Month: May 2016

6 of the NBA Cares Social Outreach Programs

Height and wingspan rank among the most important measurements of players in the National Basketball Association (NBA), but another metric is becoming significant as well: social responsibility. The NBA has committed to increasing its charitable outreach and social impact through the NBA Cares campaign, which launched in 2005. Serving as the central charitable arm of the association, the multifaceted platform allows athletes, coaches, and NBA sponsors to participate in initiatives that benefit a wide range of causes.

NBA Cares has successfully generated more than $270 million in fundraising efforts, and millions of hours of volunteer service have strengthened the presence of the campaign. All-Star week, for example, has evolved into a hallmark event of the NBA Cares initiative as the association organizes dozens of service projects in the host city, where star athletes gather to work side-by-side with their biggest fans.

NBA Cares operates on a year-round basis through six major programs, and the specific objectives and achievements of each are outlined below.

1. Hoops for Troops

hoops for troops
Image courtesy The USO | Flickr

The Hoops for Troops initiative at NBA Cares has flourished into a major collaboration between members of the NBA, the United States Department of Defense, and organizations focused on serving veterans. Promotions for the cause appear throughout social media channels, allowing fans to pledge their commitment and participate in a number of activities and receive giveaways. In addition, the Hoops for Troops component of NBA Cares advocates for hiring veterans and former military members.

Examples of NBA teams and players supporting the troops include the Brooklyn Nets inviting military members to shooting practice and the Philadelphia 76ers hosting Stars & Stripes Night. In addition, the New York Knicks recently organized a Military Appreciation Day for families to meet and practice with the players.

2. My Brother’s Keeper

President Obama and his administration launched the My Brother’s Keeper program to build a network of mentors for young men and boys of color. Several players in the NBA, such as Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics, have joined the cause. NBA Cares as a whole has initiated a multi-year commitment to help increase the number of mentors by 25,000. Along with recruiting mentors, the organization will promote school attendance and academic excellence in underserved communities.

3. NBA Community Assist Award

Andre Drummond
Image courtesy Disney | ABC Television Group | Flickr

In partnership with Kaiser Permanente, the NBA encourages charitable giving by awarding a player every month for his contributions. A first-time all-star and league-leading rebounder, Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons received the NBA Cares Community Assist Award in February 2016. He has demonstrated a strong commitment to assisting youth with special needs in the Detroit community. Along with presenting the award to Drummond, the NBA and Kaiser Permanente donated $10,000 to Special Olympics Michigan, the charity of Drummond’s choice.

The organization also presents a Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award, and the 2014-2015 recognition went to Russell Westbrook, a point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook earned the award for his consistent contributions to charity and for his overall commitment to the NBA’s mission to give back. In fact, shortly after he was named the 2015 Kia NBA All-Star MVP, he donated the Kia he won to a family in need through his involvement with Sunbeam Family Services.

4. NBA FIT

The NBA FIT initiative has three messages for kids everywhere: be active, eat healthy, and play together. NBA Cares provides a link to the FIT website, where children can read tips on how their favorite players stay in shape and improve their teamwork skills. Infographics also give young fans access to fun facts, such as how many miles D’Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers runs per game (1.9). From lists of nutritious food suggestions to videos of training workouts, the FIT campaign offers a number of helpful health and wellness resources for kids in the US and around the world.

5. NBA Green

NBA Green
Image courtesy cityoforlando | Flickr

Environmental awareness is another top concern for the NBA, and NBA Green represents a collaboration with the Green Sports Alliance and each team in the league. As part of the initiative, the Portland Trail Blazers hosted a series of five “Green Games” over the past season, each focused on a different aspect of sustainability: energy, water, food, transportation, and waste. The team also launched a new website to update fans on ongoing projects to conserve energy in the team’s arena, eliminate waste, and offset water consumption. On the East Coast, the Miami Heat completed renovations on American Airlines Arena to qualify for LEED Gold Recertification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2016.

6. Season of Giving

During the holiday season, NBA Cares promotes charitable giving through the #NBACares hashtag challenge. Basketball fans can post a description or picture of their efforts on Twitter or another social media outlet, and the posts allow people to connect and inspire each other to give back in their own communities. In addition, the Season of Giving page at NBA Cares features a mosaic where individuals can search for their Twitter handle and find themselves pictured in the NBA family of giving.

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7 of the Most Game-Changing Trends Impacting the Furniture Industry

A multibillion-dollar industry, American home furnishings generated in excess of $100 billion in 2013, a significant jump from an estimated $87 billion in 2011. To keep the momentum going, furniture store owners should keep the following trends in mind:

1. Consumers continue to purchase in-store.

While websites such as Wayfair and Ovestock.com offer consumer perks, such as free shipping, eMarketer expects the share of e-commerce sales in home furnishings to remain at 6.6 percent through 2018. The prediction stems from a 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey that found that while consumers used the Internet as a research tool for furniture and housewares purchases, nearly a third still traveled to stores to buy their products. Forty-four percent of buyers surveyed shop and purchase in-store only, demonstrating a continuing need for brick-and-mortar home furniture stores.

2. Asian countries remain a major exporter.

shipping exportChina, the largest exporter of furniture and home goods, also leads the industry in case goods, ranging from dressers to bookshelves. Recently, the country has experienced some change in its number of manufacturers, as a portion of China-based manufacturers have relocated their operations to neighboring countries, including Vietnam and Indonesia. The move gives United States buyers more options in choosing from which Asian manufacturer to acquire goods.

