants for young and established researchers and to date has funded more than 180 cutting-edge projects in 13 countries around the world.

CURE ScientistThe leader in Sudden Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) research, CURE has awarded 21 SUDEP-related grants, totaling more than $2 million since 2004. With CURE funding, eight teams of investigators are focusing on cutting-edge research for IS, a rare childhood epilepsy syndrome. CURE is on a mission to transform and save millions of lives, and they won’t stop until they find a cure for epilepsy.

How to Help

There are more ways than ever to fight epilepsy through CURE. CURE recently partnered with Giftfluence, so that you can support this great cause through your everyday activity. Visit Giftfluence.com to shop at popular retailers such as Groupon, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Fandango, Best Buy, and Walmart. The average purchase creates a donation of over $5, so start shopping today! Visit http://www.giftfluence.com/shop/?eid=364253176&ID=52 to get started.

To learn about epilepsy research, visit http://www.cureepilepsy.org/research/index.asp.  More information about CURE can be found at http://www.cureepilepsy.org/home.asp.

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The Houston Food Bank Will Donate over 100 Million Meals by 2018

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Why It Matters

Nearly 50 million Americans live in food insecure households. Parents in food insecure households cannot afford to provide their Food Insecuritychildren with fresh produce, meat and other nutritious items that are necessary for a healthy life. Children who grow up in poverty face a disproportionate risk of early childhood obesity due to the lack of nutritional meals available.

Food insecurity is an especially important issue in Texas. One in six Texas households struggle to avoid hunger, with over 26% of children growing up in food insecure households without access to nutritious food. Currently there are over 1.6 million Texas households facing food insecurity, more than any other state except California.

Giving FoodWhat They Do

The Houston Food Bank uses 600 partner organizations to provide food in 18 Texas counties. In addition to nutritious meals, they also provide a range of community services from nutrition education to hands on job training. In fiscal year 2014-2015 they distributed 74 million nutritious meals across southeast Texas, and were named the Food Bank of the Year due to their innovative approach and widespread impact. By 2018 they plan on growing their annual distribution to over 100 million healthy meals.

 

How to Help

There are more ways than ever to feed America through the Houston Food Bank. The Houston Food Bank recently partnered with Giftfluence, so that you can support this great cause through your everyday activity. Visit Giftfluence.com to shop at popular retailers such as Groupon, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Fandango, Best Buy, and Walmart. The average purchase creates a donation of over 15 meals, so start shopping today! Visit http://www.giftfluence.com/shop/?eid=742181456&ID=52 to get started.

To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/volunteer/volunteer/.  More information about The Houston Food Bank can be found at http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/.

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