Monthly Archives: September 2012

Do Good Get Rewards

Most of the organizations that I have written about over the years are looking for new volunteers.  While many volunteers I know give back for reasons of their own, today’s profile is about a website that offers additional rewards to those who volunteer. 

The mission of Do Good Get Rewards is to provide incentives as an offer of appreciation to increase volunteerism, to connect national and local business with socially conscious consumers, and to feature the incredible number of programs and people who do good every day.

Tammy Allen was a lifelong musician and singer songwriter.  She wrote the song “Everyday People Do Good Everyday” to acknowledge people for everyday acts of kindness.  She was amazed when she earned that over 64 million people volunteer each year and she envisioned a rewards program to demonstrate her appreciation to the good people who warm her heart.  In 2010, Tammy and her best friend Jacqui Jenkins launched the Do Good Get Rewards website. 

They are not trying to pay people for their service, instead it is an opportunity for non-profits to thank the volunteers they depend on to fulfill their missions.  When someone gives to you, you want to give them something to say thank you.  Non-profits sign up as members on the site for free.  The non-profit members receive materials to invite their volunteers to become members and submit their hours to the site for a specific non-profit.  Once the non-profit validates the hours, the volunteer earns points they can use toward the rewards offered on the website.  The points are the currency; there is nothing else to buy.

Do Good Get Rewards currently has over 170 nonprofit members and 2,000 volunteer members who have submitted over 10,000 hours.  The site currently has over 65 rewards partners including their first national rewards partner, Panera Bread. 

According to founder Tammy Allen, the website’s “mission is not just to increase volunteering, but shout to the world how good people are. There is good going on everywhere around us everyday. This is our reality right now. Out of our total American population 70 to 80% donate, volunteer or participate in causes. That is the kind of news we need to hear about.” 

You can learn more about Do Good Get Rewards and sign up as a volunteer or non-profit for free at  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also hear the song that inspired the program at

Would you sign up to be rewarded to volunteer?


Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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MN Blogger Conference Charity Recap

A couple notebooks, a few pens, a cool phone screen cleaner, a flash drive…these are just a few things I brought home from the Minnesota Blogger Conference this past weekend.  Even though that stuff was cool, they weren’t the best things I found there.  I found some great connections with other bloggers.  One blogger suggested a non-profit for me to write about, another wanted to connect with a non-profit for an opportunity, and others were excited to check out my blog.  It was exciting to connect with other passionate bloggers and learn ways to improve my own blog.

Another exciting part of the conference was the opportunity to feature a local charity with all the attendees.  The planning committee selected Free Arts Minnesota and at the conference we collected art supplies.  Bloggers brought supplies that filled two boxes to help Free Arts Minnesota to further their mission of bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families.  A local photographer, Mandy of Glimpses of Soul Photography, took headshots in exchange for donations toward Free Arts Minnesota.  We collected $938.71 in cash and check donations – not even counting the online donations that were made that day.  If you would like to make an online donation, you still can at

Donations of Art Supplies to Free Arts Minnesota

We are excited that our monetary donations will also be matched by a recent grant that the organization received from the Pohlad Family Foundation.


Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Other


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Modest Needs

Many people are living paycheck to paycheck, scheduling bill payments and trips to the grocery store around their next payday and having a constant fear that something, anything, could happen to cause an imbalance in your monthly income and expenses.  A layoff, large medical bill, car repair, or broken appliance could be all that stands in the way of paying the bills for a month (or longer).  Today’s organization is trying to help those hard-working individuals and families with their needs. 

University professor Dr. Keith P. Taylor wanted to help two, three, or maybe four people by sharing 10% of his own salary each month.  He quickly realized that his mission could be bigger than just one person.  More people could be helped and more people could contribute.  In 2002, Modest Needs and the technology behind it was born. 

Modest Needs

Modest Needs is a non-profit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of low-income workers by making grants that help them to afford short-term, emergency expenses.  The organization recognizes a gap in the social “safety net” that leaves low-income but generally self-sufficient individuals and families without access to small amounts of short-term assistance.  Instead, the typical social safety nets offer long-term assistance after an individual or family has fallen deep into the cycle of poverty. 

Modest Needs uses grants to fill this need.  The grants are meant to help prevent an individual or family from entering the cycle of poverty, restore self-sufficiency of those who are willing to work but temporarily unemployed, or empower permanently disadvantaged individuals who have been hit with a temporary, unexpected financial setback related to their medical conditions.  In addition, grants are made to strengthen small non-profit organizations by providing a tool to ask the general public for the help they need to complete small projects to allow them to better serve their clients and communities. 

