Sunday, December 1, 2013

#GivingTuesday, plus our book bounty giveaway!

Black Friday
Small Business Saturday
Cyber Monday
And a new tradition: 
#Giving Tuesday

Last year, a movement was born to kick off the holiday giving season. December 3, 2013 is #Giving Tuesday, an initiative that celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations. 

Charitable solicitations abound, and it can be difficult to know who to trust and where to give.  Giving can be as simple as dropping coins in a can or donating a toy, but to have a bigger impact, it helps to do your research and determine a longer term plan.  Charity Navigator is one place to start.  For tips on giving, read their guide, and take some time to explore the rest of the site.  You’ll find more information such as:

Of the 6,800+ charities evaluated by Charity Navigator, the vast majority spend at least 75% of their budgets on the programs and services that they exist to provide, 10% or less on fundraising fees and 15% or less on administrative costs.

Prefer to give a hand up over a handout?
Microloans are another way you can have an impact. You choose an endeavor to support, you make a loan, you get updates on the progress, you get paid back, and you repeat the process again with a new project.  Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, and you can lend as little as $25. You can guess who created the Nerdfighters team on Kiva. “We loan because…we aim to decrease world suck.” 

Want to lend a hand?   
Volunteer Match helps individuals and groups find local non-profits who need your time. 

Charitable giving is something we tend to keep quiet about. 
HumblebragSo, you spent Saturday watching a Dr. Who marathon?  That sounds great.  My feet are killing me.  But at least I know hundreds of kids have a full belly due to my double shift at the food bank.

It doesn’t feel right to say, “Look what I did!” 
But the more people know about your efforts, the more likely they are to join you or support another cause that's important to them.  So please, shout out, so others can jump on board.  Here's one way to do it right now:

Leave a comment below and give a shout out to a charity/non-profit organization.  Everyone who leaves a comment by midnight on Saturday, Dec. 7th, will be entered in the YA Fusion book bounty giveaway.  On Sunday, Dec. 8th, I’ll randomly choose 5 winners.  The first name drawn will get the first choice of book, and so on. (If your email isn't on your Blogger profile, please include it with your comment.)

 Here are the books...


...and here’s my charity shout out: Ever wonder what the deal is with Ronald McDonald Charities?  I never thought I'd recommend anything associated with McDonalds, and it was a charity that I routinely dismissed until I started working as a social worker at Children’s Hospital in Detroit.

Ronald McDonald Houses are located at hospitals all around the country and provide a home-away-from-home so families can stay close to their hospitalized child.  The daughter of one of my friends had leukemia requiring hospitalization/treatment out of state for nearly a year.  Her mother was able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, set up her laptop and continue working, while remaining only steps away from her daughter.  Her dad and siblings were able to visit and stay on weekends.  Donations make it possible for families to stay for little ($10) or no cost. 

Cash donations aren’t the only way to help.  Volunteers are needed to provide home-cooked meals and baked goods.  To learn more and to find a Ronald McDonald House near you, go here.

The YA Fusion blog team is shouting out about their favorite charities in the comments.  Thanks for sharing your recommendations too, and remember to spread the word about #GivingTuesday.


Kristin Lenz


K.A. Barson said...

Thanks for such a great post, Kristin, and for giving away 45 POUNDS.

I like Heifer International. It's a great way to give a family or a community a "leg up" rather than a one-time handout that might not help long-term. You can give an animal that provides milk or work income or help with clean water or more.

Colette Ballard said...

Great post, Kristen! I'd like to second your charity shout out as i've had several family members who've been stricken with cancer and all that goes with that for their families.
None of them were children but I know a friend of a family member who relied heavily on the Ronald McDonald house when their young son had cancer. I can't imagine how much more difficult life would've been for them without that facility.

Lisa Tapp said...

What a great, seasonal post, Kristin. I support Kids Against Hunger as a volunteer. This organization has an impressive donations-to-cause ratio. Through donations, they package meals that can serve four people, the only ingredient needed is boiling water. Volunteers are needed to assemble the packaged meals. In November they had a big push to p send meals to the storm victims in the Philippines. With a group of family and friends, I spent a fun 2 hours one Saturday volunteering and walked away with a hands-on, helping experience.

Katie said...

Thank you for this awesome post, Kristin!2

I'm a big advocate of volunteering and donating to schools. I've had the privilege of visiting several schools over the past year and after speaking with the administration, I hear how they are always in need of people to help the students and how library budgets are shrinking or nonexistent.

Ciaraxoxo100 said...

I love this post <3

I have such a love for the make a wish foundation, it is an organisation that makes wishes come true for children with life limiting conditions. I have seen a documentary on them before they let a little boy go to lapland and visit santa as it was his one dream in life. a few years ago when i was leaving primary school after our conformation all the kids including me donated some of our conformation money to the make a wish foundation ,we all got so excited as we got a letter back of the little kid we helped and what wish we made come true.

Victoria said...

I donate to the local animal shelter - Rescue Village. In fact 4 wks ago I adopted a kitten from them too :).

Kira Jepprsen said...

Thanks for this... :D
It is so cool

I support a lot of different, like the IS foundation.
it is an amazing thing he is doing.

Jus Accardo said...

This is an awesome post!

We like to donate time and food/treats/ect to our local SPCA.

We also love Child's Play ( ). They give toys/books/games to kids in hospitals. My husband and I are huge gamers, and it's amazing to see the community coming together for something like this!

Amber Hart said...

Great post!!

My heart belongs to an organization called THE JANE GOODALL INSTITUTE.

Their mission is to bring global understanding and treatment of great apes through research, public education and advocacy. They help empower people to stop the poaching of these beautiful creatures. Jane has spent her LIFE with gorillas, even teaching them to paint and use sign language!

