Friday, December 2, 2011

TisBest Profiles: Kristie Tanner of HSUS

TisBest Profiles: Kristie Tanner, Account Manager of Business Development and Corporate Relations at The Humane Society of the United States

Relationship to TisBest: The Humane Society of the United States is one of the organizations that TisBest represents and to date they have received more than $24,000 as a result of our partnership.

If you had to describe the core of your organization in a Tweet what would it say?
Here at The HSUS (@HumaneSociety) we’re celebrating animals and confronting cruelty… all day, every day!

What anecdote do you draw on when you need inspiration on a particularly difficult day?
Recently I was in Gainesville, Florida helping our Animal Rescue Team care for approximately 700 cats that were rescued from an alleged cruelty case. The days were long and exhausting and at times I felt a bit overwhelmed thinking about each of them needing a forever home, but knowing that I was helping change their lives gave me the energy to keep on going. That week I kept thinking about ‘the starfish story.’ A boy was walking along the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean before they died. A man came along and said to the little boy, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference.” The boy picked another one up and threw it into the water and said, “but I made a difference for that one.” Our work for animals matters and the bigger our voice, the more we can save.

One quote - famous or not - that you think of frequently?
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” – Rev. Dr. Albert Schweitzer  At times, it’s hard not to want to turn a blind eye to the egregious cruelty animals suffer around the world, but we do nothing to help the cause when we don’t educate ourselves and take a stand for animals.

If you were given one superpower AND one wish to help your organization, what would they be and why?
If I were given a superpower to help The Humane Society of the United States, I would arm every person with behind-the-scenes knowledge of what truly goes on in factory farms, puppy mills, the fur trade, and animal research facilities. I truly believe if everyone knew the way animals are treated for food, clothing, research, or before they become a family pet, their buying decisions would be very different. I don’t think people purposely support these practices; I think they’re just unaware of the cruelty behind-the-scenes. My wish would be that more people would get involved with The Humane Society of the United States. Purchasing TisBest gift cards to benefit The Humane Society of the United States is just one easy way people can help. Every little bit counts. It adds up and allows us to accomplish more of our goals. Without your support, we can’t do as much as we need to do to celebrate all animals and confront cruelty. In addition to monetary support, we’re always looking for volunteers to help us in the field.

Learn more here:
The Humane Society of the United States is America’s mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect, as well as the most trusted voice extolling the human-animal bond.
A short video about HSUS
A summary of animal welfare issues

Friday, November 25, 2011

TisBest Profiles: Susan Messina of NHF

TisBest Profiles: Susan Messina, Director of Communications and Special
Projects at National Hospice Foundation

Relationship to TisBest: National Hospice Foundation is one of the organizations that TisBest represents and to date they have received more than $7,000 as a result of our partnership. 

If you had to describe the core of your organization in a Tweet what would it say?
Hospice helps people live fully until the end and then die at peace and in comfort. NHF works nationally to support that mission.

What anecdote do you draw on when you need inspiration on a particularly difficult day?
Lots of people leave money to charity in their wills but there was something extra special about the legacy that one woman left to the National Hospice Foundation. You see, while she was facing the end of her life with the support of her local hospice she knew she wanted to give something back in honor of the incredible care she was receiving from her hospice team. She changed her will to include hospice. She knew, as she was making that change, that she had only a small time left to live. To think that she spent part of her last months on the administrative details necessary to leave a bequest speaks volumes about how important her hospice care was to her.  I contrast that with another woman. She is still very much alive; she is a member of our Legacy Society, which means she has put us in her will. Her explanation for her bequest is very different. She doesn’t even know anyone who has had hospice care! But she knows what it is and looking ahead, as a single woman with no children, she is very glad to know hospice will be there for her when she needs care at the end of her life. She wanted to make sure to make one last donation to NHF after she passes away.  These two women for me embody what we are about: creating opportunities for people across the country to support hospice care, the best quality care at the end of life.

