From the category archives:

Monica Says…

Inlu Luvs Mama!

by Inlu Blog Patrol on April 18, 2013

mom ice logo



Mother’s Day is all about loving your mom.  But like so many, our families are spread out across the U.S. if not the world.  My sister is in California, my brother is in New Jersey, and I’m up here in Vermont.  It makes it hard to celebrate together.

Enter Inlu.

We love pitching in for mom.  One year it was a huge bouquet of flowers from a neighborhood florist.  One year – I think my favorite – we all pitched in for this amazing ice cream maker which she discovered, and mentioned a few times…  (Mom’s Mint Oreo Ice Cream is my favorite.)

It’s just another way Inlu can help streamline the giving for something more meaningful.  Moms everywhere can feel the love and you can feel like a favorite.

Click here to see this live sample:

mom sample 600

Select either the CASH COLLECTION or GIFT COLLECTION option and have the funds sent to yourself or a sibling who will make the gift purchase.  Or you can send the funds direct to Mom along with your keepsake messages from everyone.

And as always in Inlu-land, you can all pitch in to support her favorite charity too.  One Mother (Earth) of a gift.

Be a favorite.   Inlu for your mama.


And the answer is…

by Inlu Blog Patrol on September 17, 2012



So I’m talking to someone about Inlu and prepare for the frequently asked question: “What is Inlu in five words or less.”

Sure we have a tagline:  “Group giving for a happier planet.”  And a true line (our internal mantra): “Every Inlu makes a difference.”  But these seem to make more sense when you already know what Inlu is.  I’m not a great writer, and I find this 5-word challenge to be very difficult.

The person I’m speaking with just had a baby.
I just had a baby… going on 15 years ago.

I started thinking about the difference in our lives… and that is when I figured it out.
The answer to Inlu is 294.

(Yes. I am also a fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams for those of you being hit with a sense of familiarity.)

294.  Why?
For all of you who have just had that first little bundle of love enter your life… get ready to give.

You’ll give more LOVE than you ever knew you had.  You’ll give more TIME inside 24 hours than you ever thought possible.  And… you’ll give MONEY more frequently than any high powered budget forecaster will ever predict for you.  In fact, add another child or 2 to your family, and you’ll be amazed.

We estimate that in the next 15 years you’ll…

- give for 108 children’s birthday gifts (in addition to giving to your own kids)

- give to over 84 school related needs

- give for 21 teacher thank yous

- and probably just as many coaches & team related needs (21)

- you’ll help welcome 15 babies

- you’ll see 10 brides sparkle

- and you might help say goodbye to 5 people

- perhaps at least 5 times you’ll be the one friend someone will count on to help them celebrate something significant: be it a big birthday, a promotion, a move, a first marathon

- you might need to comfort 5 friends who’s paths haven’t gone quite as planned

- you might see 5 friends experience unexpected medical issues that need support

- but you’ll also see friends – and even their kids – working to bring dreams to life… either to support a cause they care about (let’s say 5 times)…

- or start their own non-profit to save the world in their own special way (5)

- and even see friends go for the impossible, by starting their own business (another 5).

When you put this all together… it brings you to 294 times across 15 years that you will want and need to give toward something special.

Since we went live three years ago, we have seen people use Inlu for all of these reasons… and more, to make the giving easier as a group.  To give what’s truly wanted and needed, while streamlining the process,  so instead they can focus on their own magical, human story as it unfolds.

So, when someone asks YOU what Inlu is… Just say “294.  Check it out…

Thank you.


P.S.  Happy 3rd Birthday Inlu.  I’m so glad you’re part of my human story.


The Better Way To Birthday… For Kids

by Inlu Blog Patrol on April 24, 2012



Is it tacky to organize a group gift for your child’s birthday?

No, as long as it’s done in an etiquette-friendly way.

Here’s  the deal…
Inlu web invitations are designed to handle the gift giving of our favorite personal celebrations with the greatest etiquette and care.  As a result, we’ve seen guests, friends, family, and honorees absolutely LOVE Inlu for birthdays.  Here’s why…

1. Honorees receive something that they would not have otherwise been given because the item is either too expensive or no one knows what the person wants in the first place. Take my son, for example. He started saving for an iPad, but my husband and I knew that he wouldn’t be able to save enough in time for his birthday. It was all he really wanted. He was willing to not only work toward it, but to give up other gifts to have it.  If he used traditional birthday invitations he certainly wouldn’t have seen kids showing up with iPads for him!  Through such experiences, kids learn the value of saving to reach a goal.  And man, are they happy when that special gift is finally in their hands.

