Philanthrobuzz becomes PhilanthroPost

We’ve moved!

Looking for inspirational stories about changing the world?  Want a resource for easy ways to give?  Interested in finding a good way to volunteer?  We’re still happy to give you all that–but we’re on a new page now!  We changed our name and changed our web address.  We moved everything–posts, pages and comments–over to the new place, so from now on you can come look for us at:

All you have to do is click the link above.  We look forward to seeing you over there!


By Anubha Jain

Besides the flora and the fauna that flank a good hike, what really keeps me going is to see social entrepreneurship in action – a for-profit corporation giving a whole new meaning to social responsibility. Companies such as Frontier Natural Products Co-op are doing such fascinating work. They have tied in their CSR initiatives closely with their business model, thus advancing their double bottom line of profit and social welfare.

How does a natural food products business care for the community and at the same time pump up its financial well-being? The answer may seem simple – support the community where you source your products! Such simple solutions, however, may elude companies and even seem daunting to them in the beginning. Frontier has embraced this idea and is making remarkable strides towards its vision of social responsibility. Frontier runs two natural-products brands Aura Cacia (Essential Oils Company) and Simply Organic (Organic Food Company).

As part of their CSR focus, Frontier supports farming communities across the world in several ways including farmer development, education and research. An incredible initiative under the umbrella of their Sustainable Sourcing focus is their Well Earth program. Frontier is digging wells in villages in Madagascar, where they source vanilla beans.

It is a sad irony that Madagascar, a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, faces severe water crisis in both urban and rural areas. Among the many associated problems, studies show that lack of sanitation and clean drinking water is closely related to the high percentages of children missing school in Madagascar and cases of diarrhea related deaths. So far, Frontier has contributed $40,000 to dig 49 wells that provide safe drinking water to more than 25,000 people in 38 farming villages in Madagascar. If farmers and their families in these villages, where Frontier sources vanilla beans, do well, the company does well!

It is a great example of corporate giving, initiatives that promote a company’s mission and its sustainability. What is all the more exciting is that it is an incredibly powerful gesture- the community really needs these wells and the wells will stay with the community for a long time as a symbol of their relationship with this company. I thought this was worth sharing with the CSR community.

Technology in the Future of Philanthropy

by Daphne Su

Today’s technology is growing at exponential rates, bringing with it unprecedented potential for the future of philanthropy. We are living in a world where faster communication and an ever more connected global community make giving increasingly easy and ubiquitous. Where will we be in five years? Ten? What can we do to maximize the use of technology for doing good and introducing philanthropy into the lives of people across all ages and continents?

Take, for example, the new model of citizen philanthropy that capitalizes on social networking. Made popular by actor Edward Norton’s initiative Crowdrise, it allows people to create projects and use their social networks to raise money and track impact. Norton says in a CNN article that the crowd-sourcing model “has the immediate advantage of easily engaging a young generation,” a section of the population that traditional organizations have found difficult to reach and inspire.

Smart phones have also contributed to a huge leap in ease for fund raising–mobile payments enable people to give small amounts of money on the go; volunteering apps have been created for the younger generation who would not otherwise make the extra investment in discovering or participating in philanthropy. In the arena of education volunteering, mentors are no longer restricted by geography and can now use Skype to teach students all over the world via video-conferencing. Continuous development of innovative inventions such as the XO-1 $100 Laptop created by One Laptop per Child make technology accessible to those without resources, opening doors for learning, opportunities, and progress.

All of these are small but marked steps in making giving a natural part of life for the future. However, as Voltaire and Spider Man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Advancement of philanthropy on all levels highlights an importance for stricter vetting and monitoring. Luckily, technology should also be able to improve the transparency of projects in many ways. One possibility would be to use citizen journalism by volunteers, recipients, and organizations to clearly showcase work and impact behind the scenes and at the forefront of efforts. This not only creates transparency, but goes hand in hand with the trend towards instant gratification that is becoming an important part of today’s culture. People want immediate and tangible results that show their efforts and donations are being put to good use, and online tools are rising to the challenge. A new organization called Charity Water has created its own online tool that shows donors how every dollar is digitally accounted for, accompanied by continuously updated photos of projects taken by volunteers.

