week #2: mothers, marbles & fighting MS

When I remembered it was mother’s day, it wasn’t hard for me to pick which project I wanted to feature this week for #give10 x 10. Today we’re going to meet Connor and hear about his dream for his mom and how he became a world changer at age five.

You briefly met Marbles4MS when we first gave 10$ in July, and again in December when more than 1,000 of you voted on who should get an extra special donation on our 300th day of giving.

The thing I love about this story is that Marbles4MS isn’t a big organization’s fundraising campaign.  It is a five year old’s idea for change put into action. You see, Connor’s mom has MS and he wants to do what he can to help.

“Our project is raising money and awareness to cure our Mom and MS forever.  We try to inspire people to help us and we think it works.  Little kids can make a big difference, ” is how he described it.

Connor makes paintings using marbles rolled with paint in cigar boxes and sells them with proceeds going to the National MS Society so the “scientist guys can fix Mommy and everyone with Multiple Sclerosis”.  In its first year, Connor and his 9-yr old brother Jackson raised $45,000 to help find a cure.

We asked Connor to #give10 answers about his project. (no non-profit marketing spin here, just straight from the heart of a now six year old).

1. Last year #give10 gave $310 to Marbles for MS ($10 + $300 for our 300th day prize). What has this done?

The $310 donation was sent to the National MS Society.  They spend their money on scientists to find a cure and on helping people and families that live with MS.

2. What are you most excited about in the year to come. 

In the next year, we’re really excited to share our story with new people because just hearing it sometimes makes them feel better, and to see where our new adventures take us!

3. What do you think is the role of the individual who can only make a small donation?

For our charity, their role is everything.  When we sell a $2 bookmark, that sale is just as important to us as any donation.  That person helped and that’s what matters.

4. How can a small 10$ donation make a difference in achieving your mission?

In that $10 donation, there could be the dollar that finds the cure.

5. What is one thing you wish that the people who give to your cause knew or understood better?

We wish people knew how hard MS is to live with and that it’s their support that gives us the strength to keep going.

6. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?

Maybe people can’t really connect with the cause, or maybe they think it would take more money than they have to make a difference.  But it could be their dollar that finds a cure.

7. What do you think motivates the people who do donate to give again?

When a charity tries new ideas to raise money, maybe the same people will be newly inspired to give again.

8. What did your project accomplish that you are you most proud of this year?

We are most proud of 2 things:  being invited to the National MS Conference in Dallas. We met so many people who are trying to cure this disease and made a lot of new friends.  The other thing we are really proud of is making a painting for the CEO of Valero Corporation in San Antonio.  We (Connor) told him it was going to cost $10,000 and he wrote a check to the MS Society.

9. What are three projects (other than your own) you would want other donors to learn about and support?

  • Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation because she’s like us, making a dollar at a time.
  • Small animal rescue groups since so many animals need help.
  • And we’d like people to know about Make-A-Wish Foundation.  It must be so hard to be sick when you’re a kid, so it’s important to make a dream come true for them.

10. What is one question people usually ask you about your project, and how do you answer it?

Most people ask us when we’ll be done with our project. We tell them we won’t stop until there’s a cure.


You can find Marbles for MS online and buy your own original artwork from Connor here: www.marbles4ms.org

Facebook: Marbles 4 MS

Twitter: @Marbles4MS

Youtube: Marbles4MS

I have to say, that the only thing more amazing than giving 10$ to change is giving 10$ to a 5 year old world changer. Watch out MS, the future is committed to finding a cure.

Happy Mother’s Day to Connor’s mom and the rest of you out there!




#give10 kicks off with Traffick Jam Asia

The hardest part of kicking off the first week of #give10 year two has been deciding which of our 366 amazing year one causes to pick first.

Last year when I had the same starter’s dilemma, I followed the age old advice that “Charity begins at home.” Since this worked before I’m going with that mantra again and giving our first #give10x10 donation to a cause that is working right in the neighborhood where I live.

