Sunday, February 27, 2005

Exercise your right to know.

In 1966, the federal government passed the Freedom of Information Act, which makes all records of government agencies presumptively available to you upon request. In the years since, many state governments created similar laws which guarantee your right to inspect a storehouse of government documents. Journalists, scholars, and the public have used the Freedom of Information Act to investigate a wide range of news stories, historical events, political situations. These investigations often lead to positive change in our society.

If you need to find out government information, check out resources:

* The Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press has published a do-it-yourself booklet on How to use the Freedom of Information Act which you can read online for free.

* Detailed information on state open records and meetings law can be found in the RCFP guide "Tapping Officials' Secrets" at

* Transparency International is "the leading global non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption.  Its mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption."

* is an online international network of freedom of information advocates.

The Freedom of Information act helps citizens hold the government accountable. As the old saying goes, "Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing."

Buy fresh, buy local.

My father raises longhorn cattle in Marianna, Arkansas, mostly for fun but occasionally for food. I don't usually eat beef (or any mammals, for that matter), but I'm looking forward to having some of the beef from my father's farm. Why the exception? I know how the animals are treated. They have room to roam, (even jumping the fence when they want to explore more, much to the annoyance of my father), and they're not given growth hormones, non-grain food, or other compounds that make me mistrustful of commercial meat.

Buying locally produced food is a good way to strengthen your local economy, support family farms, protect the environment and your health, and enjoy fresher, better-tasting food. Here are three sites to get you started:

* USDA farmersmarket list and information

You can find locally produced food in the following places. Just click the links to find a map of farms or markets all over the US. Enter your zip code for the ones nearest you.

* "Farmer's markets are a very convenient way to purchase local goods. Producers from around the area will bring their produce to a centralized location on a periodic basis throughout the growing season."

* "Community sponsored agriculture is an arrangement or partnership made between community members and a particular local farm. In a CSA farm, consumers can purchase seasonal “shares” which entitle them to weekly food allowances. Shareholders visit the farm or another pickup location at a scheduled time every week to get their food."

* "Food cooperatives are member-owned retail businesses dedicated to serving the community by providing the highest quality grocery items at the best value." I like Sevananda in Atlanta.

* "Farm stands and on-farm markets give you the opportunity to purchase goods directly from farmers at their own independent locations."

* "U-pick farms give consumers the unique opportunity to harvest their own produce." When Kwadjo and I went to Florida last month, we picked oranges from a U-pick farm that were the best I've ever tasted.

* You may even find local food in some restaurants or supermarkets, or you can join a food-buying club to buy food with friends.

Growing up in Little Rock, my mother and grandmother regularly bought food from Mr. Bosley, who traveled through the neighborhood selling local produce from his truck. It was a wonderful service that is rapidly disappearing. But thankfully, we all can still get locally produced food. Local food is better food, for everybody. Enjoy some today!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Be a virtual volunteer.

Nowadays it's easier than ever to volunteer with an organization whose cause you believe in. All you need is your computer! Here are two sites to get you started:

* is a project of the United Nations.
* is a US-based volunteer clearinghouse.

"But how can I help my favorite organization by sitting at my computer?" Here's how:

* Grant writing - Many organizations survive because of grants but there are always so many to apply for. You can help by writing the grant proposal for your favorite organization. My friend Nana did this and got a $10,000 grant funded for Aid to Children of Imprisoned Mothers. Great work, Nana!

* Website or graphic design - This can be a great way to get experience in web design. Your favorite organization gets a great new site, and you get design experience and a page to point to showcase to new clients.

* E-mail pen-pal - Some organizations are looking for e-mail pen-pals for senior citizens or servicewomen and men. The Orphan Foundation of America needs virtual mentors forcurrent and former foster youth ages 18-23.

* Raise money on E-bay - Use your existing E-bay account to sell goods and then have the money sent to your favorite organization. Perhaps you'll choose Modest Needs, since that's where I got the idea. Learn more here.

* Transcription/translation - Many organizations need translation or transcription services. If you're multilingual this may be a great way for you to serve.

* Research - Your favorite organization may need research done to write a grant proposal or press release. Maybe you can do that research. For example, is looking for "talented and dedicated people to prepare our initial database of corporations, and to make connections with like-minded groups."

