Changing the Blogging Game by Giving Back

*Update! We’ve had such a rewarding and positive response, that we’re continuing our charity percentage through 2018 and beyond as well!

We’re all friends here, right? I ask because I don’t want you to judge me too badly for this next statement. To be 100% candid, I’m over it. I’m over the social media number chasing. I’m over pictures of myself when in reality I’m just a behind the scenes kind of girl. I’m over buying things for picture perfect parties that barely anyone comes to. I’m over wanting to have free weekends but feeling pressured to live up to the blogging name and find things to post that seem cool enough. I’m just… over it!

I love my job, and I worked SUPER hard to even call this my job to begin with. But honestly, people are lying to you if they pretend like everything is perfect online. I’m even lying to you if it’s ever seemed like things are always nice and tidy here. I’ve talked with friends, with Jared, and with myself (more times out loud than what’s socially acceptable), and I’m not quite sure what the answer is for getting out of this chasing numbers/work funk, but what I do know is that getting your mind off of yourself and focusing on others is ALWAYS a good idea. To be honest, I hate being defined as an Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook number. I miss the days when things felt more open and honest.

It’s genuinely heartbreaking to me when I look at the sorrow, pain, sickness, and injustice going on around the world and hit publish on a post about painting macarons. It’s not that I’m blind or naive to the world, it’s because it’s MY JOB. And I really love getting to create things to share with you here, but I can’t just quit or ignore it to dwell on the bitter the happenings of the world. This is supposed to be a space that inspires, that’s the whole point. Instead, I think there’s a real misconception of that from a reader’s perspective (myself included) when we look to others in the online space and compare, wonder, or criticize in weak or scary moments.

After several heart to hearts with my best friend Brittni of Paper & Stitch, we decided we that we need to proactively be a part of the change that we want to see. To start, I plan to be a part of changing the blogging game by giving back. For the entire year, every sponsored campaign that Sugar & Cloth is a part of, we will donate 5% percent of our earnings to charity. Because the best thing you can when you can do when you lose sight is to start thinking of others more than yourself. 

And I’m not a one man machine, here. I wanted Jared and Kayla to feel equally invested in making a difference with their hard work when we make a choice to create something new, or to take on a new partnership. At the end of the day, I may be the voice and face behind what you read here, but Kayla and Jared are the super hardworking, kind, selfless, team that help makes it all come to life along with me.

Here’s where the money is going and what we a chose to work towards–

Ashley’s Charity of Choice | Max Burdette Fibrolamellar Cancer Research Foundation

Many of you may already know that we’ve had several battles with cancer among my family members, most recently being my sweet cousin Max that passed away from fibrolamellar cancer at age 17. To keep his memory alive, a charity has been started in his name that donates to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for finding a cure for fibrolamellar in his name. To join in the cause, you can also donate here.

Jared’s Charity of Choice | The  First Tee

This charity organization really hit home with me as an advocate for kids and someone who was really passionate about the virtues of golf and trying new things outside of your comfort zone growing up. I love the idea of giving under-privileged and disabled kids the ability to get out and get involved in a activity that challenges and teaches them the game of golf by learning skills such as patience, dedication, respect, and positivity in a manner that they can then carry through life.


As for the rest of the year–

It’s often easy to give money, but it’s not nearly as easy to make the sacrifice of giving up your time, so we’ve got quite a few other things we’re scheming up for volunteering in person in 2017. We’re wanting to do more hands on volunteering with local organizations, as well as making a direct impact in people’s lives– like we did when adopting a family for Christmas.

What are some of your favorite ways to make and impact? I would LOVE to hear your experiences and stories on this to open my eyes a little!

Please note that we may earn a commission for some of the above affiliate links. However, products featured are independently selected and personally well-loved by us!

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  1. Love it, it’s definitely important to know how to do this properly and efficiently, clients LOVE these. enable flash in chrome

  2. I love the honesty in your posts. I just found you and am enjoying reading about what it takes to run a social media site. Regarding giving, as your little on grows (trust me, it goes fast!! ), you become even more aware. When my daughter was in private school we were perfectly unaware of the needs of public school kids. Then my kids no longer wanted to go to private school and the first winter shocked me. Children wearing flip flops and tshirts when it was snowing! We checked at tge school and found that the need for coats and shoes was dire. So for two years we received donations of coats and shoes and bought clothes. We had to have a rental truck transfer all the items. The school finally turned us away…they had way too many. The rest we donated to a local shelter for abused and neglected kids. In all, over 2 years, we outfitted 375 children with full 7 day wardrobes. Coats, shoes. Pants, understudy, pajamas…All of it. It was approx 12,500. Out of pocket and worth every penny. Our home has always been a safe place for my kids’ friends to come and hang out, get food or sleep. As your children/child grow….it gets less about things and more about experiences. Enjoy every second! And share away!! ❤

    1. Karen, you are absolutely incredible! What an inspiration you are! I love that you have such a heart for giving, sharing and helping. Even better than that, you’re teaching your children to do the same. Keep it up!!