This week I met up with Alli Mellon, Founder and Director of The Hard Places Community in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We ate mango crepes and I asked her to give 10 answers about her perspectives on giving and a report back on what difference they made with the 10$ we contributed donated last March on our 25th day of giving to Traffick Jam Asia. Grab a cup of tea and check out what she said:

1. Tell us about your project. What is it doing to make the world better?

We started the Pun Lok Thmey Prevention and Restoration Center this year so young boys who have been victims of abuse and sexual exploitation have a safe space to find support within their own community.

We live in the hub of one of the world’s worst places for the trafficking and exploitation of young children. While there are many services available in Cambodia to reach out to girls who’ve been exploited, the issue of abused boys has been often overlooked or misunderstood. We want to make the world better for these boys to help get them established in a life where they can be safe from further exploitation.

The drop-in center offers education, counseling and social work for boys close to home without removing them for their families and the people they love. We try to do everything we can to address the issues of sexual abuse within a day center setting through counseling and therapy.

In the Khmer language, the center’s name means “new growth.” It symbolizes that moment when a seed is planted in the ground and begins to sprout. This dream of a new life for these boys is what motivates us.

2. Last year we gave $10 to Traffick Jam Asia. What difference has this made?

Traffick Jam is our annual fund raising event which mobilizes supporters to locally organize 10 mile walks. In the event you supported last year we raised enough money in one day to fund the opening the opening of the boys center and its operating costs for 11 months. Prior to this event, our project operated as a “club” in a local park, but the kind of work we want to do required us to have a permanent safe space for the boys. This center now provides a safe space for more than 70 children.

3. What project accomplished are you most proud of this year?

I’m proud that we now have over 70 boys in the program and the kids love it. They want to be there from the time the doors open until the doors close.

Even more than this, I’m so grateful that I’ve finally been able to see the very first two young boys we started working with two years ago finally being able to live a life where they are safe from exploitation and abuse. This wouldn’t have been possible without the perseverance and commitment of our staff and donors to this work.

4. How can a small 10$ donation make a difference in achieving your mission?

Everyday the kids come to our kids clubs hungry and malnourished. They all look about three years younger then the age they report to be. Our organization isn’t big enough to do a full feeding program, but what we can do with 10$ is buy enough fruit to make sure all of the kids have eaten a healthy snack before they go home.

The Traffick Jam movement is also built on a belief in a 10$ model. Each participant recruits 10 sponsors to pledge 10$ (1$ per miles of the 10 mile walk). The 10$ add up quickly. Last year we raised $72,000 through these 10$ pledges. This year our biggest walk raised $15,000 (although some people did give more than 10$, and some people paid NOT to walk!)

5. What is one thing you wish that your donors knew or understood better?

I wish the donors to our project could actually feel for themselves the immense relief that you feel when you know that a child is finally safe. If they could feel this even just one time they would give a million trillion dollars.

Since I know most will never be able to feel this, I also wish they’d be able to hear the laughter of the kids in the playroom coming into a safe place. If we can’t take them out of these dangerous and difficult places, we can ensure they at least have a safe place during the day

6. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?

Fear and economic times. Many people are scared to give because they don’t know what is coming in their own lives tomorrow. In my own life there have been times when I’ve been terrified to give, but I’ve wound up being given back even more than I imagined- not always monetarily, but with a different kind of joy.

7. What do you think motivates people who donate to give again?

When people can see and understand our work for themselves and really partner with us they will continue to give. Donors must realize they are a partner in the outreach not just people who give and forget about it. We don’t take any of our donors lightly because we know what we can’t do what we do without them. The ones who understand this and stay engaged and take ownership to share the stories with others- these are the people who give more.

8. Doing world changing work isn’t free. Can you explain the model that your project uses to cover its operating costs?

Hard Places and all its projects are funded through private donations and the growing Traffick Jam movement. All of our international staff raise funds to cover their own costs, and funding from Traffick James pays the salaries of local staff and all of our day to day operation and program expenses.