* Database development or management - Since this is usually computer based, why not use your computer to do the work.

* Copy editing - Your favorite organization may need to have reports, grant proposals and other written material copy edited. If they email the draft to you, you can edit it and send it back. Service provided!

So now you can sit at home and still serve. For more tips on volunteering (online and in person), see the December 28th post and the December 3rd post.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Teach tolerance. is a web project of the Southern Poverty Law Center that has as its motto "Fight hate and promote tolerance." Sounds like a good plan to me! Here are some ways to participate:

* Get 101 tools for tolerance and use them to promote equity in your home, school, community, or workplace.

* Test yourself for hidden biases. "Studies show people can be consciously committed to egalitarianism, and deliberately work to behave without prejudice, and yet still possess hidden negative prejudices or stereotypes." Uncover yours and work to eliminate them.

* Learn how language can be used (knowingly or unknowingly) to promote biases and discrimination.

* Use 10 principles to fight hate because every hour someone commits a hate crime. Every day at least eight blacks, three whites, three gays, three Jews and one Latino become hate crime victims. Every week a cross is burned.

* Support the wonderful work at the Southern Poverty Law Center financially and otherwise. has special sections for parents, teens, children and teachers, so everyone can find something useful. Remember, one of the best ways to teach is to model. So think about what you believe in, think about what's right, and make sure your words and actions reflect your beliefs.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Speak up!

The Georgia legislature is in session now, writing and voting on bills of all kinds. It can be a challenge to keep up with it all, but as citizens it is our responsibility to hold our representatives accountable. In fact, we should speak up on all sorts of things. As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So if you want things to change in your neighborhood, your town, your state or your country, say so! Here are some ways to make your voice heard:

* Click here for some tips on how best to communicate with you representatives, whether by phone, mail, or e-mail.

* Visit here for a list of legislation, issues, and upcoming votes in the US Congress.

* Search here for the names and contact information of local and national media outlets. Write or call your local newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations with comments, suggestions, questions or letters to the editor.

* Contact your elected officials. Just enter your zip code here, and you'll get a list of all you federal, state, and local officials, along with their contact information and how they voted on certain issues.

* Visit to get the truth about what your representatives are doing. Then, you'll be better prepared to talk to them.

* For tips on engaging the media, see the December 7th post.

*For more tips on holding your representatives accountable, see the November 15th post.

Speak up! And claim the services and treatment you and your family and your community deserve.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Prevent child abuse.

Every day in the US, three children die as a result of child abuse or neglect. Think of three children you love: your nieces, nephews, children or grandchildren, cousins of children of a friend. Every day three wonderful, fun, smart, strong children die needlessly. Now think of the abused children who don't die, almost one million of them suffering physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and/or neglect. Now get ready to act:

* If you need help or suspect abuse, call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Professional counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

* If your behavior toward your child worries you, GET HELP. Learn how to prevent child abuse and neglect. Information on promoting safe children and healthy families is available in English and Spanish.

* Learn more about child abuse from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

* Support national and local agencies that work to prevent child abuse through hotlines, education, counseling, training, treatment and more. Consider Child Help USA which sponsors the 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) hotline with 24-hour help available in 140 languages and many other services.

Children are often vulnerable. Won't you help them in their time of need?

Take back the music.

Every now and again, I find myself in a home or hotel that has cable television. Since I don't have cable in my home (or satellite or dish) in my home, I miss out on a lot of the music videos that garner so much attention these days. But when I happen upon music videos, I'm convinced that's a good thing. Music videos have changed a lot since the days of "Friday Night Videos", and in many ways, not for the better.

In response, Essence magazine ("The magazine for today's black woman") has launched Take back the music week, February 21- 25. Readers and other concerned people are asked to "bombard the cable music networks with calls, letters and E-mails that tell them just how you feel [and] send your thoughts about how women are portrayed to programming executives." Here's how you can participate:

* Visit Essence to learn more about the campaign and to find a letter you can send to all three networks with the click of your mouse.

* Write BET at, call them at 1-800-711-1630, FAX them at (202) 608-2595, or send a letter to BET, 1900 W. Place, N.E., Washington DC 20018.

* Write MTV at, call them at 212/258-8700, FAX them at (212) 258-8100, or send a letter to MTV, 1515 Broadway, New York NY 10036.

