Charity

Spotlight on the 2018 Ashley for the Arts Festival

ashleyfortheartsSince becoming one of the top companies in the home furnishings industry, Ashley Furniture has maintained a positive presence in communities across the country. Ashley’s dedication to social responsibility drives the company’s various philanthropic initiatives focused on social, educational, environmental, and health issues. Ashley also sponsors a number of art, music, and entertainment events, including its very own Ashley for the Arts festival.

Now in its 10th year, Ashley for the Arts was first held in 2009 and has since grown to become one of the largest charitable events in Wisconsin. The three-day music and art festival now draws over 50,000 people to Memorial Park in Ashley’s hometown of Arcadia. In addition to offering great entertainment and family-oriented activities, Ashley for the Arts raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local organizations. Here’s what attendees can expect to experience when Ashley for the Arts celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018:

 

Two Days of Top Musical Entertainment

Each year, one of the major highlights of Ashley for the Arts is its lineup of musical headliners. This year’s event, which will take place from August 9 to August 11, will feature several well-known artists. The headlining performances will kick off on Friday at 4 p.m. with music from Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter ZZ Ward. The music will continue that night as Rick Springfield, Daughtry, and Chris Janson each take the stage. On Saturday, the lineup includes Carly Pearce, Dan + Shay, Andy Grammer, and Rascal Flatts.

concert

Along with nationally touring musicians, Ashley for the Arts features performances from a number of local acts. At this year’s event, a dozen bands and individual musicians will play throughout Friday and Saturday. Ashley for the Arts’ musical lineup will also include school showcases at the Memorial Park Millennium Amphitheater. The Aquinas MS Choir & Jazz Combo, Cotter Marching Band, Cardinal Music Experience, and several other school ensembles will perform during the event.

 

Running in Pursuit of a Cure

In 2012, Ashley for the Arts added a charitable 5K to the festivities. Originally launched exclusively as an American Cancer Society fundraiser, the annual Pursuit of a Cure 5K Run/Walk now raises money for other organizations, as well as for local emergency services and families in need. Current beneficiaries include the American Cancer Society, Rita Tranberg Memorial, and Arcadia Ambulance Service.

The 2018 Pursuit of a Cure 5K will be held August 9 starting at 6:30 p.m. The event will take runners along Arcadia’s Memorial Park Drive. Those planning to take part in Pursuit of a Cure can register through the Ashley for the Arts website. During the registration process, race participants can choose to have their entry fee distributed to one or all of the race beneficiaries. All funds raised through entry fees and donations will support the work of the charities.

 

Artists and Classic Cars

A festival focused on arts and entertainment, Ashley for the Arts features an art and craft fair with nearly 100 booths. Fair participants include local artists showcasing a variety of items, including woodwork, paintings, and jewelry. In addition to providing the opportunity to purchase items from local artists and craftspeople, attendees can view live demonstrations of artwork being created during the fair, which will be held on Friday and Saturday.

After exploring the art and craft fair, Ashley for the Arts attendees can visit the Cruisin’ for the Arts Car Show to view rows of classic cars and motorcycles on display. The event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, will wrap up with an awards presentation honoring the first- and second-place winners of the People’s Choice Award, Ambassador Award, and President’s Award.

 

Family Fun

petting zoo

Ashley for the arts also offers a variety of activities designed especially for families with children. Circus acts, carnival games, and a petting zoo are all part of the festivities, which include interactive arts activities, an inflatable air park, and three hot air balloon launches. On Saturday, the event will offer a fireworks show starting at 9:30 p.m. In between activities, families can enjoy plenty of food to snack on thanks to more than 20 food vendors who will be on hand during the festival.

 

Money Raised for a Worthy Cause

Along with providing entertainment for Arcadia residents and visitors from the surrounding area, the annual Ashley for the Arts event raises much-needed funds for over 40 nonprofit organizations. In 2018, Ashley hopes to repeat the success of the 2017 festival, which raised more than $425,000 for a number of groups, including many local schools. In addition to raising funds for various charitable organizations from its Pursuit of a Cure 5K run/walk and raffle, Ashley donates profits from ticket sales to participating schools and nonprofits.

