Make A Difference Day; October 25th 2014

Mark Your Calendars to Make A Difference

Many of us spend the last days of October wrapped up in spooky party decorations, clever children’s costumes and colossal candy bowls.

What you might not know is that there is another national holiday the weekend just before All Hallows’ Eve that focuses solely on community service. It’s called Make A Difference Day.

Make A Difference Day is Saturday, Oct. 25 and holds the title as the largest national day of community service. The holiday was created 20 years ago through a collaboration of Points of Light and USA Weekend Magazine. From building bird enclosures for wildlife in Alabama to sorting stuffed animals for children who have suffered through crises in San Diego, people are coming together across the U.S. to address issues they see in their communities.

All community projects entered on the Make A Difference Day website will be entered into the running for a $10,000 grant from Newman’s Own. A panel of judges will select 14 winners who will receive the grant money for their project’s favorite charity along with a feature in USA Weekend’s April 2015 magazine.

You can start a project online or volunteer for one of these local projects already scheduled for Oct. 25:

What: The Volunteer Center’s One-Day Collection Drive

Where: Indian Hill Train Station Parking Lot, Green Bay Road and Winnetka Avenue, Winnetka

When: Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon

The Volunteer Center is participating in its 10th Make A Difference Day and is collecting everything from outerwear, shoes and boots to school supplies, Halloween costumes and bicycles. The items will be donated to 17 local nonprofits, including New Trier Township Food Pantry, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association and Connections for the Homeless. The center is asking volunteers to donate food, clothing and household items and to help count and distribute all of the collected items. For more information, visit The Volunteer Center’s website.


What: Assistance League Children’s Book Drive

Where: Assistance League of Chicagoland West, 120 E. Ogden Ave., Hinsdale

When: Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Assistance League of Chicagoland West is just one of 93 Assistance League chapters across the country who will collect new books for children in literacy programs and reading clubs on Oct. 25. Assistance League was selected as one of the Make A Difference Day winners in 2013, collecting more than 103,000 books for children. The organization is asking volunteers to collect new children’s books, deliver the books to recipients and collect impact photos and stories of the recipients. For more information, visit the organization’s website or call 630-321-2529.


What: Neighbor-to-Neighbor

Where: The Patrick Sullivan Apartments, 1633 W. Madison St., Chicago

When: Saturday, Oct. 25 from noon to 3 p.m.

Twin sisters Anita and Danita Ivory will lead a project to provide meals to more than 470 senior citizens at the Patrick Sullivan Apartments on Oct. 25 in a service project they call “Neighbor-to-Neighbor.” The Patrick Sullivan apartment complex is a Chicago Housing Authority low-income senior citizen residence located on the near west side of Chicago. This year marks the 20th year that the sisters have participated in Make A Difference Day. They hope to raise awareness to the plight of vulnerable individuals who are food insecure, meaning they have limited funds that may cause them to miss meals. The sisters are looking for volunteers who can help collect canned goods, set up tables, cook and serve the food. For more information, call Anita at 773-344-2947.

12 Keys to NonProfit Fundraising

21ST Century NonProfit Fundraising

BY Susan B. Noyes

We built Make It keys to fundraisingBetter Media to amplify philanthropy and fundraising, harnessing the digital world’s power to connect and help. We know that our audience is inherently inclined to do good and do well. We want to help your favorite nonprofit, too. The following strategies, Make It Better’s tools and powerful publishing ecosystem, we can help you raise more money for your cause.

1. Use emotion and data.

Create a short, heartfelt story, article or video which demonstrates its impact. Back up the story with information on your area of focus, demonstrating the need and your capability to provide it.

2. Let your passion show.

Explain why you care about the nonprofit. Share your personal journey which led you to work on the cause. This will influence others.

3. Tell an engaging story that brings the mission of your nonprofit to life.
Use a short video and article to demonstrate how one person, family or community was helped. Make the audience laugh, cry, think and want to take action.

4. Use venture philanthropy language to prove that donations will be well spent.
Donors want to fund a mission that works. Use data to prove that—given its mission—your nonprofit makes the most lives better per dollar spent.

5. Harness the power of the Internet to make it easy for anyone in the world to find, learn about and support your nonprofit.
Build a website and social network that is search-engine optimized. Include a prominent “Donate Here” button.NonProfit Fundraising

6. Use an “online first” content creation strategy.

Post content on your site first, than push through other appropriate channels, including press releases and social networking.

