Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Snacking. I do too much of it and not enough eating of actual meals. After weeks of seeing ads about Naturebox on social media, I decided to order my first box. What made me finally give in was that Naturebox gives back. My $20/month provides me with nutritious snacks to eat at my desk at work (instead of last minute purchases of junk food.) It also supports Naturebox's mission to help end world hunger. 

NatureBox works with WhyHunger to solve the problems of hunger and poverty, while working to make more nutritious food available to everyone. Aside from making donations to WhyHunger, it also donates healthy snacks directly to WhyHunger partners, including community-based organizations, emergency food providers and summer meal programs for low-income children.

Two boxes in, the snacks are pretty tasty. My favorites so far have been the blueberry bars and the dried pineapple. Eat smart and give back!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guest Post: Jennifer Prod

Today, we have Jennifer Prod of Apartment-Wife guest posting. I hope her Random Acts of Happiness experiments inspire you as much as they do me!

I started doing Random Acts of Happiness in an effort to connect with strangers and make them smile.  The anonymity of the city can make it a lonely place, but I believe that kind gestures break down barriers and help form friendships.

I moved to Minneapolis from Wisconsin in May 2013, and my first Random Act of Happiness experiment (hereafter known as rah rah rah) began shortly after.  For the first experiment, I screen-printed poems onto balloons, and then I hung the balloons on doorposts and bike handles around the city.  The poems read as follows:

“I talk to strangers
hoping to meet
someone like you”

“a day without you
is like a morning
without coffee”

“your smile
made me forget
my parking ticket.”

The funny thing about the experiment was how much it served to brighten my own day. I welcomed a break from my own problems to think about making others smile, and it was fun to imagine how people would react to the gifts.

Since then, I’ve done 25 different random acts of happiness – ranging from bubblegum competitions in the park to making ice cream with strangers at the lake.  The rah rah rah experiments have put me in contact with hundreds of strangers, helped me to learn their unique stories, and provided me with insight into what makes people happy.  I have a list of 50 more projects that I want to complete, and it keeps growing as strangers suggest more projects.

Today, I was inspired by Operation Philanthropy to spread happiness for a cause.  I had been wanting to give a gift to a stranger, and after being inspired by Renee, I decided the gift would be a 3 Strands bracelet.

3 Strands bracelets are made by girls rescued from the sex-trafficking industry, and all the proceeds help survivors begin a new life.  Each bracelet is handmade by the survivor and displays a beautiful stone interwoven between 3 strands of yarn.  The stone is hidden within the 3 strands to symbolize how the girls felt invisible to the people that used them in the past.

Heavy subject matter for a happiness experiment, but I hoped to support the survivors by giving a 3 Strands bracelet as a gift.  The experiment took place at Mall of America, and it only took 2 minutes to find someone that could use a smile.  I approached a girl taking a lunch break from work, and handed over the small yellow box.  She looked surprised as she accepted the gift, and she broke into a big smile when I explained it was for her. Her smile was so wonderful that it made me want to give gifts to strangers every day.  Here are some photos from the experiment:

"The gift"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weekend Update: My mini vacation

Happy weekend readers!
I hope you had a chance to read the last few posts on simple ways to incorporate philanthropy into your everyday life and causes such as Human After All and Blogcause.

Friday night and I am hanging in with a movie and sushi. I figure I can use the time to catch up after being away last week in Maine. My best friend took the bar exam in Arizona (where she is currently living) and came back east for a couple of weeks to relax, so I joined her. It was a fun weekend of boating and meteor shower watching---and did I mention eating? EATING.

Peep these photos from heaven.

Brendan Hieber

I hope you enjoyed last week's post about Human After All (and if you did, please donate.) Meet the man behind the mission.

Name: Brendan Hieber

Age: 30

Live: I live in Lima, Peru

Career: Tell me a bit about your career or the career you hope to have. 
    • I have worked a lot of jobs, some good, some not so good.  The shortest stint was at the Chicago Botanic Gardens as a pesticide sprayer.  That didn't work for too long.  Maybe, around 11 days at the most. Some of the more fun jobs I have had were working as a Production Assistant at the Ravinia Festival, interning for 93.1 WXRT, a local rock radio station in Chicago, interning for Aware Records, working for Bitter Jester Creative as a "man-on-the-street" interviewer, and teaching young boys how to thrive in wilderness situations as a mountaineering instructor in North Carolina at Camp Mondamin.  Currently, I am working with a Peruvian NGO called La Casa de Panchita, working to help child domestic workers trapped in a heartbreaking cycle of poverty in the shantytowns of Lima, Peru.  In the future, I would like to work with communities of folks throughout the Global South, changing lives through effective sustainable development.  I could see myself working in education, community development, fundraising, individual empowerment, or if I had my way, a combination of them all.  I like the idea of being involved with projects, as I am learning I like to see that real change has been enacted, little by little.  Like everybody's, my dreams are a work in progress.  

