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How Do You Monetize Giving Away $11 Million…When You Are Not A Millionaire? November 4, 2010

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Stop a moment, think about this, and share in the happiness.
A Canadian couple — who are NOT millionaires — won $11 Million in the lottery AND GAVE IT ALL AWAY. http://www.lotterypost.com/news/222928/1832373

Why? This is what they said:

“What you’ve never had, you never miss,” said Violet, 78.

Married since 1974, the couple does not live large. They don’t travel, they don’t gamble (beyond playing the lottery) and they don’t buy what they don’t need.

“We have an old house, but we’re comfortable and we’re happy in it,” Violet said.

“That money that we won was nothing,” said Allen, choking back tears. “We have each other.”

“It made us feel good,” said Violet. “And there’s so much good being done with that money.”

“We’re the lucky ones,” Violet said. “I have no complaints.”

How Can This Be? 1 in 7 Americans Living In Poverty September 16, 2010

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Today’s Washington Post reports that 1 in 7 Americans Live In Poverty — the highest number in the half-century that the govt has kept such statistics.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/16/AR2010091602698_pf.html

Question:  With all of the state and federal welfare programs — and all of the traditional charities who receive billions in donations every year — how can this be?  Where is all the money going?   Where is the transparency and efficiency?

Before you give your next $ to a cause, demand to know exactly how the money will be used, to whom given, when, and how much will be apportioned for “administrative” overhead.

Since poverty is on the rise in America, there should also be renewed focus on giving locally — here at home.   We are being deluged with people around the Country who legitimately need help.

http://www.GiveLocally.net seeks to deliver aid directly to pre-screened Recipients within 30 days where practical – -and with complete transparency.

There is no reason why, in a country with so much, poverty should be on the rise.   It falls on us,  as citizens, to eradicate — or at least reduce — it.

BKN

If I Gave You Each $100, But… July 30, 2010

Posted by givelocally in Local Giving Opportunities, Recipients, Tips & Ideas.
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So I come up to you in the street.  I hand you a Benjamin.  But the condition is you must give it away to help someone in need.

Which would you prefer and why?

1. Go to http://www.GiveLocally.net, find a pre-screened Recipient whose story speaks to you, give the $100, watch the amount (less our Keep the Lights On Fee) get distributed to your Recipient within 30 days and make a meaningful impact, tell your friends, and receive GL Charms for making the Give or…
2. Donate the Benjamin to an entity without knowing how the money gets distributed, to whom, when, how much goes to where you think it is going, and how much of the Benjamin goes to things having nothing to do with what you intended?

BKN

Maybe There Are No New Ideas….. Just Innovative Ways To Execute June 7, 2010

Posted by givelocally in Company Information, Local Giving Opportunities, Tips & Ideas.
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I want to people to be able to get what they need to live: enough food, a place to live, and an education for their children. Government does not provide these as well as private charities and businesses.

—David Crockett, USA Congressman (1827-1835)

We are all doubtless bound to contribute a certain portion of our income to the support of charitable and other useful public institutions. But it is a part of our duty also to apply our contributions in the most effectual way we can to secure this object. The question then is whether this will not be better done by each of us appropriating our whole contribution to the institutions within our reach, under our own eye, and over which we can exercise some useful control? Or would it be better that each should divide the sum he can spare among all the institutions of his State or the United States? Reason and the interest of these institutions themselves, certainly decide in favor of the former practice.”

–Thomas Jefferson

BKN

The Real Talk About How GiveLocally Finds And Screens Our Individual Recipients June 4, 2010

Posted by givelocally in Company Information, Local Giving Opportunities, Recipients, Screening Process, Tips & Ideas.
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So how does GiveLocally find and screen our individual Recipients?  Let’s pause for a second and reflect.

Our local communities are filled with people in need.  We aren’t looking for the worst case scenarios, or clichés.   We are trying to help real people, in the places where we live, who are trying hard, but who have been hit with curve balls or are struggling despite it all.

Our individual Recipients are real people who need real help. Immediately. Without the red tape, overhead, delay.  They aren’t listed anywhere else on the Web.  You can’t Give to them in this manner through non-profits. They have individual needs unique to their situation.   For some, its about food, clothing and shelter.  For others, its about medical expenses.   For others, it’s even more serious.

Through GiveLocally, our Recipients receive 85 cents for every dollar Given.  Usually within 30 days of the date you make your Give.  Think about the power of that.  The impact of harnessing the Web to inspire people to collectively Give to Recipients in need.  Right here.  Right now.  There are no more excuses or feelings of helplessness.  We can, collectively, make a true difference for so many without delay.

So how do we find them?  Through old fashioned hard work and diligence.  We tap into a network of medical providers, social workers and others who dedicate their lives to helping others — oftentimes, thanklessly.  They tell the people they try to serve to come see us.  That we may be able to assist.  We go to depressing places, like State aid agencies (invariably housed in green or brown buildings stripped of their souls, and absent of hope, with long lines, little rooms, and windows behind glass run by state workers desensitized to despair as a result of daily over-exposure to mass helplessness), to which mothers are forced to drag their infants and toddlers along with them because they can’t afford childcare.  We cold call.  We investigate.  We approach people that obviously are in need.  Who are often ignored, who aren’t always looking for assistance, but who sure as hell aren’t faking it.

At first, they are skeptical. Justifiably Cynical.  They ask questions like “what do you want from us?”  “We can’t afford to pay you anything.”  We tell them, “no, no, we just want to help.   You don’t have to give us anything except information that allows us to verify your needs.”   Many times, people who have been through so much simply can’t believe that on a random day, and without forewarning, they are being approached by strangers who seek to help.

