Make It Better’s Smart Women, Smart Finances

Women and financesThe stats are alarming and can’t be ignored;
90% of all educated, affluent women will be required to handle their own finances at some point in their adult life, for good reasons and bad – like success at work, death or divorce.

100% of us should be doing this anyway, because understanding and planning carefully for our financial future is the smart thing to do.

So Make It Better is making it easier for our audience to do this, with our “Smart Women, Smart Finances” Seminar at the Chicago Botanic Garden on Wednesday, September 10 at 8:30am.

This program is NOT your average financial seminar. Rather, it is custom designed to provide engaging, empowering, and useful information in the company of others with similar concerns and opportunities in life.Smart Women, Smart Finances was developed out of my partner, Mindy Fauntleroy’s frustrations in trying to get a grip on her personal finances. She felt that every financial service provider talked in a language that didn’t relate to her as a woman. So she collaborated with her favorite resources and came up with a program that speaks to all of the issues that she faces and believes that other women face too.
Please sign up and come learn with us. You can purchase tickets here.
We are trying to make it better for you! See below for details.
masthead - make it better

Back to School Time for City Year Chicago

For many of us, “back to school” means our children continue their outstanding educations in safe, clean, well supplied schools, under the guidance of spectacular teachers.

This is not so though foeducation philanthropy at back to school timer too many students in Chicago Public Schools.

The good news is that decades of concerted civic attention has created many opportunities for us to help.  Even better, Make It Better has given Philanthropy Awards to or worked with several of them too.  Because of this, you can trust that any donations of your talent, things or financial support will be well-spent. A few organizations we’ve been proud to work with include :

Bernie’s Book Bank and Literature For All Of Us, to name a few. It’s a good time to recognize the work that City Year is doing at this important back-to-school time.

City Year - Helping Chicago Public Schools

When you think that nearly a third of Chicago public school students from grade 3-9 are at risk to drop out, you know there a lot of work to be done.  City Year Chicago’s 206 highly skilled City Year Chicago corps members step in as near peer mentors and serve to keep students in school and on track. This is a mission that really shows results. I recently wrote about it for our Make It Better Magazine and feel passionate about the cause. Here are just a few mentioned on their website;

Our corps members serve students in 20 Chicago public schools and we continuously track and measure our impact. Here are the results from the previous school year:

Improved academics

89% of Chicago teachers say corps members improved their students’ overall academic performance.

Better grades

64% of students in grades 6 through 9 earning a D or worse, improved to a C or better.

More attendance

86% of principals felt confident corps members boosted school attendance.


Please consider supporting this impactful and extremely important organization by attending their Back to School Soiree 


More Details here;

Back to School Soiree!

Infused with energy from City Year’s red-jacketed AmeriCorps members, this one-of-a-kind event will celebrate the impact City Year Chicago has on the lives of students right here in Chicago.

Date: Friday, September 19th 2014 
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Location: The Library Club (190 S. LaSalle Street, 40th Floor Chicago, IL 60603)

For sponsorshop information and earlybird ticket rates, please visit the event registration page.

Please direct questions about the event and sponsorships to Nicole Camboni, Major Gifts Officer for City Year Chicago.


 Please keep us posted on the issues most important to you and your family. We always like to discover new way to help and make it better for yet another population in need.


Betsy Storm Lights up Chicago

 Betsy Storm's new book Bright Lights of the Second City

Author Betsy Storm profiles fifty  Prominent people that live with passion and purpose. She did an insightful job and I’d like to share this information.  She profiles inspiring individuals and nonprofits that we at Make It Better Magazine have also featured, such as Gale Gand and the Holocaust Museum. Listen here as she explain the mission of her new book, Bright Lights of the Second City on  WGN radio last week.


Six of the people profiled in Bright Lights of the Second City live and/or work on the North Shore, including: Capt. James Lovell, Apollo 13 astronaut and Lake Forest Restauranteur; Gale Gand, award-winning pastry chef (lives in Riverwoods);  Jim Kenneyco-founder and executive director, Common Ground (works in Deerfield and lives in Lake Forest); T. Gunny Harboepreservation architect (lives in Northfield); Fritzie Fritzshall, Holocaust survivor and President, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (Skokie); and Ed Shurna, executive director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (lives in Evanston).


