Giving on a Budget

Giving is a gift unto itself. Whether donating to a charity or simply giving food to someone with an empty stomach, charitable donations come in many shapes and sizes. However, not all of us have the ability to donate thousands of dollars, even if the cause is something we feel deeply passionate about. But did you know there are a number of things you can donate without breaking the bank that can still make a difference? Below is a list of the best things to give when money isn’t the most abundant.

Don ChamberlinDid you know that almost 75% of accrued airline miles go unused in their lifetime? Well, if you are in the mood to give and have a few spare miles, why not put them to good use? The Hero Miles Program, designed to help veterans and their families, have produced nearly 50,000 tickets over its several years of operation. Giving back to wounded veterans is an honorable task, and you don’t need to be bursting at the seams with spare cash to do it.

Another excellent way to turn your rarely used rewards into donations is by giving away your credit card rewards points. Many card companies have adopted this process, enabling you to direct your rewards to whomever you choose. Whichever charity you decide, they will surely be happy to receive your generous gifts, and the tax-deductible donation is an excellent bonus for a good deed.

Few know that the excess energy produced by solar panels can be given as charitable donations. Gridmates, a Texas-based organization, uses the excess energy and redistributes it to low-income residents struggling to keep the lights on. A brilliant way to turn a naturally occurring resource into an act of kindness, you can donate the gift of light and heat for little to no cost.

First Ever All-Women Honor Flight

On September 22nd, Honor Flight made history by arranging the first all-women veterans honor flight to Washington, D.C. Recognizing that historically, women veterans have not received the recognition they rightfully deserve for their service, especially compared to male veterans, Honor Honor Flight Blog Post - Don ChamberlinFlight decided to make the event extra special and incorporate as many women veterans as possible. Although previous honor flights had of course been open to women veterans, few would attend.

For those who may not be familiar with the Honor Flight Network, it is an organization that was founded out of two separate ideas with the same goal. Honor Flight provides veterans with the opportunity to visit the various monuments in Washington D.C. in order to pay their respects to their comrades. The idea first came to retired Air Force captain and veteran, Earl Morse, who realized that many older veterans had yet to visit the National WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. After the first honor flight took place in 2005, Jeff Miller, a small business owner from North Carolina was inspired to help out as well and began his own organization. Eventually, both groups decided to merge and the Honor Flight Network was born.

The idea for an all-women veteran honor flight was initially brought up by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair which had asked Honor Flight with help in organizing the event. However, the Honor Flight Network decided to take matters into their own hand and organize the event themselves. With the VA’s help, Honor Flight was able to send out applications and invitations to eligible veterans. Shortly after, they had received an unexpected response of 250 applications despite only having space for about 140 participants.

According to Cheryl Popp, the director of Honor Flight Tri-State, the organization had to take a different approach in order to ensure fairness in selecting the participants. To do so, they organized all applicants alphabetically and then from oldest to youngest. Honor Flight gives top priority to veterans over the age of 65. In the end, what they did was select the 72 oldest veterans and 72 of the youngest veterans that were eligible. Veterans under 40 were able to participate as Honor Guards – a position which normally doesn’t require one to have served in the military but in this case, all Honor Guards were women who had served as well.

Several of the women who attended had made a career out of military service and many more had served numerous tours throughout the years. The event was also helpful to many veterans who had lost contact with other fellow veterans throughout the years, and were happy to meet more women who had this similar and often unique experience.

Watch more news on this Honor Flight event.

Soles4Souls: Finalist for the Salute to Excellence Awards

Each fall, the Center for Nonprofit Management honors Middle Tennessee nonprofits with the Salute to Excellence awards dinner, the largest nonprofit awards event in the country. This year CNM is celebrating on Thursday, October 22 at the Omni Nashville Hotel with its esteemed group of finalists. Soles4Souls Salute to Excellence Award

This year, a total of 12 awards and more than $250,000 will be presented to nonprofit organizations across Middle Tennessee. The celebration will showcase the winners success stories as well as the contributions leaders in the community have provided over the years.

CNM has been a home to Middle Tennessee’s nonprofit leaders since 1986. They provide their nonprofit board members, executives, and staff the opportunity to enhance their services through skill-building workshops and their annual Bridge to Excellence conference.

Once again, Soles4Souls has been chosen as a finalist for this years awards!

In response to the nomination, Soles4Souls Executive Director Buddy Teaster stated, “Being named as the Memorial Leadership Award winner was one of the highlights of 2014. We have worked hard to get Soles4Souls back on track and helping more people in need. And we’re proud of what we’ve achieved. To have the Nashville community recognize that as well meant more to our team than anything else could have.”

Soles4Souls was founded after the world experienced two consecutive years of catastrophic natural disasters. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and 2005 Hurricane Katrina, philanthropists and shoe company executives came together to provide footwear to the victims of those disasters. Out of those efforts, Soles4Souls was born with the goal of eradicating poverty and empowering individuals. Today, they are a global social enterprise committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing.

Click here to see the full list of 2015 Salute to Excellence awards finalists.