This is a global connectivity and evolution in human relationships that we have never experienced before. It is important to ask ourselves how we can best utilize this to effectively direct and transform the landscape of philanthropy into what we envision for the future.

Dental Program with East Meets West

By Whittney Tom, NGO Services Intern

On international plane rides, I always look forward to meeting my co-passengers and learning more about out their travel stories. On my way home from Kenya this May, I was fortunate enough to sit next to a fascinating woman on the 16-hour ride from Dubai to San Francisco. She was a student at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry who had recently moved from her home country, India, to the California Bay Area. She had just completed her first experience providing free dental care to people in southern India where she had been able to utilize her fluency in Hindi to translate for her fellow volunteers and their clients in their mobile dental services caravan. We discussed at length the extensive and expanding need for dental services in remote areas in India and other growing and developing countries. Through my experience with dozens of non-governmental organizations promoting access to health care, there has been a constant lack of dental services or a comprehensive program that coordinated more opportunities for people to seek free dental services in other areas in the world.

After starting my internship with the NGO team at UniversalGiving, I came across an amazing organization called East Meets West Foundation carrying out extraordinary work in Vietnam. East Meets West(EMW) strives to improve health, education, and economic conditions in an effort to eradicate poverty and to help Vietnamese people to achieve self-sufficiency. Of their many efforts, their Dental Program really impressed me and reminded me of my conversation with the dental student from India. Through EMW’s website, I learned that dental disease is the most widespread ailment in the world, with over 5 billion people suffering from its effects and with little resources devoted to this disease that threatens the quality of life of children and adults. Remembering the pain I experienced before having my wisdom teeth removed, I can only start to empathize with people who lack access to dental care but have daily toothaches.

East Meets West Dental Program began in 1996, about eight years after EMW was founded, with a three-member team providing emergency, corrective, and preventive services to about 2,500 children per year. After an increase in funding, including a grant from the United States Agency for International Development, East Meets West has been able to reach over 75,000 children to which they have provided nearly 300,000 free dental services. Services are facilitated through the Tuong Lai School for Disabled Children in Da Nang City.

Not only does East Meets West provide free dental services to the population in close proximity to their clinic, but with over 100 volunteers coming from all over the world every year, they continue to take a mobile clinic to rural areas in Vietnam and they are now expanding their efforts throughout Southeast Asia. In addition to providing dental services, EMW develops comprehensive strategies to address situations of extreme poverty and poor access to health services. Lead by this strategy, EMW provides clean water and sanitation, education, medical, and climate change adaptation programs. This array of widespread programs and services provides an all-inclusive approach to serving populations in need. With local expertise in Vietnam, EMW highlights how a mixed approach that is both culturally sensitive but also allows for the use of foreign expertise and resources can positively affect tens of thousands of people in our global community.

Ernst & Young Recognizes Pamela Hawley for Social Entreneurship

On Saturday, June 12, 2010, Ernst & Young recognized Pamela Hawley, CEO of UniversalGiving, as well as 26 other exceptional entrepreneurs in a gala at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. Entering its 24th year, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes entrepreneurial spirit and is judged by an independent panel of business, academic and community leaders.

Twenty-four companies and organizations were represented spanning a total of eight categories, including software, medical devices, consumer products, and, yes, social entrepreneurship.

Pamela Hawley was selected as a finalist after a robust vetting process and several in-person interviews from the Ernst & Young team for her ability to match business acumen with an innovative product. Pamela Hawley received recognition for her outstanding work pioneering a business for social good.

In the social entrepreneur category, Pamela was selected along with Steven K Morgan of Wildlands, Inc., which works on restoring and protecting wetlands, as well as Scott Johnson, who won the award through his work with The Myelin Repair Foundation — a non-profit research organization focused on developing treatment for multiple sclerosis.

The banquet honoring the entrepreneurs lasted several hours and included videos showcasing the businesses and entrepreneurs. Several of the UniversalGiving team attended as well as some KEI members.

UniversalGiving shared the spotlight with such notable entrepreneurs and fellow finalists as Kenneth Grossman from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Kevin Surace from Serious Materials. The event just showed that Pamela can pioneer social good with the same entrepreneurial spirit as the best of them.

