Friday, January 30, 2009


Do you know about BookCrossing? It's a great site where you can register books by their ISBN number then leave them in a public place for someone to pick up and then you can track them on the Internet to see where they go.

One might argue that I'm stretching the definition of "good deed" by including this in my collection of posts about budget philanthropy and good deeds. However, I personally feel that anything that makes someone smile, or think or pause to consider the wonders of the world is a Good Deed! And this is what BookCrossers do. If you love to read and love to encourage others to read you'll love this site. It's appealing to the scavengers in us and will brighten someone's day!

I hope you'll try it out. Get some books you don't want, go register them and have fun leaving books for people to have or even just had them out to random strangers. I bet someone will smile and have a great story to tell about you later.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Modest Needs

This site fits right into our "budget philanthropy" or "microgiving" theme. The name "Modest Needs" describes the grants that you can fund at this site. For example, a single mom who needs to pay some auto taxes at the DMV or an elderly gentlemen needs a little extra for his electricity bill.

You donate money to the site and your dollar amount is converted to points which you can apply to any grant request on the site. It puts your dollars exactly where you want them to go.

Go check it out and read some of the stories. If you're participating in a giving circle this might be a great one to donate to as one of your causes! (This organization is non-profit and your donations are tax deductible.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Have you heard of CASA? If not, you should check it out. My sister-in-law, Pat, is a CASA volunteer.

CASA stands for "Court Appointed Special Advocate", an adult who acts as an advocate for children who are, for whatever reason, caught up in the court system and have no adult to act on their behalf.

From the CASA overview at their web site:

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. They stay with each case until it is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence—the one adult who cares only for them.

I am a huge, huge fan of CASA! There are never enough volunteers and there are little boys and girls who need you right now. Can you be their advocate? Can you make sure they don't fall through the cracks?

Go learn more about CASA at these web sites:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Raise Money by Booking Travel Plans!

At the last Rotary meeting I attended the speaker was from Arkansas Sheriff's Youth Ranch. This awesome non-profit is a residential care facility (like a group home) for abandoned, abused and neglected children. The kids live in cottages in groups of 12 or less with two house parents. They are fed, cared for, go to public school and are allowed to stay in the care of the Ranch after they turn 18 so the organization can help them get through a tech school or college if they want or just to help them transition to total independence.

The organization and their residences sounds so great my husband and I are planning to go up for a tour of the facilities and are thinking of planning a small fund or supplies drive for them. (We haven't decided yet which but will let you know when we figure it out.)

In the meantime, if you or someone you know needs to book any travel plans, I just found out when I went over to the Ranch's web site, that if you book your travel plans there, some of the proceeds go to the Ranch. Pass the word!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pay It Forward Day

Hey let's make today "Pay It Forward Day"!

Last month, my friend Ginny was the recipient of a random act of kindness at Starbucks.

Today I read a news article about a 40-minute pay-it-forward episode at another Starbucks.

Do you have a place you go for coffee or breakfast? If you can't afford to pay for the person behind you, can you kick in a couple of bucks?

Spend the day looking for opportunities to surprise and delight the people around you. It's amazing how you can bring joy in simple ways to a person and, in turn, they do the right thing and pay it forward to the next.

Ripples in a pond. This is how we spread change.

[photo: Ahmed Rabea]

Saturday, January 24, 2009

National Compliment Day

Today is National Compliment Day!

Go, right now, and call someone, visit someone, turn to your neighbor, your friend, write a note... and tell someone special what's special about them.

What do you love about them? What makes them delightful, captivating?

This is even fun you can have with strangers. Compliment strangers (but don't be a weirdo, scary stalker), compliment the hot dog guy on the corner, compliment your subway seatmate. Compliment your cab driver or bus driver for hauling your carcass to work every day. What a thankless job that must be! Compliment the grocery checker on her nice smile.

Compliment your mom because she did a great job raising you, a caring, compassionate human (because heaven knows we need more of those in the world).

Compliment store-owners for keeping their sidewalks clean. Compliment worker people for giving you great service. Compliment someone if they open the door for you.

Compliment me for writing this nice post today. And while you're here tell me how nice my hair looks -- unless you are worried about going to hell for lying in which case you can compliment me on my nice eyes, which are. Nice, I mean.

Make it a game. Call a pal and see who can dish out 20 compliments first. Make an office pool -- chip in 5 bucks each and whoever does the most compliments today wins big!

And here is my compliment to you...