Are you philanthropic? Why?
    • The short answer is yes, I am philanthropic.  The why part is a little longer, and would probably change depending on which day you caught me, and after which book I had just finished reading.  As of today you have caught me in the middle of a book by the Dalai Lama on living and dying in peace, at the end of the first book in a Russian vampire saga, and I have just finished To Have or To Be by Erich Fromm, so we'll see where that takes me.  I believe to be philanthropic, in the sense of giving of yourself, of your time, your money, your knowledge, your resources to another person is simply what it means to be human.  For me the best kind of philanthropy is a reciprocal philanthropy, because I hope it is the rare person that merely wants to sit on the receiving end without contributing something to the philanthropic conversation or exchange.  So, I guess I am philanthropic so I can have more interactions with people, learn more about myself and the world, alleviate suffering in the most extreme situations, end the shame and misery of poverty, use my creativity, feel fulfilled, not acquire "too much" stuff, keep a balanced perspective and remain humble, absolutely slay poverty (did I say that), watch this beautiful species of ours rise to its amazing potential, dream with the best of us, weep with the best of us, have a more firm connection to the real, uplift humanity, try to reverse the damage being done to our planet, and try to find solutions to some of our time's most challenging problems.  Those are some of the reasons why I am philanthropic.   

If you would like to learn more about the project I am currently involved with and help us help these children, please visit our project page on below:

What does philanthropy mean to you? 
    • Philanthropy means to be human.  Philanthrophy means to give what you got: your energy, your mind, your ideas, your experience, your money, your love, your righteous indignation for the injustices that exist, because you cannot take these things with you.  Philanthropy is another means of making yourself heard.  For me, it is important to do these things in a kind way.  When I was growing up, whenever I would leave the house, my mom would always say to me, "Be kind."  So, I also always have those words in my head on some level.

What organization(s) do you donate time and/or money to? 
    • These days I have been donating money to the Nature Conservancy, donating money to specific projects like the reforestation of the Atlantic forest or purchasing carbon offsets for some of the travel I find myself doing.  I also am a huge fan of supporting smaller NGOs, or even individual projects.  Last Christmas most people in my family received an email stating they had supported a small NGO in Madagascar called Atsika that a friend, Christi Turner, has started. (  I firmly believe that while super philanthrocapitalists, think Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, are integral in tackling huge world problems like the eradication of Polio, a ton of world changing work is being done at the grassroots level as well, and that really makes me proud and optimistic for humanity.  Sites like and allow an individual to make a loan to another individual situated throughout the developing world, which will be paid back.  Another site which I love is  There are literally thousands of small projects that enact real change in the lives of individuals, started by folks "on the ground" ready to make the changes as soon as funding comes through.  So cool.  

If you had a million dollars to donate, what organization(s) would you give to? International or domestic? Why?
    • If I had a million dollars, I would need a lot of time to think about where I was going to donate it.  I can honestly say I am not prepared to answer this question.  I guess I would need a lot more time to do my homework, and really think about where my priorities truly lie.  I guess I will just use this space to draw attention to various organizations that I think are doing good work, and who I think are worthy of funding:

1.) My project - "Jugando Aprendo": PLEASE GIVE!  WE NEED YOU! SERIOUSLY!

2.) La Casa de Panchita:

3.) Atsika: 

4.) Isla Urbana:

5.)The Nature Conservancy: 

6.) Vittana:

7.) Kiva:

8.) KIPP Public Charter Schools:

Is there a philanthropist you admire?
    • Sure. I admire a woman named Christi Turner, who I went to undergrad with at Lewis and Clark College.  Christi was a year above me, and also my Spanish tutor.  I am not sure whether Christi would call herself a philanthropist, but she certainly cares about others and our world, and works double hard to make a positive contribution.  Christi was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar, and has since founded Atsika, an NGO committed to community-based sustainable development, conservation, and innovative education.  She worked in Madagascar for over five years; founding a locally-managed protected area and building the first solar-powered community radio station on the island.  Building on her experience, she worked for a national project creating a slew of educational radio programs for schools and communities in Madagascar and educating university students studying in Kenya and Tanzania on community managed conservation and development.  She is a brilliant woman, and last I heard was pursuing a masters degree, and living in Colorado.  OP should definitely get in touch with her!   