$10 Philanthropy: Change for Change (Part II)

Premal & Anis

by Anis Salvesen

The Commonwealth Club.  It sounds like some brick-walled, ivy covered institution where old people sit around and drink tea or smoke cigars.  It was really intriguing to me that they have a program called INFORUM is a division of The Commonwealth Club by and for people in their 20s and 30s, with a mission to inspire debate around civic issues. Imagine my excitement when I found out I could attend a forum there called “$10 Philanthropy: Change for Change in Ten Minutes.”

The best part?  The impressive lineup of speakers:  Darian Heyman (current Member, United Nations GAID High-Level Panel of Advisors & former executive director of the Craigslist Foundation), Premal Shah (President, Kiva),   Joe Engle ( Sales Associate, Network for Good ) and Jacob Colker, Co-founder and CEO, The Extraordinaries ).

If you have not read Part I, it’s not a problem.   These panelists have such great things to say, it’s like one of those really interesting, animated conversations where you don’t necessarily need to have been there from the beginning to become engaged.

Here is Part II:

You brought up the term “slacktivism,” Jacob. ..It’s really easy to do something that appears meaningful and whether or not it’s meaningful is up for debate. ..Doing something for 10 minutes is essentially meaningless, and people that are doing it are essentially slackers.       Do you agree or disagree?

Premal:  My view right now is that the enemy is disengagement, apathy, ignorance.  So many hours are spent playing video games than thinking about how to make the world a better place.  The view at Kiva is that we can give someone something even really small – for example, you can translate a profile that’s uploaded from Senegal in French to English. …Or..something really small and frictionless; that is so much better than you not having engaged.

In Wikipedia, are these slackers who just edit small little articles, or have they created an incredible public good? One out of every two hundred page loads on the internet is a Wikipedia page.  And it’s a nonprofit.   If we can give people really small ways to can see some really big change over time.

Darian:  It’s also issue-specific.  There may be certain issues that because a friend forwards me a petition, I’ll sign; but I’m not necessarily going to take a leadership role in it.  And there’s other issues..where I will step to the front.   The reality is it takes a mix of all of that from all of us to really make the world a better place.

JacobMillenials, the largest generation in American history (75M) that were raised on texting, video games, these very quick experiences that they have.  With The Extraordinaries we approach it from the angle of if we can engage them..even for 3 or 4 minutes, our hope is that over time, that will be the gateway drug to enhance civic engagement and channel them to other opportunities for social good.

Let’s talk a little bit about innovation.  What are some of the innovations that organizations are doing that make it really easy for people to engage in a meaningful way? [Premal mentions e-mail signature lines]

Premal, we’ve talked a little bit about Kiva, and I just wonder if you can talk a little bit more…about kiva, what it’s about, how many people it’s helped.

Premal:  Kiva’s a website that allows you to make loans in $25 increments to developing world entrepreneurs.   And we just recently opened up here in the United States. .. It’s about three-and-a-half years old, and in that time about 500,000 people have made $80M in help out about 200,000 entrepreneurs in 50 countries.  The first year we raised $1M, and we do it every week now – one million dollars.  We don’t have a marketing budget; it’s just people telling people.

In terms of some of the innovations..a real frictionless, low barrier to entry kind of process. It doesn’t have to be about the money ; you can volunteer at Kiva by just translating a profile from Spanish to English.  You can change your signature line on your e-mail.  We want everyone to be involved and co-create this internet public good with us.

We think a lot about gaming mechanics, and how do we compete with video games, which, I think, is really the competition here.  How do we make this an addictive experience, that you would rather go to Kiva and surf around the website than play Solitaire on or World of Warcraft.   There’s a lot of that we still need to do.  But that’s where I think a lot of the innovation’s going to come from..transparency and gaming dynamic applied to fundraising.

What else is innovative out there?  What are unusual ways that other organizations are figuring this out. ..Maybe Jacob, you can talk a little bit about The Extraordinaries.

Jacob:  An excellent point is that the enemy is video games.  Just on government computers, we spend 9 billion hours a year playing Solitaire.  Ok. Solitaire.  In comparison, it only took 7 million [hours] to build the Empire State Building.  This is the kind of human energy we’re talking about.  We spend 4.6 hours a week playing mobile video games.  The point is, video games are fun and engaging, and there’s something you can feel rewarded from in a very short amount of time.