Tickets to Ashley for the Arts are $10 for all attendees and include admission to the festival for the entire weekend. Additional details, including venue information and a daily schedule, are available at www.ashleyforthearts.com.

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living room

This Is How Ashley Furniture Gives Back to the Community

ashley furniture logoDedicated to social responsibility, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., works to give back to the customers and communities that have helped it become one of the largest home furnishings manufacturers in the world. The company’s charitable giving programs have focused on a variety of areas, including art, health care, education, and youth development. Ashley Furniture also contributes time and resources to assist individuals and families affected by natural disasters.

The following programs and activities outline just a few of the ways the company is working to make the world a better place:

 

Advancing Disaster Relief Efforts

Since its founding more than seven decades ago, the company has directed hundreds of volunteer service hours and millions of dollars toward natural disaster recovery efforts worldwide. Ashley Furniture most recently announced that it would help distribute over 4,700 mattresses throughout Puerto Rican communities ravaged by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in late September 2017, pummeling the island territory and leaving many residents without shelter and other necessities.

Ashley Furniture donated approximately $1 million worth of mattresses in partnership with local Ashley Furniture HomeStores operated by the family-owned Puerto Rican company Mueblerías Berríos. With support from the US Army National Guard and Puerto Rico’s First Lady, Beatriz Isabel Rosselló, Mueblerías Berríos employees delivered the mattresses to homes in more than 70 cities across the island.

In addition to helping people recover from Hurricane Maria, Ashley Furniture provided much needed relief to individuals recovering from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which severely damaged communities in Texas and Florida in 2017. Ashley donated $2 million in furniture products and discounts through local Ashley HomeStores to help families get back on their feet.

 

Spreading Holiday Cheer

Alongside its work in disaster relief, Ashley Furniture oversees a variety of activities to help those who are less fortunate. For the last two decades, company employees have supported these efforts through Ashley’s Angels, a volunteer-led nonprofit group that distributes food, clothing, and toys to children from disadvantaged backgrounds each holiday season.

kids

Ashley’s Angels works in partnership with dozens of school districts in Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to identify families that will benefit from the program. After the group selects the recipients, volunteer shoppers from the Ashley community come together to purchase, wrap, and load the gifts onto Ashley trucks, which deliver the items to families in mid-December. In 2017, Ashley employees raised over $262,000 to provide holiday cheer for more than 1,350 children from 60 school districts. Ashley’s Angels has raised over $3 million, benefiting more than 20,000 children, since its creation in 1997.

 

Improving the Lives of Children in Need

Another way Ashley Furniture demonstrates its commitment to the community is through its Hope to Dream program. Launched in 2010, the program provides mattresses, bed frames, and bedding for underprivileged children aged 3 to 16. Throughout the year, over 430 Ashley HomeStores across the country donate a portion of each mattress sold to help support the program. Ashley also partners with professional sports teams and organizations such as United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to ensure that Hope to Dream benefits as many children as possible.

In 2017, Hope to Dream participants across the country celebrated the program’s seventh anniversary by working toward a goal of providing brand-new beds for 10,000 children. By the end of the year, they had exceeded their goal with a total of just over 12,000 beds. Ashley Furniture continues to advance the program, adding to the more than 50,000 beds it has provided to children nationwide.

 

Supporting Arts, Entertainment, and Family Fun

Each August, tens of thousands of people gather in Arcadia, Wisconsin, for three days of music and fun activities during the Ashley for the Arts festival. First held in 2009, the event provides low-cost family entertainment while raising money for Ashley for the Arts, an initiative that supports Wisconsin schools, children’s charities, and other nonprofit organizations.

Alongside a lineup of great musicians, the festival, which takes place at Arcadia’s Memorial Park, features a car show, fireworks, circus performers, interactive children’s activities, and an art and craft fair with over 100 vendors. The festival also includes the annual Pursuit of a Cure 5K Run/Walk benefitting the American Cancer Society and local emergency response services.