* Write Fuse at, call them at 212/324-3400, FAX them at (212) 324-3445, or send a letter to FUSE, 11 Penn Plaza 17th floor, New York NY 10001.

This is an important issue, particularly considering the amount of violence against women that occurs these days. Voice your opinion and hold these networks accountable for the programming they air. Let's take back the music!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Save a life.

Saving a life is easier than you might think! I'm just back from the Red Cross for my bimonthly blood donation. Blood cannot be stockpiled, so the supply must be constantly replenished. My goal is to become a regular donor again. Won't you become one too? Visit or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) to learn more and find a blood drive in your area. And if you like, read my previous related posts here here and here.

It only takes about an hour, and you just might save a life. Do it every 56 days.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Spay or neuter your pet.

On my way to work this morning, I saw a seemingly stray dog wandering around the neighborhood. I hoped it had a home, but where were the owners? It was 30 degrees last night, cold. But today is trash day so maybe it won't go hungry.

This is a sad state of affairs. Every day in the US 70,000 puppies and kittens are born (compared to 10,000 human children). There are not nearly enough homes for all those animals. Consequently, 10-12 million animals are euthanized in shelters every year for lack of available homes. 30% of those are purebreds. Spaying or neutering your pet is one way to help solve the problems of too many animals, not enough homes, animal cruelty, and overburdened shelters. Here's how:

* Learn more about why you should spay or neuter your pet at Human Society of the United States.

* Find a place to spay or neuter your pet. Spay USA is a nationwide network and referral service for affordable spay/neuter services. Call 1-800-248-SPAY (1-800-248-7729) for more information. If your pet is already spayed or neutered or if you don't have a pet, consider making a financial contribution.

* Spay or neuter your rabbit. Learn more at

* Learn more about what happens to abandoned pets from

Take care of your pet. Support over burdened pounds, humane societies, and rescue organizations. Get your pet neutered or spayed.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Vacation with a purpose.

Everyone needs a break on occasion, some time away, a little R & R. Here are six wonderful ways to take a vacation, and do some good at the same time. You'll have so much fun with new experiences, new people and service, you may not want to come home!

* Visit a National Park. There are programs for artists, people interested in environment and ecology, folks who appreciate and study local history, and others who want to stay at the park for free in exchange for providing park maintenance.

* Travel with Habitat for Humanity and build a house for a family who needs a home. Itineraries are balanced with plenty of work, rest and free time, and you tack on a few non-Habitat vacation days if you like. Trips are scheduled in dozens of countries including the US, Ghana, Canada, Bangledesh, Northern Ireland, Brazil, and Portugal.

* Camp with Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that "organizes and promotes volunteer service to America's wild lands." There are trips schedules nationwide and at every difficulty level.

* Take a volunteer vacation in Hawaii. "The friendly Volunteer Vacations Hawaii staff guides you in a diversified hands on experience ranging from scientific research of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins and North Pacific Humpback Whales (seasonal) to learning modern practices in sustainable organic farming, all while immersing yourself in the Hawaiian culture."

* Enjoy world travel with Earthwatch and help sustain the environment. Trips are available to help all sorts of areas including conservation, archeology, biodiversity, even health.

* Travel with a purpose to one of five continents on a Heifer International Study Tour. You'll learn about Heifer's work in sustainable development and how your choices affect the world.

You're going to take vacations anyway, why not be useful at the same time? After a vacation like that, you'll return home relaxed, fulfilled, and recharged; ready to take on the world! Have fun!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Send the cards that give twice

Good Cause Greetings sells cards that send a double message. In addition to your personal birthday, sympathy, or other greeting, a minimum of ten percent of the proceeds from the sale of each card supports well known and well respected charities working throughout the world. These include Amnesty International, America's Second Harvest, and Prevent Child Abuse America. For the complete list, click here.

All orders of 50 cards or more may be imprinted with a name, address or corporate logo. All that, plus the cards are made from recycled paper. You can't beat that! So send a Good Cause Greeting card today!

For more socially conscious greeting options see the November 6th post and the December 14th post.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

End domestic violence.

I've written about domestic violence before, but after attending a community forum on "Healing Domestic Violence" last Thursday night, I am inspired to write about it again. As you may know, 31% of women report being physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. First things first:

If something about your relationship with your partner scares you and you need to talk, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Fax: 512-453-8541 Address: PO Box 161810, Austin, Texas 78716.

