Friday, September 29, 2006


It's quite a feat when a proper noun becomes a verb. Google is using some of its might and money for good, and you can get involved. Consider these opportunities:

* Google Grants "is a unique in-kind advertising program. It harnesses the power of our flagship advertising product, Google AdWords, to non-profits seeking to inform and engage their constituents online. Google Grants has awarded AdWords advertising to hundreds of non-profit groups whose missions range from animal welfare to literacy, from supporting homeless children to promoting HIV education."

* Google Scholarships are available for students in the US, Europe and Australia. Specific funds target women, black and Hispanic students, and students outside the US who are studying computer science and other science, technology and engineering disciplines.

* "Acumen Fund: a non-profit venture fund that invests in market-based solutions to global poverty. The Fund supports entrepreneurial approaches to developing affordable goods and services for the 4 billion people in the world who live on less than $4 a day."

* "TechnoServe helps budding entrepreneurs turn good business ideas into thriving enterprises. With funding from the Google Foundation, they are launching a Business Plan Competition and an Entrepreneurship Development Program in Ghana."

Check out the websites and consider the ways you can act:

--> tell others who may be interested
--> donate time or money
--> apply for a scholarship, funding or service

Google is definitely more than a search engine, and you may be able to help them in their mission for good.

"A googol is precisely as far from infinity as is the number one." - Carl Sagan

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Be a Hometown Helper.

Nonprofit organizations do such good work, but they often operate on a shoestring budget. Here's an opportunity to help out your favorite local non-profit group. I recently received the following email:
The folks over at Hamburger Helper are conducting a grant contest for local non-profit groups raising funds to positively impact their community in some way. I thought that, as a blog that deals with social change, you or someone that you know could benefit from the grant opportunity.  

Here’s how it works: Every month through May 2007, Hamburger Helper will donate up to $15,000 to eligible 501(c)(4) "hometown" organizations.  All a group has to do to win is to register online with and complete an essay of two hundred and fifty words or less describing how they the need help.

All of the application information can be found at
This is an excellent opportunity for local nonprofits to get some of the financial help they may really need. If you are affiliated with such an organization apply today. If you know of an organization that could use some 'hometown help', forward this post to them. (Just click the white envelope below.) Thanks Melanie!

"Always do right -- this will gratify some and astonish the rest." -- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Make yourself useful.

Some of my favorite ways to give have nothing to do with how much money one has, little to do with how much time one can spare, aren't related to how much education one has. We all have a body and can use it to be of service, perhaps in ways we haven't considered. In addition to volunteering your time, contributing financially, and donating resources, consider these seven ways to make yourself useful:

* Donate blood. - Every two seconds someone needs blood. Donation of one pint takes about one hour, and 60% of people can donate every 56 days. Consider making regular blood donation a way of life.

* Donate platelets. - Platelets are required for blood clotting and are used in surgeries, transplants, and during cancer therapy. Donation takes about 2.5 hours and require an appointment. Most folks can donate every three days.

* Donate organs. - Every day, 16 people die while waiting for an organ transplant. Consider donating your organs after your death, and be sure to share your decision with your family members.

* Donate umbilical cord blood. - Pregnant women and their partners may want to donate their child's umbilical cord blood. It can be used in biomedical research or to cure sickle cell anemia, lymphoma, leukemia, and some other blood diseases.

* Donate marrow. - Bone marrow can be used in biomedical research or to cure sickle cell anemia, lymphoma, leukemia, and some other blood diseases. Consider joining the marrow registry. You'll only be called if someone in need matches your marrow. And you can always say no.

* Donate milk. Your excess breast milk can improve the health or save the life of a baby. Not all babies can thrive off formula, and not all mothers can provide the breast milk their baby needs. Your milk can help.

* Donate your body. -Donating your body to science is a great way to support medical and forensic training and research and make a truly lasting contribution. Make sure to share your wishes with your family.

* Donate hair. - Your long hair can be used to make hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children who have long-term hair loss for medical reasons. Go get the scissors. It's just hair; it'll grow back.

Click the links to get information on how to make these donations. These are some great ways to share your body with others, and save or improve a life while you're at it! And remember, if you are unable to donate in these ways, you can always donate money, time, or other resources, and spread the word to others who may want to help.

"Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something." -- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Choose recycled products.

I've written a lot about the merits of recycling. But what happens to all those goods you've been so dutifully recycling? There are numerous companies that offer useful and creative products made from recycled goods. Here are some ideas and resources you may want to explore:

* Paper - Recycled paper products are widely available, not only for offices but also for invitations, stationary, and more. Remember to choose products with the highest percentage of post-consumer waste.

* Biodiesel - What a great way to reuse grease! Emory University will soon use biodiesel to fuel most of its shuttle fleet.

* Jewelry - Gold, jewels and other metals are turned into beautiful, wearable art by companies like greenKarat.

* Compost - Turn your kitchen waste into a rich source of nutrients for your garden, yard, and other plants.

* Trees - Let no fallen tree go to waste. CitiLogs to the rescue!

* Clothes - Shop at resale and consignment shops. Host a clothes swap. Visit garage sales. You'll be amazed at the high quality items you'll find, and the bargain prices you'll pay. Do it because you want to, even if you don't have to.

* Printer cartridges - When you recycle printer cartridges, they are bought by companies who refill them with ink and sell them for less than brand-new cartridges. What a way to save money and reduce waste!

Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle, restore, in that order. And choose the products that make recycling work.

"Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics." -- Jane Addams (1860 - 1935)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lead with experience.

Recently the first five winners of The Purpose Prize were announced. This award provides "$100,000 each to people over 60 who are taking on society’s biggest challenges. It’s for those with the passion and experience to discover new opportunities, create new programs, and make lasting change." Ten more people won $10,000 prizes, and 55 others were named Purpose Prize Fellows. Importantly, this is not a 'lifetime achievement' award, but is intended to fund the excellent work these folks will do next. Here's how you can get involved:

* Spread the word about the Prize. Materials and support are available to organizations and people who want to help publicize this award.

* Nominate someone whose work you believe is worthy of the Purpose Prize. Nominations for the 2007 Prize will be accepted starting October 15, 2006.

* Be inspired by the work of the Purpose Prize Fellows. They are making a positive difference in our world and so can you. Start small, because every little bit helps. Need some ideas? Peruse the archives of So what can I do.

As the Purpose Prize Fellows show us, it's never to early to consider and live your purpose. And it's never too late to make a difference.

"To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest." -Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Get more ideas.

They say there's nothing new under the sun. And, as you might expect, there are lots of other blogs out there with a mission similar to So what can I do. Perhaps you'd like to check some of them out for more ideas on how you can make a positive difference in our world. Here are a few I know about. If you know of others, send them along and I'll add them to the list.

* Have Fun • Do Good - "A blog for people who want to make the world a better place AND have fun!"

* Over alle kleine beetjes die helpen - "The title "About all small things that make a difference" is based on the Dutch saying "All small things (little bits) contribute". Though I write in dutch mainly the topics are very similar: tips (or inspiration) on doing those things in your own life that make the world a better place, bit by bit." (primarily in Dutch)

* But what can I do? - "We all know that this world needs some serious improvement, but it all seems so overwhelming at times. This site will give you some simple, practical steps that you can take to help right the wrongs."

* Seth's Postcards for Good - "These are the postcards I write to promote the environment, social justice, democracy, health, education and freedom. Start a postcard or open letter blog for yourself and comment to let me know. We'll link our blogs and make a network for change. See the instructions at right for more information. Thanks for looking... but it's not enough to just look— act!"

* Open Letters for Change - "Open Letters For Change is a collection of letters of concern to elected officials, to the media, thought leaders, or to others in positions of power. The comment following each letter lists the information sources and other details which you can use to compose your own letter for change. Together we can make a meaningful and positive difference in our world."

* So what can I do - "A public service weblog promoting ethics in action"

* Social Change Sites "Sites that change the world. Social Change Sites is a directory of nonprofit, grassroots, and advocacy campaign web sites."

And if you prefer your media off-line, check out these books:

* 365 Ways to Change the World: How to make a difference... one day at a time

* The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World

If you know of blogs, books or other media that should be included here, send your suggestions to or write a comment. Thanks! Now let's get started!

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." - Henry David Thoreau