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Charities that Give the Most to Veterans

Oftentimes when we talk about charity we talk about organizations that work to benefit demographics like children or people living in areas of high poverty. One of the most important causes out there that needs our help and doesn’t receive the attention it deserves is our veterans.

The servicemen and servicewomen who have laid their lives on the line in the pursuit of a better and brighter tomorrow often return home from the war they fought to find themselves facing a new, internal battle. Within 4 months of returning home, nearly a third of all soldiers will develop mental health problems; these problems commonly include anxiety disorders, clinical depression, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  These mental health problems, on top of all of the difficulties and emotional burdens of war, led 20% of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan to develop drug or serious drinking problems, and saw 22 veteran suicides per day in 2010.

Because of the long-term emotional and psychological burdens that accompany those who return from combat, it is often difficult for our servicepeople to hold jobs or properly take care of themselves. This means they often rely on public services and programs like the VA to help them in times of need. They can also turn to the aid of some of the philanthropies and charities around the country who work to help those who have served. Here are just a few of the organizations whose efforts help to benefit our nation’s veterans.

  • Adaptive Sports Foundation
  • Fisher House Foundation
    • The Fisher House Foundation was established to help the loved ones of military servicemen and women while the veteran is receiving medical services. The homes are located nationwide, nearby VA medical centers and hospitals to allow the families all of the amenities of living at home for free close by.
  • The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
    • This fund, established in the year 2000, has provided the families of military servicepeople with over $200 million worth of benefits and support in the years since. They also offer assistance for medical care to help the soldiers continue to lead fulfilling lives, in or out of the line of duty.

Why People Give

One of the biggest topics, that often goes without discussion, is our motivations to give. What makes people give to others? There have been plenty of studies around this very question. According to that research, there’s a multitude of reasons why people donate their resources or time to help others in need. This blog will break down the four biggest reasons as to why we give.

We’re motivated to give with our hearts

The biggest factor when it comes to giving is the prospect of making someone’s life better. We want to donate to causes that create significant change, but we are very driven by the narrative we’re told. If a particular organization’s purpose is tied to a story that pulls at our heartstrings, we’re more likely to donate. Our emotions are a driving force in our lives and when it comes to helping others, it certainly is not an exception to the rule.

Community Pride

Individuals with a strong tie to their communities are driven to give back as much as they can. To them, giving is a way of lifting the community up to make it an even better place than how they already see it. Those who donate to community causes swell with pride when their donations increase the wellbeing of the community as a whole.

Influenced by those around us

Another factor behind giving is the influence others have on us. For instance, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was, in part, a huge success due to the influence of our peers. When a campaign goes viral and people show up in droves due to the fear of missing out, they are motivated to give because everyone around them is doing the same.

Driven to give due to personal stability

Finally, the most humbling motivator is your own personal and financial stability. Many people are driven to give because they look at how fortunate they are and want to use some of their security to provide others with similar comforts. This is an interesting motivator because it’s one that takes more introspection and mindfulness than the others.

All in all, no matter why we give, it comes from a place of positivity and desire to better the lives of others. The more people we can motivate and inspire, the better off the world will be.

How To Host a Successful Fundraiser

Fundraising is not easy task. It takes meticulous planning, the right event, a group of generous donors, and the will power to bring it all together. Not all fundraisers are a success. Some end up being a total wash after they pay back rent for event space and entertainment. In order to have a successful fundraiser and raise as much funding as possible, there are a few things to keep in mind.


The best approach to a successful fundraiser is having a cause you’re extremely passionate about. Your passion and excitement will be infectious to donors and volunteers alike. This type of excitement cannot be faked either. Additionally, the more you care about the cause, the harder you’ll work.


Set a reasonable budget and stick to it. Going over budget only cuts into the money that gets donated at the end of the day. If you’re especially frugal, you may even be able to come in under budget. No matter what, plan ahead and cut out any and all unnecessary costs. The more money you can donate at the end of the day the better.