During the question and answer period, I asked what each of us can do to help end domestic violence. Here are some of the answers:

* Do the personal work of examining your own belief systems and behavior to learn how you contribute to social and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men. Consider the words you use, the music you listen to, the ways you deal with anger, frustration and disappointment. If you are uncomfortable with the the answers you find, GET HELP.

* Donate financially to your local women's safehouse (shelter) or men's support group. In Atlanta, consider the Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence and Men Stopping Violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline website lists domestic violence agencies in each state, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

* Volunteer your time to an organization that seeks to end domestic violence. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 512/453-8117 or to find a volunteer opportunity in your area.

* Donate supplies to your local safehouse. These homes away from home are always in need of things like towels, toiletries, sheets, kitchen supplies and the like. Children's necessities for home and school are also needed.

* Donate your cell phone. Safehouses get up to $15 for each cell phone. The Women's Resource Center uses that money to by grocery store gift cards, toiletries and supplies for the women as they start their new lives free from violence.

* Pray for healing and an end to domestic violence.

Click here, for more ways to help. Thanks to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Decatur for organizing this excellent forum. Now let's all take action to heal the community, heal our families, and heal ourselves.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Bike to work.

In a later post, I'll talk more about 'alternative commutes,' but one option is to bike to work. Lots of cities have made that quite practical by installing bike lanes on the roads. Atlanta isn't quite so lucky but I know several people who use their bicycles as a major form of transportation. Think about it. As the weather warms up, it becomes a more viable option. You'll get more exercise, and you'll produce less pollution. Here are some resources to help ease your bike commute:

* has a variety of resources for bicycle commuters.

* has more tips including a section on how to select a bike.

* The League of American Bicyclists encourages you to bike to work, particularly during May, National Bike Month.

* To find like minded folks, read and join the Yahoo bicycle commuters group.

* And if you don't have a bike, visit the New Dream Community to register to win one. While you're there, you can get tips on how to live consciously, buy wisely and make a difference.

I plan to get a bike this spring, so I'll see you on the road!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Convert 'trash' to treasure.

Do you have things around the house or office that are still good but that you aren't using? Do want to get rid of those items, but feel bad about trashing them? Conversely, do you run a nonprofit that is in need of supplies? Would you rather not spend your organization's precious dollars to get them? Excess Access may be your answer.

This site serves as a clearinghouse and bulletin board for donors who want to get rid of things, and nonprofit recipients who need just those items. Just complete their free registration and list your wish list or the items you have to donate. The folks at Excess Access will review your post and make it available to their online community. Then the matchmaking magic begins! They have an 81% success rate, so consider listing your items today. Since the items are going to a nonprofit you'll get a tax deduction. Here are some other positive statistics:

* As of May 1, 2004, $2,008,946.15 worth of items have been donated via

* As of May 1, 2004, has diverted 5,494.5 tons of useful items out of US landfills.

Excess Access serves "the US, Canada and beyond" so sign up today! Remember one person's trash is another person's treasure!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Spend phone time wisely: Federal Do Not Call list

If telemarketers have ever interrupted you at an inopportune time, you may want to consider registering your phone number with the federal Do Not Call list. Simply visit and submit the required information. After 31 days, most telemarketers should stop calling. If they don't you can file a complaint. Note that some organizations (charities, politicians, polltakers, to name a few) are exempt. Your number will be registered for five years. For more information, visit the Do Not Call FAQ.

Now since you don't have telemarketers to worry about, you can spend that time in other more useful ways. At the least you can use that saved 30 seconds to just click.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Reduce mail waste.

This service seemed almost too good to be true, but I checked it out and it's not. If you are moving call 1-866-262-3045 (toll-free) to change ALL of your magazine subscriptions at once. This free service is called OneSwitch and is sponsored by Budget Living magazine. They'll try to sell you more magazines, but you don't have to buy them to use the service. So if you are moving soon, know someone who is moving soon, or will ever move, then save this information or forward it to someone who can use it (use the white envelope below). Using this service not only reduces waste, but makes sure you don't miss reading your favorite mags! Enjoy!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Support public education: United States

The opening page of the Donors Choose website reads in part, "Many schoolchildren from low-income communities do not have the books, art supplies, science equipment, or other materials that they need to learn. Public school teachers use DonorsChoose to propose resources for their students. Concerned individuals like you can then select a proposal to fund." You can search for proposals by cost, discipline or grade. They even have a gift registry.

