Month: June 2016

14 of the Most Useful Charity Blogs to Follow

For charities and nonprofit organizations, maintaining an active blog can serve as an invaluable tool. The practice of online journaling, which surfaced in the 1990s, helps individuals and groups establish new networks that assist in spreading the influence of their cause, and the digital platform can also generate valuable feedback from people with similar passions. Publishing original content on a regular basis is one of the best ways to increase and sustain search engine relevance, too. In fact, with the recent aid of social media, blogging is now a solidified strategic approach that is both viable and essential to the success of any charitable endeavor.

Of equal importance to writing a blog is reading those published by others in your area of focus. Investing time in reading the ideas and experiences of others can lead to new levels of creativity and help to avoid trying things that have proven ineffective or inefficient. The charity sector, however, is consistently growing, and knowing where to begin and which blogs are worth consistently reading presents a rather daunting task. To get started, consider the following selections, many of which are published in and around England.

charity science logoCharity Science

Charity Science aims to “revolutionize doing good the same way that science revolutionized medicine,” and the Canada-based organization leverages quantitative data to illustrate best practices for running a cost-effective charity campaign. Ultimately, the mission of the group is to save you time.

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC)

AMRC focuses on helping organizations reach their charitable, health-related objectives through dedicated data analytics. In addition, the blog features information crucial to regulatory and policy issues that many nonprofits must address in their work.

Irish Charity Lab

Based in Ireland, Irish Charity Lab seeks to share charity-related expertise with readers interested in the basics of nonprofit operations. Blog posts include information on such topics as deploying successful e-mail chains and improving inbound marketing efforts.

Just Giving

The team at Just Giving carries out regular research and development to gather and organize intel for charities that are seeking to improve their operations based on empirical data.  Some of this information includes how to more effectively utilize social media.

bloomeranglogoBloomerang

The Bloomerang blog comprises hundreds of posts with valuable data illustrating which techniques are better in certain situations and depending, as always, on the goals of the organization. Readers of this publication will gain insight on how to boost donor retention and increase the overall usability of their website and strategy.

Superkids Charity

An international initiative, Superkids Charity aims to help children around the world facing a variety of challenges. Blog posts on this site cover topics ranging from adoption to special needs, and allow followers to see how the organization approaches these issues.

The King’s Fund

An organization based in England, The King’s Fund focuses on health care, and its blog offers a valuable template for how to approach social issues in general. The ideas presented in the group’s articles demonstrate ways to innovate and then act on those new ideas.

Donor Dreams Blog

Readers of this blog can sign up for regular e-mails detailing the latest insights on how to amplify sustainable donations. The author of Donor Dreams holds more than 15 years of experience in designing donor-centered approaches to funding charitable initiatives.

Give Well

The Give Well blogging staff publishes frequently about charities that have found successful formulas. Where many charity analysts focus solely on financial performance, the Give Well blog shows how organizations are gaining real results with each dollar.

thirdsectorlogoThird Sector

Another UK-based outlet, the Third Sector blog has garnered the readership of many of the top business professionals in the country. Third Sector offers a peek at what causes have inspired charitable thinkers to action in other parts of the world and the ways in which they have addressed key issues.

101 Fundraising

101 Fundraising takes a crowd blog approach by featuring the writing of multiple contributing authors. The platform also operates on a volunteer basis to create a valuable fundraising resource, free of cost.

Simply, Improvement

Led by founder Ian Seath, the Simply, Improvement blog offers a wide range of methodologies to charities and nonprofits that assist with bettering process, performance, and projects. Mr. Seath has leveraged his background in both the public and private sectors to help more than 200 groups work toward their goals.

Getting Attention!

Written by Nancy Schwartz, the Getting Attention! blog aims to help nonprofit organizations with their marketing campaigns. Schwartz is known for her casual prose that allows readers to glean insight without having to wrestle with technical jargon.

America’s Charities

One more useful site is America’s Charities, which helps individuals and businesses connect with the nonprofit sector and identify causes and projects that align with their interests. The website features a News and Blog section, where readers can explore current events and developments in a wide range of charity endeavors.

