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Counting Down to Make a Difference Day

Posted on 9/28/2007 3:27:15 PM

Blog Countdown Make a Difference DayToday we are less than a month away from Make a Difference Day. To keep you up-to-date on the latest information about the event, we've started a blog series counting down to October 27th. Be watching for new updates, accounts from last year's event, guest bloggers, media coverage summaries, etc in the coming weeks!

You can find out everything you ever wanted to know about the event here, and you can browse through and sign up for a project right here. This is a community-wide event that brings all non-profits together so come help us make a difference!

Some notes about this year's event:


  • First Source Bank has partnered with Make a Difference Michiana this year to help this year's event be even bigger than years past. You'll be able to find information about Make a Difference Day in 1st Source Bank branches all around Michiana in the coming weeks.
  • Be sure to check out the map of where we are going to be making a difference!
  • We have a good number of projects right now but our list is still growing. It's not too late to submit new volunteer projects!

Keep your eye on the blog for more the latest information about Make a Difference Day!

An exciting new agency joining us

Posted on 9/27/2007 8:25:34 PM

The Pokagon FundYesterday Make a Difference Michiana founder/former president Mary Dunbar took on a new role with Make a Difference Michiana: contact person for non-profit agency #265 on our website. The Pokagon Fund, of which Mary is the executive director, is a non-profit that officially launched Tuesday and is ready to distribute 2 percent of the Four Winds Casino’s yearly revenue to community efforts in the New Buffalo area. Of course they were not officially launched until they found their way onto our website.

2 percent of revenue turns out to be a pretty good sum of money going to non-profits, like $3.35 million a year. That means that a small amount of any money you gamble away in the casino is probably tax deductible. (Note: this claim has not been verified with the IRS)

Mary still lives in South Bend and continues to be very involved with Make a Difference Michiana as a board member. You can read about her organization's launching here, here, and here.

Helping You Make a Difference

Posted on 9/24/2007 12:12:34 PM

Helping you Make a DifferenceFrom time to time I will post a roundup of news items and events that non-profits and Difference Makers should be aware of. Always check the Non-Profits in the News Page and the Non-Profit Events calendar to stay up-to-date on other items of interest.

  • IUSB is offering an Introduction to Grant Writing course on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 pm, October 9th-November 27th. Targetted for new or slightly experienced grant writers, this course will be taught by Lisa A. Jaworski, M.P.A., Director of Operations for the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. For more information click here.

  • The Walmart Foundation is holding a Community/Matching Grant Informational Event on October 17th from 8am-10am. Learn how your organization can apply to receive part of the more than $61 million dollars that Walmart and Sam's Club distribute nationally through their Community Grant program. Event will be held at the Sam's Club at 120 Indian Ridge Blvd. in Mishawaka. For more information, email Kirsten Hoskins at

  • MAC Michiana is holding a Media Auction for newspaper ad space, radio and TV airtime, billboard space, printing services, and other media services at the Beiger Mansion on November 8th at 5:30PM. Most items go at a fraction of the price normally paid. The proceeds will go to help college students pursuing studies in the advertising field. For more information, click here.

  • The YWCA of Elkhart County is currently accepting nominations for their Salute to Women event. Among other honors are awards for volunteerism and philanthropy. For more information, click here.

Wells Fargo Foundations

Posted on 9/19/2007 5:19:59 PM

Wells Fargo

Last week I had an opportunity to meet with some people from the Wells Fargo Trust Department here in South Bend. Wells Fargo has always been a big supporter of Make a Difference Michiana, and they would like to get the word out that they have even more grants available to non-profits through several trusts that they administer. If you are a non-profit, you'll want to take a look at the information about their grants available here (pdf file).

Some deadlines are October 1st.

National Service Program?