One quote - famous or not - that you  think of frequently and why you
like it?
“There’s a world of pain out there.”  This is a quote I once I heard from a funeral director at a funeral director’s conference. That sounds depressing, but to me it’s just true. There’s a lot of pain out there in the world, and it’s our job as humans to try to diminish it, or give others the tools to cope with it. Hospice does both.

If you were given one superpower AND one wish to help your organization, what would they be and why?
My superpower would be super speed. With the ability to zoom on my own two feet from city to city, I would become an icon for runners. My goal would be to encourage runners to participate in our athletic fundraising program, Run to Remember. Through this program people can raise money for hospice while memorializing someone they loved. Right now Run to Remember is relatively small; we don’t yet have the brand recognition of some other major fundraising efforts. However, with my superpower I would be easily able to draw attention to it and encourage hundreds of thousands of hospice supporters to participate and raise millions of dollars for our work to make high-quality hospice care accessible to all who need it.  I wish that I could shatter myths about hospice as easily as I could shatter a pane of glass. One myth is that hospice means "giving up" and so patients and families are sometimes reluctant to participate, even though hospice care could improve their lives a great deal. Another myth is that hospice is only for the person with the illness, which is not true; family members also benefit tremendously from having the hospice team join in the care. Hospice is about living life as fully as possible until the end and relieving the burdens on family caregivers so they can be as emotionally present as possible to the dying person. NHF works to educate people about the power of hospice care to transform the end-of-life experience.

Learn more here:
National Hospice Foundation
Run to Remember
“Why I give”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Giving Back to the World by TisBest Intern, Travis Woo

Hi, my name is Travis and I’m interning with TisBest Philanthropy to help make the world a better place. Let me introduce myself by telling you about what giving means to me.

In my experience I’ve found that many people give to what is close to them. I’ve seen parents support causes that help children, pet owners give to causes that help animals, and those near to someone who suffers from a disease support disease research and prevention. I believe that everyone, young or old, rich or poor has a cause that is close to them.

Right now I give time through interning at TisBest, and I try my hardest to give by first and foremost being a role model.

I believe that if I dream, work hard, and achieve, I can use my voice to inspire others. I can inspire them to follow me, to see what is possible, and to follow their own dreams. You don’t need to be rich or over a certain age to give- you can give with time or money.

I’ve thought about what I would do if I woke up tomorrow with a billion dollars. What would you do? I wouldn’t abandon my own dreams or stop working hard or stop achieving. But I would donate what money I could to help stop problems before they start: keep teenagers in school by reaching and teaching them when they are children. Community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, and so on, keep children focused on school, music, and team sports. These causes are close to me right now and need financial support and the help of volunteers.

People can use our help both on the other side of the world and right in front of us. What is close to you?

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our Day of Service at YouthCare

On Tuesday, the TisBest staff participated in a day of service.  We planned, purchased, and prepared lunch at the Orion Center.  The Orion Center is run by YouthCare, a Seattle organization that helps transition homeless kids off the streets and into school, jobs, and success.  YouthCare is our newest charity partner, and the more we learn about them the more we admire their work.  

Our staff fixed burritos and brownies for 40-60 teenagers.  It was a big job for a group that usually spends their work days on computers or in meetings, but the challenge was incredibly rewarding!  Here are some photos of us hard at work in the kitchen.
AeJung, Social Media & Marketing Intern,
creates a brownie plan-of-attack.

Janice, Social Media & Marketing Intern,
displaying brownie follow-through.
Executive Director Jon and Charity Relations Director Chad
in some fine-looking aprons.
Special Projects Manager Tegan, in her temporary capacity
as Manager of Kitchen Shouting.
We felt great about spending an afternoon for such
an amazing cause, and a truly worthy organization!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Five Ways to Teach Children About Giving

Teaching children about giving is essential to the well-being of society.  After all, they’re not going to be kids forever!  Here are five ways you can teach children how important, fun and easy philanthropy can be.

Volunteering.  You don’t have to go through a charity to volunteer your time.  Encourage your children to imagine: who in your town could use a cheerful visit? What problems can they identify that you can find something small to do to help?  This can be as simple as planting a tree, picking up litter, or making pictures and crafts to bring to folks at a retirement home.

