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Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

You may remember a post I wrote in August about the Stay Classy Awards. Stay Classy is an online social fundraising tool that allows individuals to track how much money they are raising for a particular charity and connect with other nonprofits and fundraisers.

Well, the 2011 winners have been announced and I’m also happy to say that RestoreNYC’s Faith Huckel received the award for Young Nonprofit Leader of the Year.

Check out the other winners and see what you learn!

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Deidre and her son, Ayden in the days after his birth, August, 14, 2010. Photo courtesy of Deidre Johnson.

One of the hardest things for any family to face is the death of a child. It goes against all concepts we have on the natural flow of life. Children burying their parents can be just as heart-wrenching, but when parents bury their children, the concept throws us off. On August 26, 2010, Ayden Christopher Boyd, son of a family friend Deidre Johnson, died after 12 days of complications from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS).

Deidre has since pioneered Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week in her town as part of the international coalition to increase early diagnosis, educate communities and connect parents to support resources. Congenital heart defects are the most frequent birth defect, 1 in 100 births, worldwide.

She has also started a non-profit “The Ayden Christopher Foundation” in honor of her “heart angel” to raise awareness for CHD and help families in their medical, travel and food expenses while their newborns are in the hospital with HLHS or HRHS. She has hosted a memorial blood drive to match the blood donation used to aid Ayden during his short life and networked with many parents in the same situation.

Deidre Johnson with the mayor of Culpeper, VA, Chip Coleman as he signs an announcement for Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week, February 7, 2011. Photo courtesy of Deidre Johnson.

On August, 26, 2011, one year after Ayden’s death, Deidre’s Facebook wall was covered with encouragement from friends and family including:

“Heart hugs Deidre. Happy Angelversary. Fly Ayden fly.”
“Thinking of you today friend. You inspire so many!”
“Thinking of you today. Hugs! ♥ Ayden ♥”
“I love you …. Happy angelversary Ayden ♥”
“You and your family are in my thoughts today. Hold your memories and your babies close. I am very proud of you and your accomplishments this year. Take care.”

Her hope, drive and motivation are truly inspiring in the midst of trying to grapple with the incomprehensible grief associated with losing a child. Deidre is a shining example of turning inspiration into action and I hope this blog has challenged you to do the same.

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What do you get when you get six girls with one boat, one ocean, and one unified mission to combat modern day slavery?

Row for Freedom.

Julia Immonen is one young woman set out to make her life count. The 31-year-old anti-trafficking activist has honed her passion and PR skills to found Sport Against Trafficking — an organization devoted to using athletics to raise awareness and much needed funds for anti-trafficking charities and victims. Sport Against Trafficking is the parent organization that gave birth to the Row for Freedom, mentioned above.

Watch the video below to learn a bit about Sport Against Trafficking:

So, what’s Row for Freedom all about?

Basically, it’s the first female crew of six that plans to row across the Atlantic, unaided. The women set off this December from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and LITERALLY row across this not-so-little pond, to Barbados. According to the website, the journey should take approximately 35-40 days — this means no bathroom, minimal ability to cook, one sleeping space that is smaller than a single bed and winds that could whip into storms.

Here’s Julia giving a sneak peak into the excursion and sharing her heart behind the vision:

Some of the people on board with the vision are Bear Grylls from the adventure-reality show, “Man vs. Wild,” five-time Olympic gold medalist rower Sir Steve Redgrave, Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, rugby player Ugo Monye and Beijing Olympic gold medalist rower Susan Francia.

To join these women on their adventure, go ahead and donate to the charities Row for Freedom supports here.

Be a part of the change you wish to see in the world.

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Missouri winters are bitter for me. The humidity intensifies the wind and lets the cold sink into your bones. But I’ve never had to worry about having enough clothes to combat the cold, even though sometimes I vainly complain about how a coat makes my body look. Operation Warm is a nonprofit providing coats to children in the U.S. whose parents end up making a choice between buying more food for their families or buying a coat for their ever-growing kids.

