Giving & #GoodSpotting as a Millennial this Holiday Season

Holiday card for service member
Holiday cards for military members at the White House.

After working in the nonprofit sector for my entire professional career so far (nearly six years for those of you keeping track), giving back is pretty much a part of my everyday life now. In my first job, I became invested in the issues of my clients at the agency I worked at, and at my second job at the UN Foundation, I was all about preventing malaria and empowering adolescent girls. At my current job at the Case Foundation, I am dedicated to our mission of bringing philanthropy to everyone through technology, and inspiring people to change the world in fearless ways. And of course right now in the holiday season, I’m always on the lookout for opportunities that could be highlighted as #GoodSpotting — my friends have even started getting in on it too, and my mom (winning!).

Like many Millennials, volunteering isn’t the first thing I think of when I want to give back. And like most Millennials, I don’t have thousands of dollars to spare each year either. But I have technology that makes it easy for me to send of a quick $10 or $25 donation through platforms like Razoo or organizations like Donors Choose, Girls Write Now, and Girls on the Run. I use social media to spread the word about issues I care about like fitness and nutrition, education, and technology for good. It’s easy to grab a couple of items from my pantry to drop at the box in my apartment building’s lobby for the Capital Area Food Bank, to bring some unused school supplies to the donation drive at my office, or write holiday cards to our service members that the American Red Cross will send.

So what’s the incentive here? Why do these ways of giving work for me?

They’re easy. They’re fun. The resonate with me. They are part of everyday behaviors (I already have the food, I already like writing letters and cards, I already have leftover office supplies, I already use social media) that make it a no-brainer for Millennials like me who are on the go, are bombarded with so many asks each day, and who only have so much time or money to donate at any given time. And somehow, all of the outcomes of these donations are clearly visualized in my head, even if I never get a nice note back from the charity or the recipients. I can picture a family eating the food I contributed, imagine a soldier reading my Christmas card in Iraq, or see a student using my old notebooks in class. I don’t need a fancy report telling me what happened, and I don’t need an infographic spelling out the impact. The story is in the smiles and the warmed hearts of all of the people that receive my gifts, and I don’t need proof — I just know it works.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, I made a quick donation via text message. When #GivingTuesday came around, I donated online to a friend’s campaign, because he asked. As we near the end of the year, I’ll continue to give when I feel it in my gut — when the story inspires me, or when the act is part of my day anyway, or when it’s right in front of my face and would be silly to ignore it.

For people like me, it’s not about because we have to, or because we’re supposed to, it’s because we want to, and because we like to. It makes us feel good, so we do good. How will you give back this holiday season? If you’re a Millennial, do you think you give of your time and money differently because of your age or technology? Share your story in the comments and one person will receive a Razoo Gift Card to use this holiday season.

Great holiday gift: an education

*This blog and any posts related to the Razoo fundraising widget I’m promoting to raise funds for Girl Up are my own, and not on behalf of my employer. However, the funds raised WILL support that campaign, which I work for.

It’s that time of year: the Christmas shopping commercials, the inundation of emails asking us to give online or to visit the eStore to purchase holiday gifts from Nonprofit X or Retailer Y. And yes, I’m putting out an ask as well, but hey, it’s what I do – I work in the world of online communications and fundraising. I wrote before about supporting the campaign I work for, Girl Up, through a new online fundraising widget from Razoo, and we’re having a friendly competition between some of the ZooGooders over the next week in the spirit of the holiday giving season.

Donate to Girl Up via Razoo!So, with that in mind, here’s the thing: new fuzzy socks or a DVD are fun stocking stuffers, and it’s nice to watch someone open a new Wii or a beautiful coat, but what about how you feel inside when you give the gift of an education to a girl? What about what the girl feels when she is given the opportunity to attend school, to have a chance at life?

Photo: Girl Up

That’s what thousands of girls in Malawi need – a chance. They need to go to school, they need a health care clinic to visit, they need programs in their communities that provide safe spaces and mentors and life skills. So I’m asking you to forget the trip to Target, skip the Amazon deal, and instead, give a High Five or more to Girl Up – right now.

And then, ask your best friend and your niece and your mom, and your grandma and your uncle, and your teacher, and your neighbor to give as well. Because every $5 can change a girl’s life – and the effect will be much more lasting and significant than socks or a DVD.

Give a High Five right now to Girl Up and change a girl’s life.

‘zooGooders: The Wonders of Widgets

I was recently asked by Geoff Livingston, co-founder of Zoetica, to join a new council of do-gooders called ‘zooGooders: we are a group of bloggers and non-profit professionals who are testing a new widget from Razoo, an online fundraising site, that allows you to complete an entire transaction within the frame of the widget, on your website or blog. It can be customized with a logo or photos, cause background, and even the donation levels. Another plus: Razoo takes one of the lowest transaction fees (2.9%), lower than Global Giving, Causes, or Crowdrise.

I’m listed in the council membership on behalf of this blog, Lagniappe, but I’m also interested in new fundraising tactics and tools for my organziation, the UN Foundation, and its campaigns. So that’s why I created my version of the widget for Girl Up (check out the widget here), the campaign I work on. Sadly, WordPress doesn’t allow external javascript widgets to be embedded, so I (along with a couple of other ‘zooGooders) had to instead embed a button that links to our widget on Razoo. See it to the right? The good part is that this is one of the kinks that our council is set up for – to advise Razoo on how to improve the widget so it is as effective as possible for anyone who wants to use it to raise funds for a cause – whether you are a blogger, an organization, an individual, etc.

On our first ‘zooGooders call, it was clear that each person was selected for different reasons – and it’s a mighty fine council at that. The reach, skills, and expertise of the group, not to mention the causes we’re all supporting, makes it diverse and strong – and I’m excited to share experiences and suggestions, and brainstorm together about fundraising through new technology. Along with our weekly calls featuring experts in our field, we’ll also be hosting a weekly Twitterchat that anyone can join in. Check #zooGood to be a part of the conversation!

Excited to move forward with ‘zooGooders!

(Note: In light of the post above, this is to note that I am not endorsing any online fundraising platform above the other on behalf of my employer.)