If the idea is to save money, stateside buyers could purchase goods from manufacturers outside of China, thus forcing the country’s makers to reevaluate their pricing structure to stay competitive. Either way, manufacturers moving into other Asian countries keeps the continent at the top of the list of furniture exporters, allowing the United States to benefit from potential cost reductions.

3. On-shoring loses steam.

According to the southeast regional manager of CIT Commercial Services, the movement toward on-shoring has subsided. The idea of on-shoring, a process in which buyers from the states would invest in manufacturing products in North America rather than in China or other foreign countries, surfaced approximately a year ago. However, over the course of 12 months, cost of fuel has declined, making transporting furniture and home goods overseas more affordable. In the same respect, China has reduced labor costs as a result of devaluation. While on-shoring may still be considered by some, the southeast regional manager of CIT Commercial Services suggests further analysis will draw buyers back to traditional methods of purchasing from foreign exporters.

4. Interest rates will and will not impact sales.

Research has shown that interest rate hikes have little impact on consumers shopping for new furniture. Many furniture companies offset potential high rates by giving an interest-free period that spans 12 to 18 months. As a result, consumers are more willing to invest their money on the home furnishings they want, given they have more time to pay off the total cost before their interest-free term expires. Interest rate hikes in mortgages, however, can hinder people from buying new furnishings. Rate increases in the housing market lessens the number of homes sold for a period of time, and a lack of homes sold negatively impacts furniture sales.

5. There is less focus on “Made in America.”

made in americaOnce a trend that many supported, the “Made in America” movement has trouble succeeding because there are limited items that actually contain materials produced solely in the states. With the exception of select manufacturers producing case goods and wood furniture from domestic products, nearly all furniture contains a piece from another country. For example, sourcing leather and fabric made from a US manufacturer is quite difficult. American furniture manufacturers are more likely to find the materials to create their sofa or chair from makers in China at a lower price point. For this reason, the idea of “Made in America” has faded, and furniture companies now focus their efforts on selling the product itself.

6. Mattress sales continue to grow.

While bedroom and dining room furniture sales indicate growth, mattresses sales are doing even better. In July 2015, mattress sales showed a 4.2 percent increase over the same month the previous year, according to the International Sleep Products Association. Signs point to new technology catering to different lifestyles, primarily active and sports, as being a driving factor. Additionally, furniture companies are now committed to selling the product itself rather than the warranty, and personnel have transitioned to sharing the health benefits of regularly updating to a good mattress.

7. New generations have more buying power.

In 2012 the shopping power of the baby boomer generation was outdone by Gen Xers and millennials, who now hold a majority of the purchasing power in home furnishings and goods. In fact, Gen Xers made up nearly a quarter of buyers in that same year, while  millennials purchased more than a third of furniture and bedding in 2014.

Statistics show millennials comprise 31 percent of the population, just edging out the boomers’ 30 percent. Meanwhile, purchasing home furnishings is on the decline for the boomers—there was a 17 percent drop in dollars spent from 2012 to 2014.

 

7 Inspiring Humanitarian Organizations Created by Celebrities

In his acceptance speech at the 2016 Academy Awards, Leonardo DiCaprio took the opportunity to close his remarks by sharing his passion for humanitarian and environmental change. He noted that the film The Revenant, for which he won an Oscar for best actor in a leading role, speaks to the importance of the relationship that exists between humans and the world they inhabit. While the Oscar was his first after years of nominations, he has supported causes such as climate change since starting his namesake foundation in 1998.

Leonardo DiCaprio is just one of the many celebrities who have utilized their platform to address charitable causes. However, he is among a shorter list of movie and television stars who have developed and managed their own organizations. Starting with Mr. DiCaprio, the following offers an overview of celebrities and the charities and foundations they have established:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) – Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio
Image courtesy Danny Harrison | Flickr

Since his first film role in 1991, Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio has starred in multiple major motion pictures, including Blood Diamond, the Aviator, Inception, and The Great Gatsby. He formed LDF the year after he played Jack Dawson in Titanic, and he has since created several partnerships and initiatives to support the longevity of the earth and its population.

In 2015, LDF contributed $15 million to conservation efforts. Mr. DiCaprio most recently spoke on climate change in France.

2. Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research – Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox
Image courtesy Teodor Bjerrang | Flickr

An Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, Michael J. Fox is best known for his roles on the TV show Family Ties and Spin City. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s diagnosis in 1991 and retired from Spin City nine years later. Months after retiring, he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which has developed into the leading research organization for the disease. Under the direction of Mr. Fox, the foundation has generated more than $450 million in funding in an effort to identify a cure.

3. Julian D. King Gift Foundation – Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson
Image courtesy JPAvocat | Flickr

Jennifer Hudson originally caught the attention of the public eye as a contestant on American Idol. Since entering the entertainment industry, she has garnered several accolades, including a Grammy, Golden Globe, and an Oscar. In 2009, she partnered with her sister, Julia, to establish the Julian D. King Gift Foundation, which was started in honor of her late nephew. The organization focuses on providing school supplies, Christmas presents, and other resources to children in need.