Currently, Donors Choose serves public schools in Chicago, New York City, North Carolina, and the San Francisco Bay Area, but are expanding this year. If you are a teacher in need of books, supplies or equipment, write Donors Choose to see how you can sign up. If they're not in your area, find out if they will be soon.

Teachers work hard, and often for little reward. Let's give them the support they need to do this important job well.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Support children of imprisoned parents

Tomorrow I'm helping out at a volunteer orientation for Aid to Children of Imprisoned Mothers. This Atlanta organization was founded 16 years ago by Sandra Barnhill and serves some of the estimated 8,000 children in Georgia have mothers who are in prison. Because More than 90% of the women in Georgia's prisons are mothers of dependent children and because the children are five times more likely to go to prison themselves, this work is vitally important.

The statistics are similar all over. Here's how you can learn more and help:

* EUROCHIPS is the European Committee for Children of Imprisoned Parents. They write "children must be able to maintain a link with both parents if separated from one or both, a right stipulated in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union." Their site is available in English and French.

* Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents is a Los Angeles-based national organization, "Our mission is the prevention of intergenerational crime and incarceration. Our goals are the production of high quality documentation on and the development of model services for children of criminal offenders and their families."

* Family and Corrections Network is "an organization for and about families of prisoners. We offer information, training and technical assistance on children of prisoners, parenting programs for prisoners, prison visiting, incarcerated fathers and mothers, hospitality programs, keeping in touch, returning to the community, the impact of the justice system on families, and prison marriage."

* Canadian Family and Corrections Network builds "stronger and safer communities by assisting families affected by criminal behavior, incarceration and community reintegration."

Many of these sites have lists of links to local service providers. Use them to get help if your family needs it, or search the lists to find an organization you can support with your time, talent, or money. I know from my experience at AIM that such work is needed and very much appreciated. Consider the children, then do what you can to save a child, save a family, and save your community.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Take the stairs.

My new office is on the fourth floor, and while waiting for a slow elevator the other day, it occurred to me that I was missing a prime opportunity for exercise. So I turned away, and took the stairs. In the days since, I've used the elevators less and less. It's a great way to get some incidental exercise, and it reduces energy costs to run the elevators. Here are some related tips:

* Walk to a park or a more distant cafe for lunch.
* Use the restroom on another floor and take the stairs.
* Leave something important in your car (your lunch, your cell phone, etc.) so you have to run out to get it (and take the stairs).
* Deliver documents or messages to co-workers in person rather than by email.
* Volunteer to meet people in their office, then walk over.
* Stand or walk while you talk on the phone.
* Use a pedometer and keep track of how many steps you take. Aim for 6,000 to 10,000 steps a day.
* Carry comfortable shoes for workday walking.
* Go for a short walk after work (and miss some of the rush hour traffic!)

These are some great ways to get active and walk with a purpose, and remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Answer the 'Call 2 Recycle.'

The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (a non-profit public service organization) just started a new website,, with everything you need to know about recycling the rechargeable batteries found in cellular and cordless phones, cordless power tools, laptop computers, camcorders, digital cameras, and remote control toys. As I've mentioned before, it is very important to recycle these batteries. Here are three reasons why:

1) Coltan is a tar-like mineral found primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), and is vital in cellphones, laptops, pagers and other electronics. Congo rebel armies sell it illegally to buy weapons. Illegal mining of it in Congo's eastern lowlands has decreased gorilla populations. When you decrease the need for coltan, you decrease illegal mining and the reduce finances for the civil war in Congo. You also help protect gorilla populations.

2) Between 50 and 80 per cent of e-waste from North American cell phone companies ends up in China, Thailand, India and Pakistan. Workers are exposed to many toxic compounds and are paid $1.50 a day or less to break apart and process electronic equipment. When you recycle, your waste does not make someone else sick.

3) According to a Canadian report, 4,328 tons of telephones, fax machines and cell phones will end up in landfills this year. That's equivalent to the weight of 583 African elephants. We don't have room for that kind of waste. Recycling reduces waste.