The book holds one-on-one in depth interviews that describe the life’s,  journeys and insights of these prominent Chicagoans. The interesting question that Betsy aims to answer is; Is it possibly to identify the motivations that “enliven these movers and shakers, these midnight-oil burners who pursue their dreams with true grit and then often make their accomplishments look easy?” She doesn’t pose this as a rhetorical question rather gives a resounding “yes” answer. Look to her clever and concise writing to find the answers and glean insights that may change your perspective. 


It’s always a good day to be inspired by people in your community.  Storm’s book makes it easy for all of us.

You can buy if now, too, to get your own inspiration.


Top Reasons to be a Not-for-Profit Partner with Make It Better

Not-for-Profits fundraising    I’m sharing a letter I sent out to all of our not-for-profit partners , sharing the great news about our progress. Please read and share with your charitable organization so we can do more for more charities.

Thank you for working with Make It Better in the past. We hope to be even more helpful to your important work going forward. You are important to us.

Since our inception, we’ve been working tirelessly to fulfill our mission to be the most trusted, easiest-to-use community resource – online, in print and in person. We’re delighted to announce that, due to our great success, we are continuing to grow, and this fall, we will launch a spectacular new website.

We’re equally proud of our stats:

  • 60,000+ homes receive our monthly magazine, for an average of 200,000 readers who value and act on the content (subscribe at LINK:[
  • 115,000+ unique page views per month at
  • 27,000+ Better Letter email newsletters delivered semiweekly (please sign up at to receive yours)
  • 70,000 views of MIB TV videos at YouTube
  • 8,000+ total social network followers

Most importantly:

  • $3,589,886 raised for nonprofits as of July, 1, 2014.

We’re also delighted to announce that, in her new role as Advertising Account Executive, Denise Borkowski will continue to work with our not-for-profit partners on media sponsorships, event planning and advertising.

Here’s how we can help your organization grow, too. Start planning now for 2015:

  1. Events calendar, OpEd and You Said It submissions.

We welcome all Events Calendar and OpEd submissions. Comments you send via any channel (email, phone call, social network, letter,) may be included in our You Said It section of the magazine as well. Please Contact Us.

  1. Be included in our annual Guide To Giving.

Our charitably inclined audience particularly focuses on giving near the holidays. Therefore, we publish and highlight our annual Guide To Giving every November and December. To learn more about our Guide to Giving and other advertising opportunities, please call Denise Borkwoski at (847) 256-4642 or email her at

  1. Apply for a Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Award.

Applications accepted online from now through September 15, 2014. Our Philanthropy Awards are presented on November 14, to coincide with National Philanthropy Day. Winners will receive the following:

- Television-production quality four to five minute marketing video

- Editorial inclusion across Make It Better’s multiple platforms:

  • Better Letter email newsletter, sent to 27,000 opt-in subscribers
  • Make It Better magazine, sent to 60,000 homes
  • Make It Better website

- Exclusive training in philanthropic best practices to assist in promoting the new video

- Contributions from Make It Better’s Shop for Good proceeds

  1. Earn a Make It Better media sponsorship for your nonprofit’s next fundraiser by taking our fun and informative “How To Raise More $$ For Your Favorite Nonprofit” class.

Register for our “How To Raise More $$” class and learn how to maximize the fundraising tools embedded in our media sponsorships, while you improve your tech, networking and fundraising skills. That’s a win/win/win for you, your volunteers and potential sponsors.

For more information, contact Denise Borkowski at

  1. Be connected with a significant Make It Better for-profit advertiser.We love creating virtuous circles that connect nonprofits, businesses and our audience; so, we enthusiastically amplify the nonprofit relationships of our best marketing partners. These include event media sponsorships, placement in Shop For Good (launching with our new site in September), Better Makers coverage and many other activities.

6. Be our guests at two fantastic events.

Our Best Of 2014 celebration and concert at the Chicago Botanic Garden on August 26.

Finally, The launch of our new website on October 2 at a location soon to be announced. These will not only be great free parties, they also will be outstanding opportunities for you to network.

Please don’t wait. Send us your upcoming events, join our Guide To Giving, attend our events, take our classes, promote your NFP on our media channels and apply for our Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Award.

Again, you are important to us. We hope to be even more important to you.

 Warm Regards,  Susan Noyes


Robin Williams Tragedy Puts Depression in Focus


My family and I deeply grieve Robin Williams’ death.  We are such enormous fans that we even took our then 2nd grade son to Robin’s solo show at the Chicago Theatre – which, of course, was full of f-bombs and other inappropriate content.  My son even spoke of it today on his blog

Robin Williams to be rememberedRobin spotted our cute tow head in the audience and launched into a rant – “What kind of mother would bring you here?”  I tried to crawl under my seat.