4. Eastern Congo Initiative – Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck
Image courtesy USAID U.S. Agency for International Development | Flickr

Ben Affleck most recently played the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The winner of multiple Oscars and Golden Globes, he set out to drive economic and social development in Congo by founding the Eastern Congo Initiative in 2010. Affleck operates the organization out of the United States, where he actively leads efforts to secure grants and legislation that will facilitate positive change in the area.

5. Eva’s Heroes – Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria
Image courtesy California Community Foundation | Flickr

Actress Eva Longoria, who is best known for her roles on The Young and the Restless and Desperate Housewives, entered the field of acting with appearances on General Hospital and Beverly Hills 90210. During her career as a television star, she has earned extensive recognition, including a People’s Choice Award, Teen Choice Award, and the ALMA Award.

In 2006, she co-founded Eva’s Heroes, a nonprofit organization based in San Antonio, Texas, that aims to help individuals with intellectual special needs and similar challenges. She has established a program that allows boys and girls to come together on a monthly and after-school basis, as well as during the summer, to develop social skills and build friendships.

6. Water.org – Matt Damon

matt damon
Image courtesy Global Panorama | Flickr

A movie star with a long list of film credits, Matt Damon is perhaps most popular for his role as Jason Bourne in the Bourne series. His most recent projects include a forthcoming Bourne sequel and The Martian, for which he won a 2016 Golden Globe for best actor in a motion picture.

Away from the silver screen, Matt Damon stays active as a co-founder of Water.org, a group that sponsors clean water and sanitation supplies for underdeveloped countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Central America. Thus far, millions of people have benefited, and the organization hopes to keep expanding its influence until everyone on earth has access to safe water and toilets.

7. The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation – Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg
Image courtesy Eva Rinaldi | Flickr

Mark Wahlberg served as the executive producer of three movies in 2015—Ballers, Stealing Cars, and Entourage—and has three more announced or nearing completion. Among other distinctions, he has received Oscar, Golden Globe, and Emmy nominations as both an actor and as a producer.

In 2001, Mark Wahlberg teamed up with his brother, James, to form the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. The foundation serves as a platform for raising and allocating funding for programs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which aims to create positive environments for children.

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7 of the Most Anticipated Home Furnishing Debuts of 2016

The furniture industry is experiencing a new wave of collection and product debuts in 2016. The following launches are ones to keep in mind.

1. Conform and the Timeout Chair

conformlogoDuring April’s High Point Market, Conform will make its North American introduction. The European furniture manufacturer is owned by Furninova, a Scandinavian company. In 2015, Conform expanded operations into Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea, following multiple years of consistent growth.

Its appearance at High Point will be the first time American buyers will get to see its Timeout chair in person. The contemporary swivel chair features reclining capability and comes with an angled footstool. In total, four models will be available for viewing.

2. Rachael Ray Home

The same market will be the first time food expert Rachael Ray shares her latest project, Rachael Ray Home. She has partnered with Craftmaster and Legacy Classic to develop more than 300 pieces, including 25 accent chairs and approximately 50 upholstered pieces featuring 60 exclusive fabrics.

Within her home line are three collections, Upstate, Soho, and Highline. The former has an Americana style and hand-waxed patina look, while Soho offers an urban feel with an ashy, gray taupe tone finish. Highline also has an urban feel. Its products contain charcoal highlights and soft gray hues.

Rachael Ray Home provides furnishings that meet the needs of every room. For instance, the designer crafted a storage solution called “Home Base” that transforms a space into a mini mudroom with customizable shelving and a white board for messages. The line will be produced in North Carolina and begin shipping in August.

3. Califolio

Designed by Michael Berman, Califolio will launch under the brand of Theodore Alexander. The collection contains wood and upholstered furnishings as well as mirrors, home accessories, and lighting. It has clean lines and modern design elements that encompass the feel of urban coastal living. Consisting of sumptuous textiles paired with an eclectic mix of other materials and finishes expected of California design, the collection helps people enjoy living casually both indoors and out.

Among items promoted in Califolio are beds with horizontally tufted headboards and two dining tables with spans of 48 and 84 inches. A solid oak Collins dresser and ultra-suede bookcase are also available. The official collection launch party occurs mid-April.

4. Sunny Designs

sunny designs logoSunny Designs kicked off 2016 by unveiling more than 200 home furnishing pieces. Described as an aggressive debut by Furniture Today, the product launch included 20 new dining sets, occasional and entertainment consoles, and 10 never-before-seen bedroom sets that retail up to $1,699.

Customers will notice the integration of industrial styles as well as appreciate how Sunny Designs has crafted furnishings with perfectly contrasting colors. The Bourbon County collection, for instance, has antique white base finishes as well as dark wood tops. Its low country design elements are seen in bedroom and dining furniture. While the manufacturer’s new products do not represent the rustic nature that many people associate with the brand, they do not stray far.

5. Atelier Home and New American Traditions

A&B Home expanded its Venetucci Collection with Atelier Home and New American Traditions, two lines that give consumers the ability to mix and match pieces to personalize their space. The original collection consists of pillows and rugs as well as artwork. New American Traditions extends the line of home art with original reproductions from the Newport Preservation Society.

Additionally, the line gives new life to traditional furnishings by switching out classic hues for contemporary colors. In respect to Atelier Home, it takes a completely modern approach with its home furnishings and accents. Anthony Venetucci, the mind behind the designs, states that it “is one of A&B Home’s strongest lines.” Customers will be able to view the collection through a reformatted product catalogue set to release mid-April.