I don't know all of you who come here, but if you are here what I DO KNOW is that you must care about something good. You care about the world, you care about other humans. You care enough to stop and read this silly post and you have a desire to make the world a better place. I appreciate you and what you do, big and small, because without YOU the world would be a colder, darker place. You make my world better.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Daily Action

Having trouble trying to decide what good deed to do today? Care2 has a great site dedicated to picking one action item per day, some that just involve a click or two. You can't get much easier than that!

care2's Daily Action site

[photo: Thai Jasmine]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tomorrow is National Hugging Day

Start making your plan now. This is a call to action! Tomorrow is National Hugging Day. Who can you hug tomorrow? Go out and get to hugging and then come back and tell your experiences here.

If you can't get around to hugging, how about VIRTUAL hugging! Hug your pals online with e-cards that sends them a virtual hug for National Hugging Day.

Are you afraid to hug strangers, casual friends and colleagues? Come up with a creative way to hug without hugging! Pass out hug stickers or hug cards.

How about some "I was hugged for National Hugging Day" stickers. Ooh, those would rock.

What are some other ideas we can do for tomorrow? (While you're at it, go check out the Free Hugs Campaign!)

[photo credit: kalandrakas]

Apparently, I'm Not Motivational

This morning I dropped my son off at school and on his way out of the car I said, "I love you, go make the world a better place and have a great day!"

Before I even finished the sentence he started laughing and saying, "Okay, okay. Why do you say that every day??"

I actually don't think I say that every day. In fact, I think I've only said it a couple of times.

As parents we always wonder if we're influencing our children. Apparently, while I'm not motivational, I'm at least getting the message across. Too much!

So, um, go forth and make the world a better place. And have a great day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Voice of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of MLK Day, I thought it would be fitting to post some good deed type quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.

I hope these will inspire you to meditate on change, compassion, selflessness and giving today. Dr. King did not take the easy path. He could easily have said it was too hard, or given up and said it was a fight he could not win. Nobody can fault a man or woman for not taking a fight that would consume your whole life or had the potential to kill you.

But he was a special person. Let's dig deep and find the special person inside us. Let's go out and do something today to honor Dr. King.

I'll leave the grand finale to him:

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

Sunday, January 18, 2009

One Good Deed Per Day

At Brandon's blog he posts one good deed that he's done every day. Can you imagine? Personally, I couldn't stop reading. I imagined Brandon, an American living in Japan, wandering around the Japanese countryside committing random acts of kindness on people. How awesome is that?

First of all, go check out his blog. Second, let him inspire you. Can you see how long you can sustain doing a daily good deed? Try it for a week and see if you can do it. Feel free to report back here and give us some ideas of good deeds you do spontaneously during the day!

Here are a few other people who are doing daily good deeds, check them out, too!

365 Days of Goodness
Good Deed a Day

[photo credit: asalexander]

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dining for Women

Remember my post a few days about about giving circles? Here is another great giving circle idea I ran across today called Dining for Women.

The idea is that you gather together for a potluck, then pool the money you WOULD have spent had you gone out to dinner at a restaurant. Then they send the money to whatever cause they are donating to.

Awesome idea, isn't it?

Have you tried a giving circle yet?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Using Social Media for Change

Chris Brogan knows the power of social media. Today he used his powers for Good.

While on Twitter, a social networking and micro-blogging tool, Chris "tweeted" to his 34,126 followers about the Share Our Strength project and asked that they "retweet" it to their followers. Share Our Strength's mission is to help wipe out hunger in children and they have partnered with AT&T to do a text-message fund raising drive ($5 pledge per message) with up to $100,000 in matching funds.

Today, Chris Brogan got the word out to 34,126 people plus all the people THOSE people know. If every one of those original people answers Chris's call to action, he would raise, in mere moments, $170,630. With AT&T's matching funds that amount would be $270,630. All it costs you and me is $5. My lunch costs more than $5.

Sometimes all it takes is one sentence to make a difference. How can YOU use the Internet for change? What cause can you help drive through the power of social media? Harness the power of your ENTER key.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Operation Talk to a Troop

This is a reprint from my letter writing blog:

Here is an inspiring story about a young gentleman, a kind and honorable boyscout, who decided he wanted to make a difference for soldiers serving in Iraq.

If this doesn't inspire you to write a letter, I don't know what will!,5_1_WA14_GILETTERS_S1.article#

Can you spare a minute to send a note to help the boyscouts with their project? It will make the boys feel great and it will help a soldier. You can do this no matter what your political affiliation. Even if you are anti-war you are pro-people and that's what this is all about.

