Rachael Ray Gives Back

Carl Turnley - Dog BonesMany people know Rachael Ray for her cooking show, but few people are aware of her philanthropic efforts. In addition to being an internationally-recognized business mogul, Ray loves to give back. Her latest efforts to help the community have come through her pet food line, Rachael Ray Nutrish.

Rachael Ray believes in creating a strong business foundation and then giving the profits away to philanthropic efforts. She says that you need to make sure you have the business success before you give money back to the community. And Ray certainly does have the business background. In addition to her Emmy Award-winning daytime television show called “Rachael Ray”, which is produced by CBS, she also has a number of popular Food Network shows. Rachael Ray has a signature line of products including cookware, food ingredients, dinnerware, and knives. She also has a lifestyle magazine called Rachael Ray Every Day.

Rachael Ray’s philanthropic efforts are almost as expansive as her business efforts. In 2007, she launched a nonprofit organization called Yum-o! This organization empowers kids and their families to get into the kitchen and create healthy and delicious family-friendly recipes. Rachael Ray then partners with organizations to feed hungry children.

In 2008, Rachael Ray decided to add helping animals to her philanthropy repertoire. She partnered with pet food experts at Ainsworth Pet Nutrition to create a line of food and treats for dogs called Rachael Ray Nutrish. This company began when Ainsworth Pet Nutrition reached out to Rachael Ray after seeing her and her husband speak passionately about animals and their own Pit Bull.

Nutrish was created to offer a healthy alternative to the other dog foods on the market. This was especially important at the time since there had recently been a string of dog deaths due to food that was made mostly from fillers. Rachael Ray’s Nutrish line is made of simple natural ingredients with real meat. The same year Rachel launched Nutrish, her love of animals led her to start Rachael’s Rescue. Through Rachael’s Rescue, Ray has donated her personal proceeds from her pet food business to no-kill shelters. This money goes to food and medical treatment for animals in need. Rachael’s Rescue has partnered with the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, North Shore Animal League America, and a number of other trusted organizations.

In 2014, Nutrish launched its first ever cat food. It does not contain any artificial preservatives, flavors or poultry by-product meal. This food for cats comes in both wet and dry varieties. Rachael Ray also recently announced the launch of DISH from Rachael Ray Nutrish. This is a new line of super premium dry food for dogs. DISH utilizes U.S. farm-raised beef or chicken as the main ingredients and does not contain corn, soy, wheat, and gluten. The formulas for Ray’s pet food come from her recipes from her own kitchen using carrots, peas, slow-roasted chicken, diced apples or farm-grown potatoes.

Nutrish has become a disruptor in a marketplace that many considered already  saturated. There are many options for pet owners, but Rachael Ray’s is most definitely the highest quality. She even personally taste tests every pet food she creates.

Rachael’s drive to create Nutrish comes from her passion for animals and her passion for health. She has used her business platform not only to provide pet owners with the best products for their pets, but to help other pets in need. Whether she’s helping children or pets, Rachel makes sure to sell amazing products while also providing basic needs to those who are less fortunate.

 

OKC Thunder and Golden State Warriors Show Down on the Court, but Show Up for Community.

Athletes are pillars in their community. In the early days of American sport, before players received multi-million dollar contracts, endorsements, and TV Shows, it wasn’t terribly uncommon to see one of your heroes out on the town living life just like you. Since the 70’s, though, athletes (especially the best) have risen to a new mythic status. And even though some players may still be living in mansions outside of the cities, many of them have still found a way to give back.

Let’s take a look at the NBA. Millions of people are tuning in to what is one of the best conference finals the NBA has seen in years. In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder are taking on defending champion Golden State. With top flight names going at it night after night, the winner of this series will most likely take on Cleveland in what will be another great NBA Finals matchup. While the on-court action is dominating discussion of these teams, their off the court contributions are just as noteworthy.