6. Trisha Yearwood Furniture and Rugs

Trisha Yearwood Furniture was created by country music star and Food Network celebrity Trisha Yearwood. In partnership with Klaussner Home Furnishings, the star designed 80 pieces to outfit kitchens, living spaces, and dining rooms, among other places.

In particular, the dining and bedroom furniture, which features a shabby-chic style, sells well in Oklahoma. Ms. Yearwood also made time to design rugs with Natco Home. The launch will feature approximately 100 types of rugs. She has created kitchen and decorative rugs as well as those that can be utilized indoors and out.

7. Carson

In an effort to give customers more affordable options, luxury furniture designer Marge Carson developed a new line, Carson. The line contains approximately 75 wood pieces that come in standard fabrics, trims, finishes, and hardware. Unlike other lines created by the company, the collection limits customization options, so more people can afford the haute look and quality of a Marge Carson piece.

The new approach bridges the gap between retailers and consumers by pricing each piece in the medium-high end price point. Carson includes casual contemporary, transitional, and classic European furniture. Influences of mid-century modern can be found in the Lyric collection, while French and Italian design elements appear in Aria.

5 of the Most Charitable Athletes in the World

One of the best ways to encourage charitable giving and volunteerism is to provide a strong example for others, and many professional athletes have the public platform to fill such a role. The staff at DoSomething.org, a website that allows people to get involved with charitable initiatives, understands the special role that athletes can play in promoting a good cause. Keeping fans updated on the charitable activities of their sports heroes, the site recently compiled the Athletes Gone Good list, which includes men and women competing in sports ranging from tennis to cricket.

Here is a closer look at the top five athletes on the list:

Cristiano Ronaldo

ronaldo
Image courtesy Jan S0L0 | Flickr

The all-time leading goal scorer for Real Madrid F.C., Cristiano Ronaldo has set dozens of records in his league and at the European and international levels. He has received four Golden Boot awards and the FIFA Ballon d’Or three times, and he is the top-paid athlete in his sport at $79.6 million each year.

Away from training and competing, Ronaldo advocates for a number of causes, such as ending childhood hunger and protecting the environment, and he has supported UNICEF, World Vision, and Save the Children. He has donated considerable sums to a cancer treatment center, and he even sponsored the brain surgery of one of his fans. In addition, he has made a strong effort to give back to his fans, including a spontaneous trip to Indonesia to raise money for victims of the 2004 tsunami.

John Cena

Jon Cena
Image courtesy Elvert Barnes | Flickr

In 2000, John Cena transitioned to professional wrestling and quickly gained success with an Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW) title that same year. He entered the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), scene in 2002 and has won 15 WWE world heavyweight champion titles. During his career, he has defeated a number of Hall of Fame wrestlers, including The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton.

Cena has achieved several milestones in his charitable work, as well. An advocate for cancer awareness and treatment, he supports the Susan G. Komen initiative and has guided efforts at WWE to raise more than $1.5 million for the foundation. Through his partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he has granted more wishes than any other celebrity, and he continues to receive the most requests of all individuals affiliated with the organization.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams
Image courtesy Aleksandr Osipov | Flickr

Ranked number one in the world, tennis champion Serena Williams started competing at the professional level before graduating from high school. She quickly rose to her position as the leading athlete of her sport, amassing titles at the U.S. Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon along the way. In December 2015, she was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year a few months after clinching her sixth Wimbledon title.

Williams balances a variety of charitable endeavors, from her namesake foundation to her role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Among other passions, she has supported causes that create educational opportunities for children, such as the 1 in 11 campaign, which focuses on helping children in developing countries obtain access to education. She assisted with launching the movement in 2015 and created the Keep Ups challenge to help spread awareness and encourage donations.

Yuna Kim

Yuna Kim
Image courtesy { QUEEN YUNA } | Flickr

Olympic gold medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea won her first international figure skating competition at age 12. Upon entering middle school, she joined the Korean national team and achieved success despite injuries. She commanded two consecutive first place finishes at the Grand Prix Finals during the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons, and in 2010 she set a world-record score of 228.56 points and won gold at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Kim has supported responses to natural disasters in Haiti, the Philippines, and Nepal. She contributed $100,000 to relief efforts in Nepal following the devastating earthquake in 2015, and $100,000 to relief efforts in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.  Additionally, she recently participated in the FENDI Seoul Peekaboo project, in which she designed a bag for auction. The Yuna Kim Peekaboo bag sold widely and generated $15,000, which she donated to UNICEF.

Neymar 

Neymar
Image courtesy Doha Stadium Plus Qatar | Flickr

Brazilian soccer sensation Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. debuted as a senior player with Santos F.C. in 2009, and he scored his 100th professional goal three years later. During his relatively short career, he has amassed several honors, including the FIFA Puskas Award and four consecutive Player of the Year awards. He gained widespread fame for his performance during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in his home country.

Neymar ranked fifth on the DoSomething.org Athletes Gone Good list for his humanitarian collaboration with FIFA in 2014. The organization developed an emergency health campaign titled “11 Against Ebola” in which Neymar recorded video and audio public health messages to help combat the disease in Africa. Neymar also joined with Paypal in the Waves for Water project, which aims to increase access to clean water in Brazil. In addition, he founded the Neymar Junior Institute, which will offer free classes in sports, reading, and computers to Brazilian children in need.