HINT:  Remember – Inlu is cash collection tool so if you have a child who has a few gifts on their wish list, you can use the funds to buy more than one gift!

2. Guests love Inlu too.  It just makes the birthday process soooooo much easier.  No shopping.  No guessing what someone wants.  No arriving late because they had to stop at the shop on the way – oh, and had to pick up wrapping paper and a card too.  (See our past blog: “Big Lesson From A Little Receipt”)  Sounds crazy, but we actually have Inlu users who contact us – to vent really – when they are invited to non-Inlu birthday parties and have to go through the grab-a-gift routine.  “Why doesn’t everyone just do an inlu?!” (We wish everyone would too!)

HINT: Creating an Inlu enables you to give people the option of whether or not to participate in the group gift.  If someone really wants to bring their own gift, they can RSVP without pitching in.  Language like this can help:  “Joey has been wishing for a new bike.  If in lieu of a gift you’d rather pitch in toward it he would be thrilled!”

INTERESTING FACT:  We love that guests really do use all of the options every Inlu offers:  When both a gift and a charity are offered, some give to just the gift, some to just the charity, and some give to both.  Some opt to keep their donation amount private, others do not.  Some add the credit card and transaction fee, some opt to subtract it.  (In fact we’ve heard from numerous guests how thankful they are that our system is so transparent and they are in control of where their money is going.)  The point is, Inlu invitations give your guests the information, options, and control they want when invited to participate.

3. Organizers’ lives are easier too.  We’ve seen it over and over again. Just like ‘getting into’ Facebook that first time, organizers can have a fear of the unknown.  However, once a person creates an Inlu for the first time, and sees the RSVPs, contributions, messages from their guests, they are delighted – and amazed at how easy it all is. (Not to mention they also receive great praise from guests for making their lives so much easier!)  Check out this former blog post with TESTIMONIALS.

HINT:  People like to use Inlu as a birthday reminder to family and loved ones too. This way birthdays aren’t forgotten and everyone gets to participate in a meaningful way. Your family will come to rely on you sending out that Inlu for each birthday and other special occasions.  They will, in fact, demand your Inlu!  “When are you doing Susie’s Inlu?! I don’t want to be left out!”  (We love family.)

4. The Planet loves when people use Inlu.  We just have to reiterate it.  When people pitch in for something that is truly wanted, less waste will go to the landfill.  Think about this stat from one of our favorite eco-friendly sources,  for every 1 can of trash you bring to the curb,  7 (seven) more cans of trash are used in the production process before you even bring your stuff home with you in the first place.

Reducing waste while giving what’s truly wanted is a win win for everyone.

5. Charities are happy too.  With every Inlu you have the choice to support a charity – either in lieu of a gift, in addition to a gift, or as the “overflow” option once your gift cap has been met.  Our users have supported over 100 charities of across the U.S.  Even small contributions matter and Inlu makes it simple and easy for you to make a difference.   (Check out these Inlu kids in action supporting the charities they care about.)

Here are some samples:
1. A birthday invitation with both a gift and a charity.
2. A birthday reminder announcement to family for a gift only.

For more information about how Inlu helps parents in general check this out:






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The Power Of Happiness

by Inlu Blog Patrol on March 7, 2012



So, I’m in the car and hear the song “Forever” by Chris Brown.  It’s the song Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz chose for their now famous wedding video on YouTube.

Jill & Kevin's Wedding Video on You Tube

Hearing the song, reminded me of that video, and how happy it made me.

Happy that this couple chose to share their awesome wedding happiness with millions of people.

Surely they didn’t expect their special day to become one of the most viewed videos on YouTube.  Nor did they expect there to be a televised reenactment on morning television.  Nor did they expect countless others to make mock-Kevin & Jill Wedding videos.

I’m sure they just did it because they were happy.

Once so many started watching, they took their happiness to the next level and invited strangers who were coming to watch their personal wedding video, to support a cause they cared about:  The Sheila Wellstone Institute, in hopes of “breaking cycles of violence in society.”

I’ve watched their video countless times, with my friends, with my kids.  Whenever a moment of happiness is needed – it’s a great place to go.

So today… hearing that Chris Brown song in my car on this sunny day, and instantly feeling that wave of happiness that Jill and Kevin brought to it… drove me to make my donation.

That’s the power of happiness.  I was more than happy to give because I am grateful for the happiness these strangers have gifted me with.

May the power of happiness be with you this fine almost-Spring day.




