Catholic Charities Gifts Stolen by Thieves


Catholic Charities Hit by Thieves: Need Replacement Gifts

The Catholic Charities Christmas Gift Program, which last year provided gifts for nearly 15,000 of Lake County’s neediest citizens, is in dire need of donors again this year. This adopt-a-family program primarily matches children and limited-income seniors with donor families who want to make a difference in the lives of society’s marginalized population.

Thieves recently broke into the program’s storage facility and stole all of last year’s unclaimed gifts earmarked as this year’s starter inventory. Anyone wishing to purchase gifts for a family this December can call Jim Wogan or Barbara Campbell at 847-782-4210 or e-mail Generic gifts and/or gift cards to replace the stolen items can be dropped off at or mailed to the Catholic Charities Bernardin Center at 671S.LewisAve.,Waukegan, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

847-782-4210 |

COCO KEEVAN, for Make It Better

How can you be a hero too?

CNN Ten Heroes of  2014

Tis the season that we are reminded that everyone can be a hero when they give of their time, talents and treasure.Heroes come in all sizes, abilities and social economic strata. They aren’t just royalty, celebrities or the uber wealthy, talented, or athletic. Authentic heroes are human beings just like you and me who do their best with the gifts that life bestowed on them.Inspiring examples of this abound:

Time magazine’s Persons Of The Year – The Ebola Fighters.

The Week magazine “It Wasn’t All Bad” column recognizing  Hells Angels in Fresno, California who stood in line for 5 hours to buy bikes for needy kids. “You ain’t got enough money in this station to make me feel the way I feel when I give these kids these bikes,” says Hells angels fresno ca in a local tv interview.

CNN named their Ten Heroes of 2014.  These are folks who protect lions, teach music to injured soldiers, open new worlds to autistic youth, and  help children who are fighting cancer, poverty and a lack of opportunity.

cnn heroes 2014

Watch Anderson Cooper in this video and take a look at each of these heroes below.

Here are CNN’s 10 Heroes of 2014, in alphabetical order:

CNN Hero: Arthur Bloom

Arthur Bloom

Arthur Bloom has used the healing power of music to help hundreds of injured soldiers recover their lives. His program, MusiCorps, pairs professional musicians with troops recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, helping them play instruments and write and record music. “By injecting music into this space, we can inject life,” Bloom said. “There’s nothing injured about the way they do it. It’s just good music.”

CNN Hero: Jon Burns

Jon Burns

Jon Burns is rallying fellow soccer fans to help children from poor communities in cities hosting the World Cup and other major tournaments. Since 2006, his nonprofit, Lionsraw, has engaged more than 500 volunteers in construction projects and educational programs that have benefitted nearly 6,000 children. “We’re trying to harness the passion of football fans to make a difference,” he said.

CNN Hero: Pen Farthing

Pen Farthing

Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marine Sergeant, is reuniting soldiers with the stray dogs they befriend while serving in Afghanistan. His nonprofit, Nowzad Dogs — named for the stray Farthing rescued during his tour — has helped more than 700 soldiers from eight countries. “My connection with Afghanistan stayed alive because of Nowzad,” Farthing said. “To be able to get that animal home to them, it closes the loop.”

Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg

CNN Hero: Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg

Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg lost his 2-year-old daughter to leukemia in 1981. Today, his nonprofit, Kids Kicking Cancer, uses martial arts to help children battling serious illnesses manage pain during medical treatments. The group has provided free lessons and support for 5,000 children and their families. “They’re often so afraid,” Goldberg said. “We teach kids how to control their pain and make them feel powerful.”

CNN Hero: Leela Hazzah

Leela Hazzah

Leela Hazzah has dedicated her life to lion conservation. In 2007, she started Lion Guardians, a nonprofit that works with African Maasai warriors to protect lions. The group now employs more than 70 Lion Guardians throughout East Africa and has helped the lion population grow. “I know we’re making a difference,” Hazzah said. “When I first moved here, I never heard lions roaring. But now I hear lions roaring all the time.”

CNN Hero: Patricia Kelly

Patricia Kelly

Patricia Kelly is using horses to motivate at-risk children in Hartford, Connecticut. Her nonprofit, Ebony Horsewomen, provides horseback riding lessons and teaches animal science to more than 300 young people a year. “We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing,” said Kelly. “They learn that they have ability. They just have to unlock it.”