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7 of the Top Factors Impacting the Furniture Industry

The home furniture sector made in excess of $101 billion in 2013, despite a decline in purchasing activity due to the recession. A down economy is only one of the many factors that determine the success of the industry’s future. Find out what shaped the sector within the past five years.

1. Free Shipping

truck shippingOffering competitive shipping rates has become a challenge for retailers. With shipping expectations growing due to online shopping availability at sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Target, consumers have come to expect items to be shipped at no additional cost, yet with a quick turnaround time.

In fact, the 2015 Costumer Loyalty Engagement Index released by Forbes indicated free shipping made up 15 percent of brand engagement. A hefty percentage, the trend will continue to benefit customers, despite its costly impact on retailers and distributors.

A solution that can alleviate expenditures as well as expedite shipping is maintaining localized inventories. Rather than designating one warehouse to fulfill all orders, retailers can create more centers in close proximity to stores to complete transactions.

2. California Port Strike

At the beginning of 2015, a California port strike occurred due to labor disputes between unions and employers. Nearly 30 ports along the west coast ceased operations, which disrupted imports from Asia. The ports were responsible for receiving 70 percent of US imports. Numerous industries, including the furniture sector, were negatively impacted by the strike.

Furniture retailers who expected orders during the strike noticed considerably slower delivery times. Some had to redirect furniture deliveries to other ports, such as those in Washington state, to reduce further delays that would keep store floors empty and product selections limited.

3. Foreign Costs

foreign money

For a period of time, freight and labor costs in China were on the rise. As a result, many speculated that companies would transition to onshoring most of their operations, thus bringing manufacturing back to America.

However, China has reduced labor costs in the past year, according to the southeast regional manager of commercial services for the financial holding company CIT. Fuel prices and cost of shipping containers across the oceans have also dropped. The news requires furniture distributors and manufacturers to reevaluate the value of onshoring.

4. Purchasing Power Shift

Until 2014, Baby Boomers accounted for a majority of furniture purchased. Millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 34 as of 2015, have since taken the lead. The younger generation, which is comprised of 74 million people, has overtaken the Baby Boomer population slightly with regards to purchasing power.

Those on the older end of the Millennial spectrum, particularly, are purchasing and decorating homes as well as creating a space to grow their families. These life events have had a direct correlation with the fact that Millennials made up more than a third of the population purchasing home furnishings and bedding in 2014. In particular, the demographic is drawn to neutral grays and pops of blue. Reports have indicated more purchases in casual dining, youth bedroom, and office furniture.

5. Mobile Technology

mobile searchAccording to Smart Insights, 80 percent of smartphone owners use their phones to search the internet. Nearly half begin their research on a search engine, including 41 percent of those looking for home and gardening products and services. Further, the website http://www.furnituredealer.net reported that 47 percent of shoppers relied on their mobile device to look for furniture in October of 2014. Data from Google supported these findings.

Mobile remains an impactful platform for selling consumer products. Sales transacted through mobile devices increased by nearly 50 percent during the second quarter of 2014, which equated to $6.8 billion. A portion of e-commerce sales were a result of mobile usage as well.

6. Lifestyle versus Traditional Stores

From Generation Y to Baby Boomers, lifestyle stores, such as Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel, are top of list when it comes to shopping. Generations X and Y frequent these stores often for their home-buying needs. Baby Boomers, while they shop at these stores less than other generations, still turn to lifestyle stores 70 percent of the time. The reasons given for shopping these stores is that they offer functional and affordable products.

However, interest in traditional retailers, like Ashley Furniture, have not subsided. Consumers visit manufacturer-branded stores to source solid wood pieces they feel are made to standards of high quality. Traditional stores also provide a larger selection of products from which to choose. Typically, local-owned, the retailers often provide top-notch customer service, which pleases consumers.

7. Going “Green”

Deforestation, among other environmental concerns, have played a significant role in how consumers decide which furnishings to purchase. Buyers now look for furniture that causes the least harm to the environment. As a result, despite its costly price tag, “green” furniture remains in high demand.

This has made larger retailers, like Ashley Furniture, look for new ways to create products that benefit both its buyers and the environment. For instance, Ashley Furniture no longer uses toxic flame retardant chemicals in its upholstered furniture. The announcement was made public in 2015.

furniture

What You Should Know from the First Quarter of 2016

The first quarter of 2016 included numerous announcements affecting the home furniture industry. Of those shared in the news, the following are worth knowing.

Retail Trends

In March, Furniture Today released a summation of five retail trends impacting the industry. Key topics included the use of virtual reality to help consumers visualize what a product looks like in their space, loyalty programs with instant rewards, environmentally-friendly recycling programs for furniture that will be leveraged to raise money for the community, and informational programs teaching people about lifestyle subjects.

The latter concentrates on enhancing home stores’ offerings to include classes that not only feature products, but showcase how they can be incorporated into customers’ lives. For example, a store looking to sell a specific line of multifunctional furniture could teach a class on small-space living.

Rental services also peaked at the number one spot among key retail trends. In fact, the Furniture Today article alluded to 15 percent of shoppers being interested in renting furniture from their home store of preference, spending $500 a month on furnishings. The amount of people interested in renting did not mean those individuals were without the means to afford purchasing furniture. Rather, those surveyed preferred to rent and use items that matched their lifestyle and needs.

