DIY modified toy cars to help children get around

A DIY solution to help make them the coolest kids on the playground. #LOVE

h/t Upworthy

Only 741 people enrolled in N.J.’s health insurance exchange?

Moral of the story: DIYNew Jersey’s federally run health insurance exchange only enrolled 741 people in the month of October according to an editorial in the Star-Ledger.

It’s disconcerting to see that New Jersey had the opportunity to create their own specific health exchange with $100 to $200 million from the federal government. The funding would have covered the creation of the marketplace and funded it through the first year.

So, I am patiently waiting to hear how the re-elected governor explains this terrible fumble to the people he built relationships with.


MOOC for Philanthropy: Learn How to Give With A Purpose

This summer, the first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Philanthropy will be offered by the Learning by Giving Foundation.  It will be comprised of six compact classes and complemented by interviews with guest speakers such as Warren Buffett, Doris Buffett, Cal Ripken, Jr., Soledad O’Brien, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

The class is hosted on Course Builder, an open source project led by Google.

Since many of the MOOCs currently offered focus on STEM, this is definitely a unique course offering. And even though many universities offer traditional online courses in nonprofit ethics, grant making and fundraising, none of them are MOOCs.

When I took the LearningbyGiving class at Tufts University, our class received a $10,000 grant to distribute to local nonprofit organizations. Each student was paired with a local nonprofit and wrote a grant proposal on behalf of the organization. Unfortunately, the organization I represented did not receive the grant. But overall the entire experience, from the the class discussion to deciding on the criteria to judge each organization was vivid and thought-provoking.

So, I’m curious to see how this model will work in a MOOC format. And, if you’re as curious as me, sign up!


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Can We Unlock Data in the Social Sector?

Nanodots; data storage
National Institute of Standards and Technology


Last week I way too much time trying to find 2010 census tract level data for population, income, and age for 15 municipalities in NJ. It was a complete disaster. The data I needed was contained within a data set that was not coded for use in Microsoft Excel (the only statistical analysis software I have access to at work). So, I know how difficult it can be to access data and analyze it for practical application.

“The lack of interoperability between [data] systems leads to wasted time and frustration. Even those who are motivated to use data end up spending more time and effort on gathering, combining, and analyzing data, and less time on applying it to ongoing learning, performance improvement, and smarter decision-making.”

But, all hope is not lost. The 2013 Data Interoperability Grantmaking Challenge is charged with looking for groundbreaking ideas to help improve data in the social sector. As a recent GMN Blog post summarizes, “data and information are critical tools for making change in our world, but they are tools that are currently difficult to access and use.” If those in the social sector cannot use data in relevant ways to do their work, what is the value of the data existing?

Applications will be accepted online from March 4 through May 7, 2013, 11:30 AM PST. Each challenge winner will receive a grant of $100,000.

More information can be found at:



#GivingTuesday Explained

“In a nutshell, #GivingTuesday aims to do for the nonprofit sector what Black Friday and Cyber Monday have done for the retail industry: build excitement and engage a large audience.”

Cheryl Black, blogger for npENGAGE

To learn more about the #GivingTuesday campaign watch this video and visit

Guest Post: It’s a Noisy Planet

Everyday we are bombarded with sounds and noises, but how often do we think what this exposure could cause permanent hearing loss?

Because of this, the National Institute of National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the issue. I think their slogan, “It’s A Noisy Planet: Protect Their Hearing,” is rather catchy. 

Today’s post comes from, John O’Connor, read his blog at

Help Your Hearing Later by Making Lifestyle Changes Now

When it comes to discussions about making lifestyle changes, some people are gung ho for it and other people cringe in dread.  Sometimes, all a person needs is a little bit of information to learn just how much a few minor lifestyle changes can positively benefit them, both now and later.

A person’s hearing in their later years is often dependent on how they have lived previously.  While there are many illnesses and natural causes and accidents that can damage a person’s ability to hear, there are also many lifestyle choices people make that play an important role in determining how well they can hear.

Use Electronics Responsibly to Help Protect Your Hearing

In modern times, electronics play an important part of millions of lives.  Not only do people use cell phones and typically have them either attached to their bodies or resting within arm’s reach, but many people also go through their daily lives with cell phone ear pieces attached to their ears.  Having this constant noise at a moderate or high volume be a consistent part of a person’s life can damage a person’s ability to hear.  Keeping cell phone volumes turned as low as possible and refusing to wear ear pieces except when it is absolutely necessary is a great action to take to help protect hearing ability.

Listening to music, playing video games, and watching TV are other activities that millions of people participate in on a daily basis.  Many times, people are talking during the activities and the volume steadily gets pushed higher to hear the sound over other noises in a home.  Becoming aware of volume and making a deliberate effort to keep all volumes at a low or medium sound level can help to protect the hearing of every person in the home.  This is also a great action parents can take to help educate their children about the importance of volume on electronics and how it can affect their hearing.

Develop New Patterns for You and Your Family

Teaching children and teenagers about the potential damage loud music and other forms of media can cause to a person’s hearing is a fantastic tool to depart to your children.  When children and teens learn at an early age how to be responsible and use electronics wisely, they will begin establishing healthy patterns and making smart choices when it comes to the way they use their electronics.   This will provide them with multiple benefits over the course of their lives.

While it may be necessary for a person to wear a hearing aid to help restore partial hearing ability that has been lost, there are also numerous things parents can do to educate their children about electronics and how to protect their ears and their hearing.

To learn more about the campaign, visit the Noisy Planet. The website is a highly-informative and easy-to-read government resource that gives parents tips on how to help control the noise their families are exposed to.

1,000 Random Acts of Culture [VIDEO]

In today’s digitally connected world it is easy to forget the feeling one feels when being present to experience a live performances. The Knight Foundation’s Random Acts of Culture program is making the once elite world of live  music and artistic performances accessible to everyday people with the use of flash mobs. Over the past two years, they have become centerpiece community events throughout the world. While some flash mobs have incited violence, the majority are done for entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.

Dennis Scholl, VP of arts at the Knight Foundation and creator of the Random Acts of Culture Program explained,

“These are interesting ways to connect communities to culture. As society changes and we get deeper into our digital lives, we tend to move away from the ways we entertained ourselves previously.”

In the past two years Knight Foundation’s program has somehow planted over 1,000 flash mob performances throughout the United States. In collaboration with arts organizations in eight U.S. cities (Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; Macon, Georgia; Miami; Philadelphia; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota) they have brought seemingly spontaneous performances to malls, farmer’s markets, office building lobbies, train stations, and elsewhere.

To see the exact places and arts organizations involved, you can view their public list that tracks performances from 2010 up until June of this year.

The Oatmeal: Online Humor Website Raises $100K to Save the Bears and Cure Cancer

What if I told you an online humor website raised $20,000 in 64 minutes? And then proceeded to do it multiple times to amass a whopping $80,000 and counting. I know this sounds ludicrous, but I promise you that this is not a joke or some ill-conceived hoax.

Instead, Matthew Inman, creator of popular webcomic, The Oatmeal, was recently notified that he would have to pay $20,000 in damages or face possible lawsuit from disgruntled competitor, FunnyJunk. In protest of the frivolous demand, he’s running the  BearLove Good. Cancer Bad fundraiser. And to date, it has already raised $103,748 with 15 days left in the campaign. This excerpt from his comic (see below), contains details of the fundraiser. But the entire comic, can be found here.


Image Source

Upon first glance, Inman, might seem to be over-reacting. But, how would you feel if your intellectual property was constantly stolen and then the thief sent you an invoice for said theft? Exactly. I bet you would be upset, too. Logically, you might even think of counter-suing. Not surprisingly, Inman did what he knows best and turned the situation into a humorous and philanthropic moment. In a time when many organization are clamoring to get donations, The Oatmeal has proven otherwise. Heck, even I’m having bit of trouble fundraising for own my Crowdrise StrartingBloc campaign. However, I do not have a loyal readership of millions of readers to galvanize around a special cause. And some people are still convinced social media is not useful.

What do you think about Inman’s creative use of fundraising?

[UPDATE]: As of  6/20/2012 the fundraiser surpassed their goal by raising $204, 305.

5 Applications to Help Grants Managers Save Time

caffeinating, calculating, computerating by ryantron

A few days ago, a friend asked, “what do you do at work” and I struggled to find a good answer. Perhaps, you have that challenge as well. On any given day I can be found doing a variety of tasks with my daily priorities are always changing. I remember when I first started working, I wished I had more work and responsibility because reading proposals and filing was monotonous. But no sooner did I ask for more work, I received it. And now I have more than enough to fill my day. I think I probably have enough to warrant an intern, but I’ll save that discussion for another time.

In between answering grantee phone calls, responding to emails, updating or creating website content, drafting grant agreements or even preparing for meetings I can easily forgot what some my priorities are. So, a few weeks ago I started to keep track of the amount time spent on each task. As you are probably guessing, it quickly became overwhelming. However, it made me extremely aware of how much time I was not using effectively. Even with a detailed weekly to do list, something always seemed to to be forgetten or responded to late. Do you know how much time I lost doing a simple Google search? I think I accidentally spent 30 minutes looking that piece of information. For that reason I was elated when I found an old post on Lifehacker called Five Best Time-Tracking Applications. The story gives details about 5 popular time-tracking applications that their readers use to help manage their time. Although the post is from 3 years ago, all the applications  are still in existence and have positive user feedback.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to find one that fits my needs and easily tracks my time with as little input from me.
  1. Klok (All platforms with Adobe AIR, Free)
  2. Manic Time (Windows, Free)
  3. SlimTimer (Web-Based, Free)
  4. RescueTime (Windows/Mac, Free)
  5. Project Hamster (Linux, Free)
What do you do to save time during your workday? Do you use time-tracking software or other techniques?

Philanthropy Jargon Generator

Looking for a way to put a bit of levity in your work day? Or perhaps your latest grant proposal or grant review packet needs colorful prose? Then you should try using the Philanthropy Jargon Generator. There you’ll find useful phrases such as:

identify organizational frameworks

brainstorm multimedia e-advocacy

define coordinated consultancies

extend digital community-building

But my favorite phrase is, “drill down on innovative information architecture.” Do you have a favorite?

You’ve be warned, though. This generator is simply for entertainment purposes. I highly discourage using it in a professional setting, unless you expect to be called out on your made up jargon, no matter how much the terms create legitimate-sounding phrases.