PMD is a Finalist for the 2023 Small Nonprofit Excellence Award!

People Making a Difference (PMD) has been selected as a finalist in the Nonprofit Excellence Awards that the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) hosts to honor the dedication, passion, and impact of the state’s nonprofit sector.

MNN’s Small Nonprofit Excellence Award recognizes a nonprofit organization with an annual budget of $250,000 or less that “despite its small size has managed to fulfill its mission and make major contributions to the populations that it serves.” This year’s finalists are:

Connor’s Kindness Project

Mosaic: Interfaith Youth Action

People Making a Difference (PMD)


The WellStorm, Inc.

The other Nonprofit Excellence Awards categories are Advocacy, Education, Leadership. Resilience, and Young Professional.

Winners will be announced at a State House ceremony on June 6, 2023. PMD volunteers can attend this celebration ceremony and networking luncheon by registering as an “MNN Nonprofit Member” for $55pp at

“It’s very exciting for People Making a Difference (PMD) to be selected as a finalist for the 2023 Small Nonprofit Excellence Award during PMD’s 30th year mobilizing and organizing individual volunteers who work together to make a difference to community-based charities in their Greater Boston communities. PMD aims for people and businesses to become socially aware and engaged in their communities such that they approach volunteerism by learning about problems and needs, becoming familiar with charities that are working to address them, volunteering reliably, and providing needed resources to make a difference. We are honored to be included among this year’s impressive finalists.” -Lori Tsuruda, PMD Founder & Executive Director

Happy #GlobalVolunteerMonth!

April is Global Volunteer Month, and despite today’s date, volunteers are no joke.

We are excited to celebrate the impact of people around the globe who volunteer and engage in their communities that change the world, informally and formally.

Thanks to People Making a Difference (PMD) volunteers for making a meaningful difference in Greater Boston and beyond!

Thank You text with heart and Cartoon crocodile. Cute cartoon character for Thank you day card. Good smiling crocodile. Hand drawn lettering. Flat vector illustration on white background.

Science Bowl Season Has Begun!

Science Bowl Season Has Begun!

2/25 Northeast Regional Middle School Science Bowl at MIT
3/4 New England Promise Regional High School Science Bowl at UConn-Storrs
3/18 Maine High School Science Bowl (virtual)

5/13 Lexington Ocean Bowl Spring Tournament (virtual)
5/14 Alumni Ocean Sciences Invitational (virtual)

Although it may seem like PMD has not doing much lately since there are not volunteer opportunities for the start of every calendar year, actually PMD has been quite busy wearing new hats, hosting the virtual Maine High School Science Bowl plus supporting in-person regional competitions of the National Science Bowl (NSB) for the first time since the pandemic began. (We’ve also been busy collecting seed requests online from Boston community gardeners in preparation for PMD’s 3/11&12 project.)

New endeavors like the Maine competition take much more effort to organize than repeated events. For 2022-23, PMD has pivoted to hosting our first NSB competition and supporting more in-person NSB competitions while the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) takes a hiatus from official competitions to reorganize, meaning that PMD is sadly NOT hosting its traditional Blue Lobster Bowl (MA) and Quahog Bowls (CT-RI) like it has the past 24 and three years, respectively, nor supporting a half dozen other virtual regional ocean sciences bowls like we did in 2021 and 2022.

It’s a lot of work to host a new science bowl for the first time. Team recruitment, particularly due to challenging pandemic years, is difficult since many teachers have left/retired or been assigned to advise different activities, and there is a whole, new infrastructure and SOPs at NSB to learn. Furthermore, since NSB provides no grant awards like the NOSB did, we’ve been attempting to fundraise to replace this significant earned income on which PMD has relied.

After PMD’s 24-year run, a gap year without any ocean sciences competitions would be wrong, so PMD (with support from The MathWorks) is also supporting the Lexington (MA) high school team hosting a virtual high school ocean sciences “LOBSTr” tournament on May 13 & 14 AND hosting our own, virtual Alumni Ocean Sciences Invitational (AOSI) for NOSB alumni on 5/14 morning. We’ve recruited eight AOSI teams and are now busy writing and checking our own buzzer (toss-up and bonus) questions, plus Team Challenge Questions (TCQs) without traditional support from NOSB. (If you would like to write buzzer questions for AOSI, please contact me <Lori at pmd dot org or call *82,1-781-963-0373) for parameters and a template.)

Links for the descriptions (“View More Info”) and online applications (“Sign Up”) are live for all four PMD science competitions: and the student-organized LOBSTr.

If you can afford to, you can donate to support PMD’s science competitions. Visit for details. Ty!

AmazonSmile is Ending on 2/20/2023

AmazonSmile Charity Program Ending on 2/20/23

We appreciate all the PMD supporters who have dutifully used this program when they’ve shopped online and earned 0.5% donations to keep PMD’s volunteer programs going since 2013. Sadly, this philanthropy program is ending on 2/20 in the name of corporate cost cutting.

So if you are planning any new amazon purchases, please try to make them before this program ends – Remember to shop beginning at

Technically, you can still enroll at and support PMD volunteer programs.

Massachusetts Charitable Deduction is Back!

Massachusetts is finally reinstating the charitable deduction for 2023!
It was supposed to be reinstated in 2020, but the pandemic delayed it again.

As of January 1, anyone filing personal income taxes in MA can take this deduction on their state tax return without having itemized. A $100 charitable donation would lessen someone’s tax bill by $5, but your individual circumstances may vary.

As I hope that everyone already knows: Every gift, no matter what size, makes a difference to People Making a Difference (PMD). Likewise, every tax deduction, no matter what size, makes a difference to donors who file personal income taxes in MA.