I give regularly to their non-profit organization. More can be found at


S.J. Lomas said...

Thank you for including Dream Girl in your giveaway!

I have always loved children and babies so the charities closest to my heart involve them. My two favorites are The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA) which is a sponsorship program where you can choose a young child, teenager or elderly person living in poverty and help to pay for their food, clothing, education, medical expenses etc.

I also love the work of Project Cuddle, which seeks to save infants from abandonment.

ilovemmh said...

I recently donated to She Is Safe works to prevent, rescue and restore women and girls from abuse and exploitation in high risk places around the world. It's such a great cause. Giving back to others is a great way to help others in need. Check it and donate! Its well worth it!

Alisa Kepner said...

This is an awesome post.
I usually donate to the Eyes for the Blind charity or local hospitals.

ShariRBecker said...

We love Heifer International. There's something special about giving a family a chance to become self-sufficient. Another charity we love is Donor's Choose ( which enables teachers around the country to post projects and needs and folks can contribute a little ... or a lot ... to a project that is meaningful to them.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Kristin: Great post. I have lots of favorite charities, but The Nature Conservancy does a heck of a lot to preserve our planet.

Tracy Bilen said...

One of my favorite charities is Leader Dogs for the blind ( They need donations as well as people to raise puppies until they are old enough to train!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome post, Kristin. And something we all need to do. We're giving to a local charity that gives Christmas gifts to homeless children in Washtenaw County. Let someone else win as I've read many of these books.

Cate said...

This post is so nice, especially with the holidays coming around. I like volunteering with Thon, which benefits the Four Diamonds Fund. They help cover the cost of pediatric cancer treatment for the families of the sick children.

Ardamus said...

Great giveaway / contest.
I hope I can have similar giveaway like this too.
Hope everyone enjoy it. Good luck.


kelly g. said...

Rose Brooks is a women's shelter in Kansas City that also runs an animal shelter/foster program. Many women are afraid to leave their animal companions behind in abusive situations, for fear of what might become of them. By offering safe haven to nonhumans victims as well, such programs make it possible for their people to leave their abusers.

Suzi said...

I'd like to give a shout out to Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. ANY child under five years old can sign up to receive one age appropriate book each month.

It doesn't cost a thing to sign up, and the kids get so excited to get a book in the mail each month.

So many children don't have access to lots of books and this is a wonderful opportunity for them to get those good stories. And in theory, if you signed up when the child was just born, by the end of the five years you'd have 60 books.

If you haven't heard of it, definitely go check it out.

Crystal Collier said...

So awesome. We usually pick a family to anonymously help each year. It's never hard to find one that needs help.

My favorite charity to donate to is Humanitarian Services with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They're first responders to disasters all over the world, and the best part? Not a single penny goes to administrative costs. All money goes directly to supplies and people in need through an army of volunteers.

Danielle H. said...

Great idea for a post. We always donate to Ronald McDonald House after our friends in college had a daughter who became very ill. They were able to stay at the house (college students have no money!) and be close to their two-year-old.

Amy B said...

I really like National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They do a lot of outreach and awareness programs, as well as advocacy and peer-led support groups for the mentally ill. They also do work to prevent suicide, and to educate the police about people who have mental illness. They've lobbied Congress to get important bills passed. They've saved countless lives with educational programs and by putting people in touch with mental health facilities that can help them. They help people who are often over looked (the mentally ill), in favor of more trendy causes. Before becoming physically disabled I spent a lot of time volunteering at NAMI, from teaching classes, to leading groups, to speaking at the state conference, to doing office work. Please support this worthy charity this holiday season--and the rest of the year as well.

Kim Van Sickler said...

I just finished reading Half the Sky, a book about the oppression of women the world over, and it lists a slew of charities to support, some that you mention, and others like Plan International, Women for Women International, Global Giving, Tostan (concerned with female genital cutting), Fistula Foundation (supports women who've developed fistulas through rape and childbirth--this is a horrible problem I didn't even know about until I read this book!), and New Light (teaching the children of forced prostitutes in India how to read).

Last year my Girl Scout troop shopped for and then cooked dinner for all of the guests of the Ronald McDonald house in Cleveland, Ohio. You must use their kitchen to prepare meals and my girls enjoyed the entire process. Great experience.

Cynthia said...

Earlier this year, I did a walkathon and raised money for FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education.) Food allergies are becoming more common among children today, and unfortunately, there can be tragic consequences for some people who come into contact with food they are allergic to. More people need to be educated about food allergies. Also, more research is required to help those suffering from food allergies. That's why I support this cause, and I hope more people will too.

Ariel Tam said...

I'm a huge supporter of all animal charities. So I have to give a big shout out to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation which is always looking out for animals and the environment. I actually donated $100 this summer to their cause. I also really appreciate all the ASPCA does and local animal shelters. I will hopefully be volunteering at one this summer!

Myrna Foster said...

This is a great idea!

If you have kids, Heifer International is a fun charity because they can look through the catalogue and pick out which kind of animal to give.

Kristin Lenz said...

A huge thanks to everyone who took the time to educate us about your favorite charities. I will email the book giveaway winners this week. On a final note, here's an inspiring (and sobering) article from J.K. Rowling:

Heather Smith Meloche said...

Kristin, a little late, but wanted to thank you for the post. This is a great tradition for YA Fusion and everyone! My favorite charity (of the moment) if She's the First, which gives 100% of sponsored money to girls so they can be the first in their families to finish secondary school. It breaks the donation down into exactly what you are paying for: pencils, uniforms, vaccines, transportation... so there is no question, and often, your sponsored girl sends you letters or emails to keep you personally updated.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Wonderful post! This is just awesome!
I give monthly to two charities that are important to me - Canadian Wildlife Federation and Ontario Wildlife Foundation. I think it's important to keep species around for future generations.