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future chair

Furniture Technology Developments You Should Know About

California architect Greg Lynn, designer of a high-tech chair for Nike, recently stated in an interview with Dezeen that the furniture industry is struggling to keep pace with the movement to integrate technology into consumer products. In doing so, companies will likely disappear as consumers grow to expect more from their home furnishings. However, new technology developments have surfaced that are poised to change the industry.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

virtual reality

Image courtesy Nan Palmero | Flickr

While consumers are attracted to professionally styled and curated lifestyle imagery that helps them determine what home furnishings to buy, Mike Festa of Wayfair believes that the next step to engaging consumers is virtual and augmented reality. For online retailers, three-dimensional (3D) technology would allow prospective buyers to explore pieces of furniture from all angles and select various finishes, trims, and fabrics to fully visualize their product. Beyond virtual reality, the ability to offer augmented reality will also be valuable. Like a game, it would give people the option to take their online customized furniture and place it in a room that resembles their home. The purpose is to help individuals see how it fits in their space, thus enticing them to make a purchase.

Though the technology seems ideal, Mr. Festa predicts that full integration of both will take upwards of 10 years. The most challenging part will be the cost of creating stock keeping units, also known as SKUs, and customization options for each product, as well as investment in 3D modeling and scanning. However, by the time online retailers have updated their technology, millennials will be the prime furniture purchasers and the demographic more likely to grasp on to the new way of shopping.

3D Printing

6107889555_5e2c4b5e5b_b

Image courtesy Nan Palmero | Flickr

World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP), an Italian company, focuses on 3D printing. Founded in 2003, the organization has created PowerWASP, a tool that mills wood and aluminum, and DeltaWASP, which accommodates small to large printing projects. One of its struggles has been cost, namely the expense of making a product. Until late, the company was only able to use filament to manufacture items. The product itself is very costly, making it impossible for people in underprivileged regions to afford 3D creations.

Fortunately, the DeltaWASP Pellet was the solution. The company developed the machinery to process polylactic acid pellets into strands that are four to 10 millimeters in diameter. It takes up to eight hours to process approximately 22 pounds of material. Afterward, the processed pellets can be modified to fit different designs. By using pellets over filament, the savings amounts to 90 percent.

Presently, WASP is positioning the machinery to aid in furniture manufacturing by working with design intern Giulio Buscaroli, who has transformed its service into beautifully designed chairs. The overall goal is to produce fashionable furnishings that can be customized by consumers through a partnership with FabLabs.

Smart Furniture

Developed by entrepreneurs in Latin America, Curvilux, a nightstand, is among the latest in smart furniture products to launch. The first of many smart furniture products the creators intend to release, the nightstand will be made available to consumers if crowdfunding on Indiegogo is successful.

The product was created to help people reach their full potential. It includes dual LED lights that serve three purposes: eliminating the need for a bedside light, illuminating the ground for people to safely walk in the middle of the night, and notifying sleepers that it is time to wake up by simulating a sunrise at a set time. It also offers a stereo audio system with Bluetooth connectivity. The technology gives owners the ability to listen to their favorite playlists and select a song to play when a phone call comes in. Other features include a charging dock and electronic lock. Ensuring Curvilux becomes an active part of a person’s life, the creators made a mobile app to control all aspects of the nightstand when away.

Wireless Charging Products

wireless charger

Image courtesy Nan Palmero | Flickr

Like Curvilux, Ikea and Fonesalesman have grasped onto the idea that wireless charging furniture is a must. Fonesalesman, headquartered in London, created a line called FurniQi. As of the beginning of 2016, the line has released a side table made of hand-harvested Mao Zhu bamboo. Its minimalist design makes it easy to integrate into any home. The company utilized a standard interface by Wireless Power Consortium to ensure the wireless charging technology, known as Qi, can support a multitude of smartphone devices, from Microsoft to Samsung. The side table allows a person to place their phone on its surface to charge. Providing the answer to wireless living, the company intends to release more products with Qi technology in the future.

In 2015, Ikea joined the wireless charging scene with the debut of its own series of products in Europe. The collection includes lamps, nightstands, charging pads, and charging units. The company designed each piece to blend seamlessly into a home. For those wanting even more customization and hidden technology, Ikea offers JYSSEN, a wireless charger that was made for consumers to embed into furniture. Each item displays a plus sign, which signifies it has charging capabilities for products that are compatible with Qi technology. For those that do not support Qi technology, like iPhone products, an additional charging cover made by Ikea can be purchased to use items from the collection.