In its first decade, the Ashley for the Arts festival grew from a relatively small event attended by a few hundred people into one of Wisconsin’s largest fundraisers. The 2017 festival attracted over 50,000 attendees and raised more than $425,000. All of the proceeds from the event went to a group of over 40 organizations. In addition to more than a dozen area school districts, beneficiaries included local churches, youth groups, and various community organizations.

ashley furniture

9 of the Best Moments from the Most Recent Ashley for the Arts

Ashley for the ArtsEach year, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., hosts a celebration of art, community, and philanthropy in its hometown of Arcadia, Wisconsin. For three days, the town of just under 3,000 people grows by the tens of thousands as families travel from all over the region to take part in one of Wisconsin’s biggest charity events. Ashley for the Arts is a weekend dedicated to showcasing regional artists, enjoying award-winning entertainment, and bringing people together for a good cause.

Ashley Furniture has sponsored Ashley for the Arts since 2009, and the most recent iteration of the event was one for the record books. The 2017 event took place from August 10-12 and featured an unprecedented number of attendees and unforgettable performances. As per tradition, organizers hosted the affair at the 54-acre Memorial Park, which provides an expanse of beautiful, green spaces to accommodate numerous vendors, performers, refreshment stands, and other family-friendly activities. The following are some highlights from the 2017 Ashley for the Arts festival:

  1. Ashley for the Arts 2017 Achieves Record-Breaking Attendance

Ashley for the Arts is one of the largest charity events in Wisconsin, having grown exponentially since its inaugural festival in 2009. This initial affair welcomed only 300 attendees, but in 2017, Ashley for the Arts hosted an incredible 50,000 people. The largest crowd in the event’ history, this year’s audience smashed attendance records, surpassing 2016 numbers by more than 20,000.

Ashley for the Arts’ consistent affordability plays a large role in its ever-increasing popularity. From the beginning, event tickets have cost just $10 for the entire three-day festival. Sponsorship by Ashley Furniture, the involvement of several other corporations, and the support of the local community have all helped keep Ashley for the Arts an inexpensive, fun weekend for the entire family. The key facilitators of the event include nearly 3,000 volunteers, who donated their time and talents to make this magical weekend possible.

  1. Ashley for the Arts Raises Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars for Multiple Causes

In addition to being a celebration of art and creativity, Ashley for the Arts is also a massive charity event. Over the course of the weekend, the festival raised $425,000 for a vast array of children’s advocacy organizations, medical research groups, and other charitable nonprofits, as well as several regional school districts.

  1. Running for a Cure

pursuitofacure5kAshley for the Arts raises money through both admissions costs and events such as the Pursuit of a Cure 5K (and Miracle Mile) Run-Walk. Now a tradition at the annual arts festival, the casual race raises money for medical research and patient care, providing resources to help patients manage their day-to-day expenses while aiding efforts to develop cures to serious illnesses.

Each runner chooses his or her own charitable or research organization to support. The participants in the 2017 5K and Miracle Mile contributed more than $20,000 for their respective organizations, which included both national and local nonprofits such as the Arcadia Ambulance Service, the Rita Tranberg Memorial, and the American Cancer Society.

  1. Visual Spectacles

There was plenty to see at the 9th annual Ashley for the Arts. Throughout the weekend, hot air balloons provided a scenic backdrop for the daily festivities, and at night, attendees marveled at sky lanterns launched into the air.

On the third day, attendees also had the opportunity to peruse the annual Cruisin’ for the Arts car show. A treat for automobile enthusiasts of all ages, the event showcases both classic and contemporary cars.

  1. A Plethora of Family-Friendly Activities

Ashley for the Arts featured a vast array of creative performances and activities that provided exciting fun for the entire family. Throughout Memorial Park, guests encountered bounce houses, circus performers, magicians, acrobats, fire dancers, and even an interactive drum circle.