Our approach at The Extraordinaries is to look at all of the spare time we have – the 51 minutes we spend on public transportation to and from work, the 18 minutes you spend standing in an airport security line. ..We have all this spare time.  We..offer somebody the opportunity to pull out their phone and in a few moments engage with a cause or community..they care about.

I think the interesting thing all of you..are saying is this idea of meeting people where they’re at rather than trying to get people to come to you.  I think also of the social networks.  I wonder if there are examples of meeting people where they’re at.

Damian:  I can bring it into the real world as well as online marketing.  Every year I work with something called the Power To The Peaceful Festival here in San Francisco (coming up on September 12th). ..It’s a huge free concert for peace and social justice.  For me, as opposed to meeting people where they’re at, it’s more about offering different options and going wider, but also deeper.  Just by coming to the festival, those 70,000 people are going to have their awareness heightened.  Then there’s going to be a subset of that group that want to engage on a deeper level.  That’s a more real world example.

On the online side, I work with a group called Project Ahimsa, which is a global effort to empower children through music.  We just launched our first benefit album, and now it’s up to #5 on the iTunes charts.  We just passed Bob Marley.  That is only really possible because of the tremendous viral marketing and people telling each other.  Some might call that “slacktivism.”  All people are doing is downloading an album, and ultimately that’s going to result in programs for poor children in the slums of India.  The main point is that every action counts, and in tandem, if we give people options to go wide as well as deep, it all really adds up.

What about my mother-in-law on Facebook?  Is anybody doing anything that could get her to use her Facebook page for something good?

Premal:  Well there’s Facebook Causes, which is a very interesting app.  Essentially if you back a cause..say Unicef, you it on your page..and..very easily invite other people.  But what’s interesting about meeting people where they’re at is you make people feel good with quick feedback loops.  In the case of Facebook, they actually have leader boards so you can..beat your friends, or..see where you are; you’re a top fundraiser, or you’re a top recruiter for Unicef.  And you get quick updates on your impact or your lack of impact.  And I think that’s a really big part of what’s made that successful.

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There was a Q&A, and then the presenters were gracious enough to hang around for a bit for the audience to meet them.

Here’s what happened in my case:

Oh my god, I get to meet the Premal Shah!  Is my lipstick fine?  No wait, I have to focus on more serious preparation.  Aaahhhh!  I get to meet Premal!

So I walk over to the front of the room, where some of the panelists are holding court (not that any of them were arrogant).  Naturally Premal was popular, so I chatted with another attendee who it turns out recently wrote a book about volunteering.  Anyway, I realize the photo I took of the podium was rather dull, so maybe I could get a photo of Premal.  It seemed eerily crazy-celebrity fan-like to just snap his photo, so I decided to ask if we could take a picture together – which I now realize is not that much less crazed fan-like.

Music and Social Change


By Cheryl Mahoney

Just recently I wrote about how we all use the internet.  Well, I’m betting we all listen to music pretty often too (sometimes through the internet!)  But how often do you think about music and social change together?  Just as One Web Day thinks about the internet and social change, eTown thinks about music and social change.

eTown is an exciting community sharing music and ideas.  They combine a passion for music with a passion for social change.  Their mission is “to educate, entertain and inspire a diverse audience, through music and conversation, to create a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable world.”  Their weekly radio program is broadcast on more than 270 stations nationwide, and is available on the internet as well. 

I love the idea of creating a community around a common interest, like music.  People are very capable of getting very passionate about favorite bands, musicians and singers.  (I’m no exception.  You should hear me wax on about Michael Crawford some time–he’s amazing!)  But what I really love about eTown is that they don’t stop at the music–they make the community about something even bigger, not only about music but about creating change.

One way eTown celebrates social change is through their monthly E-Chievement Awards.  I am very proud to be able to say that UniversalGiving was chosen for this month’s E-Chievement Award!  This award celebrates people who are making a positive impact in their communities and beyond.  eTown also interviewed our founder and CEO, Pamela Hawley.  Her interview on eTown will be airing between August 26th and September 1st (dependent on schedules for local stations).  Visit eTown’s site to find out how to listen to the program, or if you just can’t wait, they already have Pamela’s interview up online.

So who’s your favorite musician?  And what’s your favorite cause?  Maybe there’s a way to combine the two.  Or visit UniversalGiving for great opportunities to spread social change with music.