CNN Hero: Annette March-Grier

Annette March-Grier

Annette March-Grier grew up in her family’s funeral home. After her mother’s death, she created Roberta’s House, a nonprofit in Baltimore that helps children and their families cope with grief. Since 2008, more than 1,000 children have benefited from the group’s free programs. “We’re giving families in this city a sense of hope,” she said. “We’re helping to heal wounds and bring families back together again.”

CNN Hero: Ned Norton

Ned Norton

For the last 25 years, Ned Norton has provided strength and conditioning training to people living with a variety of disabilities. He now trains more than 120 people every week through his nonprofit, Warriors on Wheels. “I’m building them up, building them stronger, so they can go out and live life like they’re supposed to.” Norton said.

CNN Hero: Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes

Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes

Amid the violence in his native Guatemala, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes turned his family’s home into a haven for young people. Since 2006, his nonprofit, Los Patojos (the Little Ones), has provided educational opportunities and support to more than 1,000 children. I want to inspire these kids,” he said. “They are the ones in charge of writing the new history in Guatemala.”

CNN Hero: Dr. Wendy Ross

Dr. Wendy Ross

Dr. Wendy Ross is opening new worlds to autistic children and their families. Since 2010, her nonprofit, Autism Inclusion Resources, has helped hundreds of families navigate challenging social situations, such as sporting events and airport travel. “If you start taking steps outside of your door, your world gets bigger and bigger,” said Ross. “We just want people to have opportunities.”

As part of their award package, each top 10 Hero will also receive free organizational training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide. The Heroes will participate in a customized version of the Annenberg Alchemy program, which offers practical guidance to help strengthen organizations for long-term success.

The Power of One: American Red Cross Study Proves Social Connections Influence Online Donations

“The Power Of One, The Strength Of Many” – T-shirt on man doing a Santa Monica Stairs work-out

a Friend's referralNothing beats word of mouth from a trusted friend to raise money for a good cause.  Nothing. That is why a good word online is increasingly powerful for nonprofits.

The internet quickly shares a positive comment or donation recommendation across social networks, connecting to others who know the recommender or care about the cause too. One good person can generate a crowd of supporters from the comfort of his or her home.American REd Cross

The power of one social entrepreneur becomes the strength of many for savvy nonprofits who embrace online to amplify their fundraising efforts. A recent report published by the American Red Cross How Your Friends Affect Your Donations This Holiday Season confirms this. See the infographic here.

“This survey shows how social networks and charitable giving are intersecting and building on one another,” Gail J. McGovern, President and CEO of the Red Cross explains. “These social philanthropists are giving online to charities and sharing the news on social networks, which then often leads to more social activity and more giving by their friends. I believe this trend will only grow in the future.”

The study also corroborates what we see at Make It Better with our media sponsorships of nonprofit fundraisers.  Put online a short, heart-felt story that brings to life the organization’s mission, along with information about the event, and encourage supporters to share.  Interest grows, donations flow, tickets sell. It’s almost like magic.  Nonprofits that we help this way routinely report back that events sell out early and more money is raised than ever.

Digital word of mouth still isn’t as powerful as an in person recommendation though. As the ARC study explains, even though online social users are giving in larger numbers than ever, they still say face-to-face interaction is the best way to solicit donations. Isn’t this just common sense too?  It’s harder to say no to someone in person than online.

Nonetheless, savvy social entrepreneurs, nonprofits and our publishing company understand that most people like to help – particularly when it’s easy or they have a personal connection. Using the internet is the easiest fastest way to share information about the opportunity to donate time, talent or treasure and turn the power of one into the strength of many.

Please also read my recent blog post on the research showing that young women are the biggest givers.

Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium Names Baby Sea Otter!

The name is in: Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium named its sea otter pup Luna! Welcome Luna to Chicagoland!

Here’s one more adorable reason to love Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium - Pup 681, a rescued sea otter pup. Watch This 

We are big supporters of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and here’s a simple way you can help our iconic institution– Vote to name their new sea otter pup. The Shedd is partnering with ABC’s Good Morning America to help pick out the perfect name for sea otter Pup 681. Voting on the GMA website begins today through Dec. 11. Please chime in and take a look at these adorable pics and the video of the cute ball of fuzz!

Here’s the schoop one the Shedd on the darling pup:

Pup 681 came to Shedd on October 28 through it’s collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  She’s been swimming past significant milestones over the last few weeks and has already doubled in size – now weighing a little over 10 pounds, Because Shedd has a history of naming animals that are rescued affiliated with the locations of which they were found, the names under consideration were: 

  • Cali - To honor the California otter
  • Ellie - Año Nuevo State Park is well known for its elephant seals, also Elkhorn Slough – an area that is right up the coast from Monterey that is home to many sea otters
  • Luna – Derived from nearby Half Moon Bay
  • Poppy – California State Flower
  • Aña or Anya  - Derived from Año Nuevo State Park

And Luna was the winner!

Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute Study shows that Women Give!

We’ve long known that older women control the majority of philanthropic giving, probably because they live longer than men, but also because husbands often defer to their wives’ opinions.

Interestingly, the recent Women Give 2014 report by the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy proves that younger women give more generously than we previously believed.  In fact, younger women who are not affiliated with a specific religion donate twice as much as younger men and older women.

It’s an interesting conclusion and stems from the reality that fewer young Americans are affiliating with organized religion; in fact, one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation. While religiosity has frequently been tied to giving, the report argues that there’s no reason for concern.  Women Give 2014 encouraging results include:

In an important shift in patterns, the standard religiosity-giving story does not apply to younger single women who are religiously unaffiliated – the “Nones.” Younger single women who are Nones give roughly two times larger amounts to charitable organizations than women who are affiliated but who infrequently attend religious services.

The study also shows additional finding regarding these younger single women “Nones”:

  • give roughly two times larger amounts to Not-religiously identified organizations (NRIOs) than they do to religiously identified organizations.
  • give roughly two times larger amounts to charitable organizations than do young men.
  • give more than two and a half times larger amounts to charity than middle-age and older women who are Nones.

The Women Give 2014 report affirms again, as it did in past years, that gender and age do indeed matter in charitable giving. It suggests that nuanced fundraising strategies which build strong relationships with both men and women and demonstrate that their goals and approaches are relevant to those different audiences will help assure that resources continue to be available to meet society’s challenges.

Have you observed this in your organizations or among friends and family? Please share your thoughts. Please also read my past blog on The 5 P’s of Effective Philanthropy.

Shop For Good Is Good Business

Shop For Good at Make It Better

Most people want to be connected to a community they trust help and to help others as much as possible.  Just like you – right?

Unfortunately though, most people also are busier than ever, making it harder than ever to connect and help.

Happily, these facts presented Make It Better with a good opportunity to further our mission to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource that helps you make your life and the lives of others better. So we created the ultimate online shopping virtuous circle – connecting our valuable audience to trusted community businesses and paying it forward to carefully vetted nonprofits.Shop for Good at Make it
Shop For Good.

Best of all, Shop For Good links to our trusted online editorial. In other words, with only a few clicks, you learn up to the minute tips, trends and recommendations, act on them while supporting an outstanding community businesses and help others through the most impactful nonprofits.

Win for you, win for your community, win for the world. Between now and December 31st, the 8 nonprofits which just won our 2014 Philanthropy Awards will receive the 10% donation from Shop For Good proceeds. They are:crushers club

Crushers Club

Phelan Leadership Academies

Refugee One

Refugee One


Skin of Steel

Sit Stay ReadSolidarity Bridge

Trees That Feed

Also, we proudly announce that the following businesses are participating in our Shop For Good launch:

Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa Services

Silver Gemstone Chakra Bracelet by Full Bloomed Lotus

Signature Suede Cape by Mountain Hides

Holiday Candle & Gift by Juniper Boutique

Your Life in Books by Books of Life

Teddie Kossof Bonus Gift by Teddie Kossof Salon Spa

Brighton Pocket Mirror by Mattie M

Shop for Good at Make it Better.netPlease note that we take our mission so seriously that Shop For Good items can include photos of the people who own or run the businesses and other information that will help you feel more connected to and enthusiastic about the business.

You learn that capes are a wearable trend in our article “6 Wearable Fall Trends”

Shop for Good at Make it





Every Child Deserves Arts in Schools : Lindblum Math & Science Academy “Be Creative Program”

Be Creative Campaign“If this available for some children, it needs to be available for all children!” Susie Kiphart, CoChair Be Creative: The Campaign For Creative Schools
Thanks to lion-hearted philanthropist and former Director of Christian Education Susie Kiphart for taking Make It Better to the Lindblum Math and Science Academy, to see its unique blend of arts education with core STEM subjects.  It works!  Lindblum is a vibrant school where students graduate with impressive scholarships – even though it’s located one of Chicago’s worst neighborhood. It’t an amazing program and you can see more about it here.
Suburban as well as other Chicago Public Schools can benefit from the Lindblum model too. Be Creative!  Please watch our Be Creative video to experience our visit.