  3. If you are looking for a charity to donate to, that supports many great causes Boats With Causes is a great charity to donate to. We help- support so many great causes under the network with causes organization. Some of the many programs we help support are children, families, veterans, disabled people, animals, orphans, and education programs. Donate boat to charity and receive a maximum tax deduction. Donating helps many donors financially and also gives them a chance to help others as well. Boat donations have helped many families and individuals all over the world. When donors donate they are saving many lives with their boat donation you will be helping any cause of your choice. Donate today and make a difference.

  4. Keep up the awesome work! It’s so important to be aware of what needs fixing and to support change in the world, while also doing what you love and sharing beauty… bc the world needs more beauty always. I love that you’re doing both! My favorite way to give support is helping organizations that defend ethical labor and/or support small businesses in developing countries. As someone who loves my job, I want to help improve working conditions for everyone in any small way I can.

  5. I love this post and somehow missed it before. But I love that you and your team are giving back in such a positive way. I love to volunteer and currently will only work full time in jobs that are with non-profits. On the side I hustle writing and with photography, but it makes me happy that my full time career is currently helping those in need.

  6. I’m right there with you Ashley. I love blogging, but it’s taken up a lot of my time. My life isn’t a beautifully, light filled, curated Instagram feed, and I must say it gets annoying trying to keep up with everything. It touches my heart that you are donating 5% of all sponsored campaigns to charity. We all need to contribute to better the world in some way. This is a heart warming and inspiring post. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. I was on your site looking for an idea that you posted but instead the title of this post caught my attention and I am blown away. I have followed your journey for a while now .. you continue to inspire me. Give back girl and continue to inspire and be the change you want to see I love love that. I grew up in a less fortunate and a misunderstood part of this globe and to see every day that people are looking to change things for the better and to break the walls I just admire them. Big love ❤️ way to go team sugar and cloth

  8. Love this! It was a pleasure meeting you at SXSW over the weekend! Loved your authenticity and openness it was so refreshing and appreciated:)

    I was so touched by all the women and inspired by Kristen Bell’s talk that it put in my heart to do something similar to my blog and made me realize the exact same thing you said above! I’ve been brainstorming ways to give back through my blog since that talk!

    Thanks for being a trailblazer and inspiration to all of us.


    1. Totally makes my day, Molly! Thank you so much for the words of encouragement and reminding me that we’re all in this together! xo

  9. Hi! I’m new to your site, but seriously, already finding it very inspirational. I too, am a behind-the-scenes kind of person. So, one thing I do in order to satisfy my need to create as well as doing something good for others is ADOPT A CLASSROOM. Well, sort of. My great nephew is in kindergarten and my niece is a Homeroom Mom. So, she kind of adopted me as the Homeroom Aunt! (I didn’t have children of my own.) So, I am currently working on brightly colored Easter baskets for 19 children! It’s a lot of work and not cheap and I’m enjoying every single minute of it! Some of these kids don’t really have much and they will enjoy receiving this basket SO MUCH – which makes me SO HAPPY!

    1. Hi Linda, so glad you stopped by. This is such a great idea and so sweet! Thanks for sharing the idea, we will definitely be looking into it!

  10. Well Done! for all of it. you reflect the feeling i had at the end of the year. I had this whole post lined up on xmas gifts and I just couldn’t post it. happy happy spending posting was just way out of line on where i was personally (decluttering for a house move) and the state of the world. its good to know I am not alone, and i like your decision to be positive in tackling going forward. inspirational

  11. Hi Ashley jus joined your Instagram account. As a newbie to the ins and outs of creative business such as yours I Am not a maestro…I think we all get stuck envisioning what we intended for the business originally and yes it’s always hard work having someone believe that you “can”…Forget the problems…Your business is successful in its own right set by your own standards alone unique in every way…It’s a vehicle to something else so wat that something else mean for you??? You have taken a wonderful step by picking your charities, great for business these days…Good luck

  12. Ashley this is such a great post! #1, It’s a really wonderful idea to give back to charity with the blog!

    #2 I totally know what you mean about posting pretty pictures on instagram when a mass shooting happened that morning… it feels wrong, even though you’re just trying to make it as a BUSINESS. It’s nice to hear someone else struggling with the “perfect” looking life. I definitely had a moment of, what the heck am I doing for the world when new years hit and I pledged myself to volunteering… still have to get on finding a group to join… but this post has me motivated. Thanks for sharing!

