In-Kindness Donation

Every year my company gives me $2,000 to donate to an organization of my choice as a reward for my volunteer hours from the previous year. Last year, after a lot of debate, I donated to One rule I made up is that I won’t donate to an organization that I volunteered for. This year I’ll add that I won’t donate to a Purple State Challenge organization.  But I found this year’s choice to be very easy. It’s an organization I’ve long admired, that is very needed right now but also might not be as on the radar as other organizations. It’s an organization that is working to grow the nations empathy and kindness.

I donated $2,000 to Sesame Workshop!



Sesame Workshop’s mission is simple and clear – “to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”

“There’s a method to our magic. Grounded in research and guided by our mission, it plays out daily across countries, cultures, and channels.”

For over 40 years they have produced incredible results and had an effect on so many lives including my own. Their simple and clear mission is approached in a complex, thoughtful, and magical way. They are true innovators in early childhood development. And their results are real and well documented.

Why I choose this group:

Like millions I’ve been effected by their first initiative – Sesame Street. I learned letters and numbers. I learned how to be caring and accepting of diversity. It also sparked my interest to learn additional languages (Spanish and American Sign Language). And the Ladybug Picnic Song still makes me smile. I also have a love of all things Muppet.

I think that education is so important. Sesame Workshop focuses on some of the aspects of education I find most important – literacy, emotional intelligence, and social awareness. Not only do they teach these to everyone they reach but they focus on communities in special need including military families, children dealing with loss, and low income children. Their reach is global and they work to make sure that the content matches the audiences needs. Female muppets are incorporated in shows in Bangladeshi, Nigeria, and Egypt to show girls that there is a place for them to learn too. In South Africa kids are 4x more likely to be aware of HIV/AIDS and Tanzanian children are more aware of how to prevent Malaria transmission. And this just seems to be the start. There are so many great programs that make such a huge measured impact.

But it’s also magical. It’s Snuffleupus and Cookie Monster and hundreds of Muppets around the world. It’s inspiring and memorable to everyone who watches. A much repeated story from my childhood is that while watching Sesame Street the power went out and my brother could not stop crying, thinking that his muppet friends had gone away forever. There is a connection to these characters and stories that goes beyond the scientific data that backs them up. These are our friends, our reflections, our teachers, and our inspirations.

Check them out:

You can learn more and donate here –

Website |    Facebook | @SesameWorkshop   Twitter | @SesameWorkshop


All About #GivingTuesday


Happy #GivingTuesday! After a long weekend of holiday shopping (or shopping holidays – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, all leaking into other days) it’s time to give a little.

I have gotten myself on some sort of charity mailing list so I’ve been hearing about Giving Tuesday for a few weeks. And this morning 85% of my emails were about Giving Tuesday. But for those of you who don’t know what it is, let me explain –

“Entering its fifth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.”

It takes the idea of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday and puts it in the world of charitable donations. Traditional giving. It uses the hashtag as a way to help charities raise awareness. Typically charities that participate will set goals for this day, will give special incentives, and will often have a matching gift campaign so that your donation is matched.

Don’t know where to start when it comes to donations? Search the hashtag #GivingTuesday and see where other people are giving, see what campaigns are going on, it’s a great time to explore the world of charitable giving. Take a minute to discover a new charity, give to one you already love, and spread the word using the hashtag. You can also share why you give with the hashtag #MyGivingStory. I’d love to hear what you think of this new shopping holiday. Share in the comments your giving story!

Shopping for a Cause

It’s creeping all too quickly into the holiday season and a time that tends to involve a lot of shopping. I wanted to explore some of the options to spending in a charitable way. For me the best way to shop in a good way is to just give it a little thought and consideration. So here we go


First, there are items designated to give a portion of the proceeds to charity. It seems like this happens often with T-shirts and pink items (for breast cancer). This is probably the least effective way to give to charity. Often this percentage is on the small side. Your purchase won’t be included in any matching gifts provided by companies or donors.

These items are only something you should buy if you really want that particular item. You like the T-shirt design, you really want to spread the word about a cause you support, the percentage of proceeds going to the charity is very high and you want to support that specific charity, or it’s an item you’d buy anyway. But ask yourself if you’d do better skipping the t-shirt and making a donation instead or buying a T-shirt that you really love and make a donation with it.


Next, there are items that support a struggling community or group. It seems like there are many items from women in Africa, often jewelry. I personally really like this option. It gives people motivation and a job and often the products that are created are handmade and beautiful. This could also be as easy as shopping at your neighborhood bookstore or a locally owned clothing store. Shopping small can make a big difference in your community and in any community.


Next, there are the items that are a buy one give one model. Things like shoes or glasses where for each item you purchase another is given to someone in need.
I’m still unsure about these and feel like I need a bit more research into the topic. I’ve purchased a few but almost always because I wanted the product not because I was interested in the donation. I don’t always completely vet the organization that gives away the goods and I wonder if money would be more helpful.


Next, there are charities that sell items. The World Wildlife Fund and To Write Love On Her Arms are two that jump to mind (that I have supported). Sometimes this is the cause’s main source of revenue. Again I’d say only purchase these items if you want the item itself (and sometimes the items are pretty cool). If you don’t need another T-shirt or stuffed animal consider just donating the money. That way it can be matched and go directly to fill a need.


The last thing I’ll mention is AmazonSmile and shopping at companies who have a strong philanthropic record. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. If you’re an Amazon shopper this is pretty easy way to get a little money going in the right direction. The drawbacks are you have to pick a single charity and if you’re someone like me who has reservations about shopping on Amazon this one is tricky. But here’s the thing, you can do this yourself – take your bank statement at the end of the month and multiple your purchases by .005 and donate that to your favorite charity. It’s only 50 cents per $100 so it likely won’t hurt your budget and you’ll feel great. BeingGoodeSmile!


Shopping this time of year presents a lot of choices and difficult decisions. There are so many stores online and and real life competing for your attention and your dollars. I think the number one thing to think about when shopping charitably is to treat it like any other donation of time or money – is this a cause you want to support and is this the best way to do it?


What are your thoughts this time of year?

Q4: Charitable Giving

Now that I’ve spent time looking at Self-Care, Volunteering, and Personal Kindness, it’s time to focus a little on the obvious part of being a philanthropist – Charitable Giving. Money, donations, it seems so straight forward and simple but it’s really far from (as most straight forward and simple things usually turn out to be).

Who do you give money too? How much? Is giving things just as good? What about buying things with a “percentage of the proceeds”?  I can think of a dozen challenges that the idea of traditional giving brings up.

It’s also a challenging because money is the thing I have the least to give – I’m not Warren Buffet or Kate Middleton. But that just means I have to be even more thoughtful about it. So stay with me for the next few months as I explore this.

What are you wondering about Traditional Giving? Anything you want me to address?