New Products

couchTelevision personality and cook Rachael Ray joined the furnishing industry with the creation of her home collection of case goods and upholstery. Dubbed the Rachael Ray Home Collection, the line is set to debut at High Point’s spring market in April. It is comprised of three collections, Upstate, Soho, and Highline.

The latter features soft grays and charcoals, while Soho’s finishes are gray taupe. Upstate is more traditional and represents Americana style with a waxed patina look. Bedroom and dining furniture are included in the collections as well as office and entryway pieces. Following the launch, the designer looks to expand her home furnishings line to include wall art, lighting, floor coverings, and decorative accessories.

The same market will also unveil Trisha Yearwood’s home accessory line. The collection’s announcement was made by IMAX Worldwide Home in March. The country singer and lifestyle expert has designed a line of wall decor, lamps, trays, and vases, among other products that capture her brand of comfortable and chic southern style. Ms. Yearwood stated in an article published by Furniture World that her collection helps people “make a house a home” by creating “a comfortable environment to share with family and friends.”

Technological Advancement

In February, vice president of design for DXV by American Standard spoke to industry professionals at the Bienenstock Furniture Library regarding three-dimensional (3D) printing. The technology, which has been employed to build human organs and aerospace parts, will also shape the future of the home furnishing sector.

In his presentation, he made it clear that comprehension of design, engineering, materials, and human ergonomics is still essential when constructing a piece of furniture. The use of 3D printing, however, can expedite the processes for prototyping and creating scale models.

Scale models will also make it possible for manufacturers produce parts that accurately fit final products, thus reducing material waste. For designs that cannot be made from molds, 3D printing allows manufacturers to test new ideas for shapes and structures that would be improbable using conventional methods.

Education

interior design

Image courtesy Johnson Design Studio | Flickr

The April High Point market will host a series of design and trend-focused courses in the Suites at Market Square Seminar Room (SAMS 1-1014). The programming, made possible by International Market Centers, includes design courses concentrating on different mediums and popular styles on the horizon, outdoor styling, and brand and business development. Notable designers ranging from Thom Filicia to Eddie Ross will be present to educate attendees.

Additionally, Nancy Fire, Farah Merhi, Bobby Berk, and Kim Radovich will head Suite Spot Tours. To help attendees relax, complimentary manicures and cocktails will be provided in The Market Designer Lounge & Spa, courtesy of Country Living and Southern Living Magazine. Dependent on the course, continuing education units (CEUs) may be available

Special Orders

For the benefit of customers seeking specific products that are not carried in-store, integrating special order processing into business operations is crucial. Furniture World Magazine garnered advice from Storis, a leader in retail software solutions and services to big ticket retailers, to educate its audience on three essential components of special order processing in a February article. The piece focused on three methods: true special ordering, “on the fly” stock keeping unit (SKU) creation, and special order configuration.

True special ordering involves making changes to a product with an existing SKU in an inventory. An ideal software gives a salesperson the ability to select different elements, such as finishes and hardware, at the point of sale. To ensure a store is capable of delivering the custom piece, all selections are made through prompts already coded in the program. In addition, providing space for notes gives users the ability to document specific instructions.

“On the fly” SKU creation focuses on making a new SKU during the order entry process. The SKU does not already exist, but is created specially for a custom piece. Special order configuration applies to complex orders that take into account all design options. Using drop-down menus that state pricing, rules, and other factors impacting the creation and delivery of a piece, special order configuration software caters to consumers who want to work with commissioned designers and have the most flexibility in their design choices. The tool calculates all costs to give an accurate selling price and offers precise details regarding delivery, thus ensuring customers’ expectations are realistic.

 

12 Generous Businesses in the Social Entrepreneur Industry

The landscape for charitable organizations and foundations has widely diversified in recent years as groups and companies have developed and refined new platforms for achieving positive social change. One such innovation is the “buy one, give one” or “one for one” business model, which TOMS first launched in 2006.

Buy one, give one (BOGO) allows for-profit companies to run their businesses while simultaneously supporting the cause of their choosing. In the case of TOMS, consumers buy a pair of shoes, and the company matches their purchase by donating shoes to children living in impoverished areas of the world.

TOMS has set a trend in the social entrepreneurship marketplace, which now includes dozens of businesses operating on the BOGO model. Here is a look at the efforts of some of these companies, starting with the industry pioneer:

1. TOMS

toms_logoFounded by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS started with the vision of providing footwear to children in need and has expanded its reach to include eyesight and clean water initiatives. The decade-old company has donated more than 50 million pairs of shoes, assisted more than 360,000 individuals with their eyesight, and generated safe water in six countries.

2. Project 7

Tyler Merrick launched Project 7 in 2008 and has created an opportunity for consumers to donate to a variety of causes by simply purchasing gum, candy, and similar items. Each purchase combines to support environmental initiatives, build homes and emergency relief centers, and improve education in developing nations.

3. Better World Books

betterworldbookslogoBetter World Books (BWB) launched its “you buy, we donate” campaign in 2011, and since that time, the company has supplied more than 17 million books to the nonprofit organization Books for Africa. BWB also contributes to book recycling and raises funds for library and literacy support.

4. Out of Print

Another partner of Books for Africa, Out of Print offers a line of clothing and accessories featuring themes of classic literature, such as Shakespearean t-shirts or library card-inspired coffee mugs. Every purchase translates into a donated book for a community in need.