  1. Entertainment by Award-Winning Performers

Ashley for the Arts’ impressive selection of headlining musical performers is always one of the major highlights of the event, offering a medley of chart-topping hits from multiple popular genres. This year, the festival welcomed such noteworthy performers as Three Dog Night, Kip Moore, Echosmith, Gavin DeGraw, Montgomery Gentry, and NEEDTOBREATHE. It also celebrated talented local and regional artists including The Mondays, Big River Radio, Jackson Michelson, and Hope Country.

  1. Performances by Talented Young Artists

Ashley for the Arts also featured performances by the award-winning musicians of tomorrow. Several regional school districts showcased their creative talents at both the Amphitheater Stage and the Main Stage, where the festival’s headliners performed. On Friday, students from the Arcadia, Aquinas, Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau, and Hope Lutheran performed, while Saturday’s schedule featured several unique musical ensembles from around the region, including the Cotter Marching Band, the Cochrane-Fountain City Jazz Combo, and the Black River Falls Tintinnabulators.

Later, students from Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau’s Vocal Point entertained a crowd of over 30,000 on the main stage. In between headlining acts, the talented a cappella group shared multiple numbers from its recent performance at the international a cappella championships.

furinture

This Is What Ashley Furniture Has Been Up to Lately

ashley furniture logoAs the largest furniture retailer in North America and the top furniture manufacturer in the world, Ashley Furniture has developed a significant presence in many communities. The brand is not only dedicated to providing consumers with the best value on stylish and high-quality home furnishings, but also committed to giving back to the communities in which it operates.

In recent months, the company has done a great deal to support families in need while also receiving widespread recognition for its commitment to philanthropy and employee engagement. The following are some of the most recent news stories from Ashley Furniture:

  1. Ashley Helps Students Further Their Educations

A key aspect of Ashley Furniture’s ongoing efforts to enrich communities is its commitment to education. Each year, the company awards scholarships to help the children of its team members pursue their academic goals. It recently announced that it had awarded over $245,000 in scholarships to students who met these criteria and are heading off to college in 2017.

A total of 100 deserving high school graduates received scholarships under two programs: Ashley Grants in Aid, which awards a one-time scholarship of $2,000 to college-bound students; and the Wanek Engineering and Design Scholarship, which awards $3,333.33 to high school students planning to pursue secondary degrees in engineering or design.

In addition to helping fund the education of incoming college freshman, Ashley Furniture also facilitated an exciting learning opportunity for the junior high and high school students of Ashley employees. Over the summer, the company’s sponsorship allowed 23 children to attend the National Flight Academy Program, a week-long experience that offers students a uniquely engaging introduction to STEM topics.

During the program, students stay in a multi-story facility that serves as the world’s largest aircraft carrier simulator. As they take part in a variety of educational activities, or “missions,” students have an opportunity to build their interpersonal skills, learn to think on their feet, and engage with technologies such as flight simulators and virtual reality programs.

By allowing students to see through the eyes of a naval aviator, the National Flight Academy Program helps to introduce students to a variety of STEM-based career paths. Ashley furniture hopes to provide this opportunity to an even greater number of students in the future and has announced that it will sponsor 50 program participants in 2018.

  1. Ashley Furniture Contributes to Natural Disaster Relief Efforts

Ashley Furniture’s philanthropic endeavors extend far beyond education. Throughout its history, the company has shown a commitment to helping those most in need in whatever way it can. Recently, Ashley furniture teams across the country joined forces in an effort to assist communities impacted by severe hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

hurricane relief

In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, employees at Ashley Furniture officers, retail centers, manufacturing facilities, and distribution hubs have participated in a flood drive gathering food and personal hygiene items for individuals displaced by these natural disasters.

Additionally, Ashley furniture has partnered with local retail locations and relief organizations in both states to help families find stable living arrangements as quickly as possible. The company also plans to provide over $1 million in products and discounts to residents of affected states.

