Surfing has become a year-round sport here in southeastern North Carolina, and if the water is big I guarantee that there will be several dedicated – or at least slightly crazy – people bobbing offshore waiting for the perfect wave regardless of rain, freezing temperatures or gloomy clouds.

Although I love the ocean, my own attempts to hang ten ranged from comical to pathetic, so I stick close to shore and enjoy the show from a comfy stool at a local oceanside tiki bar.  I get my surfing thrills from the Internet now, and nothing makes me happier than discovering sites that are entertaining, informative and, if you are really lucky, funny.

As a development officer with the Foundation, I advise our donors and affiliate board members on both making grants to address community needs and raising money for their endowment funds, so I am constantly on the hunt for both practical information and stories that can inspire and delight.  I’m always sending my colleagues and board members links to new blogs and sites, although I confess that I never give some of them a second look.

However, two sites that never fail the “inspire and delight” test are SOFII and Blue Avocado.  No, SOFII is not about furniture – it is an acronym for Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration ( 

SOFII “seeks to provide those who raise funds for charities or for charitable purposes, wherever they are, with a comprehensive, easily accessible archive of the best creative fundraising from around the world.”  The site, which is based in England, introduced me to ITIHAS (I Think I Have A Solution), a registered trust in India.  Its goal - “to accelerate social change by helping nonprofit organisations to plan core functions and programme implementation at the grassroots level” – which mirrors the NC Community Foundation’s own mission of building nonprofit capacity here at home. 

Another great idea from the country is Give India’s Joy of Giving Week, a nationwide initiative that involved nonprofit organizations, corporations, celebrities and citizens in raising awareness of community needs and the power of philanthropy.  Check it out at  Wouldn’t it be great if we could inspire a Joy of Giving Week right here in North Carolina?  SOFII also guided me to Greenpeace’s provocative beer mat campaign to encourage planned giving, which demonstrates how a simple message can have great power.

Blue Avocado ( is a periodic newsletter tailored for nonprofit staff and volunteers.  Articles range from the practical – “Ten Quick Ways to Invigorate Board Meetings,” to its “3 Minute Vacation” series with links to interesting music and videos.  Who knew there was a stand-up comedian who can make economics fun? (

Both of these sites illustrate the amazing creativity and boundless enthusiasm of the nonprofit community both here and abroad as we work together to improve lives.

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