With shopping holidays like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the giving aspect of the holidays tends to get foggy. The Giving Tuesday Movement wants to change that.

Today is Giving Tuesday, a holiday about donating to nonprofits and charities you care about this holiday season. This is the movement’s second year celebrating the holiday, and it was really successful last year. It’s an easy way for nonprofits to gain awareness and donations.

Many people are loving this semi-new holiday, and the movement encourages people to express their love through social media using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #unselfie. (It also encourages nonprofits to give social media a shot and provides toolkits and logos to use, which is great for those smaller nonprofits!)

Even the White House is celebrating!

The event currently has 8,302 partners (shout out to Morgantown’s own Ruby Memorial‘s Children’s Hospital at WVU for being one of them!) and is looking forward to growing in the future.

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Here are just a few of the partners listed on the movement’s site.

Interested in joining the movement, donating or adding your nonprofit to next year’s list? Be sure to check out their website for all the details. Happy Giving Tuesday, everyone!

Season of Giving (and Getting)

This holiday season, Boreman Hall, a dormatory on West Virginia University’s campus is hosting a new way to donate to local charities. Through its program Season of Giving (and Getting), the hall will benefit Boreman’s chapter of Relay for Life, Scott’s Run Settlement House, Goodwill, Dress for Success and local members of the community.

The event will take place Tuesday, December 3 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Boreman RFL House Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 2.56.47 PM (behind Boreman South). This event is similar to a clothes swap, where people bring in their unwanted clothes, take whatever they want and the rest is donated. However, this program will be accepting food and other items in the dorms in addition to clothes, and instead of the clothes being free, each grocery bag of items will only cost $1, benefitting Relay for Life. After the event, all of the leftovers will be donated to local charities.

Members of the community can donate their unwanted goods all this week in Boreman Hall. Donation boxes are located at Boreman’s main desk and at the RFL House. On Tuesday, the event will take place, and food and drinks will be provided for a donation to Relay for Life.

Amazon Smile: a New Way to Get Donations

Amazon is creating a new way to donate to charities. The best part: you give back just by shopping.

Amazon Smile is Amazon’s new site dedicated to donating 0.5% of each product’s  price to a charity of the consumer’s choice. There are a bunch of benefits, too: Amazon doesn’t have a cap on how much they’ll donate, all of the products are the same as the original Amazon site and there are only a few exceptions to products that give back. (At this time, digital media products do not qualify.) Amazon Prime benefits transfer, too!

People are pretty excited about this. It’s a great new way to donate money, especially since you were probably going to buy that organic shampoo in bulk anyway.


Interested in being one of the nonprofits they donate to? Check them out! You just need to be a 501(c)(3) organization. Once you’re approved, spread the word throughout social media (but keep in mind, you can’t promote using email or offline platforms like newsletters).

Amazon is a Fortune 100 company with great results. It’s a great way to make donations. Now that’s something to smile about.

More to Morgantown

More to Morgantown. Meet some of the non-college students that make up that other 30,000 population.

Morgantown Problems

There’s more to Morgantown than fraternities, fires and football. While many West Virginia University students consider it temporary living, many families call Morgantown home.

Whether students realize it or not, they affect the greater Morgantown area significantly. House parties in South Park are just a few blocks away from the local high school. Monongalia County schools often dismiss their students early when there’s game-day traffic. Families live on those streets where couches are burned. Morgantown residents know the students very well, but the students rarely take the time to meet the residents. Morgantown boasts great diversity in its landscape, buildings and people, and there are a lot of folks worth getting to know.

Karyn Mock Hoskinson has lived in Morgantown since she was 6 months old. She loved it so much, she never left. She got a job with WVU Healthcare working at Ruby Memorial Hospital and raised her…

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Doing Good and Doing It Well

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation is a well-known charitable foundation founded by Michael Benedum from Bridgeport, W.Va. The foundation focuses mainly on community and economic development, education, health and human services in the West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania areas. Annually, they typically give out $15 million in grant money for these types of projects to nonprofits (501(c)(3)). What people don’t know about the foundation, however, is the strategy behind what they do.

It’s all about planning. When a project is well planned, has a Return on Investment (ROI), is measurable (sound familiar public relations students?) then communities can really thrive. The objectives for these plans are new or expanded businesses, job retention and creation, and new markets and products, and if they aren’t properly executed, it’s not even worth that initial investment.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Mary M. Hunt, Senior Program Officer of the Benedum Foundation. We specifically talked about economic development within urban planning. Hunt described the process as complex, to say the least. It involves evaluating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis, again for you PR folk). It also involves partnerships, conflicts, priorities, collaboration, leadership, among many other things. It’s one thing to have a charity. It’s another thing to have a successful, well planned one.

Hunt gave one particularly great example of a grant they funded that gave back: “From Farm to Table: Growing the Local Food Economy.” After (a whole lot of) research, the foundation found that 25 percent of food in cafeterias is wasted and that a large part of the budget was going toward food from out of state.

According to Hunt,  one “local dollar spent is recycled three times more in the community” compared to purchasing outside of the state.

The Foundation partnered with the USDA, the WVDA and many local farmers and communities to create a local food day in one county. The local schools bought all West Virginia-grown fruits, vegetables, meats, etc., and it was a huge success. This year they will be doing it again to gain more media attention. This time they will be doing five local food days in five counties.

One initial sum (donated) goes into this project. The project produces new markets and products, allows job growth, stimulates the economy, etc. ROI is measured.

This is just one example of the Benedum Foundation helping nonprofits and other groups. They’ve also worked on projects to fix up brownfields and to promote West Virginia’s thriving technology economy (that you probably didn’t even know about) within the past year.

Do you have an organization that you think does good but needs some funding? Do you have a plan that will create new jobs, businesses or markets? Will it spur economic development and be a good investment? Apply today!

To quote Hunt, It’s all about “doing good, and doing it well.

Morgantown Problems

Exciting news! For my journalism class, I’ll be blogging for a new site, too: Morgantown Problems. In this blog, my group (including Bryan Bumgardner, Maddi Blankenship, Whitney Godwin and Karlea Pack) will be covering issues in the Morgantown area and the various solutions. Broadly, we will be covering urban issues, student problems, crime and safety, economic factors and living situations in the Morgantown metropolitan area.

Check out my first post on the Mileground’s new roundabout. I discuss how, from a planning perspective, the roundabout isn’t all that great. If you use it frequently, have a strong opinion or have some topics you want discussed, let me know.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Congratulations, New Jersey!

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Screenshot of the HRC’s Twitter feed. Congratulations, New Jersey!

The Human Rights Campaign has created yet another successful social-media campaign. In celebration of New Jersey allowing gay marriage yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign kicked off a Twitter campaign celebrating #MarriageEquality.

The campaign focused on promoting images of newly wedded LGBTQ couples at their wedding (including some that were headed by senator-to-be, Cory Booker!) and congratulating New Jersey for being the 14th state to allow gay marriage in the United States. It was so successful, it even lead to governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) dropping his appeal to ban gay marriage.

So what’s next? Hopefully another state allowing gay marriage, too.

Maybe Virginia:

Maybe Illinois.

Regardless, HRC will be covering it all the way.