Friday, July 31, 2009

Twitter-ific, Twitter Inspired

There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.
~ Winston Churchill

I have to say I have been truly amazing and inspired by the world that is Twitter! While it often takes a lot of time and upkeep and yes, many of the tweets often feel like bombardments of sales pitches, it is well worth the time and energy put in.

Over the last few weeks, I have had calls with people I have connected with on and through Twitter and I have been completely inspired! Thank you! And it got me excited to talk to many more Twitter-friends to come!

When I moved to LA, I was amazed by this place that so many people dislike because for me I found a haven. For me, I found home. LA is the land of misfit toys. Do you remember that land in the childhood favorite TV show Rudolf The Red Nosed-Reindeer, where all the “misfit” toys go when they are rejected by Santa’s elves if they are deemed not good enough to be given out on Christmas? Well, LA is a lot like that, people who haven’t fit any where else, fit in here. We are dreamers, we are believers. Why else do you think it is called the City of Angels?

You may think I digress, but here’s the tie in. While LA is the land of misfit toys, Twitter of the online land of misfit toys – maybe? Or maybe not? I am not quite sure, but whatever it is, it is a community where you can be yourself and share all of you. Some days you may share what you know, what you have learned, what is the latest and greatest news or information in your fields of interest and expertise. Other days, you may share about your travels or random laughs or other stories and in doing so you begin to expose all of you.

I have heard it said (by @chrisbrogan, among others) that the universe of Twitter and similar sites, will bring us more into alignment as a culture, society and world. That is, now that we are exposing more of our personal and professional lives, we can’t continue to compartmentalize those pieces of ourselves and we are moving in the direction of better aligning our whole selves. And if we aren’t in integrity in one part of our lives, it will now, more emphatically bleed into the rest of our life. So the good news is: we are almost completely being forced into better alignment. The bad news? I don’t think this is really bad news, but some might: if we did have the tendency of being out of integrity or alignment, we might have to be a bit more careful about all that we do and say personally and professionally so as not to get caught. How cool is that, a technology like Twitter can do all that?

Anyway, here are a few of the amazing people I have met in the Twitter-verse for this #FollowFriday! I am grateful for their wisdom, friendship, mutual respect and support!

@changevnglst - Sidney Hargro is a community philanthropy professional, yet his passion is social innovation, being a change agent, connecting and promoting others. He is a relentless idealist, and is fun, passionate, compassionate human being! His blog is at: - enjoy the balance between head and heart!

@pauldunn is an entrepreneur and the Chair of Buy1GIVE1 ( He is a thoughtful, insighful philanthropist who cares deeply about leaving a legacy on this planet and inspiring others to do the same. Check him out!

@stevedrake is the CEO of DrakeCo, an accredited Association Management Company. However, Steve is also passionate about cause marketing. You can also check out his tweets at @causeaholic! His blog is at:

@drguenette is a mind-body specialist, healer and philosopher. He is working on a project to explore peace in healing - both inner and outer peace as the solutions to all of our healing. He is an inspiring soul, more at:

What do you find inspiring or terrific about Twitter? Who inspires you?

That is it for another exciting #followfriday! Thank you all for inspiring me and hopefully Twitter will continue to connect and inspire others! I may be found on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook Peace!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

That Crazy Thing Called LOVE

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage. ~ Lao Tzu

I wanted to start writing a blog tonight about how much Twitter has inspired me...but I'll have to save that for next time, as it got trumped by this blog about that thing we call LOVE.

What is the magical thing about LOVE – that inspires, encourages and invigorates us when it hits? When it happens, it usually throws us off kilter for days, weeks, even longer.

What is it about love that makes us take such pleasure and joy in the little things, the silly things about the object of our affections? That in loving them, we love everything about them – the way their nose sits on their face, the way their eyes penetrate through our soul when they look at us, or their hands shake when they talk, or the way their brilliant minds work, or how a little drool comes from their mouth every so often when they talk. That being with that person makes everything else go away as we feel that nothing else, other than that moment of being together, matters.

