Nonprofit Aims to Educate Educators About Autism

Autism is one of those disorders that can have a range of effects on a person and their social lives. At its best, autism can simply result in some awkwardness during social interactions and maybe some minor ticks. There might also be a predilection towards math, facts, and orderly things that make sense. However those are mild cases and not always the norm. At its worst, autism can be truly crippling, both educationally as well as socially. Children with extreme forms of autism and aspergers can be socially ostracized, not to mention the difficulties with learning that the disorders can cause. Up until now, most school districts and officials have done a relatively poor job of helping those with autism under their care. Now, however, there are nonprofits springing up to help educate the educators about autism and how it can be dealt with best.jonathan_offt_autism

Autism Involves Me is a nonprofit located in Bentonville, Arkansas that wants to educate those in positions of educational and social authority about autism and how to deal with it properly. The group just released its first round of AIM to Educate grants that were created to assist school administrators in serving the needs of students with intellectual and developmental disorders, like autism. The first round of grants totaled $22,566 and was spread between 21 teachers and therapists. The money is to go towards further training as well as setting up classes and rooms for students who have disorders such as autism.

Autism Involve Me is a fully volunteer run group and includes parents of children with autism. The group has existed for several years and both the staff and board of directors are volunteers who make no money from their activities. It is a fully local charity too in that it makes and spends money locally, although it will accept donations from abroad. Along with focusing on educating about autism, the group also works to provide financial and social support for parents of children with autism as well as fully-grown autistic adults. As more and more people learn about autism, these sorts of groups will be on the front lines, fighting for the rights of the autistic to gain the support they need to learn and live as functioning adults.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Volunteering Is Good For The Elderly Heart

Volunteering your time is one of the more noble things a person can do with the free time they might’ve spent on other activities. It’s not only helpful for those that are in need and who are being served, but it’s also good for the community at large and can strengthen bonds between groups of people who might not have all that much else in common. Now it turns out that volunteering is good for something else, your health. When you think about it, this makes sense. People who are happier and who feel as though they have some sort of purpose are usually healthier than those who are miserable and float around in a daze. While this is something that most people have known and science has proven, there is now more proof that volunteering, specifically, is great for your heart and your health.Volunteering-SVG

According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, there is a clear connection between volunteering and heart health. It turns out that adults over 50 who volunteer regularly are much less likely to develop high blood pressure when compared to people of the same age who don’t volunteer. The study goes even further and makes the claim that volunteer work might be a good alternative to pharmaceutical options aimed at lowering blood pressure due to the lack of negative side effects. Volunteering also reduces the risk of heart disease, something that becomes more and more of a threat as you grow older. For those interested in volunteering, there are a number of organizations aimed at helping the elderly find opportunities near them that aren’t too stressful or energy intensive. There are also soup kitchens, elder homes, museums, tutoring classes, and sick children that are always in need of volunteers to help bring a smile to faces and ease the passing of time.

No matter what you choose, the fact that volunteering is good for the heart is just one more reason to get out there and change someone’s life. Add the health benefits to the fact that you’re promoting community bonds and social inclusion and volunteering seems like more and more of a no brainer. So just go do it! Make a difference! Safe a life! Help your heart and mind be healthy!

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Nonprofit to Give Climate Change Report in W. Virginia

When most people think of West Virginia, the mind generally tends to stray towards unflattering portrayals of hillbillies, mountain people, and maybe some sort of stereotypical inbreeding situation with moonshine stills in the background. What a lot of people don’t understand is that West Virginia tends to contain some of the most gorgeous natural environment our country has and that it’s full of mountain, rivers, and forests. It also happens to be one of the largest producers and users of coal in the country and so the environmental and coal lobbies tend to congregate on the state to duke it out over climate change and governmental regulation on coal and other fossil fuels.

Due to the environmental battleground the state has become, there are constant reports being done about coal mining, fossil fuel emissions, and how they affect nature. Today a nonprofit is taking a report on climate change to the West Virginia Board of Education for their January meeting. Written by Friends of Blackwater and called “On the Chopping Block” , the report focuses on climate change impact on the mountainous regions of the state. The Friends of Blackwater is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting the Blackwater Canyon as well as moving over 3,000 acres of land that has been marked for logging into protected private ownership so that the forests remain untouched.