Ways to donate to PMD can be accessed at

PMD Turns 30!

Since November 7, 1992, more than 10,200 awesome people have volunteered for 1,390+ one-day PMD community service projects, helping 153 charities and their clients in Greater Boston and beyond. PMD’s database records that these 10,200+ people have volunteered nearly 20,000 times, and this means that most have enjoyed a homemade cookie or meal-That’s A LOT of yummy cookies!

The very first PMD volunteer project only had nine volunteers, one consumer, and one charity partner (11 people total), but everyone cleaned an mental health clubhouse for Riverside Community Care for a marathon day (9 hours!). Since then, we’ve learned to schedule shorter, less ambitious/exhausting volunteer projects 😉 offering shifts when possible.

Although the covid-19 pandemic eliminated PMD’s in-person volunteer projects for five months when gatherings were not allowed in 2020, and we pivoted to some remote projects when we could, we’ve been organizing mostly outdoor and virtual volunteer opportunities since 2020, gradually aiming for pre-pandemic levels. Interestingly, the only volunteers who have not yet returned in force are corporate/employee volunteers, probably since they don’t work together in the office as a daily practice anymore and since omicron infections, illnesses, and other surges mean that more people stay home when they are sick to minimize exposure and cross-infection.

PMD’s new website quietly launched last month after a massive volunteer efforts by webmaster Phil Cartagena and UX/UI Designer Sarah Kuo, along with board member Ian McEmber and me updating its content for individual volunteer as well as (new!) potential corporate and charity partners. There are even a couple short, introductory videos by Girl Scout volunteer Melanie Clark. Hopefully visitors will find more useful information beyond the link for joining PMD’s private email list and then never returning to the website, which was the case for the first 25+years…. 😉 We still need help with SEO, so please contact me if this is your expertise and you can help out-Ty!


Please Volunteer January – October

It’s very tempting to volunteer during the holiday season (November and December), but unless you already have a tradition/regular gig, I strongly encourage you to create a new tradition and volunteer January-October since

  • It’s much less hectic at local charities during the non-holidays.
  • You’re generally needed more at other times of year, particularly winter and summer when people are away on vacation.
  • You will enjoy the experience if you’re able to focus on it rather than squeezing it in among your many “to do’s.”

Throughout the year, PMD organizes one-time opportunities for you to “test drive” different volunteer activities if you’re unsure where to start.

More than 80% of the partner charities we help have no ongoing volunteer programs or dedicated staff to run their own, ongoing volunteer programs, so you will be helping where you’re really needed.

Delicious, Local Chocolate that Makes a Difference

I was very impressed by the free samples and information about Harbor Sweets‘ new Gather, honey-infused chocolates since

  • They taste great! I’m particularly partial to the unique Sesame Crunch and Caramelized Honey ones covered in rich dark chocolate.
  • A portion of sales (2.5%) is donated to the Pollinator Partnership charity that educates and advocates for best beekeeping practices for honeybee protection.
  • They are handmade in Salem, Massachusetts.
  • Until 12/14/16, save 10% by using code GATHER4FUN.
  • They have given People Making a Difference (PMD) a sampler box with all six flavors, to give away to a lucky PMD volunteer.
Six Gather Chocolates

For a chance to win a box of these chocolates ($12.50 msrp), volunteer for PMD’s Sunday 9/18 volunteer project helping the Boston Local Food Festival, 1:15pm-6:15pm, rain or shine, on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway. More details at Sign up by this Friday 9/9 at You must participate for the full project in order to be eligible to take home this free box of rich and delicious, honey-infused chocolates.

#HarborSweets #Gatherchocolate

Forward-Thinking Charity Partners Wanted

When the Boston Globe headline read “Volunteers unwanted” above the fold on the front page on Wednesday 3/25/15, I had to respond in case people got the wrong impression, since volunteers are very much needed in the nonprofit sector, and this is the premise of PMD’s business model.
Yet the subhead “Nonprofits often fear what corporations want to give” had some truth to it.

So I wrote a Letter to the Editor that was published today*, adjacent to a nice letter by Community Servings’ CEO David Waters, who reminds us that contributed services are a valuable resource that can greatly expand charity impact when done right.

Another critical part of PMD’s business model is that we rigorously plan and prepare for PMD service projects, making site visits, mobilizing expertise, and buying, transporting, preparing materials, and setting up the tools and materials so that volunteers can become productive quickly AND learn about the context of their contributions. It can sometimes take 40 manhours of preparation in order for 50 volunteers to help out together for one hour; luckily when we repeat service projects like assembling Lego science kits, we can reuse the training slides we’ve carefully developed and refined over the years.

One last plug about PMD corporate partnership projects: our partners (Novartis, EMC, VMware, etc.) donate to PMD to ensure that everything is ready to go for their private groups, “much the way some organizations have an event planner orchestrate their holiday party.” PMD is currently planning summer and autumn service projects, so call me to learn about options for your business.

*Due to space limitations the only thing that was left out of my letter was my specific example, so I’ll share that part:

Now planning its fifth year, exemplary Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) makes $5,000 grants to its 40+, vetted charity partners to pay for materials and staffing, fosters communication/clear mutual expectations during a four-month planning period, as well as assigns its own staff to make site visits in advance and help lead 3,000+ employee volunteers participate in its annual, company-wide Service Day: One Community. One Blue.

Note: PMD was a BCBSMA charity partner with the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences, assembling protein science kits in September, and we have applied to expand this project in 2015.)

Pin It on Pinterest