Okay, so now are you ready to recycle? The cell phones are either refurbished for reuse or recycled in an environmentally-sound manner. The rechargeable batteries that power the cell phones and other products are recycled to reclaim reusable materials that are used in stainless steel production and to make new batteries.

Note that the website can be viewed in Spanish, Chinese, French or English, or you can call 1-877-2-RECYCLE for more information. So find a drop off site near you, and answer the call to recycle!

Make a big difference with small change.

This is such a wonderful idea; I'm so glad to see it's expanding. "In March 2002, Modest Needs was founded by Keith Taylor, who created Modest Needs as his way of repaying the many small kindnesses that others had shown to him. On the original site, he pledged to give away 10% of his gross monthly income as a teacher - $350.00 - to help people with small, unexpected expenses and nowhere else to turn, no questions asked."

"Since May 2002, when Modest Needs became a charitable foundation, the members of this community have helped 1384 families to afford $261,093.87 worth of unexpected expenses ranging from the fee for a GED exam to the cost of burying a stillborn child."

And here's how you can be a partner with the folks at Modest Needs to support their good and worthy work:

* Donate money . It can be a one-time donation, or a monthly gift. Even small change helps a lot. Consider adopting a particular request, and you'll know exactly who and how you helped.

* Sell items on Ebay to benefit Modest Needs. Not only will the selling price (your donation) be tax deductible, but 100% of the fees you incur in listing your item are tax deductible.

* If you are a licensed skilled professional, you can volunteer your time and skills to help a person or family in need.

* Link to Modest Needs on your e-mail signature or website.

If you are in need for short-term financial assistance to stay self-sufficient, visit to apply for temporary monetary assistance.

It's not unusual to need a little money sometimes. Here's a way you can help fill these modest needs.

Pay off your debts.

Most of us don't have a never-ending supply of money. So it doesn't make sense to send substantial amounts of it to big banks in the form of interest. Add up how much you owe, then use this debt calculator to figure out how long it will take you to pay it off. I like this one because it allows to to calculate the payoff time based on making minimum monthly payments, or standard higher-than-minimum payments. Also, you can find out how much you have to pay each month to be debt free by a certain date.

I believe in saving money not to hoard it, but so I can 1) be prepared for emergencies and 2) do the things I want to do (like support worthy causes, travel, and the like). Learn more about life and debt here and here. Stay tuned for more interesting and helpful ways to use your saved money. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Shop with a purpose.

So you like to shop? No problem with that, just make sure your shopping does double duty: enjoy your new finds and help someone else in the process. Here are four organizations that allow you to shop online with various merchants through their site. When you do so, a portion of your purchase price is donated to the charity of your choice:

* Benevolink works with hundreds of online businesses which contribute a percentage of every dollar you spend to the nonprofit organizations of your choice. Click here for an Atlanta Journal-Consitution article on Benevolink.

* works with almost 600 online businesses and donates up to 27% of the purchase price to your favorite worthy cause.

* Buy for Charity claims to have the largest donations on the web. Shop at over 350 stores and a portion of your purchase price goes to the charity you choose.

* sells books, electronics, tools, computers, and home and garden ware. A portion of the purchase price will go to your favorite charity.

Note that for the shopper, the contributions are not tax-deductible. That's why the businesses participate. Since they make the donation, it's tax deductible for them. But since you're going to shop anyway, that probably doesn't matter. If you run a non-profit, considering registering your organization. That way, shoppers can more easily support your work. In each case, almost any charity qualifies and it's free for them to join. So think of your favorites and start shopping! In the words of Benevolink, "I Shop. Therefore I Give."

Strengthen the good.

I recently joined a network of bloggers called 'Strengthen the Good'. We are "committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world. Every several weeks they highlight a new “micro-charity”—a small, inspiring charity, one with a real face and where $1 makes a difference—and the bloggers in the network link to that post, sending traffic, and awareness, the charity’s way." So occasionally I will post information from Strengthen the Good.

If you are involved in a small charity, consider submitting information on your organization to the network. Perhaps your group will be featured! There are over 250 blogs that participate. That's a lot of free publicity to people who care. For more information contact alan at strengthenthegood dot com.

Their motto is "Don't just fight evil: strengthen the good!"