Through persistence, honesty and integrity – and often multiple discussions in various languages -– we win them over by explaining GiveLocally’s Mission.  The simple basic notion that our business model is designed to help others by utilizing the private sector model.   And then, invariably, we start to see understanding translate into faint smiles and glimmers of hope – expressions and emotions that too often are absent from all of our everyday lives.  Then we expend further effort vetting the Recipients we think need the help.

And in a short period of time, word is starting to get out.  Potential Recipients are hearing about GiveLocally, and reaching out to us.  Do we list everyone who wants to be on GiveLocally?  Of course not.  In fact, so far, we have declined to list many who are interested, since upon doing our diligence, we ascertain they do not fit within GiveLocally’s Mission.

The fact is we would rather take our time and spend the necessary resources to identify Recipients who meet our criteria than risk damaging the integrity of GiveLocally.  Based on the number of inquiries in the short period of time we have been live, we see that the rate of identifying, screening and listing Recipients will quickly scale.  We are learning and our process is becoming crisper.  Right now, behind the scenes, we are working with several Recipients who will soon be listed.  Who we are energized to help.  And already, it is clear that people just like us truly enjoy Giving to listed Recipients, knowing that within a very short time frame, their Give is going directly to the Recipient who moved them, and who they want to help.

So let nobody wonder whether our Recipients are screened and bona fide.  Under the circumstances, that would be misplaced Cynicism.

BKN 6/3/10

Some Thoughts From a Recovering Cynic May 14, 2010

Posted by givelocally in Company Information, Local Giving Opportunities.
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On the eve of beta-launch, there are many questions, but excitement too.  The basic question is “will this work?”  That depends on what the definition of “work” is.  For me, the answer is simple.  As long as we are helping Recipients, then it is working.  For those who share the vision, I am grateful they have committed so much hard work to implement, what in my opinion, are some cutting-edge concepts that could create real and meaningful impact on people’s lives.

When I set out to do this, I made a conscious decision that I would fund this myself and not take a single cent from a third party until after we launched and I was confident, based on real world metrics, that the concept was sound.  (I wish so many of the companies I have invested in over the years did likewise, as my ROI to date is embarrassing.)  I surrounded GiveLocally with a diverse group – each of whom “gets it.”  It has been a fascinating and fun experience getting to this point.  I know the future for GiveLocally will be even more amazing.

It is so easy – too easy – to be cynical.  Movies, music, fashion, bloggers – all teach us that cynicism = cool.   Equally frustrating is the gnawing feeling that one person cannot make any, let alone a meaningful, difference in the world – especially close to home.  For most of my life, I have taken for granted how blessed I am.  I was, and in (too) many ways remain, the model cynic.   But as I got a bit older (don’t worry, I am not yet 40), something inside of me didn’t feel right.   The combination of cynicism, mixed with a feeling that there was no way I could change society’s problems, juxtaposed against my own good fortune, created an ill cognitive dissonance.

After years of thinking about it, GiveLocally is the best I can do (so far) to try and create a fun business model dedicated to assisting, improving and helping as many as possible.   And at the risk of NOT being cynical (read cool), I really hope this works.  I have a great career, friends and family, and if this fails, my life will not be negatively impacted.   But at the end of the day, nothing has ever felt so good as the desire to help others.   How ironic that Giving turns out to be this Cynic’s passion.

So as we get ready to “push the button” and take this baby out on the open road, those of you who know me understand that with my hard charging nature, we will ride it until the wheels fall off.   Perhaps the flip side of — or cure for — Cynicism is Giving.  Maybe (read I hope) helping others is an elixir for internal raging waters, and inner peace comes through meeting interesting like-minded people who want to GiveLocally to fascinating Recipients open to new blessings.  We shall see….

Whatever happens, thank you in advance to those who feel like hopping on board.  We have a great team so far, filled with integrity and energy.  If this does “work,” I have many crazy ideas of how to take this notion of GivingLocally as far as possible.

Wouldn’t that be kool.

BKN – May 14, 2010

How Microphilanthropy is Changing Giving March 11, 2010

Posted by givelocally in Local Giving Opportunities, Tips & Ideas.
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A recent presentation created by Peter Deitz of Social Actions highlights the growing trend of Microphilanthrophy.  One of the reasons we started GiveLocally was to take advantage of this powerful trend and the resulting impact that it can have on a local community.

U.S. Volunteerism up slightly in 2009 January 26, 2010

Posted by givelocally in Local Giving Opportunities, Nonprofits, Tips & Ideas.
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The percentage of American adults who volunteer rose slightly in 2009, as did the overall number of people who gave their time, according to new figures released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 26.8 percent of the U.S. population — or 63.4 million people — volunteered for an organization at least once between September 2008 and September 2009, said the report, up from 26.4 percent and 61.8 million in 2008.

The increase was driven by women, whose overall volunteer rate jumped from 29.4 percent in 2008 to 30.1 percent last year; men’s volunteerism remained virtually unchanged from year to year, at 23.3 percent.

The “2009 Volunteering in the United States” report is available for free download online.

The survey revealed the following about Americans’ volunteerism habits:

  • People age 35 to 44 were most likely to volunteer, with 31.5 percent reporting that they had given their time to at least one organization during the survey period. However, people age 65 and older gave the highest median number of hours to charity of all age groups. Older people were also most likely to choose a religious organization as the main outlet for their volunteerism.
  • Married people and parents of children under 18 were more likely than the single or childless to volunteer, with 32.3 percent of married individuals and 34.4 percent of mothers and fathers giving their time.
  • Fund raising was the most frequently cited activity engaged in by volunteers (11.3 percent), followed by collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food (11.3 percent). Women were more likely than men to say they had engaged in fund raising.
  • Most volunteers — 68.9 percent — gave their time to only one organization. Forty-four percent of volunteers said they got involved with their main charity because they were asked to volunteer, usually by someone at the organization.
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