16 of the Best Social Crowdfunding Platforms in the World

When it comes to fundraising, can asking for smaller donations from your support base generate more money in the long run? This is the premise of crowdfunding, a model that has gained quite a bit of attention in the nonprofit sector of late. By definition, the approach operates on the generosity of a large pool of people contributing mere percentages of the total necessary to launch a project or initiative. Favorable overhead costs rank among the many appealing factors of crowdfunding, and other benefits include the efficiency and speed of the process.

Because of the rapid rise in interest in crowdfunding, multiple platforms have emerged, and although they share the same conceptual backbone, there exists a fair amount of differences between them. Nonprofit leaders and people interested in launching a new charitable endeavor should weigh their goals against the available options in the marketplace, as well as the ways in which they want to reach out to the public. The following is an introduction to the various crowdfunding platforms out there.

rallyorglogo1. Rally.org

Users of this platform build a free profile, share it across social media and other channels, and start collecting donations. The company also offers website integration and develops tax reports for nonprofit compliance needs.

2. HopeMob

The HopeMob site has amassed more than 10,000 members, and one of the largest current campaigns is to raise money for residents of Flint, Michigan.

3. Start Some Good

With a global support team, Start Some Good assists its users by helping develop strategies for optimal fundraising. The company charges a 5 percent fee only if the project total is reached. Since its inception, Start Some Good has raised more than $5 million for various causes.

gofundmelogo4. GoFundMe

Viewed as the top fundraising site in the world, GoFundMe offers both personal and charity fundraising campaigns. Users can start their own projects or select from an expansive list of already operating nonprofit organizations, such as the American Cancer Society.

5. CrowdRise

CrowdRise allows users to create a fundraiser in less than a minute, and it hosts more than 1.5 million charities. Along with Salesforce integration features, users collect $95 or $97 of every incoming $100, depending on the pricing option selected.

6. Indiegogo

Indiegogo creates a sense of urgency with its platform by placing a timeframe on the fundraising goal. Nonprofit organizations benefit from discounts with this company, and multiple account types are available.

7. FirstGiving

The crowdfunding site FirstGiving, which has partnered with such trusted organizations as the Special Olympics, combines peer-to-peer fundraising techniques with its model, which includes a free start up. In addition, the platform allows users to customize and manage thank you e-mails, collections, and registration information.

rockethublogo8. RocketHub

Highlighted on the A&E television network, RocketHub helps social leaders raise money with its international platform. The company only charges fees if the group or organization reaches its financial goal during the course of the campaign.

9. CauseVox

Developed for spreading social good, CauseVox offers a considerable amount of customization compared to competitors. The crowdfunding platform also allows customers to develop as many sites as they would like, though rates still apply for each.

10. Razoo

The Razoo platform has facilitated the creation of tens of thousands of fundraising sites that together have generated more than $450 million. Depending on the needs of the user, three different tax settings are available to help meet overall objectives.

11. Causes

Since the platform launched, Causes has amassed a community of millions of users from 156 countries. The company offers a social media app, Brigade, which allows users to find more people to support their cause.

buzzbnklogo12. Buzzbnk

Based in England, the Buzzbnk crowdfunding model has successfully funded 137 projects as of 2016. The company has supported clients whose focuses range from education to social welfare.

13. Pozible

The Pozible website features the motto, “We crowdfund awesome stuff.” At a success rate of 56 percent, the company has raised more than $40 million for a variety of causes and dreams. Users may select from three cost tiers, depending on goals and performance.

14. Crowdster

Established exclusively for the nonprofit sector, Crowdster offers an online and mobile platform to assist its clients. The company formed in 2007 and has continued to amplify its technological capabilities. At present, Crowdster helps Save the Children, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Autism Speaks.

15. Classy

Classy equips users with a number of modern tools, such as access to MailChimp and Google AdWords. Nearly 2,000 social organizations have turned to Classy, and many have exceed their fundraising goals. Successful campaigns include Pencils of Promise, which will build new schools in Africa.