  13. This is so great!! I totally understand being over the numbers game — it feels so unauthentic sometime, especially with all that’s going on in the world. this post is so inspiring! <3

  14. This is incredible. Thanks for giving back, and for sharing some great organizations – so glad these are now on my radar! I also recommend donating to the Houston food bank; they’re doing a lot of great work right here in Houston.

    1. totally! I wish they made it easier for us to donate food we have for shoots that go to waste, but everything always has to be sealed etc!

  15. More power too you! I’m over it all and have hardly been posting every week :( Sometimes it’s good to keep some things just to friends, not the whole world. Give back all the way!

    1. we’ve DEFINITELY been cutting back on how often we’re sharing new blog posts! it’s already felt like a huge relief

  16. This makes me so Happy Ashley! I am just getting started with blogging and have forever hated social media and therefore really struggling with building a brand for myself online. feels like i give away a piece of myself for every selfie i take. you are giving me te courage to believe that people might actually want to see something else than my posed face.

    Thank you!


  17. It’s so refreshing to hear your honesty! Thank you so much for sharing how it’s affected you. I started blogging heavily ealier this year and I’m so drained from social media all the time. Trying to always look interesting and make pretty things is so exhausting and there came a point that i started to even feel self absorbed from it all. I love that you’re finding ways to give back and do the best you can to be true to your brand while still being a real person. It’s realy inspiring and I can’t wait to see what you guys do in 2017!

  18. Ashley…I love this post. I know what you mean about the disconnect between the pretty & frivolous things that make up most of the “blog world” and the suffering & heartache in the real world. On the one hand, I think you should be nothing but proud of what you’ve built here, and there’s still a place for light-heartedness, inspiration, and fun on the internet. But on the other hand, I completely agree that there is room for a lot more giving and compassion from all of us. Kudos to you for taking the lead, and what a great way to start off the year! I’m inspired. xoxo

  19. Hey, I like painted-macaron-posts.

    But today, y’all earned respect and admiration beyond what you’ve already earned here as bloggers and creators. Hats off to you for being damned good people.

  20. Ashley you are an inspiration in so many ways! Thanks for making beautiful inspiring things and inspiring me to be more beautiful on the inside. Its so dang true, it is a crazy world and we can get so wrapped up in what “looks good” instead of what actually does good. Thanks for being such a great example :) This year I am trying to not be so scattered and busy and to spend more time in the moment instead of sharing the moment. especially with my kiddos and husband. Here is to a less plugged in year xoxo

  21. This is so fabulous, Ashley! I comend you for taking your frustration with this creative space and fostering it into good for others. Right on! Very inspiring!

  22. yes! this is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile too. I’m so proud of you for doing this. I think it’s come to a point where we’re all feeling self centered. I’ve been thinking of the best way to approach it too and we’ll be implementing too. Love your approach.

  23. Love this post!! It’s so awesome what you guys have done already. There are so many organizations to give back to and so many ways to give back in Houston. I have volunteered with The Women’s Home and MFAH for many Years along with other organizations here and there.

    Since I do so many organizing projects, I often donate items to local charities when my clients or I get rid of things. This week I am doing my 1st Habitat for Humanity project that I am Super Excited about. It’s always fun creating cards for TX CHildren’s Around holidays like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Etc. IT’s so fun to have a card making party. I have also donated my services to various charities through the years. THrough the Year I do different TOy and School Supply drives to give back to schools or charities. Your options are endless in giving back.

    I would absolutely love to help or volunteer if you ever need an extra set of hands.

  24. Wonderful plan! I, too, did a similar thing. For the month of october, i donated earnings to the canadian breast cancer foundation. Every little bit helps! every click meant more money for charity which made me thrilled – and i really encouraged my readers to get really click happy. :)

  25. What an honest post! while we all love trying to create the perfect DIY craft or decorate the most glam party (please keep educating us on these things), there are injustices in the world that require attention too. Thank you for using your platform to spread love, compassion and philanthropy.

  26. I loved your Christmas blog. Yes, we love to see the real you. That’s why the pioneer woman is so popular—see keeps it real by showing the mess it takes to create a great meal and all the dishes that need to be done after. Keep it real ashley, let us see some of the mess in your life!

  27. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately too! I’m so glad you decided to hit publish on this post. it’s real and inspiring. I love it so much.

  28. I couldn’t agree more and I’m so over it! i’M SO OVER INSTAGRAM IN PARTICULAR. i hate seeing people basing who they should be friends on or who is important based on their instagram numbers. it’s nuts! this year is about really living life and making real meaningful relationships which is why I joined hey vina! you should join too!