In OKC and San Francisco, these players and their clubs are giving back to the kids who adore them so much. In Oklahoma City,  Turkish player Enes Kanter was contacted by an Elementary school teacher (also of Turkish background) and came to the school to introduce the kids to a culture they may have been unfamiliar with. He read a popular Turkish children’s book, and hosted basketball-related activities in the gym. Kanter, the teacher noted, served as a role model for the kids. The influence of athletes is great indeed! Russell Westbrook also got involved with a local school; he also surprised some kids over the PA system with words of encouragement during the last stretch of testing. It’s difficult to quantify what these kinds of encounters can do for kids but you can’t deny there is something special about seeing their faces light up like that.

The team also went out to work on community service projects with the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma. Their contributions included painting murals, cleaning up gardens, and fixing up basketball courts. Players let their personalities and comedic sides shine— especially star forward Kevin Durant, who has been nominated as a finalist for the NBA Cares Community Assistance Award.

Up in San Francisco, the Warriors are also getting involved with the surrounding the community. Through their Makin’ Hoops program, the team sponsors the construction of basketball courts in underserved areas of the community— any kid knows how frustrating it is to play on a crumbling court! Through their Share Your Seats initiative, the Warriors donate what would be unused tickets to families that can go to the games.

But the Warriors’ outreach programs don’t just revolve around athletics. Through Scholars of Tomorrow, the organization promotes the importance of higher education and promotes a discussion that some students may not have at home. This past year, Jason Thompson and Assistant Coach Chris DeMarco hosted a “PTA” night, where they encouraged questions about college and professional development.

While there can only be one winner of the series, everyone wins when these local heroes step off of the court.

 

Tencent is Giving Away More than Ten Cents

carl-turnley-1000px-Tencent_Logo.svg

Major philanthropic news out of China! Earlier this week, Tencent CEO Pony Ma pledged to donate $2 billion dollars worth of his shares to charity. The generous offering is especially notable considering the visibility and impact that Tencent already has on so many people. It’s a huge technology company that touches everything from internet and online advertising products to entertainment and media services.

In a move similar to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to give away 99% of his shares, Ma will donate his $2 billion’s worth gradually. They will be used to support a new charity that is focused on a number of Chinese causes that include health care and education. The funds will also support international projects for science and technological advancement.

Ma, who is worth close to $20 billion, sees this action as a better way to give back. He’s said that for some time he’s been involved with charitable groups, but giving away shares likes this allows him to stay charitably active with a concrete long term plan.

Pony Ma’s contribution is also the largest charitable donation from a Chinese Business since 2014, when Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Joe Tsai pledged $3 billion worth of shares to two separate charities.

In order to combat the logistical difficulties that seem to plagues generous giving in China, Pony Ma’s fund is being organized by a professional team. While one would reasonably expect charitable contributions to be a large part of Chinese businesses— after all, there are now more billionaires in China than in the United States. But the Chinese nonprofit has suffered from issues such as a lack of transparency that make giving harder than keeping.

A Culture of Giving

I’ve written before about how philanthropic actions should come from within. Helping people feels great, and even if it didn’t, it’s still a wonderful way to connect with other people who may have a need you can provide.

Company’s also understand this, because some are beginning to change the attitude with which they approach philanthropy. For a time, companies would make donations because of the associated tax benefits. But in a 2014 article for Inc., Marla Tabaka examines the giving spirit at other companies, and makes the case for why it’s important to create a culture of philanthropy wherever you are.

One reason she gives, is that charitable action can bring employees together. Sometimes, we rub elbows with our coworkers and bosses in meetings. Or a new employee joins the company, but is a bit slow to catch on to the rest of the culture. Because everything in the office is centered on work, correcting these problems may not come easily. After all, who has time to repair relationships or explore new ideas when that big project is due by the end of the week?

A culture of giving can bring your employees closer together.

A culture of giving can bring your employees closer together.

Community service encourages employees to work side-by-side in an environment where deadlines and the hard and fast rules of office expectations don’t necessarily apply. You and your co-workers will bond and work together on an activity that everyone involved is passionate about.

But how do you make sure everyone is on board to begin with? Involve everyone from the jump. If you’re in a management position, don’t pick an organization or cause at random. Get critical feedback and suggestions from other employees so you can be assured that the projects you pursue and the difference you contribute to won’t feel like just another work day.