  1. Dr. Ronald G. Wanek Recognized as Philanthropist of the Year

Each year, the National Speakers Association – a nonprofit that provides resources and networking tools to a diverse array of public speakers – holds an awards program to recognize noteworthy speakers who have demonstrated a strong commitment to philanthropy. Named after the founder and chairman emeritus of the National Speakers Association Foundation, the Nido R. Qubein Philanthropist of the Year Award highlights individuals both within and outside of the origination, but the 2017 awards program recognized a longstanding member: Dr. Ronald G. Wanek.

The Ashley Furniture Industries founder and chairman has prioritized philanthropy throughout his professional career. Since establishing the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation with his wife in 1998, he has channeled tens of millions of dollars into areas including education, veteran’s affairs, and medical research. The Wanek family is particular concerned with the fight to cure type 1 diabetes, and to this end, the foundation recently awarded a $50 million grant to The City of Hope.

  1. Delivering A Good Night’s Sleep to Kids in Three States

Since 2010, Ashley Furniture’s Hope to Dream program has provided mattresses, bed frames, and bedding to children who do not have beds of their own. Recognizing that a safe and comfortable place to sleep is vital to children’s overall health and happiness, Ashley partners with local sports teams and nonprofit organizations to host Hope to Dream celebrations at stadiums and ballparks.

kids bed

In addition to providing children with their own beds, these fun-filled days also include plenty of snacks, exciting activities, and opportunities to hang out – and even dance – with star athletes. Over the summer, Ashley partnered with sports organizations including the Clearwater Threshers, Nashville Sounds, and Gwinnett Braves to give children in Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia an incredibly special day at the ballpark.

  1. Ashley Furniture Named One of America’s Best Workplaces

Once per year, Forbes partners with research firm Statista to assess the vast landscape of American workplaces. In their most recent study, the organizations surveyed 30,000 workers to glean which employers offer the greatest value to their employees. Forbes’ 2017 list of America’s Best Employers includes Ashley Furniture, which has been committed to employee development and engagement since its founding in 1970.

As the company has grown from a single 35-employee manufacturing facility to a global enterprise comprising over 26,000 people, Ashley furniture has continued to support the continued professional growth of its team members. As described by president and CEO Todd Wanek, “Our employees are the heartbeat of our organization.” This is demonstrated in the company’s financial investments in its employees; in recent years, it has channeled over $1 billion into employee development, particularly efforts to engage and empower employees with technology.

charity marathon

This Is How Ashley Furniture Is Supporting the Arts

Ashley Furniture has made a habit of giving back to the communities in which it operates. From supporting local disaster-relief initiatives to ensuring that all children can enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep, the company has drawn on the support and generosity of its employees to make a variety of positive changes in the world.

One of Ashley Furniture’s largest charitable endeavors is Ashley for the Arts. A multiday extravaganza of fun, creativity, and generosity, Ashley for the Arts has quickly become one of the largest charity events in the state of Wisconsin, bringing together tens of thousands of people from across the Midwest for several worthwhile causes.

What is it?

ashley for the arts logoAshley Furniture established Ashley for the Arts to unlock the powerful potential of the creative community to enrich the wider world. Since 2009, the annual music and arts festival has welcomed as many as 30,000 people to Soldiers Walk Memorial Park in Arcadia, Wisconsin—a small town of just under 3,000 people—for a weekend of art, music, and family fun.

Soldiers Walk Memorial Park, the biggest memorial park outside of the nation’s capital, encompasses 54 sprawling acres of open green spaces and winding pathways. Made possible in large part by the generosity of Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., founder Ron Wanek, it is also the site of the Avenue of Heroes, which features statues honoring America’s veterans and prominent historical figures.

The park’s beautiful and expansive grounds are the perfect setting for all that Ashley for the Arts has to offer. For three days, attendees of all ages flock to the park to view performances by local and nationally renowned artists, peruse arts and crafts, enjoy food and drinks, and take part in fun outdoor activities. Soldiers Walk Memorial Park boasts four performance venues, the largest of which is capable of accommodating over 20,000 people. The park’s Millennium Amphitheater and Pavilion house smaller performances, while two Air Parks feature a number of unique attractions, including inflatable bounce houses and a hot-air balloon launch. There is also a car show and a youth obstacle course, as well as a Saturday-night fireworks display.

Ashley for the Arts is firmly rooted in the principles of family and community; the festival features creative works by students from numerous regional school districts, and events benefiting a variety of charitable causes dot its schedule. Moreover, the festival is extremely affordable. Tickets for the entire three-day event, including access to all performances and activities, are just $10.

Giving Back

Ashley for the Arts is much more than a celebration of art and creativity; it is also a platform through with communities can come together to support one another. In fact, it has grown to become one of the largest charity events in the state, raising over $300,000 each year to benefit more than 25 nonprofit organizations, such as Ashley for the Arts’ partner schools, children’s charities, and community-based organizations. The event also benefits medical-sector nonprofits, including research organizations and groups providing financial assistance to fund treatment for patients with serious diseases.

street marathonOne of the prominent charity events that takes place during Ashley for the Arts is the Pursuit of a Cure 5K and Miracle Mile Run-Walk. Open to runners in several age divisions for a small fee, the event allows participants to donate 100 percent of their registration costs to the charitable organization of their choice. In 2016, this event raised more than $18,000 for groups like the American Cancer Society, the Arcadia Ambulance Service, and the Rita Tranberg Memorial.

Ashley for the Arts also seeks to support charitable endeavors on the individual level. Through an annual humanitarian award program, the event organizers recognize local heroes from a number of Wisconsin school districts, whose dedication and generosity have made their neighborhoods more enriching places to live, learn, work, and play. Individuals receive this special honor during sporting events at their schools, which also receive monetary awards. Ashley for the Arts’ humanitarian award winners’ represent the diverse ways in which individuals can serve their communities. The honorees of 2016, for example, established community centers and athletic facilities, launched pet therapy programs at their local humane societies, and introduced a generation of students to the joy of reading at the school library, and more.

Looking Ahead

In recent years, Ashley for the Arts has enjoyed unprecedented growth. The event has consistently seen attendance increase by 50 percent each year since its inception, and it broke new ground in 2016, welcoming 8,000 more attendees than the previous year to reach a total attendance of over 35,000 people. Moreover, this record attendance occurred despite a particularly rainy Friday. Featuring such noteworthy artists as Chicago, American Authors, and Kellie Pickler, the 2016 event raised more than $300,000 for dozens of charitable causes.

Ashley for the Arts 2016 featured a vast array of unique attractions, including traditional Mexican dancers, a scavenger hunt, a wheel of death, and more. Soon, visitors will find out what surprises the 2017 festival will hold. Slated for Thursday through Saturday, August 10-12, Ashley for the Arts 2017 will welcome multiplatinum, Grammy-nominated singer songwriter Gavin DeGraw; Grammy-nominated rockers NEEDTOBREATHE; musical legend Three Dog Night; country stars Montgomery Gentry and Neal McCoy, and alternative newcomers Echosmith. With an impressive schedule of performing artists, numerous creative vendors and exhibitors, and a plethora of fun, family activities, it is poised to be another incredible event.

furniture

4 Ways Ashley Furniture Is Making a Difference in the World

With more than 600 showrooms located throughout 28 countries, Ashley Furniture HomeStore is one of the top furniture retailers not only in the United States, but in the world. While the company has had a monumental impact on the retail furniture industry, it has also leveraged its success to support and empower local communities by providing assistance to individuals in need. Over the past year, several Ashley Furniture corporate social responsibility initiatives have supported communities across the United States. These efforts include:

  1. Hope to Dream

A Hope to Dream logoIn February 2017, Ashley Furniture HomeStore partnered with the Miami Dolphins to host a sleepover party at the NFL team’s practice facilities. In previous years, Ashley has partnered with other teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars, to host similar events in its Hope to Dream initiative, which provides underserved youth with the experience of a lifetime and years of healthy, comfortable sleep. At the recent Florida event, each sleepover attendee received a brand-new twin-size bed and bedding set—complete with a Miami Dolphins comforter—courtesy of Ashley HomeStore and the Dolphins organization. Organizers facilitated delivery of the new bed sets to the children’s homes, but not before they took part in an evening of fun and games with the Miami Dolphins players, mascot, and cheerleaders. After eating dinner, the kids took part in several fun activities on the practice field, concluding the memorable night with a dance party.