Consider this your good deed for today!

[photo credit: Joe Shuman]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Support Local Libraries

According to an article over at The Consumerist, public library usage is up, possibly due to trouble with the economy.

  • MODESTO, CA: Checkouts are up 15 percent at the main library.
  • BOULDER, CO: Circulation of job-hunting materials is up 14 percent.
  • NEWARK, NJ: Usage of the public library is up 17 percent.
  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Library card requests have increased 27 percent in the last half of 2008.
  • BOISE, ID: Reported a 61 percent increase in new library cards in 2008.
  • BRANTLEY COUNTY, GA: Library computer usage was up 26 percent in the last quarter.

Public libraries can make you feel like a king if you're on a tight budget. I was raised by a single mom and times were often tough. I remember the first time I walked into a library and someone explained to me that I could get any book I wanted there and they were FREE! I felt like it was some miracle that was being visited upon me. I remember looking up at the big library stacks and not knowing where to start. It was a breathless and defining moment.

Libraries are underfunded, in my opinion, considering the service they provide a community. What can you do to improve your library system? Brainstorming this question will reveal many ways you can help, besides the obvious monetary donations.

  • Donate books in good condition
  • Volunteer to be on staff or board of directors
  • Offer to teach free classes or workshops
  • Read to the kids at story hour
  • Randomly pay a buck or two on someone's library fines
  • Purchase books at the book sales

What are some other ideas you can come up with? Are there any librarians out there who can tell us great ways to help our community libraries?

[photo credit: brungrrl]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Give Away Free Money

Have you seen The Changepot? It's a fun blog about a family who is constantly on the lookout for money that other people have dropped.

In the first three years of their blog, the Humphreys collected $1032.46. They have collected almost $50 since the beginning of the year.

How about this for a philanthropy project? Start your own "free money" changepot. Get a big jar and put a sign on it that tells the name of your particular cause. Then just watch for the change. Train yourself to have an eagle eye. Looking at The Changepot's blog it's easy to see how it all adds up.

At the end of the year, donate all the money to the cause you've been saving up for. All it cost you was a little time and attention.

Photo credit: Darren Hester

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Giving Circles

The majority of people in the world are not wealthy. This might be discouraging because most of us delight in giving. It makes us feel good, it's exciting to pick a gift for someone, to see their face light up with joy. Wouldn't it be great if you could give all the time?

What good can $10 do? These days it doesn't feel like much at all. But what if it were 10 x 10? What can $100 do? It might not change someone's life but it can still do a lot. It might fix a broken window in an elderly person's house. It will paint a drab room for an underprivileged kid. It will buy socks and underwear for a couple of needy families. It will pay for ingredients to make several small lasagna dishes to give to struggling neighbors or the housebound.

How to you turn your $10 into $100. It's very easy with a giving circle. The basic idea is that you gather together with a few friends or colleagues. Try something monthly or even quarterly. Set some guidelines, goals, giving amounts and then meet on your agreed schedule, pooling your money together. It's a very simple, easy way to make a difference with friends.

Go over to the Giving Forum and read how they recommend starting your giving circle. There are so many ideas you can do -- help the elderly, focus on children, partner with local food banks or a church to learn about needy families, start a "fix-it" brigade. Ten bucks is a meal out on the town. We can give that up to make a difference, right?

Photo credit: PLCMC

Friday, January 9, 2009


A long time ago I started a web site, back before there even was such a thing as a "blog". Back before there were even WYSIWYG web editors. I did it from scratch and it was a popular little thing. The remnants remain, although it's not currently updated.

I decided to abandon that ship and relaunch it here. You might wonder why, when there are so many good deed web sites out there.

The short answer is, "I don't know." The long answer and the real truth is that I know full well why, but find it hard to articulate. It's a drive within me to advocate change on a small level and watch it ripple out to larger effect. Honestly, I don't care about changing the world. I'm not that person who takes the world by storm and turns it upside down and makes things happen. Most people aren't that person.

You and me... we're just normal folks who mean well. But the thing is, we still have an unbelievable power to create change -- except we do it one person at a time.

Change starts with us. Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." We start from the center and work our way out. Make a difference one person at a time, one dollar at a time, one idea at a time. Act kindly, show compassion, bite your tongue, conquer with love, encourage peace, spread change.

Don't worry about the world. Worry about the person next to you. Start there and the rest will follow.