Sometimes you may feel you just don’t have the time to help create a culture of giving, but Tabaka encourages you to get creative. She provides an example from the company culture of Zinepak, a Brooklyn-based publishing company. In order to make time, they created a rotating position that is in charge of organizing activities and projects dedicated to the community outside of the workplace.

A Time for Giving

For many, the holidays present a great opportunity for community service and involvement. Probably the first thing that pops into mind is the ubiquitous “toy drive”. And while that’s a pretty worthy cause, there are plenty of other ways to contribute, too! The Huffington Post gives us plenty of suggestions for making the holidays special for a stranger. Check out a few below!

Visit a Senior

For you, the holidays may be a time when the entire family comes together for warm food and warmer laughter. But for some it’s the complete opposite. As people age, sometimes bonds that were once unthinkable begin to fade. Maybe a loved one was lost, or they’ve lost touch with their children. Humans are social creatures, and not having that kind of meaningful interaction can be devastating. Those of us not in that position can only imagine how much worse that feeling is when everyone around you is filled with a certain cheer that comes with seeing family and friends. HuffPost notes that half of seniors living in nursing homes receive no holiday visitors, so it’s not hard to see how much of an impact that kind of act of love can have.

 

Deliver a meal

Food is such a central part of the holiday season that some people look forward to the table than they do their family! But just because you’re enjoying a delicious spread doesn’t mean everyone else is, too. Hunger still runs rampant, so what better way to spread some cheer and goodwill by giving food to those who need it most? Meals on Wheels has a volunteer program that makes it that much easier to give.

 

Red Cross

Sometimes the best presents are truly priceless. Each year, the Red Cross helps needy people all over the world by delivering vaccinations or emergency family packages. There are even donations you can give to support workshops that connect veterans with their families.

Tommy Spaulding’s “It’s Not Just Who You Know”

Communication is the most important skill anyone working in the nonprofit sector can have. The funds you raise aren’t for you, they’re for a higher cause. It boils down to your team persuading potential donors to contribute to your cause. So it’s easy to see that, at the end of the day, all you have is your word.It's not just who you know

Many philanthropists, as I’ve noted before, treat everyone the same. By “same” I don’t mean “equal”. Rather, a potential donor or volunteer from one background receives the same information, attention, and communication as someone from a different background. We’re taught as children that each of us is unique, but we seem to lose sight of that as we age. You need to approach your potential game-changers as the individuals they are, not as a singular entity under one roof.

But this can be difficult. We’re conditioned to keeping work conversations in the office, and conversations of personal interest between our closest friends. Is this inherently a bad thing? No! But it is a bit jarring when someone from accounting is suddenly asked to contribute her time or money, when the only words you’ve spoken to her are about the weather and the new office space.

That’s why, I think you should read Tommy Spaulding’s best-seller It’s Not Just Who You Know. It’s simple, and doesn’t lose its message in self-aggrandizing pomp. The anecdotes are down to earth, and prove the power of a single conversation.

Spaulding writes at length about the different levels of interpersonal relationships, and the people we encounter at each one. At the lowest level are those with whom we just discuss news, sports and weather. At the top —the “Penthouse”— are our closest mentors, confidants, and loved ones, whom we serve with no expectation of reciprocity.

You can imagine which relationship is most useful to helping you achieve your goals. Spaulding helps us understand what makes penthouse relationships special, and why it’s possible to take someone we’ve recently met all the way to the top.

Of course, not everyone we meet will enter into penthouse relationship with us. Spaulding understands this, and helps the reader foster relationships at all points along the scale.

After reading it, you will be eager to listen to people and look for ways that you can selflessly help them. Whether they need help refining an idea or just want a shoulder to lean on, these relationships are what we, as humans crave. It’s Not Just Who You Know shows us how to make the most of them.

A New Design for Giving

If you want to succeed, you’ve got to set yourself apart. Normally this is advice we give to people who are ready to take the next step in their careers or relationships. But a team of designers is looking to apply this principle to objects— specifically, a well designed charity box.

Maggie’s, is a nonprofit group dedicated to giving cancer patient comfort and warm words of advice. It was founded in memory of Maggie Jencks, the late wife of architectural critic Charles Jencks. Naturally, many prominent designers have had a hand on a number of Maggie’s projects. Most recently, design firm Layer has stepped up to the plate of innovation.