9. What do you think is the role of the individual who can only make a small donation?

Small donors can encourage others to give small amounts. They are so important to us because giving doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Small donations add up to big donations. In this day and time people may say I can’t give 100 dollars or 200 dollars, but I can give 10. This is the perfect time for the small donor.

10. What are three projects would want other donors to learn about and support?

  • World Hope’s trafficking assessment center in Cambodia
  • Agape International– they also work in anti-trafficking and set an example for our work in our project’s formative years
  • Back to the Roots / Asha House is a children’s care center in India for children who have come out of horrific situations

To learn more  about Traffick Jam, or to #give10 (or more) to the work of Pun Lok Thmey, check them out at www.traffickjamasia.com, or follow them over on facebook.

It’s here: #give10, Year 2.

Ever since we finished up year one of #give10, I’ve been master planning what to do in the way of giving for the next 365 days. Thanks to all of you who’ve been  patiently waiting and asking. An even more gigantic thanks to those of you who’ve been keeping #give10 going with your own joy and generosity while we’ve been quiet.

So, what have I really been doing since March 1? Well, after a whole year of giving every day and staying up way too late at night scouring the globe for people changing the world, I needed a really long nap.  After that I did a little #give10 year in review to define what made giving away money everyday so awesome this past year. I tried to narrow it to a top three- but it was so amazing, I couldn’t pick fewer than four reasons it rocked my universe:

Most amazing things about #give10 year one:

1. Daily discovering all the new projects, causes, people and organizations making a difference blew me away!

2. Old and new friends caught onto the giving spirit in big and small ways. I was especially amazed by generous strangers.

3. Hearing actual stories of change and connecting with the causes we’d invested in.

4. Practical lessons I learned about the do-gooding world from being a daily donor. (And I thought I knew it all from working in non-profits for so long)

I decided these four things should make up the foundation for the journey we took for #give10’s second year, so I put these lessons into my magic hat and had a long think about what would make an amazing giving year sequel.

First, the Goal

Every good plan must have a goal. Last year’s #give10 goal was to prove to myself that even after 15 years of working in the humanitarian world, do-gooding is still worth it and giving can bring change. Goal accomplished.  This year, the goal is less about me. I’m going to keep going because I want to prove three things to you and to the disbelieving universe:

1. There are amazing people changing the world- and anyone can become one of them.

2. Causes, projects, and charities can be good and accountable.

3. Changes can happen.

So, here’s the giving plan

In simple, we’re going to keep giving to more new projects and give more to the projects we already love.

One time a week we’ll give 10$ to a new project just like we did everyday last year. Since we love discovering and sharing new causes, we really want to keep doing this even though we’re switching the rest of things up a bit.

The new part of the #give10 project will focus on learning more about the most awesome projects we discovered last year. We’ll be picking the top 52 causes that have already put last year’s $10 to good use and explore them a little more. We’ll focus on one of these projects per week, make a little bit bigger investment in their work, and take some time to learn about their stories and what makes them so great. It’s a #give10 x 10 of sorts: 1 cause x 100$ a week x 52 weeks.

And all those practical lessons I learned last year about the wonderful world of giving and non-profit accountability and social media for good? Watch this space.

This is awesome. What can I do?

When I talk about #give10, I always say we, because I truly believe it’s all of us that need to each do what we can to make a difference. If you want to be an active part of the amazing year to come, here’s a few practical ways you can help:

1. Pass it on: share the #give10 story and come back often to see what we’ve got to say (or sign up so you don’t miss anything)

2. Join the others who’ve caught the giving fever and try your own #give10 (or some version of it) for a day, a week, a year.

3. Share the projects you love. Write it in the comments, on twitter or facebook. We’re looking for at least 52 more great ones or nominate your favorites causes we’ve already given to be part of the #give10x10.

Let the giving begin!

February #give10 roundup ::

With all the excitement of marking the one year anniversary of #give10, we forgot to post the round up of all the world changing causes we gave 10$ to in February.