5. Yoobi

yoobilogoWith a flagship store in Arcadia, California, as well as an online marketplace and availability at major U.S. retailers, Yoobi produces and sells unique office and school supplies with the slogan “one for you, one for me.” The company matches each purchase by donating an identical or similar item to schools across the United States without adequate resources.

6. Faucet Face

The developers of Faucet Face have created a product and business model with two objectives. First, the company sells glass water bottles and promotes the consumption of tap and hose water to eliminate the pollution associated with plastic water bottles. Second, the company donates 100 liters of clean water to communities in India for every bottle sold, and it assists the Third Millennium Awakening organization with setting up local water filtration systems.

7. Baby Teresa

babyteresalogoDedicated to clothing babies in need, Baby Teresa sells 100-percent organic cotton clothing and accessories for infants. Customers buy these outfits and the company donates an outfit on a one-for-one basis. In addition, a percentage of sales from accessories cover formula costs for babies in more than 20 countries around the world.

8. WEWOOD

In 2010, WEWOOD designed its first wood timepiece in Florence, Italy, and months later the company opened its first location in Los Angeles, California. WEWOOD has established partnerships with American Forests and Trees for the Future, and with every watch sold, the business sponsors the planting of a tree. WEWOOD has planted more than 420,000 trees and aims to reach one million by 2020.

9. Warby Parker

warbyparkerlogoThe founders of Warby Parker started with a goal to make glasses more affordable. In the process, they set up a system that contributes to nonprofit organizations with each transaction. As a result, these charity groups donate eyewear for people in developing countries to sell. They also sponsor eye exam training for men and women in less-developed regions.

10. FIGS

Heather Hasson and Trina Spear founded FIGS to give people who wear scrubs an alternative. They started by developing new uniforms with a focus on comfort and function, and they added a “threads for threads” selling model that benefits healthcare professionals in more than 25 countries. FIGS donates a set of scrubs for every set sold, and these clean medical uniforms help decrease infection rates in hospitals around the world.

11. Hand in Hand Soap

handinhandlogoSocial entrepreneurs Courtney Apple and Bill Glaab founded Hand in Hand Soap in 2011 to help people around the world gain access to proper hygiene and clean water. They specialize in bath soaps and beauty products such as lip balms and fragrances. The company matches every sale of a bar or bottle of soap and include a month of clean water for a child for each purchase.

12. 2 Degrees

The staff at 2 Degrees leverages the BOGO business model to help their customers eat healthy snacks while simultaneously contributing to end childhood hunger. By selling items from a menu of vegan, gluten-free bars, the company has facilitated more than one million meal donations in countries such as Somalia, Kenya, and Haiti.

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13 Easy Ways to Support Charity from Your Smartphone

app-storeThe phrase “there’s an app for that” originated as an Apple marketing strategy nearly ten years ago. Today the saying holds truer than ever, with mobile applications now even serving charitable functions. The advent of the “app” occurred in 2008, when a total of 550 apps were released between the Apple App Store and the Android Market. BlackBerry App World, the Nokia Ovi Store, and the Windows Phone Marketplace quickly followed suit.

For many people living in the digital age, apps offer convenience in discovering information, pursuing various forms of entertainment, and connecting with others via social platforms. Charitable organizations have collaborated with app developers to establish creative options for people to engage in causes with the same ease.

Here is a list of 13 mobile platforms developed for supporting charities and foundations from your smartphone or device, some of which are free for users:

  1. Make a Stand App

The Make a Stand campaign started with a lemonade stand run by a 10-year old girl passionate about ending child slavery. As a result of her commitment and entrepreneurial drive, the movement now operates as a global app that allows people to create campaigns and support causes ranging from literacy to environmental issues.

  1. Snap Donate

This app is for the generous-minded who like to seize opportunities to give when they see them. When a subscriber sees the logo of a charity they would like to support, they simply take a photo and submit it. The app then presents a page for that charity with donation amount options.

  1. Give 2 Charity

Users of this app can designate which group they would like to support, and based off of points accrued through cellphone usage, funds are allocated to the selected charity. In addition, the data collected about when and where the user carries his or her phone benefits usage surveys for service providers.

  1. Instead

The Instead app creates opportunities for people to forego a regular part of their routine in benefit of someone else. For example, a user might pass on Starbucks one morning, brew their own coffee, and donate the savings to humanitarian projects. One way the concept appeals to users is that they can issue challenges for themselves and others to meet on a daily or weekly basis.

  1. I Can Go Without

Similar to Instead, I Can Go Without is a program that allows subscribers to keep track of their eating habits and generate funds for charity. Each time a user decides to make a sandwich rather than eat out, for example, the reported cost difference accumulates on an invoice, which he or she can pay all at once at any time.

  1. Budge

Budge operates on dares or bets agreed upon by participants. Two friends, coworkers, family members, etc., determine the rules of the contest or challenge, set a dollar amount, and whoever wins sends that money to a charity of their choice. The social aspect of the app has succeeded in differentiating Budge from others apps that focus on the individual.

  1. Donate a Photo

Staff members at Johnson & Johnson developed this app as a way for people to be active in the world of charity without spending a dollar. Each photo a person submits receives a $1 donation toward the organization of their choosing. A maximum of one photo each day can translate into $365 a year — for simply taking pictures.