The report is going to be the first report to take a fully comprehensive look at the impact of climate change on mountainous area, specifically the Allegheny Highlands. There is already evidence to those living in the area that climate change is have a very negative effect and those in the organization, as well as those living near by, hope that this report will help show the country just how serious climate change is and how it is already affecting those living in areas susceptible to it. The hope is that this report will finally help convince all the climate change deniers that they’re wrong and action needs to have been taken years in the past and that it’s hopefully not too late.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

The Checkout Charity Trap

Jonathan Offt - Checkout Charity TrapAsking for donations at retail checkout counters is becoming an increasingly common trend, particularly during this time of the year. Research indicates that such drives, although not a major contributor to driving up sales for a retailer, is not altogether a wasted effort. Most of it depends on the category of the donation and also on the execution strategies employed.

Perry Yeatman, in his article for, says that generally, charity at checkout does not tend to increase spending more or enable the customer to warm up to the retailer. Sometimes, quite the opposite may happen when people feel somewhat ambushed by the expected pitch when they have their wallets already open. Most people feel guilty and awkward with people standing in line behind them within hearing range and end up donating to something they probably weren’t even listening about until the registrar asked for money. A little resentment towards the retailer after this socially-awkward interaction is therefore, warranted.

Nowadays, people are more deeply involved in charitable givings than ever before. People tend to research thoroughly about the cause and the organization before fully committing and such surprise petty pitches on something they may not even be interested in is rarely welcomed. Besides, as more retailers adopt this method, making it a regular check-out custom, people will eventually learn to be indifferent and simply say no without second thoughts.

Nonprofits need to focus on demonstrating value to attract a well-informed and motivated donor base to ensure recurring or at least, heavy donations. The ‘Impact per dollar’ knowledge helps the donor understand how their money will be used and makes them more inclined to whip out their wallets.

Short-term techniques like checkout charity will only create short-term donors. Economist James Andreoni, explains that people do not only donate to affect change, but also to feel positive about themselves afterwards. Impulse charity like checkout charity leaves the donor feeling confused, which is not exactly a desirable first impression on the people you want to keep dedicated to your cause.

Nonetheless, checkout charity is gaining popularity because of how simple it is to implement. The retailers appear generous to the customers without having to invest anything in the charitable cause. For retailers who choose to host checkout charity, the least they can do is make sure it is a charity that resonates with the customer on some level, even if it is something as simple as asking donations for underprivileged children in a toy store checkout instead of asking donations for cancer research. Relevancy is the key.

Volunteering is Declining in America

Dire economic straits always end up affecting things that were never really on anyone’s mind and in ways that are totally unexpected. One of the victims of our country’s most recent economic situation is volunteering. There are less people volunteering less hours and it’s a real issue for those who used to rely on those services to make life a little easier and more bearable. Volunteering has had a long and successful history in the United States of America and is even enshrined in our constitution (the right to form voluntary associations). Throughout history people have always been surprised at the amount of volunteering Americans do and many people have mentioned how it seems to be a defining characteristic of being “American”. Now with these rough economic times, people are no longer volunteering for a number of reasons.

The first and most obvious reason for the drop in volunteering and charity is do to money. The economy has put people in difficult financial situations and so they’re donating less money than before. Seeing as how donations and fundraising make up the majority of charity and volunteering, it makes sense that they would be the most obviously affected. People have less money to give away to those in need and they need that money to help their own families stay clothed and fed. People are also spending more time working and supporting their families. This has lead to a drop in people volunteering for activities such as driving, serving food at kitchens, and tutoring those who need extra help.

While the actual volunteering numbers differ by state (Utah has far more than Arkansas), the overall trend isn’t looking good. We need to find a way to get people interested in volunteering and charity again. Not only are the actual health benefits fantastic, there are people all over the country in desperate need of help and they can’t be left hanging in the wind all alone.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Two Aid Workers Are Being Treated for Ebola.