Multiple ways to give

Make sure your fundraiser has multiple ways to give. Ticket sales to attend the event are great, but some donors will spend more money if they can, so give them a way to do so! Things like raffles and silent auctions are fantastic ways to bring in more money. They also make it fun for those attending the event, so it’s a no brainer!


Successful fundraising is not a one person operation. It is going to take a whole crew of people to make a large impact. With that in mind, make sure you have yourself a solid leadership team. The fundraiser will only go as well as the leadership behind it can provide. Assemble a team of equally enthusiastic, hardworking individuals. Trying to take it on alone will be overwhelming and hinder the outcome, so make sure you grab yourself the best team you can find!

Community Drives

Do you want to help out those less fortunate but don’t know where to start? Do you want to give, but feel like your small donation won’t make a difference? Not everyone can afford to open a school in another country or donate a million dollars to a natural disaster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t affect positive change right in your own community. If you’re looking to help others, start with those closest to home and organize a drive that can make an immediate change in the lives of others.

  • Blood Drive
    • Every two seconds in the United States, someone is in need of a blood transfusion, with nearly 21 million blood units transfused each year. The blood bank is filled exclusively through donations as blood cannot be manufactured, and although 38% of the population is able and eligible to donate, only about 10% of that 38% do. Reach out to the Red Cross and see if you can help save lives by organizing a blood drive.
  • Toy Drive
    • For children living in poverty, they’re lucky to have food on the table most nights, so buying toys really isn’t a financial option. Holding a toy drive in your community, especially around the holidays, can really make a difference in the life of a child.
  • Tampon/Pad Drives
    • A newer type of drive looking to solve a long-standing problem, Tampon and Pad Drives are sweeping the nation, answering the prayers of homeless women everywhere. Feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads are expensive with the necessary amount costing upwards of $100 a year, a price that’s simply not feasible for women who are homeless. These drives collect said hygiene products and distribute them to homeless women in need.
  • Food Drive
    • Many municipalities have food banks that do a great job of providing those in need with food. You can show support and do your part by hosting a canned  food or dried food drive to collect non perishables for your community food bank.
  • Blanket Drive
    • On cold, winter nights, there’s nothing like curling up on your couch with a blanket to keep you warm. Now imagine you don’t have a house, much less a couch to curl up in; blanket drives are one of the best ways you can ensure that people without homes or shelters stay safe against the element during the cold months.

Trends Impacting Philanthropy in 2017

2016 was a great year for philanthropy, breaking previous records and continuing to grow. Though the nonprofit sector is dwarfed by business and government, philanthropy has continued to gain traction as more and more self-starters are deciding to give back.

We can’t say for sure how the sector will change throughout the year, but we have a few guesses as to the trends that you can expect in 2017.

Philanthropy Becomes More Mainstream

Up until recently, philanthropy has generally been seen as something for the wealthy—with the spectacle of large donations and even larger checks to back this notion up.

Now, this paradigm is changing. It’s becoming easier than ever for individuals to donate and know where their donation is going. New generations have become more aware of social issues and are passionate about solving them. This alone has driven many millennials to try to make an impact—and these microdonations can collectively have a significant impact on the sector as a whole.

Impact Investing Improves

Impact investing, the practice of making investments for social and environmental gain in addition to earning money, has created a massive reserve of capital for many foundations.

The intention to gain a positive ROI is still there, but in addition to a desire to create lasting change. Expect impact investment to continue to grow throughout 2017.

Technology Changes Nonprofits

With philanthropy becoming more mainstream and younger individuals making smaller donations, nonprofit organizations will have to leverage changing technology and improve their marketing practices to stand out in the figurative crowd.

Individuals are more willing to give when they perceive an organization as being authentic, and updating obsolete marketing methods may be the best way to get through and effectively spread a message.

Women Step Up Giving

Another notable trend in philanthropy is the initiative that women have taken when it comes to giving. Women currently control more than half of the U.S’s private wealth, and that number is expected to continue growing.

Both large donations from individuals and the rise of women’s funding networks have encouraged more and more women to engage in charitable giving.

