Often, the hardest thing about supporting a charity is picking the right one. There are 1.5 million non profit organizations in the United States that are dedicated to doing meaningful work, and all of them would love your attention and support. So how do you choose?

Similar to job hunting, the best leads often come from the people you know and trust. With that in mind, below are three worthy social causes to put on your radar, all of which have been founded by fellow Members. Check out the ways to get involved!


Ian Wishingrad; Founder, Nobituary.com

IVY Member Ian Wishingrad is an entrepreneur and award-winning creative director, who has recently set his sights on one of the country’s biggest health problems: how make people stop smoking. In his viral antismoking campaign, Nobituary.com, Ian hopes to make quitting smoking fun and collaborative. Read his story and join the cause!

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I am the creator of Nobituary.com, a campaign to encourage people to quit smoking by having their loved ones write them an obituary—except we called it a Nobituary to prevent them from dying.

I came up with the idea for Nobituary.com as a 23-year-old advertising copywriter still living with his parents in Connecticut. I knew I struck gold. It had all the elements of a great idea: good cause, catchy name and a highly emotional issue with minimal user effort required.

Even though I was a smoker at the time, Nobituary.com was an idea I really believed in and wanted to thrust into society. “What if some random copywriter could convince someone to quit smoking?!” That’s a lot more satisfying than persuading someone to buy those shoes, eat at the restaurant or imbibe that drink, right? I made a promise to myself that I would never stop pushing this idea no matter how many times people rejected me. And I got plenty of rejection—from countless corporations, institutions and people—except one: Whoopi Goldberg.

On October 1 2012, my life changed. I was attending a panel discussion during Advertising Week featuring Whoopi Goldberg. She was promoting her HBO Documentary about Mom’s Mabley and randomly mentioned that she had just quit smoking. My heart skipped a beat. I thought, “It’s now or never. You have absolutely nothing to lose. Worst-case scenario—Whoopi feigns interest and walks away. I can deal with that rejection.”

So I summoned the courage, and made a beeline for her as she exited the Neederlander Theatre. “Hey Whoopi, I have this incredible idea called a Nobituary!” She paused, and gave me a look that said, “I’m listening.” Knowing the clock was ticking, I probably had 5-seconds to hook her and 30 seconds to explain. I spoke a mile a minute and described the idea. She loved it and told me to e-mail her the details. I said, “I’m going to email you in 5 minutes. The subject will say ‘Nobituary. White Jewish Guy’ you’ll know it’s me.” Within a few hours I checked my email to see that Whoopi Goldberg had replied to me. She wrote, “I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!!!!!!!” To say that e-mail made my day would be quite an understatement.

Over the next two years I juggled a full-time job and corralling support for Nobituary. On February 10, 2015 Whoopi Goldberg and I officially launched the site. Since then over 3,760 Nobituaries have been made; that translates into 3,760 potential former smokers, some of whom have already quit.

3,760 down, 42 million American smokers to go.

Ian Wishingrad is an IVY Member (NYC). Connect with him here to share ideas and join the cause!

Lacey Chong; Founder & CEO, Spa Swag for Warriors

After 10 years of experience working in the private sector, IVY Member Lacey Chong recently turned her attention to the world of non-profits. To help support women in the military, Lacey started Spa Swag for Warriors, an organization that provides high quality bath and body products to deployed female service members overseas. Read about her mission, and connect with her below!

 

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We know that being a woman in the military is a tough job. It’s a man’s job, and in a lot of ways female troops still have to prove themselves. I would like to send a little bit of home to these women to reduce the stresses and hardships of their life oversees.

Most of a soldier’s gear bag consists of clothing, weapons, and necessities, and there just isn’t a lot of room for personal items. I would like to ship items to female soldiers that they otherwise can’t procure—high-end eye cream, hair gels, shaving cream, sunscreen, and face wipes. These are all things that you and I can grab from Target, but that most women there aren’t able to find especially in hardship locations in the Middle East and Africa. My female friends in the military can get really burned out. Maybe—just maybe—after being shot at or harassed, they can come back and put on a high quality lavender aromatherapy hand cream from home, and it makes their day a bit easier. I want to give them the feeling you have when you come home and make yourself a bubble bath. You can just calm down and reset. It’s nice to have that sense of peace, especially in stressful situations like deployments.

This might sound generic, but in whatever I do, I want to have some kind of impact. If Spa Swag for Warriors succeeds and is able to send thousands of care packages a year to deployed female soldiers, that’s awesome. Even if we fail and only send fifty large USPS boxes (with ten spa swag bags in each), then at least I will have made the days of 150 women a lot better!

The top of my wish list right now is an Angel Investor to donate to our first ever fundraising campaign via Causevox– we are seeking someone who is interested in military philanthropy by women – and for women! In a perfect world, I would love to pursue more in-kind donations, and form long-lasting, corporate relationships with top beauty brands. I would target entrepreneurial companies who understand what women want, like Origins, Aveda, and Murad, in addition to companies which aggregate third-party products like Sephora, Birchbox, and ULTA. They understand what women want. From their perspective, it would also be great to support a non-profit. Last, storage space in the DC area would also be very helpful— my hall closet and living room is stacked with boxes of in-kind donations – meeting the demand for these products is going to be hard!

Lacey is an IVY Member (DC). Connect and collaborate with her here!

Nicholas Coblence; Founder & Creative Director, Cords of Music

Meet Nicholas Coblence, IVY Member & Founder of Cords for Music. The company creates beautifully designed lifestyle products that help improve the lives of children through music. A portion of all proceeds go toward Education Through Music, whose mission is to give inner city children access to a high-quality music education. Read Nicholas’s insights on the connection between education and music, and connect with him below to get involved!

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A few weeks ago, we interviewed a musician who recalled a conversation she once had with her father about why she would need to take a chemistry class. She knew that she didn’t want to be a chemist, so why learn about it? His response was simple. Chemistry helps you think of the world in a different way.

I believe that the same principle applies to a music education. Education can focus too much on being book-smart and passing tests. But to me, music is the way for us to learn how to see and understand the world differently. It is an equally powerful tool for teaching us how to think.

History shows that there’s a strong correlation between great leaders and music. Half of the Founding Fathers were musicians. Gandhi was a musician. Einstein was a musician. Clinton is a musician. When you think of some of the greatest leaders and thinkers of our time, they all had a musical background. They didn’t play professionally, but they played. I strongly believe that we wouldn’t have some of the greatest scientists without music. Einstein even said: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

For kids, playing in a group teaches leadership and confidence. When you introduce music into public schools, the drop out rates plummets from 22% to 4%. There’s something too powerful about music for it to be ignored.

IVY Members can help out by spreading the word! If there’s anyone in the music business who wants to talk about a collaboration, please reach out. The arts are just an incredible way to bring people together. People can perform piece together no matter who they are. When we’re able to play music, we have something in common—and that’s one more thing than we usually have in common.

Nicholas is an IVY Member (NYC). Connect and collaborate with him here