16. Fundly

One of the main components of Fundly is its aggressive mobile application approach. By enabling smartphone users to contribute to causes they support, the platform has facilitated multiple successful campaigns, such as providing food for those in need in Ferguson, Missouri.

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5 of the Most Environmentally-Conscious Companies in the Home Furnishings Industry

The furniture industry continues to bounce back from the most recent economic recession. Expected to become a $695-billion industry worldwide by 2019 according to an article published by MarketResearch.com, the sector has experienced major shifts in consumer preferences.

Trends such as increased telecommuting are raising the demand for home office furniture. Further, a desire for versatility requires manufacturers and distributors to supply multifunctional pieces that can accommodate different-sized spaces. Another trend leading the way in 2016 is “going green.”

Furnishings made of recyclable materials — and using sustainable processes to make them — are in higher demand, despite an increased price tag. Companies making an effort to meet these new demands in order to preserve the environment include the following:

PBteen

pbteen logoChampion surfer Kelly Slater teamed up with PBteen once again to launch a new collection of eco-friendly furniture that caters to teenagers. Slater, an advocate of sustainable practices, designed more than 30 pieces that integrated materials such as recycled fibers and organic cotton. In addition, Forest Stewardship Council-certified (FSC-certified) woods can be seen throughout the line.

Buyers can choose from coffee tables made of reclaimed wood or consider a recycled denim pouf to update their space. Wall décor, like the Ocean Ombre Macrame and Eco Surf Gallery, and bedding made of 100 percent organic materials also are available to purchase online or at a retail location. Once purchased, buyers will have peace of mind knowing that each piece will be delivered using environmentally-conscious packaging.

J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture

J&S LogoBased in Vancouver, Canada, J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture preserves history and the environment by reusing materials that have hundreds of years of history. It manufactures furniture from old-growth trees, a coniferous plant from the Pacific Northwest that can grow upwards of 400 feet tall and 20 feet wide over the course of 2,000 years.

The trees are now located in protected regions; however, those harvested 100 years ago for the purpose of constructing barns and heritage buildings can be found in the form of salvage timber. J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture uses the lumber to create tables, bar carts, and bookcases. The pieces are sold alongside other home furnishings constructed from discarded shipping pallets. The owners recycle all parts of the pallets down to the last nail. Leftover wood scraps are used as firewood.

Ashley Furniture Industries

ashley furniture logoA leader in home furnishings, Ashley Furniture Industries strives to preserve the environment by using engineered woods in a majority of its products. Made of 100 percent recycled wood, engineered wood is comprised of 32 percent more wood matter than solid lumber, which only utilizes 63 percent of a tree. In terms of finishes, the company predominantly completes products with a water-based solution to reduce the need for harmful chemicals, which put out more emissions.

Further, Ashley Furniture Industries has an established program that recycles 65,000 tons of wood by-products, 157 tons of sheet metal, 3,000 light bulbs, and 13,000 wooden pallets annually. The same program keeps tons of office paper and computer equipment out of landfills.

Additive Elements

additive elements logoBased in Munich, Germany, Additive Elements intends to work with interior designers, architects, and furniture manufacturers to produce large furnishings from recycled resources and renewable vegetable products, all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. The company offers a three-dimensional (3D) printing service that transforms the materials from a powdery substance into a tangible product. The materials adhere to one another with a water-based solvent. Additive Elements reduces waste by designing a printing process that saves excess powder for reuse in other projects.

As of April of 2016, the company extends end-to-end service, which includes prototyping, scaling of the material system, and production. It can create pieces as large as 13 feet long. For added customization, the organization is collaborating with DyeMasion and Trindo to develop a variety of surface treatments that match the eco-friendliness of its existing service.

Milos Ristin

milosristinlogoMilos Ristin produces the ergonomic chair Low Five. First introduced in 2014 as part of a diploma project at Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), the chair is made of a fully-recyclable combination of polypropylene composite Pure, a foam called Alveolit, and Kvadrat, which is the fabric covering the chair. The thermoplastic itself is lightweight and weatherproof, making it an ideal material to use indoors and outdoors.

The company utilizes no thermoset glues or harmful chemicals, but focuses on autoclave curing, a method using high pressures and temperatures to manipulate material, with the assistance of HS-Composite to form the shell. The free-formed legs are made of recyclable Pemat AG aluminum, another lightweight material that caters well to a “throw away” culture.