Honoring The Day

by Inlu Blog Patrol on January 16, 2012



Dr. King was an outstanding orator.  And if you read his speeches in full, you will see that they are also timeless.  Though created for the Civil Rights Movement, the teachings can apply to our everyday lives. One of my favorite quotes:  “The time is always right, to do what it right.”

As I reflect on Dr. King’s work, encouraging each of us to make a difference everyday, I’d like to honor him by thanking one of my own personal heroes who’s done just that…

As a kid back in the 70′s (yes, I admit it),  I asked a friend why she was wearing a t-shirt bearing the name of a clothing detergent.

Of course she enlightened me.

Soon after I met her mother,  Charlene Ventura.  She was in the process of establishing the first shelter for battered women in Cincinnati, the YWCA Alica Paul House.   I was completely unaware there was a need for such a shelter until I walked into her office at the YWCA where they were filming a TV commercial for it.  Sitting in the window of her office was an actress with a jarring black-eye.  That was the day my eyes were opened to a new world.

Today Charlene Ventura, President and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, continues to help women in that area  and beyond.    She was hailed in Redbook Magazine as “One of Ohio’s Ten Outstanding Young Women” in 1978 and most recently as one of the region’s “100 Most Powerful Leaders” (2009, 2010, 2011).  Today, she is an inductee in the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame.

For her tireless vigilance and selfless devotion, she will always be on my hero list.  Thank you Charlene (A.K.A Michelle & Gretchen’s Mom) for showing me that an individual can make a difference.   And thank you for everything you have done to help so many women and families.

This Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, I celebrate the gift of empowerment that individuals like Dr. King and Ms. Ventura give us.

The path is not always easy.  But, as we say in Inlu-land… It’s wEarth it.

Submitted by: Monica Ostby


An easy way to plan ahead.

by Inlu Blog Patrol on January 8, 2012


Time sneaks up on us.  And sometimes before we know it an important date or occasion is upon us with no time to map it out.
Our mission at Inlu is to help people avoid the last minute gifting rush-around that causes us to grab a random gift and go.  But it’s also finding the time to organize the event or party or collection that sometimes is the challenge.  We know… Ugh!

We all procrastinate.  It’s human nature.  It’s why we are never surprised in Inlu-land to see so many RSVP’s and contributions coming in after our system sends the automatic 2-day reminder to each guest.

We thought, well gee if this helps the guests so much, let’s help the organizers too.  Inlu’s Handy Dandy Reminder Service is a quick and easy tool that let’s you schedule a reminder for any occasion.

So easy.  Just think about the months in which you have something that Inlu might be able to help you with. (“Bobby’s birthday in August”, “Jenna’s wedding”) – perhaps even note that perfect gift you already thought of and are afraid you’ll forget… (“Mom & Dad’s anniversary – family photo with Wild cLover Photography“) then set a reminder date that’s 3 weeks prior to your possible occasion date.

It’s amazing how reminders can help people.  And for Team Inlu, every Inlu invitation and announcement matters.  We want to be there for you when you need us.

Hint!  You can also send a reminder to someone else…

I think you hear me… :)

So grab a cup of coffee, (and a take, what…  three minutes?) to get your inlu mojo in action.  Then… relax in 2012.
As always, we’re here to help…


Monica Ostby, President of Featured on Smartgirlsway!

December 1, 2011

Bio & Company Story: Inlu Co-Founder, Jamaica Jenkins and I, both mothers of three, saw first hand how our beloved cultural celebrations not only have a negative environmental impact, but also miss out on technological advances that make life easier to organize. So, “in lieu of” excess, hassle, and waste, we created, an online [...]

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4 Ways to Handle Inlu Gift Collection Funds

November 10, 2011

We like chatting about all the fabulous ways to spend final gift collection funds. Today, we want to focus on the four main ways Inlu Gift Collection funds are pooled and sent. (As the Gift Collection Organizer, you can choose how to handle your Gift Collection Funds)… 1. Consolidate and Send Simply coordinate the collection [...]

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Inlu + Fundraising = Easy, In Lieu of Writing and Collecting Checks!

August 27, 2011

If you want to put the FUN back in fundraising, consider using Inlu to collect contributions from families and extended families of students! Whether it’s an extracurricular group or a classroom list, Inlu is an easy, life-simplifying option for parents who are UBER BUSY. How it works: In lieu of hosting, coordinating and planning a [...]

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Big Lessons from a Little Gift Receipt

January 20, 2011

Ok, so I’m cleaning out my wallet and find a receipt from a birthday party my 5 year old daughter attended.  We had no idea what to give the birthday girl, but knew she loved princesses.  So, we do the mad dash to Kmart to pick up a grab-and-go gift… my daughter insists on getting [...]

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