Eerily, Robin addresses suicide and the dark underbelly of comic genius in an NPR interview with Terri Gross that was replayed earlier today.

Robin’s death proves that our society needs to open up and double down on depression.  It’s a horrific disease.  And it hits too many homes in our home towns.

Make It Better won national press awards for our Teen Depression
Please encourage any of your family or friends who exhibit signs of depression to talk about it.  Join society’s fight to funnel more support for identifying and treating this insidious illness too.  And, please, let us know how Make It Better can help too.

A Future Stronger Than The Empty Nest

My youngest child, Emma, will be a freshman at Harvard this fall.

Emma Noyes in the graduation dress made by her sister, Skatie.

Emma’s good news could have been my bad news because of the Empty Nest Syndrome. Fortunately though, my future as a publisher and social entrepreneur is too exciting to dwell much on this loss.

For this, I particularly thank John Lavine and Tim Bingaman.

About eight years ago, I asked Lavine to mentor me through a newly found calling to become a publisher. He had sold a publishing empire, founded Northwestern University’s Media Management Center and successfully reorganized Medill School of Journalism as it’s Dean.

John Lavine, Director of Northwestern University Media Management Center

Lavine agreed on the condition that I accept simple principles – prioritize online, identify an audience, and honor what it wants. For these reasons, Make It Better was born May 1, 2007 as a little website for North Shore women. It’s mission – to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource that helps make life better for our audience and the businesses and nonprofits they support.

We called it Make It Better because that’s the innate inclination of this audience; helping is their most common denominator and the overarching connector of their collective lives. They make it better for their children, parents, husbands, friends, schools, churches, synagogues, less privileged others, book groups, sports teams, favorite nonprofits…etc. If – and only if – there is any time left over, they try to make it better for themselves too.

This year, we completed our first official audit by the Circulation Verification Council (CVC), which is run by 15 of the largest advertisers in the country and annually audits publications representing over 70 million readers. A readership audit is not an easy process. Imagine willingly inviting the IRS in to examine all your business.

Fortunately, our audit results were spectacularly good. Our valuable audience loves Make It Better. No hyperbole.

In fact, the audit data was so remarkable that the CEO of CVC, Tim Bingaman, asked to personally guide us through the good news and recommend a simple, rocket-fueled path to growth.

Tim Bingaman, CEO of the Circulation Verification Council (CVC).

When is the last time a CEO of an organization serving 70 million called you out of the blue and volunteered to help? This request caught our attention.

In short, our audience of affluent, educated women far exceeds national and North Shore norms. Because these women control their hhi budgets, they are uber valuable to advertisers.

Bingaman’s words energized me and our talented staff. I hope to thank him for them in person some day. In the meantime though, I’m also using them to focus on building an even better future as an almost empty nester.

Nonetheless, please don’t hold it against me this fall, if you ask me about my kids and detect a hint of tears at the edge of my answer.

How to Spend $75 Billion – or Just $75 – to Make the World a Better Place

“For every dollar spent, how much good will be done in the world?” – Strategy followed by the globally respected Copenhagen Consensus Center

According to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal the highly respected international think tank, Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC), offers a smart strategy to solve the world’s most difficult problems. Every four years it convenes a group of leading economists, including Nobel Laureates, to debate policies and rank them by their likely effectiveness. The basic criteria – for every dollar spent, how much good will be done in the world?

The group last met in 2012 and published a book with its recommendations called How To Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place.”

The WSJ article’s author, Matt Ridley, who is also a member of the British House Of Lords, posits that the United Nations and other global leaders would be wise to follow a similar cost-benefit analysis.

But really, we would all be wise – and probably happier – if we exercised a similar strategy for our own expenditures too.

What’s the best way to spend $75 and make the world a better place?

Delightfully, the answer to that question is usually something that feels good too. Shop local and you make your hometown better. Purchase from a naional retailer who gives back – like Tom’s Shoes or Starbucks – and you enjoy great taste and a good conscience. Attend a fundraiser, enjoy fun with friends while raising money for a good cause. Buy fresh organic food and improve not only your nutrition, but also the environment too.

It’s heartening to know that great minds are making good global recommendation. But it’s even better to know that your daily choices can make a significant difference too.

We’re proud of our new way to help you support local treasures – independent book stores.  Thanks to Make It Better’s new partnership with, you can now purchase ebooks through your favorite independent book store.  Please learn more and download the free app here: