Our June Donations

Last week, we completed our quarterly voting, and below you’ll find the charities the giving circle’s chose.

If you like to donate to cause you care about but feel like your donation is too small to make a difference, don’t have time to research a charity before you donate, and wonder if your donation makes a difference, then you are invited to join one our virtual giving circles and pool your small donation with other people who care about the same cause. That group becomes your donation team. Together, we make sure we’re giving to the right charity, that our donation is going to be used in the right way, and that’s it’s going to make a big difference.

Check it out!

People With Compassion for Pets

This No Kill Dog and Cat Sanctuary in Fort Lupton, Colorado goes above and beyond to save cats and dogs. Last year Every Creature Counts found furever homes for over 2,700 homeless pets and neutered/spayed over 7,000 spay dogs and cats.

Poverty Busters

For the first time ever, we had a three way tie.

Feeding America is a network of food banks around the country. Specifically, we the Kids Cafe programs which provide free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of community locations where children already congregate during the afterschool hours—such as Boys and Girls Clubs, churches or public schools.

Girls Empowerment Network, located in Malawi, advocates for young women at both the local and national level. Nationally, they are working to pass laws that protect girls and women from harmful practices like child marriage. Locally, they work with tribal leaders and young women to create a culture where women are protected, valued, and educated.

Nuru International made a second appearance. We donated to them in September of 2012, and since then they’ve expanded to another community. Nuru International is unique in that they focus on a community and work on every issue that community needs help with. They don’t just pop in a build a well. They build schools, teach leadership and team building skills, develop businesses and create markets.

Veterans Giving Circle

This is an exciting charity doing life changing work. The Mission Continues helps veterans find meaning and purpose by redeploying them to work with non-profits in their communities or in crises around the country, so that their shared legacy will be one of action and service. The opportunity to volunteer at great charities in their communities changes the life of the veteran and improves the community. Win, win!

Giving Challenge: Support Education

“Education is the Most Powerful Weapon Which You Can Use to Change the World.” – Nelson Mandela

Welcome to Month 5 of the 12 Month Giving Challenge, and this month, we’ll turn our attention to education, because it is one of the most important ingredients required to create a better world.

Education impacts every aspect of an individual’s life, and the better educated, the better quality of life a person has. A literate person can read legal and health documents and make better choices regarding important issues like business contracts, insurance benefits, and health needs. A woman who’s studied math can evaluate income, assets, expenses and make more profitable decisions running her business. Citizens with critical thinking skills listen to their leaders, but ask questions, evaluate arguments, and elect better leaders. Educated men can take lessons and principles from one area of life and apply them to another, they can imagine future scenarios and plan accordingly, and, like F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested was the epitome of intellect, they can “hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Education doesn’t just give us information and facts. It actually transforms the way we think, expands the capacity of our brains, and allows us to reach our full potential.

Study after study reveals the many benefits of education across all areas of our life.

Better Health

The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that “An additional four years of education lowers five-year mortality by 1.8 percentage points; it also reduces the risk of heart disease by 2.16 percentage points, and the risk of diabetes by 1.3 percentage points…. In 1999, the age-adjusted mortality rate of high school dropouts ages 25 to 64 was more than twice as large as the mortality rate of those with some college education.”

Greater Income

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that workers with only a high school education are twice as likely to be unemployed as those with at least a bachelor’s degree and that each additional level of education results in significant increases in income. A high school graduate earns 42% more than a person who dropped out of high school, a person with some college education but no degree earns 13% more than a high school graduate, a person with an associate degree earns 11% more than a person with some college but no degree, and a person with a bachelors degree earns 33% than a person with an associates degree. That means a person with a bachelors degree will earn 61% more than a high school graduate.

Stronger Society

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports, “adults who have attained higher levels of education are generally more likely than those with lower levels of educational attainment to report stronger civic engagement, in terms of voting, volunteering, political interest, and interpersonal trust”

What’s the Problem

Unfortunately, not everyone can easily access education. Across the developing world, girls are denied an education for no other reason than they are girls. In poor and rural areas around the world, schools (if they exist) aren’t equipped with the books and tools that are needed to prepare young people for today’s world and teachers aren’t always showing up for work, treating all students equally, or trained to provide the best quality of education. Students everywhere look at the skyrocketing cost of a college education and are wondering how they’re going to afford it.

Take Action

This month, do something to make education better or more accessible to a young person. You could donate to a charity building schools in developing nations. You could fill a backpack with school supplies for an at-risk student in your community. You could donate to a scholarship fund or to an apprenticeship program that matches young people to skilled labor positions.

There are so many ways you can support education, so choose one that gets you excited. How will you make education, a good education, a reality for some young person?

They will thank you for it, because they’ll get closer to unlocking their full human potential. The world will thank you for it, because that better educated child will be healthier and happier. Like a pebble in a pond, the ripples created by an educated person reaching their potential changes the world in so may ways.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mom on Beach8 months ago we wondered what was going on with mom. Her forgetfulness had surpassed the normal “senior” moments, and she had started repeating herself in the same conversation.

We knew she needed to get checked out, but unfortunately, she was in Italy for a several month trip. What to do? We decided, that we needed to get her home. We probably didn’t appreciate the extent of my mom’s mental impairment, and my poor mom had to navigate trains and planes in a foreign country.

My dad arrived at the Denver airport to pick her up, and she never showed up at baggage claim. We knew she had gotten on the plane to Denver, but where was she? So he started walking around the airport and discovered her just wandering around not quite sure where she was or where she was going.

A visit to the emergency room confirmed our worst fear: brain tumor. But we wouldn’t know what kind until the results of the biopsy. While we were waiting, we turned to the internet and we discovered a new worst fear: Glioblastoma Multiform, an aggressive brain cancer with a median survival rate of 12-15 months.

The results from the biopsy confirmed it. It’s difficult to describe the shock.

My mom was 59 years old and in great health. My mom was full of energy and filled her days with activities. My mom was independent and fearless; she lived in Mexico for part of the year and traveled the rest. My mom was a social butterfly and brought people together at happy hours and parties. And almost over night, she became a shell of who she used to be.

She started a treatment of chemo and radiation and the first MRI showed the cancer was responding. But the second MRI showed it growing again. And we made the very difficult decision to stop treating the cancer, so we could focus on quality of life.

We don’t know if she has 3 weeks or 3 months. It will go as it goes, but we know that she will not be suffering. She sleeps most of the time, and when she’s awake, we talk and laugh– at least my my mom still has her sense of humor. She was always the funniest person in the room, and you couldn’t not laugh when my mom was around. And she’s still still throwing out the one-liners.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mom on bike

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and naturally I’m looking at it with fresh eyes and with heightened appreciation for my mom.

Maya Angelou wrote, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.”

For much of my life, I did not fully appreciate my mom and her gifts. But when I look at the impact she’s had on others, when I realize what she sacrificed to give my sister and me a shot at what she never had– and that it worked, when I appreciate the challenges she faced in her life, then I’m filled with so much gratitude for who she is and what’s she’s done. And I wish I could go back and spend more time appreciating her.

So, I would like to wish my mother the Happy Mother’s Day I should have always given her and honor her for being the force of nature she was. Thank you mom for your life, your love, your light, and your laughter. Thank you for always doing the best you could with the tools you had at the time. You always did your best to make Jess and me proud of you. Well, congratulations, it worked. We are so proud of you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s. Poverty Busters member Darlene is a new mom. Poverty Busters and Pets member, Gail is a new grandmom. To all the mom’s out there, Happy Mother’s Day <3

It’s Official! We’re a 501c(3)

Late in 2013, Change Gangs Virtual Giving Circles was officially recognized as a 501c(3) organization!

That means effective January 1, 2014, all contributions to your giving circles are tax deductible!

Of course, we don’t give just for the tax deduction. We give because we want the world to be a better place. We give because we care about the people and the animals on this planet. We give because our money is a tool to support what we love.

The fact that your contribution is now tax deductible? Well, that’s just frosting on the cake!

Thank you to all our members who have supported as for the past few years. We’re looking forward to even more of an impact now that we’re a 501c(3).

Pretty Cool! Grant = TV Tour

Pollination Project Grantee
WOW! I just received a $1,000 grant from the Pollination Project.

The Pollination Project wants to change the world by awarding $1,000 seed grants to people they believe are making the world a better place. They focus on individuals just starting out or small projects where a $1,000 will make a big impact.

Well, $1,000 is going to make a big difference for us, and I’ll use it to fund my North American TV Tour talking about the power of giving and giving circles.

Traveling from location to location costs money, and I estimate that this $1,000 grant will fund TV appearances in 10 cities.

I’m looking forward to sharing those videos with you!

Earth Day Challenge

I’m here with the next installment of our 12 Month Giving Challenge.

I designed this challenge to intentionally to touch on many different areas. This world is a vibrant tapestry composed of countless individual threads representing the billions of people, animals, environments, and interests on this planet. Each thread is crucial to the tapestry’s integrity and beauty, and each month in this 12 Month Giving Challenge touches on a different thread of this world’s beautiful tapestry, and I believe that if each one of these threads were cared for, restored and honored, then our world would be amazing!

In April, we will give to the planet to recognize that our lives are possible because of her gifts. Her air fills our lungs. Her water quenches our thirst. Her plants and animals provide our shelter and food. And if we love ourselves, we must love and care for that which makes it possible.

Like John Muir cautioned us, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” And so our physical and spiritual health is hitched to the health of the planet.

Here are 3 ideas on what you can do to celebrate Earth Day that will make this planet and us just a little healthier.

How Are Your New Year’s Resolution Going?

Time flies! Can you believe that March is over??? That means that 25% of 2014 is behind us! This is a great time to check back in on your New Year’s Resolutions.

Did you make a goal to give back more this year?

If so, you’re a lot like me. I know that I have been so fortunate in my life and there are so many who don’t get the same opportunities. There are so many people, animals, causes I want to support, and because I want the world to be a better place, I resolved to give back more this year.

But life has a tendency to get in the way. We’re so busy and there is so much demand for our time and money and sometimes even though we want to give back, we just don’t do it as much as we would like.

This video will give some tools and inspiration for you to stay on track or get on track, so you can make 2014 your most generous year yet.

What Is Generosity?

An Example of Generosity

In the O’Henry short story The Gift of the Magi, Della has one prized possession and that is her long and beautiful hair. But more than anything in the world, she wants to give her a husband a Christmas present worthy of him. So she sells her hair for $20, cutting it short to her chin, to buy him a chain for his watch.

She knows that her husband Jim also has one prized possession and that is his watch, and this chain is the perfect gift for him. Jim also wants nothing more than to buy his wife the perfect Christmas present, so he sells his watch to buy Della two pure tortoise shell combs to hold back her gorgeous hair.

I love this story, because it captures the generosity we are capable of us humans. We are willing to sacrifice the possessions we hold most dear for love.

Generosity is a beautiful thing. But what really is generosity? We want to be generous. We want to be thought of as generous. We want the world was more generous. But what does that mean?

And that is the topic for this video.

Let’s Start With…

In 2009, The University of Notre Dame started the “Science of Generosity” Initiative. And for the past 5 years, they’ve been studying generosity- what is it? when are people generous? and how can people become even more generous?

They offer a definition that identifies three different components of generosity:

  1. Generosity involves giving to others not simply anything in abundance but rather giving those things that are good for others. Generosity always intends to enhance the true well-being of those to whom it gives.
  2. Generosity is the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly.
  3. Generosity is in its mature form, a basic, personal, moral orientation to life…. Generosity entails not only the moral good expressed but also many vices rejected.

Watch Out For

I’ll go in-depth into each of these components and help you avoid common mistakes.

Then End With…

What I hope is my succinct and clear definition.

Share With Me

What do you think generosity is?

How do you express generosity in your life?

Month 3 Giving Challenge: Help Homeless Pets

We’re three months into our 12 Month Giving Challenge.

In January, we supported a local homeless shelter.

In February, we did something special for a senior in our life or community.

And in March, we’re going to do something to support your local homeless pets. Somewhere in your community is an animal shelter or rescue working hard to save animals, and they’re doing it with barely enough resources.

Did you know…

  • 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year.
  • Only 3 to 4 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year.
  • That means 2.7 million adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year. That’s gotten a lot better when 12-20 million pets were killed every year.

What You Can Do:

  1. Spay or neuter your own pet.

    There are now so many low cost options available, so if you’ve been putting it off because you think you can’t afford it, contact your local NoKill animal shelter and ask them if they know about any low cost options in your area.

  2. Adopt
    The great new is that there is room for improving that 2.7 million euthanized pets, because only 30% of pets in homes today have come from shelters. The more people who adopt rather than buy a pet, the fewer pets who will die. So the first thing you can do to help a homeless pet, is to adopt one!
  3. Foster
    If your home is complete with the animals you have, can you foster a dog or cat until a forever home is found?
  4. Give Money or Goods
    If you can’t foster, can you donate money or goods? A cash donation lets them buy exactly what they need when they need it, but they might also need specific items. So call them and ask, do you need food? blankets?
  5. Give Time
    Finally, you can donate time. Dogs need to be walked and brushed. Litter boxes need to be cleaned. Websites maintained. Letters sent to past donors. Your local animal rescue may gladly welcome your time and expertise, so call them and ask how you can help.
  6. So that is our challenge in March. Support homeless pets.

    Thanks so much for joining me for month 3 of our 12 month giving challenge.

    Leave a comment below about how you helped a homeless pet this month.

I found a charity I want to donate to. What do I do next?

There are over 1 million charities in the United States working on issues ranging from hunger to art to animals to human rights. You name it, and there’s probably a charity working to support it. So it’s not surprising that you found one that interests you.

Maybe you discovered it on Facebook. Maybe a friend asked you to give because they’re supporting that charity through a walk or a run. Maybe you read something in the paper or got something in the mail. Wherever you discovered this charity, you’re interested and you want to support their cause, but….

What will happen to your donation after you make it?
Are they really a great charity doing great work?
Is there something better you can do with your donation?

First of all, congratulations on wanting to donate. That’s step 1.

The next step is asking HOW do I do that? WHERE do I give that will make a big difference?

This video will help you quickly and confidently evaluate any charity and discover if the charity you’re considering really is making a big difference.

For even more great donation advice, download the Everyday Giving: How You Can Make A Big Impact Even If You Have No Time or Money