People purchasing the chair not only feel good about its environmentally-friendly design that took several prototypes to make, but enjoy comfort from its low center of gravity and wide proportions that encourage lounging. Milos Ristin also helps owners save space by making them stackable up to six pieces.

furniture

6 of the Best Design Trends Expected to Boost Sales in 2016

Furniture store owners and interior designers look forward to High Point Market, the world’s largest furnishings industry trade show, which occurs each spring and fall. At High Point Market, industry tradespeople can explore more than 11.5 million square feet of space housing in excess of 2,000 exhibitors from all over the world. For those unable to attend, High Point Market publishes a style report with opinions from a handful of interior designers called “Style Spotters.” Its most recent edition shares insights on the following trends that are expected to drive sales in 2016:

1. Specialty Materials

lady's writing desk

Image courtesy Mark Skrobola | Flickr

Kati Curtis, a Leadership in Energy Efficient Design-Accredited Professional (LEED AP) featured in Architectural Digest, sees semi-precious stones, pressed silver, and vellum coming into vogue as ways to customize home furnishings. Items made with mother of pearl are also gaining popularity. These materials appeared often during the latest fall High Point Market in pieces such as beds and cocktail tables.

As for color palettes, Ms. Curtis believes that darker hues, like eggplant purples and navy blues, are the height of interior fashion. Metallic colors, like rose gold and German silver, both shades that appeal to consumers as alternatives to yellow gold, are also heavily in use.

2. Organic and Handmade

Style Spotter Jonathan Legate names organic and handmade furnishings as big attention-grabbers in 2016. Mr. Legate, an interior consultant and designer who receives acclaim for his timeless style and tailored spaces, says organics will appear in homes not only in the form of material, but also in craftsmanship. Furniture with planes rolls and shapes found in nature will gain more interest. Additionally, curving lines and molded corners will adorn many interiors. This movement toward organics pairs well with handmade pieces. Mr. Legate sees a growing consumer love of imperfect items that remind people of nature.

3. Artisanal

artisan furniture

Image courtesy GGFurniture | Flickr

Like Jonathan Legate, Leslie Hendrix Wood of Midland, Texas has noticed a rise in popularity of artisanal furnishings. Ms. Wood is the mind behind Hadley Court, an award-winning lifestyle and design blog that was named one of TripAdvisors’ Top 25 Home Design Blogs to Follow in 2014. She is best known for styling luxury interiors.

Spotting a market for more customized pieces that integrate stones and material found in nature, she expects an influx of requests for unique pieces from artisans containing horn, bone, marble, and rock crystals. Some examples of artisan-made products include the Shine by S.H.O. Ines Snake Cabinet and the Marge Carson Malibu Chairside Table.

4. Global Vintage

The principal interior designer of Pulp Design Studios, Beth Dotolo highlights global vintage as a recurring theme. People are designing personal spaces with a combination of tribal as well as 1960s and 1970s styles. The goal is to revive past styles to create eclectic and warm spaces. For example, the vintage-shaped CR Laine Elle Chair has captured interest with is cheetah-print fabric. The Surya Zam rug, made of hand-knotted bamboo silk and wool, contains fringe detailing and warm colors, such as burnt orange, saffron, and camel. Crafted in India, the rug offers a traditional shape, but a tribal feel. Other home furnishings and accessories supporting the global vintage trend include sconces made by Arteriors, the Teardrop Pillow by Emdee International, and Carcole’s two-door cabinet that serves as a home bar.

5. Wood

mahogany furniture

Image courtesy Can Pac Swire | Flickr

A frequent guest on HGTV shows, Lori Gilder designs custom home solutions, specializing in contemporary interiors and clean architectural lines. Having transformed homes and vacation properties throughout North America, she believes that woods of varying grains, stains, and hues will be a prominent design element in 2016. One examples of this handcrafted trend is Alfonso Marina’s Villiers Armoire, which utilizes a rich primavera (otherwise known as white mahogany) to create intricate details in each ring of circle and ray radiating from the focal point. The McGuire Company Desk, which was designed with a curved waterfall effect, is made of beautiful mahogany, while the Bernhardt Soho Luxe Console boasts deep caramel colors and integrated burl veneers.