And why is it that when it happens, so often we retreat, afraid to be totally honest and put it all on the line for the one we love? Why do we often feel we have to protect ourselves and when might we be able to be totally truthful with ourselves and them?

I’m starting to realize the power of this thing called LOVE. When you really love someone, you give them the space they need to be who they are and to do what they need to do. Loving someone means respecting them in their journey and trusting that if it is meant to be it will be. Loving someone is knowing deep down that no matter what their love looks like in return, that we can still make the conscious choice to love them pure and simply.

Love is not needing a partner but wanting a partner. Love is not asking how much I must do, but how much I can do. Love is allowing someone to just be.

In my book, BEing the Present: 101 Ways to Inspire Living and Giving (, I wrote about loving fully (#25). I wrote that love is about risking, loving 100% and loving all the way rather than part of the way because of a fear of the other person’s reaction, of what they might think or that they might not love you back as fully.

But that is what love is. When you love fully and unconditionally, it doesn’t matter whether they love you back, nor if the way they love you back is the way you wish for it or want it to look. When we love someone and allow them to be who they are, we are allowing ourselves to be who we are and loving and respecting ourselves in the process.

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook

Friday, July 17, 2009

9 More News & Latest on Giving & Social Media

Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won’t laugh at you. ~ Jim Rohn

Every few weeks, I go back through and review the latest news on what’s happening around giving and social media. I can’t quite seem to keep up, but made an attempt this time to create categories for the future…we’ll see how it goes. As with everything, it seems that there is more and more happening with giving, which is good news! May you keep up with it and find these resources and articles useful to help you in your efforts to create change on the planet!

Celebrities & Giving
Stories of Change.
Jeff Skoll and Robert Redford partner to make films about social entrepreneurs. Combining the resources of Skoll's foundation and Redford's Sundance Institute, they set up a $3-million film project called Stories of Change, from which more than 300 proposals, 10 film projects received grants of up to $150,000 to produce documentaries.

Benefiting Water. Matt Damon, H2O Africa co-founder, and Gary White, WaterPartners executive director and co-founder, have joined forces to co-found a new organization – – a non-profit focused on bringing access to safe water and sanitation to the developing world. will help bring safe water to nearly 890 million people and safe sanitation to over 2.5 billion people. More at

Politics & Giving
Social Innovation Fund Latest. The Social Innovation Fund, created by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, signed in April, will provide money for nonprofit to expand innovative social projects or start promising new ones, focusing on results and requiring matching funds. Matching funds must be provided by private sources or state or local governments. Spending is continent on Congressional approval and this week a House subcommittee proposed trimming the new Social Innovation Fund from $50-million to $35-million. Advocacy groups are urging Congress to fully finance the program to help people and organizations hit by the economic crisis. More at: and

Corporate Giving
Sustainability Index.
Walmart ($406 billion in revenues in 2008) is developing an ambitious plan to measure the sustainability of every product it sells – a sustainability index. Wal-Mart has been working on the index for over a year and will likely start using it on products in a year or two. Much like labeling in the food industry has changed business, this idea has the potential to transform the way businesses track their environmental impact. Keep your eyes open

Sustainability Characteristics for Nonprofits. TCC recently surveyed over 700 organizations to identify ten key characteristics of sustainable nonprofits. The report, The Sustainability Formula: How Nonprofit Organizations Can Thrive in the Emerging Economy found that leadership, adaptability and program capacity are key factors in nonprofit sustainability. For the full 13 page report (pdf) go to:

Managing Nonprofits in Tough Times. In a follow up to their recent report (, Bridgespan released a quick guide with 7 steps to manage your nonprofit during hard times, including: acting quickly but with contingencies; protecting the core of your mission; staying close to key funders; communicating regularly and otherwise.

Social Media & Giving
Merits of Social Media.
An article by Katya Andresen on Beth Kanter’s blog lists 7 ways to convince your skeptical boss that social media has merit. Worthwhile:

Facebook Causes. On July 10th, Facebook Causes Eclipsed $10 million in giving in just over two years. $5 million alone was donated in 2009 with median donations at $25, 26,000 causes and 192,000 unique donors.

Twitter Giving. A recent Washington Post article highlights the benefits of fundraising through Twitter. The best part: “Some may argue that the thousands raised through social media sites doesn’t match the millions raised through traditional tactics. But most [nonprofits] are relatively late adopters to new technologies; and the success we have seen this early is probably an indicator of the potential that is yet to be unharnessed.” Interestingly enough with other reports that nonprofits are actually adopting social media quickly, there is a huge untapped potential.

Access Charity. In a series of articles on nonprofits and social media, Access Charity highlights some of the effects and impacts of social media for nonprofits and resources and strategies for a successful online presence

Instant mobile payments. Obopay, a company funded by Nokia, provides the ability to complete transactions through your mobile phone. With Obopay, you can get, send and spend money from your mobile phone. Nonprofits can use it to gain donations as well. Worth keeping an eye on

The Power of Cell Phones. One of the latest uses of mobile technology to improve health, known as mHealth. This is the use of mobile phones and texting to increase communication between rural health clinics, providers and other to enhance health care in developing and low-resource countries. What else will mobile phones be used for?

Mobile phone recycling for nonprofits. A mobile phone recycling company, SHP Limited, in the UK has launched a website,, to allow users to recycle their mobile phones into cash with the option to keep some for themselves and give some to nonprofits. More at

Giving Trends
Young donor survey.
A survey of young donors shows trends in giving for under 35-ers. While young donors are an increasing population of donors, particularly online, data doesn’t reveal why young donors give less (due to affordability, expectations, or otherwise).

Nonprofit Investment Report. A recent poll conducted by SEI’s Nonprofit Management Research Panel, with 160 U.S. based nonprofits with assets ranging from $25 million to $1 billion found that 71 percent of nonprofits are making changes in their investment profiles due to the economic volatility. The economic changes have required nonprofits to adjust their allocations (US vs. global), use of consultants for investment management, and otherwise (

Giving study. A recent Barclays Wealth study of 500 wealthy individuals in the UK and US revealed that 75 percent had not reduced their contributions to nonprofits with more than one in four increasing their giving in the last 18 months, despite the economic recession. The report also found that donors are becoming more discerning in their giving and prefer giving to smaller organizations than the larger institutional nonprofits.

Giving Resources
Online Donation Conversion Study. A recent study published by Donordigital researched ways to optimize your donation landing and conversion rates to increase giving. While for some organizations, only 10 percent of people who land on a donation page actually complete the transaction and give, this report provides some recommendations on how to enhance conversion from landing to gift, including: using horizontal vs. vertical string layouts, providing a smaller range of giving ($35-250), including info on the organizations mission visible, creating a clear, visible and large donation buttons, and keeping forms simple and streamlined. More at: and

Community Fundraising Resource. The Linchpin Campaign of the Center for Community Change has released a free, downloadable new manual on reaching major donors about community organizing. The manual, Untapped: How Community Organizers Can Develop and Deepen Relationships with Major Donors and Raise Big Money, is a valuable resource for nonprofit’s fundraising toolbox.

Additional resources: – resource of some of the top experts in social causes, activism; UK Fundraising's latest blogger; – the home of tens of thousands of nonprofit professionals

Charity Navigator.
President Ken Berger received skepticism and questions at the annual InterAction conference when he spoke about efforts to change nonprofit ratings system. There is quite a debate about Charity Navigator’s new rating system, what are your thoughts? Weigh in at:

Kiva Controversy.’s recent addition of entrepreneurs from the United States has spurred significant debate among people who make loans through the Web site. A number of members have started a group called Unhappy Kiva Lenders on the site that urge Kiva to stop the loans in the US as they claim that Kiva’s mission is to “alleviate poverty” and believe the loans to US entrepreneurs goes beyond the scope of the mission. Weigh in on the discuss at Chronicle of Philanthropy

Let me know if there are any of these articles that are particularly useful, what more you would like to see and what less. Enjoy and happy #followfriday!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Monday, July 13, 2009

A New Paradigm of Giving: Opportunity or Limitation?

A generous man forgets what he gives and remembers what he receives. ~Old Proverb

I have been working in philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, nonprofit and policy change efforts for nearly 15 years. In that time, I have seen a lot of changes. But I will say none have seemed so profound and significant as those going on today. I wrote in one of my last blogs about the changes going on and the divide between the old paradigm and new paradigm.

As Katherine Fulton talked on TED ( about the democratization of philanthropy and the changes that are coming with it, I began to think about the implications of this.

When I began working in philanthropy and corporate social responsibility many years ago, these organizations mostly did giving that felt good and had a “charity”-based approach to philanthropy. That is, give to causes and things that feel good, yet not necessarily always track the outcomes. In my work, I often worked with organizations to become more strategic in their giving – how could they get to the bottom of a problem, rather than just keep giving into perpetuity to the same causes over and over again without addressing or solving some of the root causes and utilizing policy to create more sustainable changes.

When I started, this concept was new and uncomfortable for most philanthropists. But now, it has become the norm as foundations, corporations and other philanthropists have become more "sophisticated," strategic and outcome-oriented in their giving. Now, there has to be a balance in giving between it feeling good (to our hearts) and being truly measurable and having the most impact (for our heads). Isn’t this true for life too?

The implications of this latest wave of philanthropy, as Katherine Fulton calls it, the “democratization of philanthropy,” are interesting. On one hand it is exciting to see all the momentum and passion behind giving by many more people, companies, celebrities and others that we haven’t seen in a long time. Yet, at the same time, the “sophistication” of this type of giving is very different and there seem to be some similar trends in it as early giving, where it is more a charitable giving model. This giving seems to feel good and while it is more democratized as some philanthropists are putting money out there to have users vote on their favorite nonprofits. The nonprofits with the most votes then receive funding – perhaps not the most strategic approach, but definitely innovative and an opportunity to capitalize on.

However, as it has taken philanthropists and “experts” in the field several years to become more sophisticated and strategic about how best to have the most impact, as we have a new generation of givers – celebrities, individuals and others using new media for giving, it will take some time to see the same sophistication through social media and online philanthropic ventures.

Whatever the case may be, the reality is that this democratization of giving is happening. Giving is becoming more popular, more common, more "sexy" and more accessible with new social media tools, cause marketing, branding and otherwise. Therefore, as many of the traditional philanthropists and nonprofits are still hesitant to fully utilize the internet and social media, the reality is that it is here to stay.

The opportunities will be
  • for experts in strategic giving to share in the responsibility to help move giving towards outcomes, results and maximum leveraging and impact while at the same time learning from the innovation that comes with these new media and mechanisms for giving; and
  • for everyone to find ways to bring together the viral, motivating, mass movement and democratization capabilities of online philanthropy with more strategic approaches to giving to create results, accountability, leveraging, impact and, ultimately, change on the planet.

So that this may become a cycle that motivates people to give more, change more, impact more, increase giving and incorporate giving into every facet of professional, personal and spiritual life so that the cycle may continue into perpetuity to create solutions for our world.

How are you combining social media and strategic accountability to create more impact for your nonprofit, philanthropy or otherwise? What direction do you think we are moving in? What do you see as the opportunities? And the limitations? Share with me on Twitter or Facebook!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy

I have never fully gotten what gratitude meant until recently. Some definitions for gratitude include:

  • A feeling of thankfulness and appreciation
  • A positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive
  • A state of being grateful
  • An appreciative awareness and thankfulness, as for kindness shown or something received.