February was a flurry. Having only 29 days left on the giving calendar made it challenging to decide which causes would make the cut for year one. I was also on the road in the South Pacific for most of these days, making it even more exciting to mix up the final year choices with giving off the grid.

When I started this project many people asked how I would possibly find 366 projects to give to. Truth is, there’s more than enough projects out there to pick from. I’ve got a long list I haven’t given to yet to roll over into year two. And after we posted Molly’s story, a few more of you amazing people signed up to try out #give10 for yourselves. Every day there are new people digging up new causes in their own neighborhoods and around that globe that I hadn’t even thought about! (Be sure you’re following #give10 in your choice of social networks and cheer on our new do-gooders).

For now, here’s the February list. We’re almost done with our #take10 anniversary break and we’ll be sharing the #give10 year 2 plan very soon. Don’t miss it.

  1. Mama Hope 
  2. Childrens Hospital of Alabama
  3. ToGetHer there, Girl Scouts
  4. Iris the Dragon 
  5. Tirzah International 
  6. RISC Cambodia 
  7. Keep Your Neighbor Warm Fuel Assistance 
  8. Bike out hunger 
  9. CURE Childhood Cancer 
  10. Diaper Love 
  11. Project I see you 
  12. Purposeful Youth Azerbaijan
  13. AdvocAid 
  14. Big City Mountaineers 
  15. Virgin Atlantic Change for Children 
  16. CRS– Catholic Relief Services
  17. Magpas (to sponsor a kid sleeping in his hammock for a year in honor of his sister)
  18. Open Education Vanuatu 
  19. Barrels of Hope 
  20. Got Passport 
  21. Small World Cambodia
  22. We Women 
  23. Kid’s Peace 
  24. One Girl 
  25. Sole Hope 
  26.  CBM (I had to give through their US site, but learned about them through their work in Australia)
  27. ADRA for their projects in the Solomon Islands
  28.  Children’s Miracle Network (for IHOP’s National Pancake Day in the US)
  29.  Urban Light 

Who’d we miss?  We might be done with the daily giving for right now, but there’s going to be lots more giving in the future. If we haven’t supported your favorite cause yet, we want to know about them!

#giving #giving… one year gone ::

It’s official, I’ve successfully given away 10$ every day for the entire last year! (insert cheers here) Yep, that’s 366 donations to 366 different causes. And right now,  there are people out there all over the world using my 10$ to do work to make the world more amazing. I couldn’t be happier.

It’s great to have the sense of accomplishment you get when you complete a mission to do something everyday for a year. But the truth is, the greatest accomplishment I feel today isn’t the fact that I’m finished. Rather it is a feeling of overwhelming gratitude that I got to give, and that before me is a clean slate to choose how I will continue to live generously in the coming year.

This time a year ago, I felt discouraged with the world, so I started an experiment to see if  I could really make a difference. A month into giving away 10$ a day, I realized that what was changing most was me. I started #give10 because I wanted to share this with everyone. Giving is life changing and I decided that I wanted to start a moment of generosity.

Highlights of the #give10 year

– Giving away $3,660 dollars – $10 dollars at a time (for causes on 6 continents)

– Building a community of people who care about d0-gooding (we’ve met so many amazing people on FB, Twitter, G+ and LifeKraze)

-Raising $5000 for the Sak Saum anti-trafficking micro-giving experiment

-Celebrating Welbodi clinic on our 10oth day with 100$, Laos Rehab Project on our 200th day with 200$, and Marbles 4 MS on our 300th day with 300$

-Supporting projects and communities in countries where I traveled to this year

– Meeting Molly, and knowing that there are at least four people in the universe who will continue to #give10, even when I take a break.

And, speaking of taking breaks, now that the #give10 year is finished, what will happen next?

Well, this might be the last day of #give10’s first year, but trust me, the giving is just getting started. We will soon be revealing what is going to happen in  #give10 part 2, but   first I’m going to do something out of the ordinary. Since I’ve been giving 10 for so long, this week I’ve decide that I’m  going to take take ten days off.  And then we’re coming back, and its going to be amazing!