6. Geometry

Patti Johnson of Patti Johnson Interiors, known for creating cohesive spaces with clean lines, identifies geometric patterns as an emerging trend. These designs create appeal and simplicity in a room and can work well on almost any type of furnishing, from lamp shades to hardware. As examples of this theme, Ms. Johnson points to the gold metal Octacia Pendant by Wildwood Lamps, a Theodore Alexander cocktail table with inverted pyramids, and the geometrically inspired Olivia Chair by Toby Fairley.

9 Social Gaming Platforms That Are Making the World a Better Place

college basketballWhat if games could help solve serious social and environmental issues? Several nonprofit organizations believe they can. One such example is the Indianapolis-based Brackets For Good, a group that holds an annual fundraising event modeled after the NCAA March Madness Tournament. The platform creates a competition for charities to see who can secure the most funding, and each organization benefits from the national exposure, whether they win or lose. Fundraising Madness, as it’s called, has generated more than $1.3 million for charities since its inception.

Developing creative ways to raise money and unite communities may not be a novel idea, but a modern, technology-based version of the concept has opened new doors. Gamification involves the use of various features of games to increase participation and engagement in a project, group, or other initiative. These features often include points, challenges, achievement awards, progress meters, and other features you commonly see in video or computer games. Recent examples of gamification in the for-profit sector include Mint.com and FitBit, which aim to make budgeting and exercising fun.

Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, argues that gamification supports cooperation and bonds between people—two key aspects of philanthropy. Here are a few examples of how organizations have harnessed social gaming to advance research and create positive change.

FoldIt

folditlogoAn innovative collaboration at the University of Washington led to the identification of a problematic crystal structure in the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV), which causes immune deficiencies in certain species of monkeys. The virus is important to researchers studying HIV in humans. UW created FoldIt, an online puzzle game that invited users to attempt to solve the structure. In just 10 days, hundreds of thousands of participants found success and accomplished what scientists had been unable to do in more than 15 years of traditional research.

Pain Squad

Cundari, a business in Toronto, developed the mobile game Pain Squad to encourage pediatric cancer patients to keep a consistent daily journal of their symptoms. Through the theme of a police investigation, the game puts children in a position to help solve mysteries and earn points in the process. The tie-in is that each child must report any pain they experience twice a day to advance in the game. As a result, doctors were able to collect better patient information that assisted in creating new treatment strategies.

Zamzee

Similar in concept to the FitBit, Zamzee involves a wristband that kids wear to track their physical activity. The program helps fight childhood obesity by “gamifying” exercise. Depending on the child’s activity level, he or she gains points and medals. Follow-up studies showed that Zamzee helped participants increase their activity by an average of 59 percent.

SuperBetter

superbetterlogoThe creation of Jane McGonigal, SuperBetter is a platform that encourages people who have experienced various setbacks to work toward their goals. Games on the site present different challenges in which people build alliances with other characters and work to beat opponents symbolic of their real-life struggles. McGonigal herself utilized SuperBetter to navigate her recovery from a brain concussion.

Opower

The developers at Opower have established a network of utility companies that allow consumers to participate in energy conservation challenges. Opower presents energy consumption information to each household to encourage people to use less energy and to see how they compare to their neighbors. Consumption levels have decreased by 2 percent in areas where the competition is offered.

Recyclebank

Recyclebank was formed to address the issue of trash, as many US landfills are running out of space and pollution of all types continues to increase. The organization has grown to encompass more than 3 million members, and each time a person chooses to recycle or participates in a sustainability quiz, he or she receives points. Best Buy and WalMart accept these points as currency, thus providing an incentive to recycle.

Free Rice

Part of the United Nations World Food Programme, FreeRice.com offers multiple-choice quizzes that enable people to fight hunger. Every time a user gets an answer right, the organization donates rice to people in need. Users have fun and improve their knowledge of trivia while helping to provide meals around the world. Sponsors have the opportunity to run their ads on the site, which pays for the rice donations.

CrowdRise

crowdriselogoUsers of the fundraising site CrowdRise build digital profiles and pages where they can track their donations and compare with others on various leaderboards. The platform is relatively simple in design, but it encourages large-scale fundraising and has attracted attention and support from a number of celebrities. Since the site was established, users have raised several hundred million dollars for charities, nonprofits, and various personal causes.