Since 2010, Ashley Furniture HomeStore has set aside a portion of mattress sales from several US locations to fund the Hope to Dream program, providing some 40,000 new beds and bedding sets to children in need across the country. The program not only includes partnerships with professional sports teams like the Dolphins, but it also benefits from local efforts in communities such as Liberal, Kansas, which launched its first Hope to Dream program in December 2016, and North Brunswick, New Jersey, where 50 children recently received new beds in a surprise holiday celebration.

  1. Ashley’s Angels

Ashley’s Angels is Ashley Furniture HomeStore’s all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to providing extra assistance to children from low-income households. It has been a charitable arm of Ashley Furniture since 1997, when a truck driver based at one of the company’s Mississippi facilities rallied the support of his colleagues to help a young girl and her mother find a home. The community set out to help the pair move out of their car and into suitable housing weeks before Christmas, also donating food and clothing to help them get back on their feet.

This act of compassion and community spirit inspired a national movement; now, Ashley’s Angels provides food, toys, bedding, and warm clothing to hundreds of children each year. In 2016 alone, the nonprofit raised $174,385.76, with nearly $75,000 coming from employee contributions. These funds allowed them to serve children throughout 56 school districts near Ashley Furniture facilities in Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare for event, partnering with school guidance counselors and nurses to identify children who could benefit from a bit of extra help. In addition to shopping for new toys and clothing, volunteers also put together a full Christmas dinner for each recipient family. All in all, the effort helped to brighten the holidays of 1,056 children.

  1. Salvation Army Partnership

salvation army

Image by Mike Mozart | Flickr

For the past seven years, Ashley HomeStores in Jacksonville, Florida, have served as leading partners in the annual Salvation Army Angel Tree initiative. The stores are consistently the top distributors of Angel Tree tags, helping thousands of community members brighten the spirits of local children throughout the holiday season. Ashley HomeStores have made the Angel Tree initiative so well-known in the Jacksonville community that eager shoppers often head to showrooms to pick out their angels before the Salvation Army even begins advertising the annual initiative.

Ashley Furniture HomeStore and the Salvation Army have provided anonymously donated holiday gifts for 35,000 children since the program’s inception, serving 4,300 kids—as well as 780 senior citizens—in 2016 alone. In addition to helping to distribute the holiday angels, Ashley employees also assist in storing the gifts and have even begun to volunteer at Salvation Army Toy Shop distribution centers.

  1. Dollar a Week

Ashley Furniture Industries provides an easy opportunity for employees to give back via its Dollar a Week program, which consolidates regular employee contributions to provide significant donations to national organizations. In December 2016, the program demonstrated the impact that even modest amounts of sustained charitable giving can have on worthwhile causes.

After collecting charitable donations from employees throughout Mississippi, Ashley Furniture donated $35,471.03 to Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital, a comprehensive pediatric health care center recognized by US News and World Report as one of nation’s best hospitals. Ashley Furniture has supported their life-saving work since launching the Dollar a Week Program in 2006. Since then, the company has donated over $120,000 to Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital.

Top 16 Charities That Accept Clothing Donations

An organization that advocates for global responsibility, the World Wear Project estimates that the average person discards approximately 70 pounds of clothing and shoes each year. Of this amount, a large percentage of these items end up in costly and limited landfill space in spite of the availability of more viable, socially conscious alternatives, such as recycling, repurposing, and donating.