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The charity box designed by Layer

Their goal, as is the goal of many charities, is to get people to donate. But they noticed that many charity boxes go unnoticed in the day to day. When you go to your favorite pastry shop on the way to work, when is the last time you actually noticed the donation jar? It just blends in with the register or other items on the counter. At work, the charity vessel may be a humble coffee can which can go ignored to undiscerning eyes.

Layer is trying to reverse this desensitization by making a charity box that really stands out from the whirlwind of daily stimuli. Their new product resembles a bent vase. The shape, writes John Brownlee for Fast Company’s Design blog, is “soft and inviting, bowing almost humbly towards the giver”. The color, red, is soft enough to not be grating on the eyes, yet bright enough to set itself apart on any table, counter, or sill. The name of the charity is subtly embedded right on the lip of the jar, reminding givers exactly what they are contributing to.

Making a Relationship with Donors

When you’re actively engaged in philanthropic activities, chances are you’re going to have to ask a donor for help. And you should! Trying to run a foundation or making a difference with exclusive use of your time, energy, and funds is a Sisyphean task. But when asking for donations, many people lead off with the same pitch: “Hi, please consider donating to or volunteering with [name of fund/organization] because it will make a positive difference in the lives of many people.” If you ask 100 people, you may get only a handful of positive responses. But how can we work to turn that into a productive, meaningful impact? two clasped hands

It’s easier said than done, to be sure, but this is the key: you’re not making the donation about them. “Wait a second,” you may be thinking, “it’s not about them! I’m trying to run this organization and get people involved to give back to others!” This is completely true, but whether they realize it or not, on every level people are thinking about how their actions benefit them. It’s not necessarily selfish, it’s just the way people are.

Now you don’t need to go out and inflate their ego. That’s bad. Saying “think about how great you’ll look volunteering tonight” looks scummy at best. Instead, approach donors that make sense. Don’t ask indiscriminately. Imagine you are in charge of organizing a fundraiser for a charity that helps to promote STEM in underperforming schools. If you have a professional contact who came from a disadvantaged background and is working towards a similar goal as you, frame your request in a way that resounds positively with that person. After all, they can likely connect with the people you are out to help. For example, you could say “I know that you worked hard to get to where you are, and want to help youths that were in your position to advance professionally. Would you like to speak to several school-aged children who want to learn more about what you do?”

This is much more thoughtful than an email blast saying “come find me if you want to make a difference this weekend!”

Remember, we’re all people, and we all want to do good. Just be upfront about why you think someone may be a good fit for the task.

Inspiration from Special Olympics Athletes

Six-foot-three, 300lb lineman Gino Gradkowski is tough. You have to be, playing one of the most heavy-hitting roles on an NFL team.  However, he has a soft spot about which he feels strongly and draws a great deal of inspiration from in terms of his own performance in the NFL, and that is the Special Olympics & its participants.

Ever since he was in college at the University of Delaware, Gradkowski has been a huge supporter of the organization and has been active in Special Olympics events. “It’s just fun to get to get to know the athletes, to interact with them, and just to watch them compete and help,” Gradkowski said, when asked about his interest in the cause. “It’s very inspiring for me.”

He feels a deep respect for the athletes of the Special Olympics, both from a motivational perspective but also in terms of staying humble and grounded in his own success. He says it helps with perspective and how he views his own life. He goes on to say,

“Our problems are peanuts compared what they have to deal with day in and day out. And for them to have the passion that they do and the work ethic – it makes you think that there’s nothing that you need to complain about, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give 100 percent.”

After graduating from College, Gradkowski was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, and continued with his involvement in the special olympics.  Later, when he joined the Denver Broncos, he immediately got back involved with the Special Olympics of Colorado and was a volunteer at the 2015 games.  One event that he worked with specifically and really enjoyed was the powerlifting event- he was a spotter for the athletes.  One of the athletes specifically requested Gino’s help, which was a really proud moment for both Gino and the athlete.

“The energy in the gym was unbelievable and it was a lot of fun to get in there and actually be involved,” Gradkowski said.  To read more about his special olympics events, check out this article.