Most kids adore animals, and animal shelters generally need a lot of help. Unfortunately, many animal shelters require volunteers to be at least 18 years of age, so playing with the cats and dogs might not be an option.  But there are other ways to help.  When your child’s birthday approaches, have a conversation with them about their love for animals.  Discuss whether they would be willing to share birthday presents with the animals at the shelter.  If they like the idea, they can request that their friends bring supplies to donate to the local animal shelter instead of or addition to birthday gifts.  Up for a challenge?  Consider becoming an animal rescue foster parent.  Many animal shelters have litters of kittens and puppies that need temporary homes until they’re old enough to be adopted.  This is a great way for your kids to experience the joy and excitement of living with baby animals, without contributing to pet overpopulation.

Fundraising is FUN!  Ah, the old lemonade stand! Kids love doing it, so why not harness their enthusiasm and help others? Talk to your children about what charities and issues interest them and agree to donate the proceeds. Not only will children learn how good it feels to give, but they might gain some valuable business skills as well. There are dozens of other kid-friendly fundraising ideas.  

Read On.  Reading is a great way to spend quality time with your child as well as teach them valuable lessons. Pick out some stories that emphasize the invaluable rewards of giving, or read about a cause that you and your child are interested in. Some classic books about giving include The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.  If your little one is a green kid, here’s a big list of story books about the environment.

Look and Learn.  Learning doesn’t always have to be limited to books – the internet is a great resource! Talk to your child about what interests them and browse through various charities and organizations together to see what organization he or she would like to help. This is also a great time to give your child a Charity Gift Card “just for fun”—you can spend the time with them comparing charities and causes, and they get to pick who gets the donation.

Donate!  Donations don’t always have to be money—gently-used toys, books, and clothing can be meaningful donations.  If your children are like most kids, they might not like it at first. But getting children used to donating items that they no longer use will become a life-long practice that benefits all. “Spring Cleaning” is a good time to have your kids sort through their things to see if there are any they can give to others in need. But don’t stop at the toybox: help them go through the pantry for cans or packages of food items to donate, as well.

Modeling philanthropy for children doesn’t have to mean writing a check.  It can be as simple as having a conversation about how other people live, and ways that we can help others.  Giving is easy and helps children become socially-conscious, compassionate adults.

Thanks for reading!
-AeJung Yoon, TisBest Marketing Intern

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Philanthropy Fit for a Prince (and Princess-to-Be)

You're probably getting a little tired of hearing about the Royal Wedding (if not--nevermind! read on!), but we can't help mentioning how wonderful we think it is that the Prince William and his bride-to-be are requesting gifts of charity in lieu of the elaborate (and extravagant) gifts that were seen at previous royal nuptials.

Even better, one of the selected charities Earthwatch Institute, is a TisBest partner!  We're happy to see recognition given to this sterling organization.

Since everybody else in the entire universe is using this wedding as an opportunity to sell commemorative plates and coffee (or tea, I guess) mugs, we're going to join in.  But all we're selling is the excellent idea that William and Kate had: using this special day as a chance to give back!  

If there's a wedding in your future, think of ways you can incorporate philanthropy into the day.  Charity Gift Cards are a great way to do just that, hint hint!  They make an elegant and ethical wedding gift for a conscientious couple.  Or, if you’re the happy duo planning a wedding, giving Charity Gift Cards to your wedding party or guests reminds them that you appreciate their compassionate, giving nature as well as their friendship. 

Giving is important to you, and charitable wedding gifts are a great way to incorporate that passion into one of the most memorable events of your life.  Will you live up to Will and Kate's challenge?  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Great Ideas for Giving: Limited Edition Charity Gift Cards!

Check out this great, thoughtful way a TisBest donor is using Charity Gift Cards!