7. Use crowdsourcing to raise money for your cause.

Crowdfunding8. Develop an easy-to-attend fundraiser that is also FUNraising.
Create an event that potential supporters will enjoy. Make it easy to attend. Give supporters a wonderful experience and they will give generously to your cause.

9. Attract and keep volunteers by making their work fun and meaningful.
People are too busy to lend their time and reputation
to a cause that doesn’t educate, entertain and connect them to okeys to fundraisingthers in a meaningful way.

10. Be innovative and collaborative. Create win/win, virtuous circles for potential business and celebrity sponsors.
The fundraising future belongs to those who create innovative virtuous circles—connecting audience and sponsors to an outstanding nonprofit working on a cause about which they all care.

11. Tap into your personal network for sukeys to fundraisingpport.
Reach out to your friends and family to ask them to help via your personal social network. If you care, they
will care.

12. Say thank you—and mean it.

Thank supporters the way Chicago votes: early and often. Thank them online, in print and in person, but remember the best thank you of all is still a hand-written note.


Vote YES for New Trier High School Referendum Request on November 4th

 “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
An investment in 21st Century facilities for New Trier High School will pay the best long-term interest for our community.

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  • A YES vote means 25 badly needed new classrooms, three new science labs, and replacing our too small library and cafeteria – all within the existing footprint.
  • A YES vote means energy efficiency and safety enhancements, instead of throwing away $6 million in band-aid fixes over the next five years.
  • A YES vote means taking advantage of low borrowing rates, allowing for a $250 average tax impact annually — which is half of the size for the last bond effort.
  • A YES vote means more and better opportunities for our youth to explore arts, music, theatre, design and other creative fields which are likely to better prepare them for engaging employment in life.
Learn more here:

Origin of Make it Better

IDENTIFYING, CGivingREATING, CONNECTING AND AMPLIFYING:  such helpful activity is at the heart of Make It Better. We are not just a magazine; we are a community resource. Every reader, advertiser and participant is important to this grow- ing, thriving network that strives to help.

Make It Better started as a website idea and magazine column in the late North Shore Magazine. The first column— in May 2006—highlighted inspiring individuals who founded nonprofits which foster dramatic change for the better. This included Dick and Susie Kiphart for their work building wells, schools and better health care in Ghana.Arts Alliance Illinois

Since then the Kipharts have created, given, and grown so much more—in Chicago, in the arts, in education, for the world. They recently received significant awards for this from the Arts Alliance Illinois and the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Chicago. Better yet, they’re chairing an ambitious plan to put arts back in every CPS classroom.


While the Kipharts grew as visionary philanthropists, Make It Better grew as a visionary community resource— online, in print and in person. We even bought North Shore magazine in 2009!


Now, we not only write about (and for) inspiring people, we also:

• Make it easier for you to support beloved community businesses and nonprofits.

• Connect to the best community resources for family, home, health, finances, food, fashion, education and entertainment

• Provide unparalleled support for and amplification of nonprofit fundraisingCommunity resources

• Create content for every medium—including events, video and social networks—and deliver it where our audience prefers to read, watch, use and enjoy.

Talk about a vibrant community! To help you understand all the ways our media can help you and others, check out the helpful illustration accompanying this piece.

And please talk back, shop or otherwise participate at Your voice, dollars and ideas are important. The more you participate in Make It Better Media, the stronger this valuable community resource will become.

A Better Chicago’s Project Impact Finalists

I’m very excited to have served on the judging panel for A Better Chicago and congrats to the Project Impact finalists; Curt’s Café, The Dovetail Project, Foundations College Prep, Intrinsic Schools, VOCEL.. Here’s a quick summary from A Better Chicago!


Congratulations to the Project Impact finalists!  These six nonprofits will present at the Project Impact finals event for their chance to win up to $100K and become part of A Better Chicago’s portfolio for one year.  Learn more about the finalists’ inspiring work the community, and attend the finals event on 11/13 to cast your vote!  Buy $20 tickets here.