For me gratitude is loving, living, giving and being thankful for everything that is put into my life – the good and the bad. The bad, the painful and the sad are all just things to help us along our way and journey in this lifetime. They allow us to make a choice – to choose to live in victim or to step up and live to our full potential, to strive and reach for and beyond our wildest dreams. And the good, well, that is obvious…but the good things allow us to celebrate, to live in joy, to have fun, to dance, twirl, swirl and acknowledge all the beauty and abundance around us. The good things propel us forward and remind us in the bad times of what to keep believing in and striving for. Both the good and the bad remind us of who we are, what our boundaries are and how to keep moving forward in faith, patience and trust.

I’ve had a lot of pain in my life, a lot of heart ache. But haven’t we all? For a long time, I chose to feel sorry for myself, to be resentful for all the pain and hurt. Those were dark, angry, resentful and sick years. Now I am healthy and happy – happier than I’ve ever been. I am grateful for everything.

Gratitude is being thankful for the people who hurt me and those who disappointed me for those were gifts to help me grow, change and choose to live in love, not fear. They taught me what I want in life, how to set my boundaries, how to stand up for myself and certainly what I don’t want. Gratitude is being grateful for the people who believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself and continued to remind me of my own greatness. Gratitude is opening my heart and allowing myself to love again and trust again after being wounded, yet knowing that it is all possible. Gratitude is loving others when they don’t love themselves. Gratitude is loving myself purely, simply and honestly.

What does gratitude mean to you? What are you grateful for? How can you choose to live in gratitude today – and every day? Thank you for being in my life and supporting me in the ways that you do!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Friday, July 10, 2009

Feeling Alive

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. ~Joseph Campbell

When was the last time you felt really alive? I mean that you felt at the core of your being just pure life, vitality and passion. When you didn’t feel lethargic, resentful, achy, sad or any sort of ailment? I bet for many of you, it has been a long time! I know it was for me…a few years ago. Yet, thankfully, today I feel more alive and in love with my life than I ever could have imagined!

I remember reading Paul Coehlo’s book, The Alchemist – it was a real turning point for me in my life. If you haven’t read it, I would highly encourage, in fact, I’d even urge you to read it, if you haven’t. It is an amazing tale of a boy who sets off on a journey to find his dreams. The part that I remember is that along the way to his dreams he stumbles upon a crystal shop that has dusty crystal. He goes in to tell the owner that if he’d clean his crystal he might actually sell more crystal. The owner hires him and he proceeds to clean the crystal and the shop begins to truly thrive. As it does, the boy stays on longer and continues to support the owner with the shop, until one day he realizes he is stuck in the crystal shop. That is, he has stopped continuing on in progressing towards his dreams and has been lulled by comfort, complacency and the material gains that have resulted from working in the crystal shop. When he decides to set back out to go after his dreams, others think he is crazy for leaving the comforts and goods he has attained.

I remember at the time I read this, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt constricted in my throat and stomach – I too, was stuck in the crystal shop. How long had it been for me since I had truly felt alive and even dared to go after my dreams? I was stuck in the comforts of every day life, having things, acquiring things, buying things and pretty much living in a dead state. I was so numb I didn’t even know what my dreams were at that point. The funny thing is I was also sick with all sorts of random things at the time. Interesting how the body let’s you know it when things aren’t right, when you aren’t in alignment.

The bad news is that it took me a while to do anything significant about it. The good news is I finally did wake up and start pursuing my passions again and living my life fully and feeling oh so alive. When was the last time you felt really alive? Are you stuck in the proverbial crystal shop? What will you do to turn your life around and start heading in the right direction – in the direction of your dreams, in the direction of your heart? Don’t get stuck in the crystal shop, because as you do, your body, mind and soul begin to wither with it. As it was said in Shawshank Redemption, “You can either get busy living or get busy dying.” May you get busy living and start really feeling alive again.

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Monday, July 6, 2009

Old Paradigm: New Paradigm in Giving

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.
~ George Bernard Shaw

I had a conversation with a nonprofit recently that got me thinking about how times are changing and what an amazing paradigm shift we are going through. It made me wonder how many people, organizations, nonprofits and others will make it through this paradigm shift? And what will be the tipping point in this shift?

There have been a lot of recent articles and blogs about the changes in the giving industry and how giving has declined, nonprofit numbers are up, how philanthropy is changing and where we are headed (,,,,, What seems apparent to me is there are two camps – which I am calling the old paradigm and the new paradigm.

The old paradigm: In this paradigm, there is a lot of gloom and doom about the economy, the lack of dollars and increasing competition for those resources. Interestingly enough most of these people and organizations are utilizing the old systems and are more resistant to explore and take advantage of new systems – such as online fundraising, cause marketing partnerships and other social media and opportunities. Partially, the question they ask is, “Where is the proof that these mechanisms work in fundraising? And what if these mechanisms are just the next sexy fad that blows by with little to no real measurable gains for nonprofits and change?” Excellent questions that absolutely still need to be answered. Yet, it is amazing to me the focus on the skepticism rather than the opportunity.

The new paradigm: From my experience, the people who have already shifted into the new paradigm have a certain energy, enthusiasm and excitement to them. These are the early adopters of social media (relatively speaking) who are on Twitter, Facebook and otherwise, testing out these new applications and, possibly, more importantly, spreading some extremely positive energy to engage people, corporations, and others to give and create change on the planet. Just in the last week I have seen several opportunities on line in which funds are available through these social media (,,,, Research has even shown that nonprofits are adapting social media faster than business and education ( and So there is definitely movement in this direction.

The reality is that – whether you like it or not, trust that it will be beneficial or not – the internet and social media are here – and all signs point that they are here to stay and are connecting people like never before. Currently, online giving makes up less than 10% of the over $300 billion dollar giving industry ( Yet, in the 2008 Presidential election, Obama raised 33% of overall campaign dollars online – and in under $200 increments – that means there is still a significant amount of untapped potential to be reached online ( and Additionally, while giving decreased for the first time in many years ( and and maybe will continue to decline this year, these losses won’t continue forever as it has been estimated that giving will reach $600 billion by 2020 and that by then over 50% of giving will be online ( and That means there is a lot of room for growth and opportunity to take advantage of.

Yet if you have studied paradigm shifts or know anything about them, change usually doesn’t come by working within an existing system and trying to change it from within. Rather, change comes by identifying a problem and then stepping outside the system to create new parallel systems and ideas that eventually replace the old paradigms, e.g. tape, to cd/dvd, to ipod; typewriter to word processor to computer and beyond.

I learned this the hard way, by working within the system, with nonprofits, policymakers, businesses, foundations and others, for many years trying to change the systems from within and feeling like I was banging my head against a wall every day in that process. Since then, I have stepped away from the immediate center of the problem to gain a fresh perspective and find new solutions outside of the way things were being done that can perhaps begin to provide new solutions (and paradigms) to old problems (and paradigms).

While this is exciting, there are definitely some limitations and issues to explore further as we adopt social and other media to expand nonprofit visibility and efforts to create change. But I’ll touch on those in one of my upcoming blogs!

In the mean time, the question is, will you be part of the new paradigm or will you get left behind? Will you be one of the reasonable or unreasonable people? What can you do to catch the wave and be sure to utilize the web and social media to gain resources not lose them? Check out my blog and that of others out there, as they may just help you get pointed in the right direction and so that we may all begin working together to create change on the planet and move our world in the right direction.

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Friday, July 3, 2009

Another 9+ Latest Resources on Giving & Social Media

We must not only give what we have; we must also give what we are.~ Desire Joseph Mercier

As I sat down to write about the latest news this week, I thought about something I heard recently – we receive as much as we give, but we don’t give expecting to receive. When we give, we give all that we are so we can make a difference. Hopefully, this week’s latest resources will help you to give more from your heart and head, to have a greater impact on the planet.

1. Obama and Giving
President Obama pledged $50 million from the Social Innovation Fund to provide aid towards the most promising nonprofits in the country. The social innovation fund, part of the Serve America Act was created by Edward M. Kennedy signed into law this spring. Additionally, $650 million was pledged for the What Works Fund in the Department of Education to invest in high-impact initiatives in schools and communities. The fund will be managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service to rigorously evaluate outcomes to identify promising programs. Obama also called on foundations, businesses and philanthropists to take an active role with matching investments from the private sector to create a public-private-nonprofit partnership

2. Giving Trends
Several recent reports highlight the impacts of the economy on nonprofits and fundraising.
§ A May 2009 Bridgespan report ( that was a follow-up to a November 2008 survey of 100 nonprofit leaders found that 92 percent were experiencing adverse effects due to the economy, up from 75 percent in November. The report found that 49 percent of leaders said their organization’s financial situation had worsened, funding declines jumped from 52 to 69 percent and those reporting funding declines over 20 percent increased from 13 to 24 percent. Despite the reports of increasing nonprofit layoffs, programmatic reductions and reserve draw downs, leaders appeared to be optimistic about the future
§ Another study by Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project ( conducted in April 2009, found that 80 percent of nonprofit leaders reported experiencing financial stress with 40 percent experiencing severe stress.
§ According to the latest Target Analytics Index of National Fundraising Performance, the number of new donors dropped by 13% and overall revenue per donor declined 2.1% (

3. Corporate Giving
Three recent reports and events share lessons in corporate giving.
§ The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) found that as corporate giving was down 8% in 2008, CEO’s practices around giving emphasize the importance of authenticity and direct connection to corporate identity (
§ At the Corporate Philanthropy Summit, companies found that given the economy, companies have to align giving directly to their business and eliminate programs that don’t relate (
§ Additionally, a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy report found that despite decreases in corporate giving, companies continued to give a median of 1 percent of their 2007 pretax profits to nonprofits. The report highlights biggest corporate givers in cash and in-kind with leading companies including Wal-Mart, Oracle, Exxon, Pfizer, Merck and others (

4. Funding Opportunities
After several conversations recently with nonprofits about whether or not social media was worth it for nonprofits, I wanted to add some funding opportunities that I found announced on social media sites worth checking out.
§ Google Gmail Creator, Paul Bucheit, will donate to IRS recognized nonprofits that are suggested and voted on through a google moderator application ( and friend feed ( – Make sure to post your nonprofit and share with your constituents to vote.
§ The Community Tech Knowledge Foundation Philanthropic Fund has released the Heart and Soul Grant Award Program for a nonprofit organization to submit a poem to provide an opportunity to create a song and receive $10,000 cash reward to promote their nonprofit mission with heart (
§ CommuniCause is offering a $25,000 social media makeover to nonprofits by submitting the name of your nonprofit online and encouraging others to vote (
§ Nike is offering $650,000 in grants for groups that use sports as a tool to change the community. Groups can apply at and then can use Facebook and Twitter to encourage people to vote (

5. Giving Lists
Here are some interesting giving lists I found this week:
§ SocialEarth's Top 100 Social Entrepreneurs to follow
§ The Top 100 Tweeps to Follow for Social Entrepreneurship
§ Best listing of click to give sites by Bioneers:

6. Giving & Social Media
Ok, so here are some of the latest tips and resources for nonprofits in using social media:
§ YouTube released a product called, Call-To-Action Overlay that is a semi-transparent pop-up that links viewers to any website you choose ( The tool enables nonprofits to link to a donation page, blog, a petition, volunteer sign-up page or otherwise.
§ In a guest post on Beth Kanter’s blog, Jordan Viator writes about 5 tools that nonprofits can use to enhance their online presence and efficiency including social networks, video, file sharing, email and user experience (
§ A great article on how to leverage social media to create change through philanthropy (

7. For discussion
§ Here are a couple more blogs for the discussion about the pros and cons of cause marketing, what are your thoughts? Check them out: and
§ The nonprofit world is discussing the new social innovation fund, what do you think?