Katya Horner, a professional photographer and the creative engine behind Slight Clutter Photography, thought of a great way to spread the word about TisBest's mission.  For every hundred dollars spent on prints in her Etsy store, Slight Clutter Photography is including $10 worth of charitable giving in the form of a Charity Gift Card.  The best part is that the cards are printed with a limited-edition photograph, something you can't get anywhere else! 

Katya creates atmospheric and enchanting images of nature that speak of the stillness and solitude of an early-morning fog lifting from a quiet forest. The gorgeous, golden trees and field on her limited-edition cards are strikingly lovely.  This is a great way to say "thank you" for supporting independent artists, and an excellent opportunity to get people giving to charity!

Check out Katya's post on why Charity Gift Cards were her top pick for getting her customers giving back. And look the Slight Clutter Photography gallery--what beautiful photos!  Perhaps we need one for the TisBest office...

Charity Gift Cards aren't just for birthdays and holidays.  What creative ways have you used donation gifts?  Leave a comment or send us a note at're eager to hear your story!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Give to Japan--or Don't

Last week, Felix Salmon wrote a widely-circulated opinion piece for Reuters called “Don’t Give To Japan.”  The title of the article is far more provocative than the content, which argues the following: earmarking funds for a specific program or disaster means that other, less attractive but equally important programs get neglected.  Additionally, earmarking funds can restrict a charity from working flexibly within the context of what a devastated community might actually need.  

In a similarly-titled 2010 argument against earmarking funds for recovery in Haiti, Salmon wrote “...for all its best efforts, the Red Cross has still only spent 83% of its $3.21 billion [2005 Asian] tsunami budget — which means that it has over half a billion dollars left to spend. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s money which could be spent in Haiti, if it weren’t for the fact that it was earmarked.”

Salmon’s point is not to convince people not to give, nor to convince people that Japan doesn’t need any international support.  

His point is that earmarked funds can hinder the good work that a charity needs to do, and so those moved to give by a tragedy should give to general funds and accept that their money may not go to help the person they saw on TV.  As another excellent blogger put it, “If you trust the organization, allow them to make professional decisions on how to best use your donation.  If you don’t trust them then find another organization to donate to.”

But as provocateur, the title “Don’t Give to Japan” worked: it went viral, many people read the piece, and there are nearly 300 reader comments.  Probably two thirds of those comments are from people so furious at the implications of the article—or what they thought the article would be after reading that title—that they accuse the author of standing in the way of recovery in Japan, of being heartless and stingy and cruel and racist, and even of actively undermining the well-being of the Japanese people.  One reader goes as far as to state that the author is single-handedly responsible for the difference in donation totals between Haiti and Japan fundraising efforts.

So why does the conversation turn so venomous?

Well, one reason might be that many people were so upset by the title of the piece that they didn’t actually read the content.  But surely some of those hundreds of angry people read the column and remained upset enough to blast the author, his character, and his publisher.

As compassionate people, it’s easy for donors to become overwhelmed by the breadth of social problems demanding attention, empathy, and often money.  Making a positive impact in one’s daily life can seem horribly complex.  We want to believe that there is an answer. We want to initiate a fix.  We are given the opportunity to do something specific, something with effects that we think we’ll be able to see immediately.

Unfortunately, few things actually work like that, especially in the world of donations. 

The implication that our well-meaning donations might cause problems in addition to solving them can frustrate or infuriate.  As Salmon himself said in a follow-up to the Japan post, “’There’s nothing you can do to help’ is never a pleasant message to convey, and people tend to react strongly against it.”
The images of destruction from the recent tragedy in Japan are horrifying and heartbreaking, and it’s human nature that the suffering of others is a powerful motivator for giving.  But it’s equally important to temper our hearts with our heads. Funds sent to Japan for disaster recovery will make a difference; yet funds sent to the Middle East to promote human rights make just as big an impact—perhaps even bigger. Tragedies and large-scale catastrophes remind us of our common humanity, but it’s vital to remember that tragedies and catastrophes happen to individuals every day, not just when epic disaster strikes.