Project Impact is a social innovation competition awarding a total of $200K and 12 months of management support to three early-stage nonprofits using innovative strategies to improve the lives of low-income Chicagoans. MORE >

A Better Chicago

Make It Better Grows and Changes

Just keeping all of my readers and Make it Better Fans about changes going on. We are very grateful for your time. Please read and enjoy learning more about our organization!November 2014 Make it Better

Some Announcement,  with great pleasure:

On Monday, October 13, Michelle Morris joins Make It Better as our Associate Publisher.  We enticed her away from Conde Nast, where she served as Midwest Advertising Sales Director for Parade magazine.  She is the perfect person to help us grow into Chicago and beyond.

Michelle joins Mindy, Megan, Julie, Sandy, Lesley and me as a member of our Executive Committee.  Megan, as Ad Sales Manager, and the rest of the ad sales staff, will report to Michelle. She understands well and is excited about our company’s collaborative culture too.

As of tomorrow, Mindy and I job share the CEO role – insuring smooth management and a strong presence in our office while we also travel more to grow this precious business.

Our new site officially launches on November 18.  We celebrate this, our expansion into Chicago, our 2014 Philanthropy Award winners (who you will help notify during our November 14 live-blogged road show) and our magazine’s 5th Anniversary at the best party we’ve ever thrown – at 27 Live in Evanston.

Nancy Searle will be our first $10,000 sponsor of a Philanthropy Award! This is particularly spectacular news because Nancy is one of the most strategic thinking and well regarded philanthropists in Chicago. (You might remember her from the Education Innovators cover story.)

Thank You to All of the Amazing Make it Better Staffers;   Your talent and trustworthy, creative, hard work led to all this success – starting with John Lavine, the Kitchen Cabinet and Cheryl Berman.  You honored our worthy mission to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource and helped grow Make It Better Media.

Mindy Fauntleroy. Everything Mindy touches succeeds and shines.  We wouldn’t have our first (and particularly fantastic) Philanthropy Award sponsor, super successful MIB events or outstanding new Associate Publisher hire but for Mindy’s work.  I’m forever in Mindy Faunteroyher debt for answering the Make It Better call and now for accepting the title of CoCEO.

Julie Chernoff.  She is not only a brilliant writer, editor and organizer, Julie is the consummate Make It Better woman.  She nurtures the best from our staff and her free lance writers – thereby growing our audience and community resource network. Julie works long, long hours for not Julie Chernoffenough pay and still finds time to make better every other community she touches too.

Megan Holbrook. Megan consistently proves that we hire winners with can do and always will Make It Better attitudes. Megan accepts every challenge and makes our business stronger in the process.  She watches out for, lifts up, and makes better the rest of our talented ad sales staff  – Patti, Julie, Denise – too.Megan Holbrook

Sandy Sandy TsuchidaTsuchida.  She has everyone’s back.  Our operations are complicated, but Sandy runs them all well and without complaint.  I suspect that each of you – like me – count Sandy’s work for you as a blessing.

Lesley Smith.  Want to know the definition of crazy hard work?  Be the Art Director for a community resource and magazine celebrating its 5th anniversary, launching a Chicago footprint and new website, while being charged with making all of our many activities easy to understood and look gorgeous – often on the weekend.

We outgrew our current site many, many months ago and she isn’t a full time social networker, but Lindsay still grows our stats and our uber valuable network.  She’s likely working double time bringing the new site to life too.

Lindsay RosemanLindsay Roseman.  We outgrew our current site many, many months ago and she isn’t a full time social networker, but Lindsay still grows our stats and our uber valuable network.  She’s likely working double time bringing the new site to life too.

Katy Nielsen.  Such a talented, connected videographer!  We will grow MIB TV because Katy cares and understands how to create and improve communities with compelling, problem solving video stories.

David Canada, Adam Rubin and SureCan Productions.  Despite the production demands of network tv, David answered our Make It Better call and sent Adam (the perfect person for the job) and team to bring to life our Philanthropy Award videos.  The rest is history.  And – like our website and company – the Philanthropy Awards will take a giant leap forward this coming year too.

Sharon Krone.  She’s been heaven sent to our family since her days as a student at Northwestern University – perfectly trained to grow philanthropic best practices and a business while nurturing a great family and community too.  A lesser woman than Sharon would have been made crazy by this journey long ago. She provides calm guidance and support instead.

Stacey McClenathan & Beeline.  Stacey et al are not only bringing our online vision to life, they suggest strategies that will quickly allow Make It Better to grow Shop For Good and become relevant to large businesses who take seriously their corporate social responsibility and employee relations.

I’m extremely proud and looking forward to the next round of making it better for everyone.