  29. Love this! I do want to point out that sometimes we want to read about painted macaroons as a break from the sad things.

    It really hit home when you said, “Because the best thing you can when you can do when you lose sight is to start thinking of others more than yourself.” I need to do more of that. If you ever need extra volunteers for an event in Houston, I am happy to help :)

  30. Love this sentiment. THere is nothing more cringe INDUCING to me than an artificially staged photo of people have ‘fun’ at a ‘party’ where you can tell there is no fun and no party. It’s gross!

  31. Bravo Ashley! Using your platform and reach to do some good is amazing, honorable and admirable. :) Keep it up, girl! And Kayla and Jared too.

  32. My gosh, YOU’ve hit the nail on the head for me. I feel the same lately, being fed up with working so hard to keep up this “all is perfect and pretty all the time” act. I appreciate your honesty and find your decision inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  33. This side of you must have shone through somehow – the undercurrent of kindness- , because i HAVEN’T continued to follow most of my crafty bloggers. Thank you for bringing light into the workd in so many ways! A rising tide lifts all bOats, as they say! I hope you find joy And purpose in your new path!

  34. Awww, what a great way to start the year ashley! Thank you so much for being open and vunerable with us! I truly believe this world needs a little more love and compassion from us, and your are leading the way! 💕

  35. Omg this is so spot on! I feel this way too. The number of followers has become an obsession and i think us bloggers seeem out of toich with reality with our pRetty and cutesy posts. The world is full of good and baD, and unfortunately We hear aBout the bad more than the good, but I love that people like you are keeping it real, honest and doing what you can to help! Bravo!

    1. it absolutely has become an obsession! at least I can say that it has for me! The more I acknowledge the important of looking beyond that and take action to make it happen, the better!

  36. Wow! Love this post! you wrote exacly how i been Feeling for the past few monThs. I am not nearly as SUCCESSFUL as you guys but i am seriously over how manufacture this blogger life can be. I love blogging but being defined by social media numbers.z Alot of the trajedieS of 2016 seeiously made me consider quitting blogging. But i do love it and the fact that my numbers are not huge gives me the freedom to do it only when i please. I absolutely love that ypu guys are giving back. Such a good example for yhe rest of us. Keep up the great work!

    1. thank you so much for the kind words monica, and note that I’m here to tell you to feel encouraged and keep trucking! Glad we have each other in this crazy world of work! xoxo

  37. Love your feelings – and how I can relate to them! things have not been easy these past months in the world’s view, so it’s hard to put time into blogging about something that seems trite in comparison – at least, to me. Glad to see you’re coming through by thinking of how you can turn it around. I haven’t gotten to the point of being able to call this my job, though I’d LOVE TO, and i’ve felt the same stuff, so I can only imagine the pressure when you’re feeling that with your livelihood!

    1. totally! I’m definitely more into the bringing inspiration and joy to this than I am about adding more bitterness and confusion, but the more I/we acknowledge what’s going on around while we’re doing it, the better!

  38. I love this, Ashley, and can Only imagine how you may feel being so deeply entrenched in an online, public world, know that your content and creativity bring so much brightness into this world (quite literally!) and the joy is contagious! Anyway, i love this idea and this has been on my mind at the turn of the new year, too. I was doing some budget assessment after Christmas and Realized while i dont have the earnings to make tRemendous moneTary impact to charities, i do have the Freedom of my time to devote to them. I plan to commit to monthly visits to the boys and girls clubs! I also will purge some of the things ive been holding onto that another child will love to own. Hope to see you around soon! 🙃

    1. thank you for the support molly! and I love the idea of also volunteering time to local organizations, we’re hoping to do the same!

    1. Best thingvyou have shared on yourcsite. It us real, hOnesT and valuable. I am an avud blig reader but want “meat” about kife with my DECORATED macaroons. We all need to look outside ourselves. It IS why we atevin thus okanet in the furst place! Thank you

  39. Thank you for being so open and raw about this. It’s an aspect I actually hate with blogging and vlogging. Everyone is just so focused on being the next big thing they even forget what’s in front of their very eyes. It’s honestly just sad… I’ve read some posts about ‘what I got for christmas’ and I was just blown away. The same thing happened with the ‘2017 resolutions posts’. Many bloggers want to reach bigger numbers on social media and that’s it.
    I agree a career is important but when I see the daily news, it’s impossible for me to be that selfish and ignorant. Thank you for doing this x

    Jessica — NinetyCo 

    1. I totally agree, it’s such a weirdly fine late of inspirational and sad. I’m glad that I don’t feel alone in this!