Give to organizations working in Japan, if you still feel the urge.  But give to Libya, as well.  Give to Egypt and to food banks and to your local women’s shelter.  Don’t restrict the funds—trust that your chosen charities know what they’re doing.  Don’t restrict your passion, either. Pay attention to smaller tragedies, like the homeless kids you pass downtown or the lack of affordable healthcare for low-income families, or the trash you’ll walk by on the beach next weekend.  Even if you can’t afford to give money to every cause, compassion is one of our few limitless resources.  It’s important to give; it’s also important to give a damn.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tragedy in Japan: Where to Give

The devastation from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami is extensive, heartbreaking, with death tolls still in the unspecified tens of thousands.  Over 350,000 people lost their homes in the disaster, and four days later the world still watches with breath held as the Japanese fight to contain significant failures at a nuclear power plant.  

There are many ways to aid those struggling through this disaster.  Following are some TisBest charity partners already acting in various ways to help the Japanese people. 

American Humane Association,'s Red Star Animal Emergency Services teams are ready to deploy to care for and rescue the animals impacted by this disaster.  100% of donations to their Japan Relief Fund will be used to mobilize these teams once the Japanese government extends a formal invitation to animal rescue organizations.
American Red Cross is sending funds and support to the Japanese Red Cross, which operates 92 hospitals in the country.  These facilities have received over a thousand victims already, and many, many more people are grateful for the opportunity to sleep in the buildings' warm hallways and waiting rooms.
Convoy of Hope has a team standing by in the Philippines, waiting for air traffic to Japan to reopen.
Doctors Without Borders "currently has a team... conducting mobile clinics and assessments in Miyagi prefecture" and is waiting on word from Japanese officials before they mobilize additional doctors.
Hope Worldwide's Japan volunteers are running a center for evacuees, providing shelter, food, and water.  They anticipate an enormous need for more evacuation facilities, as people are still pouring in from devastated communities and areas under potential nuclear threat.
Lions Clubs International members "live in the affected communities, so they... are able to respond quickly and efficiently.  Lions in Japan are coordinating their relief efforts via social media and are using the Japan Lions Office in Tokyo as emergency relief headquarters."
Mercy Corps has already raised half a million dollars for their partner, Peace Winds Japan, who is delivering food, water, and emergency supplies. Meanwhile, Mercy Corps is also preparing a team of relief workers to deploy once their partner determines which skills are most needed.
Salvation Army USA says that "the Salvation Army in Japan has three emergency service relief teams working in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. One of the teams is assisting people who have been evacuated from areas threatened by the damage of nuclear power plants."
Save the Children has deployed a team to assess needs in the hardest-hit areas, focusing on providing safe places for kids while their parents work to make sense of their devastated lives.
Shelter Box was on the ground within 24 hours of the quake, and is busy setting up emergency housing for  people displaced by the quake and tsunami.
Tzu Chi is a Buddhist relief foundation with strong ties throughout Asia and so is in an excellent position to provide aid.  Their Tokyo branch opened a relief center within four hours of the quake, which among other things provides internet access for refugees to contact their loved ones.  The organization has already shipped items like instant rice and emergency blankets to the hardest-hit areas.
World Vision's veteran Japan team is already on the ground and working to create Child-Friendly Spaces, their trademark programs that provide structure, security, play, and healing for child victims of disaster.

Please consider donating directly to any of these organizations.  Our hearts go out to those touched by this disaster.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Compassion = Passion

OK, so we don’t make chocolates and we don’t sell flowers. In fact, we don’t sell any of the usual stuff that’s associated with Valentine’s Day. What we do offer is the opportunity to help make the world just a little bit better.  But isn’t that a marvelous gift?

So consider adding the gift of charity to your Valentine’s gift this year.  Buy some chocolates, add a TisBest Charity Gift Card. Giving flowers? Tuck a card between the stems. Fancy dinner?  Add a card for dessert.  Even a modest amount supports the world changing impact of our 250+ charity partners.

You can even personalize your Charity Gift Card with your favorite photo or image at no additional cost. And your sweetheart will love you for it.

Compassion can be very sexy.