Western Africa is currently under the shadow of the largest Ebola outbreak to have ever happened since the disease was first discovered. With over 1,200 known cases and over 670 people dead so far, governments and medical organizations around the world are scrambling to deal with the disease before it reaches other countries and continues to cause damage. Two of the most recent high-profile victims to fall ill are two American employees who were working with non-profits to provide aid and help to treat victims in Africa. Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are currently fighting for their lives and are going to be flown back to the US so that they can receive more treatment.

This decision to fly back two people with a disease that can cause epidemics and has an, at best, 60% fatality rate is controversial to say the least. One of the patients is being flown to Emory University to be placed in their state-of-the-art isolation unit in the school’s hospital while the location of the other patient is being kept confidential. Is it intelligent to bring back patients who have a dangerous disease so they can continue to be treated? Even though people seem to have complete faith in our ability to prevent the disease from spreading on our soils, it still seems like a risky move. Even with preventative measures working at their best, people have still been getting sick. And with no known cure, the potential for more death is definitely likely. Here’s to hoping that everything works out for the best and everyone with the disease makes a speedy recovery.

If you’d like to read more, the link is below:

Philanthropy Doesn’t Just have to Deal With Money

While the most common ideas and actions of philanthropy involve open your wallet and writing a hefty check, one nonprofit is proving that all you need is a good idea…and volunteers. When Wei Min “Al” Sheen died in 2012, his son Alex had an epiphany while writing his eulogy. Even though his father had never accomplished anything that most people would see as being newsworthy, he left a legacy in his family that Alex felt the need to pass on to others; that of the importance of keepings one’s word.

To spread his father’s message to others, Alex founded the nonprofit “Because I Said I Would” with the idea that he would help other realize both the importance of keeping your promises as well as the good feelings that come from it. His company distributes “promise cards”. Simple blank white business cards with the phrase “because I said I would.” in the bottom corner. The idea is to write a promise on the card and then give to the person who you’ve promised something to. When you have followed through with your promise, you get the card back as a reminder of what you did.

While the company had some minor success, a series of high-profile cases and interviews with various people have raised the profile of this small company to new heights. Heights so high that they are now having trouble fulfilling all the orders for the cards people are asking for. So many have inundated his office with requests, that the staff of four is having trouble distributing the 70,000 cards that are asked for every week. And that’s ignoring the fact that there are still 11,000 that have been requested but not yet shipped. With an upcoming appearance on the Rachel Ray show, one can easily assume the demand is going to increase even more.

If you want to get involved with a small nonprofit with an interesting idea or are located in/around Lakewood Ohio, you should look them up and check them out. They can use all the help they can get.


For more information as well as where and how to help, read this:

Devoting Paid Work Hours to Philanthropy

VolunteeringA number of corporations have started to create volunteer initiatives for their employees, devoting a small number of employees’ paid work hours to philanthropy.  These initiatives allow workers to take paid time off to work on a project within the community or devote time to a cause they feel passionate about.  Companies have started to create these initiatives hoping to dispel the notion that a person who takes time off to volunteer is actually hurting his or her chances of promotion because of the time that will be spent out of the office.

Companies have also started to create volunteer initiatives because of growing pressure from the public to take on a larger role when it comes to social responsibility.  In order to appease employees who may feel that they are working in a company that does not care about the world outside of the corporation, companies have started to offer paid time off for volunteer efforts.  Some corporations have even started companywide days of service in which their employees must take time off to work on a project within the community.

Companies also want to get employees to volunteer because of the skills that can be gained from working in a volunteer setting.  For lower-level employees, companies hope that volunteering will help workers see a bigger picture, one that illustrates that is more to life than simply meeting financial goals.  This will push workers to go above and beyond expectations in the workplace.

In addition, upper-level employees get to hone an entirely different skill set in a volunteer setting than they would in a normal corporate setting.  With financial incents removed, upper-level employees get to enhance their persuasion and mediation skills on completely level interpersonal communications grounds.  These employees get to develop supervisory and leadership skills, often leading larger teams on a project, and have the opportunity to network with groups of people they might not have had the chance to meet in a corporate setting.

For more information about corporate volunteer initiatives please visit