Since 2002, Modest Needs’ donors have stopped the cycle of poverty for 10,620 hard-working individuals and families throughout the United States and Canada that conventional philanthropy otherwise had forgotten.  Each request for a grant is made by the individual and reviewed through a rigorous screening process by Modest Needs to determine their eligibility and legitimacy of their request.  Then it is made public on the Modest Needs website to allow any donor to fund that a portion or the entire request.  Once the grant is funded, the money is given toward the specific emergency expense.  You can read the stories of some of the recipients on the organization’s website.

How can you help?

  • Take a look at the list of current requests for help.  Even giving small amounts such as $5, $10 or $25 toward a specific request will make a difference.  Contributions quickly add up to the total of the grant request.
  • You can also spread the word about the program by sharing their brochure or directing people to this blog post.  The more donors there are; the more of a difference they can make. 
  • Consider giving a Modest Needs gift certificate for a gift. 
  • You can also make a donation to the Modest Needs general fund by clicking on the Donate button on their website.

To learn more about Modest Needs, visit their website at  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Wine to Water

I enjoy wine!  A nice cold white wine on a warm summer night or a red wine to warm me from the inside on a cool winter evening.  Actually, I am enjoying a glass from a local vineyard right now.  So, when I found a non-profit that uses wine to make a difference, I was intrigued. 

When Doc Hendley was in college at North Carolina State University, he was working as a bartender and looking for a way to make a lasting impact on the world.  Once he discovered the magnitude of the world’s water crisis, he began to help in the only way he knew how, pouring drinks and playing music.  He held several events he called “Wine to Water” nights at the bar he worked at and with the help of his friends and regulars at the bar he raised money.  After six months, he took a trip to Darfur, Sudan to fight the water crisis first hand.  After he returned he founded Wine to Water as an official 501c3 nonprofit in Boone, North Carolina in 2007 proving you do not have to be a celebrity to make a difference. You simply must have enough courage to take the first step and the passion to keep going.

WIne to Water

Wine to Water is a unique organization because of its origins in a bar.  A CEO may be enjoying a drink at the bar next to a mechanic and through this organization they can come together for the same goal of fighting the world’s water crisis. 

The mission of Wine to Water is to provide clean water to people in need around the world through the most sustainable methods possible.  They believe that the relationship they form in the process is just as important as the end result, so they strive to work with local people for each project they facilitate.  This helps them cultivate a lasting relationship and leave the local community with the knowledge and tools to continue the work that was started by their organization.

In 2009, Wine to Water expanded by starting their own wine label.  They currently have 5 varieties available through a partnership with the Bliss Family Vineyards in Mendocino County, California.  Approximately $7 from each bottle sold is donated to the Wine to Water mission to fight the water crisis in countries such as Sudan, India, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Haiti.

Wine to Water has reached over 100,000 people with clean water.  Each of their projects is different and requires a different method to achieve the maximum impact.  Some of their methods include deep and shallow wells, hand-pump well repair, ceramic water filters, bio-sand water filters, rainwater harvest tanks, latrine installation, and hygiene education programs.  One example of a recent project in Haiti is a partnership with FilturePure for a ceramic water filter factory run by local Haitians.

How can you help?

  • You can host your own Wine to Water event at a local bar, restaurant, or home.  A typical event involves a wine tasting and a discussion about the world’s water crisis.  You can download a variety of tools to help plan and run your event on their website.    
  • You can purchase wines through to help support their mission.
  • You can also make donations directly to the organization or their specific projects on their website.

You can learn more about the Wine to Water organization on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts: Nisha Varghese and Shoeman Water Projects

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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Sow Much Good

Sow Much Good

It is harvest time for home gardeners.  Several of my Facebook friends have been posting pictures of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and more that they have picked from their gardens.  Not everyone has the ability to garden in their yards or have easy access to fresh produce.  Today’s organization is helping those living in one urban area get more fresh fruits and vegetables. 

In 2008, Robin Emmons decided to plant a few extra rows in her garden for her brother and others living in his mental health facility.  She had seen her brother’s health decline while he was being treated for his mental disorder and she felt it was due to his consumption of canned and sugary foods.  This was all the facility could provide since they were unable to afford fresh produce on their non-profit budget.  After Robin’s donations of fresh fruits and vegetables, her brother’s physical health improved dramatically as did the health of others at the facility.  Robin knew this probably happened in other places and she decided to do something about it.  This was the birth of her Charlotte, North Carolina based non-profit named Sow Much Good.

Sow Much Good is a 100% volunteer organization. Without volunteers manning the farm stands on Saturdays, people living in urban food deserts would not have access to healthy, affordable produce.

Sow Much Good believes that everyone has the right to clean and nutritionally dense food.  Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help reduce health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.  The organization’s mission is to provide produce in underserved communities while teaching its residents how to grow and prepare their own fruits and vegetables.  They do this with hands on labor of their volunteers.  Even their executive director can be found working with other volunteers planting, weeding, and watering their three garden sites.  They then sell the fresh produce they harvest at farm stands at a low cost to people living in urban food deserts (areas without a full service grocery store). 