Posted on 9/14/2007 12:55:14 AM

Time Magazine: The Case for National Service Time Magazine’s cover story a few weeks ago laid out a plan for a national service program. I really believe they’ve hit upon a goldmine politically for any of the 2008 political candidates, as this is the perfect feel-good, patriotic, call-to-duty issue that people from either party would probably support if sold in the right manner. One thing is pretty certain among most everyone: a mandatory service program is a bad idea. Rather than using sticks, the government could more effectively offer certain carrots for doing service in an effort to even more energize a culture of volunteerism and giving.

Time comes up with ten very intriguing ideas for programs, the first of which intrigues me the most: A National-Service Baby Bond. Each time a baby is born the Federal Government invests $5,000 in a fund with a high return rate. By the time the child turns 20 the fund has reached $19,000, and if sometime between 18-25 the person commits a year to national service or the military, he or she is granted access to the fund to use for education, starting a business, or making a down payment on a home. Cost: about 20 billion dollars, though the government could profit from the funds not cashed.

Could the government pull this off efficiently, or would the needed bureaucracy and regulations suck the good out of this idea? One absolutely essential element in my mind is letting all private non-profits and especially faith-based organizations in on the game. The Americorp program has for years found a way for federal funds to support volunteers working with faith-based organizations, so while it’s a tricky road to navigate the government has been down it before. One tough issue: would the year-long service commitment that most young Mormons fulfill count as national service? When is it something that should be subsidized and rewarded by the government, and when is it not?

Religious questions aside, overall I think such a program would give our economy and country a far greater net benefit than the twenty billion dollar price-tag. Service organizations would receive a year of work worth tens of thousands of dollars for free, the volunteers would most likely take a service-oriented attitude through the rest of their lives, it would get aspiring low-income kids to college to increase their earning capacity and livelihood later in life, and private non-profits—far more effective than most government agencies at addressing societal ills—would get a real shot in the arm with more help showing up at the door.

Take a look at the rest of Time’s coverage and then look for more 2008 Presidential candidates to promote service-oriented programs in the future.

Mentoring Update

Posted on 9/7/2007 4:48:58 PM

It's great to see that the community has responded to the South Bend School Corporation's need for 6,000 mentors. An article in today's South Bend Tribune reports that over one hundred new mentors were trained in the last few weeks, and the school expects to double its number of mentors this year. As I blogged about earlier, this is a school corporation where graduation rates are some of the lowest in the state. A low graduation rate today leads to new problems in the community years from now when we could have headed it off today by taking action now.

Today's article has information about how to get involved if you're looking for a way to make a difference. They are still over 5,000 mentors short of their goal.

Leighton Award Winners

Posted on 9/6/2007 3:49:58 PM

ywcaLast week the winnner of the Leighton Award for Non-Profit Excellence was announced.  Congratulations to the YWCA of St. Joseph County for winning this year. The prize includes a $100,000 challenge grant. You can read more about them here.

The two runners-up: Hannah's House and YMCA of Michiana.

Congratulations to all who were recognized!

Who Uses the Internet?

Posted on 9/4/2007 9:36:51 PM

Since much of my job centers around a website, I always find it interesting to read about who is actually out there using the internet. Several recent articles have caught my eye.

First of all, according to this study, the average American household spends more time on the internet than watching TV. According to another study, these web users are spending a majority of their time accessing content on the internet, a practice that has grown rapidly while uses like communicating, searching for information, and purchasing items have only remained constant or decreased. This article in the South Bend Tribune highlights some local senior citizens who have begun using the internet. The article mentions that the number of Americans 65 and older who use the internet has risen more than 160 percent since 2000. Since 62 percent of people between ages 50-58 use the internet, it's safe to say that internet usage among 65+ Americans will only continue to increase rapidly, particularly as the "silver tsunami" of baby-boomers reach retirement age while still maintaining their internet use. Currently about 22 percent of Americans older than 65 use the internet.

The non-profit connection: since wealthy baby-boomers are expected to bequeath over 41 trillion dollars to charities over the next 55 years (a coming "Golden Age in Philanthropy"), it might be smart to make sure they find your agency's website before their time comes.