  1. GoodShop

GoodShop is a shopping portal with charity in mind. In fact, half of the income it receives for referrals goes straight to the group or cause the shopper designates.

  1. Charity Miles

For multitasking enthusiasts, this app offers the chance to work on fitness and charity goals concurrently. Sponsors decide how much they would like to contribute per mile reported by users, and the total tallies up for each run, bike ride, or other exercise routine. Charity Miles also fosters a social aspect, creating ways for participants to interact and encourage one another.

  1. ShareTheMeal

The United Nations led the way in creating this app, which facilitates meal funding for children around the world. Speakers of as many as nine different languages can donate money and see who benefits from their generosity. In many cases, a contribution of $0.50 or less will cover an entire day’s worth of food for a child.

  1. GoodSAM

GoodSAM operates without funding and it connects people in times of urgent need. People use this app — much like an emergency call — to notify nearby first aid-certified professionals of injured persons. These “good Samaritans” then respond and provide assistance free of charge until paramedics arrive.

  1. Check-in for Good

A quickly-growing trend, the Check-in for Good app benefits essentially everyone involved. When a person goes out to eat, for example, they check in to participating vendors using the app, and the restaurant will donate to charity as well as offer the user a deal on their meal.

  1. Charity Tap

The Charity Tap app functions much like a video game. Users face speed challenges, and each time they tap the screen, a grain of rice is donated. Sponsors of the app fund it through advertisements that appear mid-game, and the donated rice goes to the World Food Programme.

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gen x

7 of the Top Characteristics of Generation X Consumers

According to 2015 reports on home furniture trends, Generation (Gen) X, while small in number compared to the population of Baby Boomers and Millennials (Gen Y), has demonstrated strong purchasing power in recent years. The group purchased 43 percent more furniture in 2014 than it did in 2012. Gen X also accounted for $31.8 billion in revenue in the furniture industry in 2014, which equates to a third of all sales. To ensure that your business does not miss an opportunity to market to this crowd of more than 66 million consumers, here are a handful of the most important characteristics you should know about Gen Xers.

Age Range

The generation encompasses people roughly between the ages of 35 and 50, or those born between the years 1965 and 1980. This represents the definition used by Pew Research Center and Bridgeworks, a firm specializing in generational dynamics.

Values

familyGen Xers are looking to purchase homes and create families. Regardless of their spending habits, which involves purchasing more consumer goods than older generations, they value savings, and have established and contributed to retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s. In addition, they have designated savings accounts to ensure the well-being of their children. This includes funding their children’s post-secondary education through a 529 or tax-advantaged college savings plan. Having witnessed economic volatility firsthand, Gen Xers are more like to have an emergency fund than Millennials.

Financial Status

This group holds the highest employment rate of any generation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While pursuing more education meant that Gen X started to earn money later in life than previous generations, they have enjoyed a growth in job opportunities throughout their working lives that has made it possible for them to earn more. In fact, despite having more student debt than older generations, Gen X earns an estimated $12,000 more than their parents did at the same age. The amount, drawn from a report released by Pew Charitable Trusts in September 2014, takes into consideration inflation and change in household sizes. However, less than 50 percent of Gen Xers have greater wealth than their parents, perhaps because the higher cost of college has created greater student loan burdens that cut into their savings. In terms of investments, this generation aims to avoid fees by regularly reallocating investment funds. They also are more knowledgeable of their risk tolerance. Of the total US adult population, Gen X holds around 29 percent of total net worth dollars and earns nearly a third of total income dollars.

Homeownership

houseWhile Baby Boomers are downgrading their homes as they age out of the workforce and retire, Gen Xers are heavily focused on making a comfortable home for themselves. Depending on the individual, the importance of owning a home may be related to growth in family or job relocation. Purchasing a home in an area with a good school district is the ideal. Gen Xers are more likely to stay in their homes for a decade before relocating. Homes typically are larger in size and hold a higher price tag. In 2014, 27 percent of home purchases were made by Gen Xers with a median age of 41.

Entrepreneurship

Many members of Gen X believe that job security comes from being their own boss. This is reflected in a report released by Sage, an organization that supports entrepreneurs. The 2015 report recognized that more than half of new businesses were launched by Gen Xers. Instead of hoping to find employment, this generation shows a willingness to take control of the future by investing in their careers. This gives them an opportunity to succeed in professions they are passionate about.

Technology

Gen X was the first generation to be defined by its heavy use of technology. This group craves information and relies on themselves to solve personal challenges with the aid of the Internet. Before heading to the store to buy a product or service, they search for more information online that will allow them to make an informed decision. Information about specific products and merchants is sourced through reviews and recommendations. Gen X consumers are also looking to compare prices, see pictures, and explore social media activity. Online “window shopping” must offer easy navigation to encourage a sale as well.

Sales Preferences

Gen Xers have been labeled as skeptics for their unwillingness to accept things at face value. As such, they may be less receptive to traditional sales pitches or gimmicks than other generations. Gen Xers tend to make purchasing decisions based on research and have more appreciation for companies that offer transparency in their practices and products. Gen Xers also want a knowledgeable sales person to answer their questions, act as a helpful resource, and assist in their purchase. They do not want someone to simply sell something to them. As such, those selling a product or service to a person of this generation should anticipate questions and be prepared to respond with accurate information.