In the meantime, watch this space because we’ll be changing things up a bit in the coming week…

Thanks for being part of the #give10 adventure!f

7 days of giving to go, and meeting Molly ::

There is only one week left until we reach the one year anniversary of give10!

Exactly 43 days ago, I challenged you to join me for the last 50 days of giving, and I’m pretty excited that some of you were brave enough to actually take on my dare for do-gooding. (It is never to late to start, so if you want to take on the last 7 days of giving, get your wallet out today.)

In the meantime, I want to introduce you to Molly. I met Molly in November. She’s an early adaptor of the #give10 matching challenge. Not only did Molly agree to give 10$ away every day for the final 50 of the #give10 project, she jumped on the bandwagon of giving in December and has decided to take on the #give10 challenge for the whole year.

Molly is pretty awesome, but she isn’t a super hero or anything. Just like me, she’s committed to do her part in being generous and making a difference everyday.

I promised you Molly’s story in December’s roundup, and since she’s a blogger herself (over at A Foreign Land), I asked if she’d write a post about why she decided to join the #give10 movement. Here’s what she said ->

I’ve got a confession to make. I mean, I know we’re only just meeting, so sharing a secret about myself might be a little bit forward. But in truth, I’ll feel a whole lot better about this post if I’m upfront and honest from the get go.  Here’s the confession: I have serious cyber stalking tendencies.  I wouldn’t classify my tendencies as creepy or inappropriate, but I’ll Google the heck out of someone if I find them interesting enough.  I’ll track them down on every social media platform out there so I can check out their prom pictures, figure out what book they’re reading and find out if they follow any Kardashians on Twitter. (Mark my word, you can tell a lot about a person by the number of Kardashians in their Twitter feed.) And that, my friends, is how I got involved with the Give10 project. I was introduced to Stephanie through a mutual friend and after dinner I went home and put my stalker skills to use. (For the record: No Kardashians but a surprising amount of Charlie’s Angels inspired posing going on in her pictures.)

And boy am I glad I did. From the moment I read the introductory Give10 post here on wanderingzito.com, I was hooked. I quickly decided to commit to a month of daily giving. Now, after having wrapped up a December’s worth of Give10, I’m amped and ready to keep going into 2012.  I mean, they don’t call Stephanie an “idea woman” for no reason. Give10, is for me, an innovative and fresh way to look at charitable giving.  It has flipped my proverbial script by bringing it to the forefront of my mind.  Giving is no longer analogous to paying the electric bill. (Confession #2 – I have, in the past, written charitable giving checks feeling as much fervor and joy as I do paying our power company. Sad, I know.) But no more! Now each day I have an opportunity to research, discover and partner with a different organization. The variety is invigorating.  And quite often the challenge makes it even more fun. Who knew? Giving is fun. Plus, the process has made me keenly aware of the need that I see, hear and read about. Suddenly, I am on the hunt for new ways to spend the daily $10. Believe me when I tell you, it has been energizing, exciting and eye opening.  And I can attest, having spent some time doing not-for-profit work, $10 can go a long way. Therefore, I’m confident that our seemingly small gifts are in no way small to the recipients.

When I mentioned to my husband that I thought we should continue this past December he asked, “Will there be enough organizations to keep it up?” And if I’ve learned anything in the past month I’ve learned that, YES, there are more than enough worthy, reputable, outstanding organizations for us to keep going and going and going. So who’s in?

Will you join us for the last 7 days?

January #give10 roundup ::

sure, January was a long time ago. I’m behind on the updating you with my round up of where we gave for month 11.  My excuse is that I’ve been busy planning some pretty amazing things for when we finish out final month of our one year of giving away 10$ away every day.  And that day is coming oh, so soon! The most important thing is that even when we’re too busy to write, we’re never too busy to give.

Stay tuned. Big things are on their way in the world of #give10. In the meantime, check out the 31 causes we supported in January:

Did we miss your favorite cause? Let us know what it is.