Charitable organizations that accept clothing donations often aid in the recycling process. In fact, since groups such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill receive such a large volume of donations, the vast majority of incoming clothes and shoes are redirected to recycling companies. While the redistribution of clothing and shoes to people in need is the focus of the donations, the sale of these items to recyclers also generates proceeds for nonprofits to strengthen their efforts.

If you’re interested in finding out where and how to donate clothes that either no longer fit or that have been gently used, you have many options. Consider the following organizations and initiatives:

salvationarmylogoThe Salvation Army

Since its inception in 1865, the Salvation Army has become an ubiquitous presence around the world. People who would like to donate their items can schedule a time to have them picked up at their convenience.

Goodwill

Donating clothing to Goodwill makes it possible for people to purchase items at a discounted price and also creates job opportunities that would otherwise not exist. In 2015 alone, the organization employed more than 88,000 new staff members.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross (ARC) provides relief to survivors of natural disasters and other types of adverse events. Clothes given to ARC can go a long way toward helping people who have lost everything to start the rebuilding process.

United Way

A leader on the global social support front, the United Way depends on volunteers and donations. Contributions of gently used clothing can help people in need to gain better footing.

Cinderella Project

The Cinderella Project originated in the Northeast with ongoing programs in Virginia, New Hampshire, and New York. Project participants can donate their old formal dresses from dances or weddings to provide other girls in their area with the opportunity to have a nice dress for the prom.

Donate Your Dresses

Similar in scope to the Cinderella Project, Donate Your Dresses allows women to make space in their closets by donating their prom dresses to those in need. The organization maintains a comprehensive list of drop-off locations in the U.S. and Canada.

clothing donation

Fairy Godmothers, Inc.

A provider of high school formalwear, Fairy Godmothers, Inc., offers a full inventory of prom dresses and gowns for special occasions at a discounted price. By donating to this organization, you can help a student make it to the big dance.

Brides Across America

The Brides Across America (BAA) initiative launched in 2008 as a platform to host giveaways of wedding dresses to military brides. All of the dresses are donated, and BAA only accepts gowns that are no more than 5 years old so that brides have access to the latest trends.

Madre

Madre, a foundation that endeavors to help women around the world, operates in countries such as Nicaragua, Haiti, Kenya, Syria, and Iraq. Among other programs and services, Madre accepts clothing donations to help women living in shelters.

bigbrothersbigsisterslogoBig Brother Big Sister Foundation

The Big Brother Big Sister Foundation makes donating clothing easy with a combination of accessible drop boxes and scheduled pickups. Interested parties can arrange for pickups privately and anonymously.

Soles 4 Souls

While the organization’s name suggests that it focuses on shoes, it also collects clothing to distribute to those in need. Soles 4 Souls has provided gently used footwear and garments to people in need throughout the world.

Share Your Soles

Mona Purdy founded Share Your Soles in 1999. Since then, she has led the organization, which depends on the help of volunteers, to deliver millions of pairs of shoes to deserving children around the world. Share Your Soles also hosts regular events to aid in the shoe collection effort.

Dress for Success

Contributions to Dress for Success provide opportunities for woman seeking to develop their careers and achieve economic independence. Over the course of approximately 20 years, the nonprofit has assisted nearly 1 million women across 20 countries.

Career Gear

Career Gear provides men what Dress for Success offers to women. In addition to clothing, the organization imparts personal mentoring and a job preparedness program. Since Career Gear opened in 1999, it has established locations in cities such as New York City, Baltimore, Houston, Jersey City, Miami, and New Haven.

Change Purse

Change Purse’s mission is to generate funding to fight sex trafficking. Change Purse’s personnel sell donated purses, and the funds go toward spreading awareness of sex trafficking and supporting those individuals affected in any way.

Indigo Rescue

Supporters of the charity Indigo Rescue donate their used and unwanted jewelry. The organization then holds jewelry sales to raise funds for animal shelters. In 1999, Indigo Rescue began selling jewelry, a fundraising method that has resulted in widespread success.

 

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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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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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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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