What advice would you give to a young adult wanting to embark on a career in public or non-profit services?
    • I would say to find an area you are passionate about, and learn as much about that area as possible.  Read, volunteer, work, and be around folks who are passionate about that same thing as well.  If, like me at your age, you don't quite know what you want to do, do a lot!  The one thing I would do though is become fluent in AT LEAST one other language besides  English.  Make learning a second language a priority.  Also, travel.  And I am not talking about the traditional go to Europe for the summer thing.  I am talking about learning how to navigate and make your way in the developing world.  Learn how to haggle, bargain, use a map, guide books, etc.  I guess this advice is more applicable for global NGO service.  But that is what I know the most about at this point.  And Europe is cool too, but don't be afraid to get off the beaten path, but always do so safely, carefully measuring and weighing the risks you are taking.   

Do you have any closing comments you would like to leave the readers with today?
    • I would say this: Take yourself and your friend to the movies without actually going.  Instead I am going to suggest you do one thing: do two things. First, for the price of one admission ticket: visit my project page and donate 10 dollars. Project page: Second, for the price of the second ticket: visit, and donate ten dollars. Give of yourself.  Call a friend, pop some popcorn, hunker down, and watch some netflix, and know that there are child laborers in the shantytowns of Peru and a community in Madagascar that will have better lives because you decided to stay in for one nightYou can also use your phone: Text GIVE 14103 to 80088 to donate $10 to Changing lives of child domestic workers in Peru. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones.

Friday, August 9, 2013


The internet can be a wonderful thing. Thanks to social media, I have made some amazing connections with fellow bloggers and others passionate about philanthropy. Emily is a young and bright philanthropist with big dreams.

Name: Emily Wavering
Age: 22
Live: Washington, DC
Personal blog:

Career: Tell me a bit about your career or the career you hope to have.

I’m a recent graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where I got my B.A. in economics, and volunteered heavily with Circle K International and Habitat for Humanity (for those of you who don’t know, Circle K International is the largest collegiate service organization in the world and the college branch of Kiwanis International). I’m heading to the College of William & Mary in the fall to get my Master’s Degree in Public Policy, and from there I dream of working with nonprofits that address hunger and homelessness.

Until my career dreams become reality, I’m working on a website called BlogCAUSE (you can find it at The goal of BlogCause is to create and support a community of bloggers who volunteer and blog about their volunteer work. 

Are you philanthropic? Why?
As a freshly minted college grad, I think I’m too poor to be philanthropic in the traditional monetary sense. But I do hope that someone describes me as philanthropic some day – that would be high praise

What does philanthropy mean to you? 
To me, philanthropy is giving in all senses – giving your time, your passion and your resources to help however you can.

What organization(s) do you donate time and/or money to? 
Let’s see, in the past I’ve worked with/donated to Habitat for Humanity, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Locks of Love, Donor’s Choose, and Heifer International. But for the purposes of the next couple of questions, I’ll focus on the work that I’m doing to start BlogCause.

What do you do? I run an online community that encourages bloggers to volunteer. So basically, at this point in the game, I send bunches of emails and do lots of research to match bloggers with volunteer opportunities in their area.

Why do you support this (these) cause(s)? I’m a big fan of local, community action, and wanted to inspire people to serve their community. And, I’m very much of the mind that volunteer work is more fun when you can share your stories and opportunities that you enjoy!

How did you find these opportunities? Well, I sort of self-created the opportunity to run BlogCause. As for digging up opportunities for bloggers, and are both fantastic.

Do you enjoy it? I do! I find it really exciting to help people find unique opportunities to help their community, and I get a kick out of all the awesome nonprofits that I stumble upon.

If you had a million dollars to donate, what organization(s) would you give to? International or domestic? Why?
Toughest question on the page, right here. I think I’d give it to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, because I really support the many, many ways in which they’re working to end homelessness – advocacy, policy evaluation, practical programs, education…they’ve got it all.

Is there a philanthropist you admire?
There are many, but I most admire Mark Horvath, the founder of Invisible People. He does an incredible job of telling the stories of homeless men and women, and is a terrific inspiration.

What advice would you give to a young adult wanting to embark on a career in public or non-profit services?
Seeing as I am a young adult hoping to embark on a career in the nonprofit sector, I find myself asking other people this question a lot. Contact me in a couple of decades, and I might have an answer!

To learn how to join BlogCAUSE, contact or visit BlogCAUSE.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Recently, OP has virtually connected with some fascinating philanthropists and I truly can not wait to share their stories and passions. Brendan Hieber, an "on-line" friend I made through a mutual connection, is one of these awe-inspiring individuals.