Operation Warm networks with existing community groups to distribute coats while educating the children about the environment by re-engineering their coats to be make of recyclable materials.

I share this video of this organization because of the resources they pull together: celebrity voice-over, community involvement and intimate footage of children in need that doesn’t come from being marginally concerned with this issue.

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“I think there’s a revolution going on – an economic one, a technical one and a social one. And the heart of it is that for the first time in 150 years, an individual has leverage. An individual can reach way outside what they used to think they could do.” – Seth Godin

Since my freshman or sophomore year in college (2006/2007), I’ve attended a leadership conference called the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. But because I’m busy developing this entrepreneurial venture through my master’s program at the Missouri School of Journalism, I was unable to make it this year. I did, however, come across an AWESOME pre-Summit interview.


The guy above with the cool glasses, wearing a men’s suit accompanied by socks made for 12-year-old girls (he explains this in the video) is Seth Godin — best selling author and “America’s Greatest Marketer,” according to American Way Magazine. One of his most popular books, is Purple Cow — a book about “remarkable products and services.” You might have heard of it. If not, go ahead and look it up.

The video above is a four-minute’ish clip of an interview with Seth just hours before he hops on the Summit stage for his half-hour talk, with 142 slides — all images, no text. You’ve gotta watch the clip, but here’s another stand-out quote from the marketing guru:

“It’s about you deciding what important, because if you’ve got the means of production – the laptop, the access to the world – and you wanna stand up and lead, you can. I guess my goal – my job – is to help people understand that they can pick themselves. They don’t need to wait to get picked.”  

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So, I recently came across this article from Mental Floss — “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix” — and found it pretty cool. It’s called “Whiz Kids” and outlines several of the most influential inventions from youngsters.

After developing the ear warming devices at age 15, Chester Greenwood got a patent for his "ear-mufflers" when he was just 18-years-old.

Not sure about you, but I had no clue that such widely-used inventions like earmuffs, braille and the currently in-development algae mobile were the inventions of teenagers. It cheesy to say, but it really does seem that you’re never too young to shape generations and change the world, for good.

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In 24 hours, over $1 million was raised to build a homeless shelter in San Diego, according to an introductory video on Stay Classy’s website, an online social fundraising tool. During times where nonprofits are struggling to harness the effectiveness of social media, there might be a thing or two to learn from Stay Classy.

Why is online social fundraising important?

Stay Classy is working to make the most of utilizing the existing connections of donors to raise money instead of relying on large donations. If you read, Kyrsten’s post from yesterday, you can see this is the direction philanthropy is headed. Couple economic uncertainty with information overload on the various nonprofits in operation, focusing on gathering lots of small donations instead of relying on very few large ones, a) relieves the donor from large financial obligations and b) invites the donor to spread the word and get involved.

What is Stay Classy?

Organizations can create profiles, keep track of online donations, share information and interact with donors, delegate fundraising efforts and better understand their target audience. Some examples include: Habitat for Humanity, Invisible Children, Make a Wish Foundation, American Red Cross, but also includes less well-known organizations. Donors can browse categories by causes such as animal rights, environment, poverty, human rights, etc. and then organize fundraisers and advocate for the organization online, all in one centralized location.

Oscars of Philanthropy

Stay Classy also hosts the Classy Awards to nonprofit leaders affecting their communities. This is actually how I found out about Stay Classy. I received an email from Restore NYC (which I will expand on in another blog post) asking me to vote for its founder Faith Huckel in the Young Nonprofit Leader of the Year category. The winner’s organization receives $10,000. AOL said its like the Oscars for philanthropy.

Why it matters to us

Connecting nonprofits to potential donors is part of what we are doing. But our heart really is to communicate the stories of those they have affected in order to spur others to action. The goal is someone will watch one of our videos and donate their time, money and resources to make more stories possible. And who knows? Maybe they’ll want to organize a fundraiser via Stay Classy and create more inspiration that will lead to more action.

What have you found to be the best way to connect nonprofits with potential donors?

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Read Mashable’s article on Stay Classy

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