GameDesk

AT&T has sponsored the development of GameDesk, a nonprofit that works to improve education at the K-12 levels. It offers a game-based curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), deployed through specialized software. Along with providing lessons in these subject areas, GameDesk emphasizes life skills and values such as responsibility and the importance of finding a sense of purpose.

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8 Easy Ways to Encourage Generosity in Children

What does the future hold for the nonprofit sector? Philanthropists and social impact entrepreneurs need only look as far as their own homes for an answer. In fact, research suggests that youth are psychologically equipped for charitable, pro-social lifestyles at an early age. One such study found that before toddlers reach 24 months old, they feel greater happiness when giving or sharing rather than receiving. Whether or not children continue to develop their innate potential for generosity depends in large part on parenting strategies.

Researchers at Harvard University undertook a study titled “The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values”. Key statistics from the report revealed that parents almost unanimously agree (96 percent) on the importance of instilling strong moral character in their children, and they note that ethics and generosity are two crucial elements of that identity. However, roughly 8,000 of the 10,000 middle school students surveyed reported that their parents prioritized personal achievement over the happiness of others. The study showed that teachers also emphasize student achievement rather than rewarding caring and kindness.

Each year, graduating high school students around the country hear the various valedictory maxims about the world they are about to enter and their obligations to make it a better place. How, then, can parents help their children to foster a lasting desire to help others and work toward social change? Here are a few suggestions for implementing charitable practices at home:

1. Encourage conversations about generosity

childrenMany after-school conversations between parents and their children focus on logistical issues, such as asking how much homework needs to be done. While these types of discussions are necessary and have their place, parents might consider first asking if their children witnessed any acts of kindness or if their friends impressed them in any unusual ways. The strategy can help children to be more mindful of goodwill as they go about their school day.

2. Involve the family in giving

Incorporating charity into a regular, predictable schedule is another way that parents can help their children. Consider setting aside one evening or an entire Saturday each month when the entire family volunteers together. Due to the millions of nonprofit organizations operating around the country, there is no shortage of opportunities to help others. However, this family time may not even involve a fully organized effort. It could be something as simple as picking up trash around the neighborhood.

3. Teach children about money management

child piggy bankGenerosity also entails responsibility. Helping children to be more socially minded should also include lessons in how to manage their finances. Some possible approaches might include providing an allowance for work done around the house and yard. However, with this payment parents should avoid giving any types of loans. In this way, children will learn how to work until they have enough money saved and then allocate their disposable income accordingly.

When kids grow older, their parents might help them open a bank account and show them how to balance a checkbook. By following these steps, parents could also demonstrate the ways they approach their own finances and how they decide to donate to or sponsor various social causes.

4. Ask engaging questions about issues close to home

Similar in concept to effective after-school discussions, questions about issues in the community and how to potentially solve them are another great way to engage children. Instead of talking at length about global issues or ones that may feel are too abstract to relate to, ask questions about matters with which children can empathize. Help them to see that people are working toward a solution and that they can also participate in brainstorming.

5. Manage the amount of screen time

Television commercials and online advertisements target the younger demographic with offers of dining and drinks, and they do attract attention. Less time spent watching shows and browsing the web means children will spend less time seeing things that they lack and want for themselves. However, screen time can also benefit children, as they watch ads for charity organizations or search for ways that children like them are volunteering in service projects—and having fun doing it.

6. Read literary fiction

children's booksWhile reading in general is always a good idea, studies show that reading literary fiction can increase levels of empathy in the reader. As children follow the storyline of the narrator and protagonist, they start to see the world through new eyes. The capacity for empathy applies to their everyday interactions with others.

7. Put a new spin on tradition

Birthdays and holidays such as Christmas or Hanukkah can evolve into new traditions when you have an opportunity to give. For example, a charity gift card or planned trip to participate in a service project can help children look outward on certain days of the year. Another option might be to create an entirely new holiday on which your family can make a difference each year.

8. Emphasize the importance of caring for others

Celebrate children’s successes in regard to pro-social living. Rewarding children beyond what their acts of kindness already provide may send a mixed message. However, reminding them of their value and worth each time they help to improve the lives of others is a technique that can positively influence them.