Tech Philanthropy Continues to Grow

As philanthropy becomes increasingly trendy among individuals with resources, individuals that have earned their wealth through technology are joining in. With some big names such as Jeff Bezos making large donations, it’s expected that more and more Silicon Valley tech magnates will step up in the near future.

How to Get Your Family Giving this Holiday Season

There’s something about this time of year that puts people in a charitable mood. Known as the “season of giving,” the holiday season each year is a time when people set aside their daily concerns for themselves and look for ways they can benefit others and society as a whole. Not only do we give gifts to the ones we hold dear, but we even give to strangers with no hope for recognition or commendation for our efforts, like selfless secret santas trying to bring a little cheer to the world. Make giving a tradition in your family that will last through the generations with these ways to get the whole group involved in giving this season.

Find ways to help out while cleaning out.

  • Move your spring cleaning up a bit and go through your old belongings that you no longer use and donate them! A few weeks before Christmas, take a day or two and go through any old junk you have lying around to see what you can give to help others. Great items to donate include blankets, gently used clothing, books, toys, and so on. This practice can help your children cut back on materialism throughout the holidays by seeing their old toys and belongings go to people who need them more.

Spread your cheer through the neighborhood.

  • The holidays can be a lonely time of year for people whose loved ones have passed on or whose families have other plans occupying their time. Why not teach your children the value giving their time and company rather than money by visiting the elders in your community and sharing your merriment with them. You can also get the whole family involved in baking cookies and then distributing them throughout your community.

Forego some presents.

  • In 2015, the average person spent $830 on Christmas presents for their loved ones, and for parents, most of that money was likely spent on presents for the children. Let your children see how far just a little money could go for someone living in poverty, especially in developing countries, by taking a portion of the money you usually spend on gifts and donating it to an organization like Samaritan’s Purse where just $7 can provide a child with a week’s worth of hot meals. Let them pick out the gifts themselves to get them really involved and feel as though they’ve personally made a difference in the lives of others.

Around the holidays, even the smallest bit that you do can make a world of difference in the lives of people who struggle to survive each passing day. Help improve their wellbeing while also teaching your children the value of helping others and how good it can feel to be selfless by looking for ways to get your children involved in giving during the holiday season.

Why Giving Makes Us Feel Good

If you’ve ever been on the giving end of benevolence, then you know the good, warm feeling you get inside of you when you lend a hand to those in need. But what about giving is it that makes us feel this way? Why does helping other paradoxically make ourselves feel better?

  1. There’s a physiological response in our bodies to giving.
    • While it absolutely seems to be a paradox, when we give to others, the pleasure centers and reward areas of our brains light up, but get this — our brains light up the same way they would if we were the receiver of the gift, not the one giving it. A 2008 study from Harvard Business School found that giving money to others lifted the levels of happiness of participants more than it did if they spent the money on themselves. This is because your body produces boosts of endorphins during acts of generosity that make us feel good about ourselves and others, the same kind of feeling describes as a “runner’s high.”
  2. Giving is good for your health.
    • Studies have shown that helping others has numerous positive effects on your body, most notably in the brain and the heart. Giving helps us physically by lowering our blood pressure (especially when the volunteer is elderly) and stress levels through providing a sense of appreciation and meaning in our lives. Giving is also good for your mental health, and has been linked to decreasing depression in volunteers.
  3. We feel better about ourselves when we volunteer.
    • Giving to others in any form has been shown to increase not only the volunteer’s self-esteem, but also their overall satisfaction in life. People who volunteer experience a boost in mood, feel physically healthier, and feel less stressed out overall. Giving to others has been shown to promote gratitude in our own lives by helping us “count our blessings” and explore how much in our lives we truly have to be thankful for. When you feel as though you have so little, seeing how much the little you have can do in the life of someone who has even less, it puts things into perspective.
  4. We help ourselves by helping others.
    • There’s an old saying that goes “you can’t help someone up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” In the process of giving, we gain from others as much as they gain from us, especially for causes that hit close to home. If you were victimized by something in your life and then you go on to become an advocate for those affected, you’re helping yourself through the battle as much as you’re helping others and empowering them to give themselves a different outcome.