For 6 months, Brendan has been living and working with child laborers in the informal settlements in the poorest districts of Lima, Peru. Thousands of children live in shantytowns on the outskirts of Lima in poor health conditions. Due to the degrading poverty of these areas, most of the children are forced to work in domestic service. These children, as young as 9, suffer burns while cooking and are exposed to toxic chemicals when cleaning. They earn 2 -3 Nuevo Soles per day, which would be the equivalent of about one US dollar. As a consequence of their work, many perform poorly in school and have no time to play and make friends. Not only are they forced to give up their childhood, they are born into a life of second-class citizenship.

Volunteering through an organization known as Asociacion Grupo de Trabajos Redes (AGTR), Brendan works at La Casa de Panchita. This charity serves women and children from Lima. The facility functions as a safe haven where they can come, have clean water, learn English, and understand their rights as domestic workers. He recently launched a grassroots campaign to raise funds to support La Ludoteca, one of La Casa Panchita’s underutilized and under-funded buildings.

La Ludoteca

Human After All is about halfway to its fundraising goal of $22,000. All the money raised will go to extending the hours that La Ludoteca is open to the children, providing them with clean running water, sanitation, a daily snack, a psychologist, and educational toys.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider donating whatever money you can to this important and life-changing cause. Help these children become kids and provide them with the opportunities they need to create lasting change.
Donations can be made at GlobalGiving.
You can also use your phone:
Text GIVE 14103 to 80088 to donate $10 to Changing lives of child domestic workers in Peru. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones.
*To learn more about Brendan himself, check OP early next week to read his interview!*
If you have questions for Brendan about Human After All and its efforts in Peru, contact

Philanthropy, Fashion, and Technology

Today we had the opportunity to guest post on a friend's blog! Be sure to check out the fabulous Cupcakes & Couture.

In day-to-day life, it can be hard to make the time to volunteer or save enough money to make a large donation. There are only so many hours in a day. Last week’s paycheck is already spent. When schedules fill up or an unexpected expense rears its ugly head, it can feel impossible to make a difference. BUT giving back is possible even for the busiest person on a tight budget, without any major changes to your every day life.


IT CAN BE AS SIMPLE AS SHOPPING. Leverage your next purchase and make a difference in someone’s life. Whether you are looking for the perfect gift or if you are just rewarding yourself with something nice, check out the below companies who are making giving back easy for consumers!

Buy one, give one
(Courtesy of Oak lifestyle)

         Baby clothes and gear: Baby Teresa

         Bags (give meals): FEED Projects

         Backpacks: OAK Lifestyle (check out their pinterest board!)

         Blankets, comforters and sheets: Blanket America

         Comforters: The Company Store

         Dog/Pet items: Baxter & Birdie

         Dog collars/leashes (buy one, feed one) and AlphaPooch beds

         Glasses (optical and sunglasses): Warby Parker 

(check out my ABOUT ME page to see my Warby Parker purchase)

         Granola bars: Two Degrees (give a meal) and Kutoa (give a nutrition pack)

         Knit caps, scarves: Twice as Warm

         Rain boots: ROMA Boots

         Shoes and Sunglasses: TOMS

         Soap: Hand in Hand and Soap Box Soaps

         Soccer Ball: One World Futbol

         Socks: Mitscoots and Skyline Socks

         Stuffed animals, blankets and other child items: Everything Happy

         Ties (give back a school uniform): FIGS

         Toothbrushes: Smile Squared and Bogobrush

         T-shirts: Out of Print (book cover t-shirts give back a book) and You and Who

         Watches (plant a tree with each purchased): WeWOOD

Businesses who donate a percentage of their proceeds

Jewelry: Rachel's Cure by Design

          Headbands: Headbands of Hope

         Wine: Charity Wine

         Makeup: Laura MercierHuffington Post make-up picks

         Knittings: Knits for Life

Retail Charity goods

          Ten Thousand Villages

          Do good, buy us

          Gifts that Give

Smartphone Apps

         INSTEAD: Make small changes to your daily routines and donate your savings.

         BUDGE: Challenge your friends to some friendly competition for charity.

         ONETODAY: Learn about a new charity daily and donate $1 to causes that inspire you.


Download now and make a difference!

  • Charity Miles: We all walk, run, or bike. Earn money and raise awareness for charities by working out!
  • Earndit: Earn points exercising and redeems them for charities.
  • Donate a Photo: Donate a photo and help a cause.
  • Check-in for Good: Pick a cause, start your own campaign and check-in at participating businesses for donations.
  • Give 2 Charity: Make an impact by simply carrying your cell phone.

Do any readers know of other socially responsible companies? To learn more about operation philanthropy, email Renée at