Company volunteer days are ways for corporations to be involved with Sow Much Good’s three micro farm sites.

Sow Much Good partners with landscapers, gardeners, farmers and community groups, and others to further their mission.   Through these partnerships, workshops have been held to show others how to grow gardens.  These workshops include information from nutritionists, growers, master gardeners and others.  A small 100 square foot garden can provide a family up to $700 worth of fresh produce per year and even a small garden can make a difference to those unable to purchase fresh produce nearby.

How can you help?

  • If you live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, you can volunteer at one of their three gardening sites or at their farm stands.  You can find a list of local volunteer opportunities on their website.
  • They also seek monetary and in-kind donations to further their mission.  You can learn more about these opportunities on their website

You can learn more about the Sow Much Good organization on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Related posts: Hands for Harvest and Open Arms of Minnesota


Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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The PROP Shop

Many communities have a community resale or thrift store that offers assistance for individuals and families in need through donated items.  So, in that regard, today’s organization is not unique.  However, today’s organization does serve as a great example of the community coming together.

The PROP Shop

The PROP Shop is located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and has a mission to provide basic support for families in need through volunteers, community, and other organizations.

The PROP Shop’s creation was a direct result of the rapidly changing demographics of the Eden Prairie community.  According to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Eden Prairie experienced a 541% increase in food shelf usage between 2000 and 2004.  A separate non-profit food shelf and community service organization called PROP (People Reaching out to Other People), received increased pressure to provide food and emergency services.  Due to significant limitations on space and resources, PROP was unable to meet the growing need for clothing, household goods, and furniture.  Concerned community members saw a need to expand the services available to local families and looked to other nearby communities to see how they met these needs in their communities.  These community members then decided to form an organization that would accept donations to provide free clothing and furniture to families in need.  After several attempts to secure a free space were unsuccessful, they adjusted their vision to include a resale store to cover the operating costs of the organization and raise funds for social service agencies.  In April 2007, the PROP Shop opened and is celebrating their 5th anniversary this year. 

The PROP Shop has truly been a community effort from the beginning.  In their first five years more than 1,300 people have volunteered and more than 6,900 people have donated goods.  With those donations, 1,400 families have been helped with basic needs such as clothing, household goods, and furniture conservatively valued at more than $500,000.  They recently gave out our 725th bed to a family in need.  They even do their best to pass forward donations they cannot use.  For example, ratty towels go to Humane Society and single bed sheets go to a local church for a quilting project.

The PROP Shop helped a family who recently immigrated to the United States from Moldova, a country in Europe bordering Romania and Ukraine.  When staff and volunteers first met the mother of this family of four, she spoke practically no English and needed a translator.  The PROP Shop provided the family with beds, a kitchen table and chairs, clothes, and much more.  The next summer, she began volunteering at the PROP Shop to practice her English.  She wanted to give back to the PROP Shop for all of the help that it had provided to her family.  She quickly formed friendships with volunteers and has most recently launched her own catering business.  She still volunteers at least once a week and often helps us translate with other clients.

The PROP Shop also calls out specific needs on their Facebook page.  One day I saw a post for a double stroller and just happened to have one we were no longer using and posted a comment.  I dropped it off that weekend and it went to a family in need.

Recently the PROP Shop received even more support from the business community.  They were trying to determine how to expand their space.  Hansen Thorp Pellinen Olson, Inc (HTPO) was recommended to help them survey the land around their building.  HTPO helped them navigate changes and wetland appraisals to donate time for land surveying, civil engineering, and landscape plans.  The Eden Prairie campus of the Hennepin Technical College located just miles from the PROP Shop, agreed to do carpentry as a part of a course.  Then the project hit a roadblock, their plans for a separate building were put in jeopardy because of their location near a pond.  It was then that the PROP Shop attended a local Rotary meeting to give a presentation about their organization and happened to meet an architect that volunteered his time to design an addition rather than a new building.  The architect also connected them with a structural engineer to examine the structure of the building.  This construction project has received support from the community by one person connecting them to another person or company.  They now have their paving, dirt, and landscaping lined up as well as discounts on other necessary work.  You can see up-to-date information on their construction project as well as a list of all their supporters on their website

How can you help the PROP Shop?

  • They always need volunteer for all times they are open (currently Tuesday through Sunday) for tasks such as donation sorting, displaying merchandise and organizing items for families in need. 
  • They also accept in-kind donations of household items, furniture, and clothing.  You can see what items they can (and cannot) accept on their website.  If you have something they cannot accept, they even offer suggestions of other organizations that can accept it. 
  • They also accept monetary donations on the website, in person, or through the mail.

You can learn more about the PROP Shop on their website,  You can also follow them on Facebook and sign up for their e-mail newsletter (which includes resale store coupons) on their website.

Related Posts: Amy Nylander and Sue Grady

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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