Why People Give to Charity

If you read my blog post last week, you learned a little bit about why some people don’t give to charity; this week, as we enter the season of giving, I decided to take a look at some of the reasons why people choose to give their money to those less fortunate. On a personal level, it’s great to….. From a philanthropic perspective. if you’re hoping to entice people into donating to your charity, you first need to understand why people are donating their money and what their motives are for giving. Maximize your business’s efforts to raise money by checking out some of the top reasons why people choose to give.

  1. The cause hits close to home.
    • This can be in both a figurative and a literal sense; people are more likely to help out a cause in an area near them, and people are going to feel drawn to causes that raise awareness and benefit particular hardships they’ve personally endured. Consider if you were raised in the foster system — as an adult, you would likely want to benefit other children who are currently sharing in that experience.
  2. They’re looking to make a difference.
    • In times of crisis, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of calamity. For this reason, people often choose to give their money because they are looking to affect positive change and make lives better for a specific group of individuals. If you are moved by the plight of an impoverished nation, you’re going to seek out ways that your donation can directly benefit them and improve their lives.
  3. They want to give back to something that benefited them.
    • If a particular cause or organization made a lasting impact on your life in one way or another, you’re likely going to want to give back once you’re financially able; for example, if your house were to burn down and you receive assistance from the Salvation Army or the Red Cross, you’re going to be more likely to make a routine of donating to them in an attempt to give back and show gratitude for all the help you were given.
  4. They want to preserve a legacy.
    • Many academic and athletic scholarships are given in honor of — and in the name of — a loved one as a way to preserve their memory long after their lives are over. Some people choose to start scholarships or grants to donate to people or organizations that help to carry on the vision of the loved one who has passed away. Other people, like Bill and Melinda Gates, have decided to use their incredible wealth to build one of the world’s largest nonprofits so that their money could keep helping others long after they’re gone.

There are many reasons why people choose to give to charity, but the important thing to remember is that people give with their hearts and not their heads. That’s not to say that people are going to give mindlessly; rather, people are more likely to give to causes that appeal to their emotions and their basic human instincts.

lloyd claycomb millennials philanthropy

Millennials in Philanthropy

You’ve probably heard the term millennial used before to describe the generation of young adults born between 1980 and 1999. There are a staggering 80 million of these young adults living in the United States alone. There’s an awful lot of discussion around the millennial generation. Some call them entitled while others call them innovative. What we are not hearing a lot about, is their philanthropic efforts.

They give more.

Millennials may not have as much disposable income as those of the generations above them, but it certainly is not hindering their giving. An astounding 84 percent of millennials donated to charity in 2014 alone. That’s a lot of giving. Those donations also averaged to about $481 per person. These young adults are making a huge difference in shaping philanthropy.

They volunteer more.

Young adults are not just giving money, they are volunteering their time too. It’s estimated that over 70 percent of millennials are volunteering in some capacity. They don’t just volunteer at the first place they can find either. Most millennials look for areas that they can use their skills to maximize their time and do the most good.

Influenced by social media.

It’s probably not much of a surprise, but millennials are heavily influenced by their peers and social media. Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? It was a viral social media campaign that caused an enormous influx of donations to the ALS Association. This was only one campaign, but social media shed light on the cause and millennials stepped up to the plate with their smartphones and their wallets.

Issue based donors.

Lastly, millennials are often issue based donors. They donate their time and money to causes they feel strongly about. Largely, these causes are social issues or things pertaining to children. Millennials also do their homework when it comes to their donations. They want to know how the money is going to be used before they are ready to give. They understand it’s not enough to simply give, you need to be giving to causes you believe in.

Millennials are the largest living generation to date. By 2020, they will make up 50 percent of the workforce and be a third of the adults living in the US. These numbers are huge and so is the impact they have. As they come into more money and settle into careers, we are going to see their efforts make even more of a wave than we already are.

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