8. Nonprofits and Branding
Here is some information on nonprofits and branding:
§ A new Cone report, in collaboration with Intangible Business, ( explores the relationship between nonprofit brand image and financial performance and provides the first public ranking of 100 nonprofit organization brands in the U.S.
§ is providing the opportunity for nonprofits to brand their profiles (

9. Additional Resources
Here are just a couple additional resources that I thought might be useful:
§ 9 tips for optimizing a nonprofit site with SEO; and
§ Too Busy To Read Tweets? Try Twitter For Busy People -

Hopefully, these are useful for another week of the latest in online, giving, social entrepreneurial and social media news. Keep sending information, resources and reports my way and I’ll do my best to include the best of the best on a regular basis (note: I can’t commit to weekly, but will do my best to do it as often as I can). Have a great #FollowFriday and July 4th weekend ahead!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Courage to Be Who You Really Are

It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are. ~ e.e. cummings

I had started a bunch of blogs about philanthropy, paradigm shifts and change, but this came up so I wanted to share it first and you’ll have to wait until later for the others on giving! Enjoy!

It is amazing how much changes, with just the passage of time. I have just spent a few weeks back in Denver, Colorado, where I lived for 11 years, to wrap up some personal affairs and do business as I build OneGiving ( During my drive out, I thought about how much my life has changed in one year and how young and afraid I felt on my way out to move to California to follow my dreams as I walked away from my comfortable career. I also realized how much more confident and at peace I feel just one year later. It has taken me a long time to get to this place. But then again, sometimes people never get here.

I recently read the most amazing blog about the courage to be wrong ( The author, Jonathan Morrow, wrote about how, for so much of our life, we are taught, or trained, to say the right thing, know the right people, dress the right way and so on in order to be successful and happy. Yet the reality is that this conformity that we are taught comes at the cost of losing our sense of self and this need to be right and perfect begins to consume, confine and constrict us to our own prison and hell. The blog goes on to state that the reality is that the people who we take notice of (and probably those that are the happiest too) are the people who have the courage to be wrong – to pervert the norm and do things that are so completely unexpected that people can’t help but pay attention.

As I read the blog, I began to cry. It was so profound and true it resonated into the depths of my being. It is why I love the e.e.cummings quote about how courageous it is to be who you really are. The blog by Jonathan Morrow and the quote remind me so much of where I am today and the choices I am making, even if sometimes my intellectual mind tries to convince me otherwise.

I have had a couple of interesting experiences on my visit with old friends that have also reminded me how much I have grown and how far I have come in living fully in my truth and having the courage to truly be who I really am.

One of my friends told me that she always really loved being around me because I was passionate, but that for a long time whenever I would come to her house, she would wonder what I would complain or argue (though passionately, she added) about. When she reconnected with me, she told me she saw a light, passion and peace that had truly transformed me. It reminded me of something someone once told me about it being harder to move an apathetic person in the direction of action than a negative person in the direction of light because at least the negative person was passionate, and hence movable, whereas the apathetic person was lulled into inaction.

The other experience was with an old friend and colleague who made me really laugh when he said, “Yeah, I’ve been getting all these emails from you and they are very peace and lovey. I wondered to myself, wow, she really has gotten pretty far out there, what happened to her passion and conviction about youth, education, health care and policy change.” But when I showed him what I am working on in creating OneGiving that entails all those things and more, with a lot of peace, love and passion – he got it! And I got it! If I am me-fully and authentically, with no apologies or excuses, I allow others to be who they are. In the process, I honor myself and am able to see myself for all that I am and that allows others to see me for all that I am as well.

Are you living courageously and fully expressing all that you are? If not, what are you waiting for and what is holding you back? Don’t let the way things should be or are supposed to be constrict you from being all that you are! Live it today and watch the world around you transform before your eyes!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at