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6 Things You Need to Know When Visiting the Las Vegas Market

lasvegasmarketlogoThe Las Vegas Market occurs twice a year and the next takes place during the summer. From July 31 to August 4, the tradeshow will provide you with an abundance of design inspiration across 1.1 million square feet of showrooms. Join the event to discover the latest in home decor, gifts, and furniture and meet home furnishing exhibitors. If you are new to the Market, there are several things you need to know before you go.

1. How to register

There are three ways you can register for the Market. The first way is to sign up as a buyer, non-exhibiting manufacturer, representative, or supplier. Buyer registration applies to individuals in the home decor and furniture industry as well as those in design, like architects. Non-exhibiting manufacturer registration pertains to attendees that fit the buyer description, but provide manufacturing services and will not be reserving an exhibitor space at the show. Representative attendees are those that represent exhibiting businesses. Supplier attendees include individuals extending a product or service, such as legal counsel, investment guidance, or raw material manufacturing, to Market exhibitors.

The second way to register is as an exhibitor. If you are joining the event as an exhibitor, make sure to have your company identification information handy to complete the online registration.

The final registration opportunity pertains to media professionals and involves two categories: editorial and supplier. The former applies to you if your purpose is to cover a story about the Market, while the latter concerns you if you are performing a non-journalistic function on behalf of a publication. For example, you are an advertising or public relations representative, or you work for a publishing or catalog firm. Go to www.lasvegasmarket.com to sign up.

2. How to Get Your Badge

world market center las vegas

Image courtesy Chris Robinson | Flickr

Following registration, you will receive a confirmation message containing a QR code. Utilize use this code to obtain your badge, which you must wear at all times when exploring the tradeshow. You can quickly print your badge by visiting a Scan & Go location (in Pavilion 1 or in lobbies A, B, and C) and following the prompts.

3. What to Expect from the Programming

The programming at the Las Vegas Market educates attendees on industry trends and issues through a variety of seminars and other events led by industry experts. The sessions are a good time for you to accrue continuing education unit (CEU) credits, network with peers, and learn more about relevant topics, such as merchandising, technology, design, marketing, and sustainability, among others. Each class lasts about 60 minutes, with approximately 15 minutes at the end left open for questions.

4. How to Avail Yourself of the Amenities

Las Vegas Market visitors have access to a number of amenities, including complimentary wireless Internet and several business centers that offer mailing and copying services. In two of the World Market Center Buildings, as well as in The Pavilions, you will find a place to check coats and bags, so you will not have to lug them around the show.

Bag services are also an option for travelers flying with JetBlue, Delta, Southwest, United, or American. Three hours before your flight departs, check in with the on-site bag service desk. Personnel there help you transport your luggage to the appropriate airline, so you have one less task to complete and more time to explore the Market. In addition, scooter and wheelchair rentals and a Market concierge dubbed “Just Ask. Where” are available.

5. Where to dine

Las Vegas Market Food

Image courtesy Michael Dorausch | Flickr

You will not have a problem finding food during the event because the Market has multiple restaurants and dining facilities. Grab-and-go kiosks, food trucks, and cafes are situated on nearly every floor, as well as in the courtyard. Well-known eateries at the Market include Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Quiznos, Panda Express, Honey Baked Ham, and Q’doba Mexican Grill. Whole Foods and Einstein Bagels will also be present.

For those who need their daily dose of Starbucks, there are four on-campus locations. You can also enjoy a meal at DW Bistro@MKT, where Chef Bryce Dalton and his team will be serving Jamaican- and New Mexican-inspired meals on the first floor of Building A. The Market version of this local favorite restaurant will prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is the spot to visit if you crave beer and wine or a special cocktail in addition to a sumptuous meal.

6. Why You Should Use the Market App

The Las Vegas Market app is a great tool to download before you attend the event. Acting as a personal guide, it helps you navigate through the sea of exhibitors, informing you about them and giving you additional details about on-site amenities, social events, and seminars. The app comes with a Market planner tool, which allows you to categorize items you want to see and events you want to attend in a list format. The planner gives you full flexibility to create and edit as many lists as you want.