The Intersection of Business and Social: Making Meaning Matter

UniversalGiving has partnered with SOCAP12: Making Meaning Matter in San Francisco, a conference featuring the world’s pioneering impact investors, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, civic leaders and innovators. This year’s conference takes place October 1-4, 2012, and serves to create intersections where you – with friends and valuable strangers – mobilize resources and capital for good.

SOCAP believes that to create the world we want, we have to bring all of our selves to the tasks – from our passion, to our time and talent, to our investment dollars – that’s what it takes to make meaning matter.

The themes for this year’s SOCAP closely tie in with UniversalGiving’s vision to “Create A World Where Giving And Volunteering Are A Natural Part Of Everyday Life.”™ SOCAP is the market at the intersection of money and meaning; it’s a place where we put purpose together with capital. Similarly, UniversalGiving Corporate strives to make global Corporate Social Responsibility necessary for every company. By helping Fortune 500 companies establish and manage CSR programs, UniversalGiving Corporate helps companies strengthen their global brand; increase corporate employee giving and volunteer rates; increase employee retention and attraction; and build a stronger, more loyal client base. SOCAP also understands the importance of this intersection between business and “doing good”. SOCAP12 connects investors and entrepreneurs, public and private sectors, technology providers and technology users in an attempt to create better solutions to the world’s problems. Meaning is at the heart of the market; SOCAP is the place where people bring their intentions to make a difference and make connections to push their projects and goals forward.

This year SOCAP is offering both entry-level and expert-level workshops, with over 150 keynotes and panelists from across the globe, with a wide range of expertise in social innovation. Check out the event themes, confirmed participants, and register with 30% off today! Visit SOCAP12


A Good Idea Indeed

By Andrea Xu, Marketing Intern/Executive Assistant to the CEO 

In our busy society, it is so easy to forget how far a small, random act of kindness can go. In an age where everyone is glued to his or her iPhones, emails, and personal planners, we have become so absorbed in our own bubbles that sometimes we forget that we are still surrounded in a community, a community where issues such as homelessness are still prevalent.

And this is where A Good Idea steps in. A Good Idea encourages positive social change that connects people with others who want to help alleviate poverty and homelessness in their local communities. A Good Idea creates solutions through its team of experts and volunteers, using connections through service, education, and technology in order to help accomplish its goals.

Although San Francisco is the home base for A Good Idea, this organization is starting to expand and can now be found in New Jersey. Each year A Good Idea hosts numerous creative events that help fight against poverty and homelessness such as a Good Day in San Francisco, where over 100 volunteers help serve approximately 75 homeless individuals in the community, offering an array of services such as clothing, massages, and a gourmet meal.

What I really love about A Good Idea is its emphasis on compassion and empathy. While it is great that the organization hosts a variety of large-scale events, it does not forget the power of a simple act of kindness to a random stranger.

So, get reconnected with your community. Participate in A Call to Arms on August 18th from 7-9 PM to help combat homelessness. Or, go beyond your neighborhood and connect with the world. UniversalGivingTM offers hundreds of opportunities to donate or volunteer globally; $25 can help educate a girl in Sierra Leone, or you can spend 2 weeks in Cusco, Peru to work with impoverished children in rural households. Just get connected.

Convierte Lagrimas en Sonrisas – Turn Tears into Smiles

By Whittney Tom

The Burned Children Care Foundation presents us with an example of inspiration and action. Vivian Pellas was directly affected by the painful remnants of burns after a plane crash in Honduras. She was inspired to take action, therefore she founded APROQUEN in Central America to address the global health crisis of burns. Startlingly, fires kill more school-aged children in one year than tuberculosis or malaria. The Burned Children Care Foundation has provided over 300,000 complimentary health services to the burned children of Nicaragua and greater Central America.

In order to exponentially effect Central America’s public health crisis regarding burns, APROQUEN began the “Regional Program for the Treatment, Rehabilitation, Training and Prevention of Burned Children in Central America” in 2003. The Regional Training Program not only brings awareness to the crisis, but encourages local solutions to local problems. A free Regional Meeting of the Central American and Caribbean Burn Association promoted exchange of ideas and knowledge in August 2010. The Regional Training Program draws ideas from these partnerships and continues to put educational focus on rehabilitation, burn reconstructive surgery, nurse training, burn physical therapy, and burn patient pediatrics. The program’s training missions in Nicaragua include participants and medical students from hospitals in Florida, Maryland, Texas, and soon New York.

After the recognition from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, APROQUEN has facilitated more than 35 missions and training activities benefiting medical professionals dedicated to the treatment of burned patients in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic. Act now to support this incredible and region-specific organization to continue to transform lives in Central America!

Muoy You Fully Understands the Importance of Education

By Kyle Daley

Growing up in poverty in Cambodia, during the Vietnam War, Muoy You recalls living in a squatters’ shack where she turned to books and studying as a means of escape.  In the early 70’s, You won a scholarship to study in France. During her time in Europe, You’s parents and siblings were among the 2 million victims in the Pol Pot’s killing fields.

Over the next 20 years, You focused on raising a family and serving as a teacher in Africa and in the Middle East.

Now back in her native Cambodia, You established the Seametrey Children’s Village, a private initiative focused on providing the children of her homeland the same educational opportunities she was given.

In order to achieve this, You mortgaged her home, bought a small plot of land, and transformed a run-down shack into a classroom where she could inspire future generations of Cambodians.

You keeps the opportunity of a great education open to everyone — students and their families pay only what they could afford.  Cambodia, a country with a rigid class system, You treats all of her students the same, and expects her students to do the same as well. The result is a school where the sons and daughters of the wealthy elite and poor underclass have the opportunity to become the best of friends.

See an in-depth profile of Muoy You from the Christian Science Monitor, as part of its “People Making a Difference” series.

If you would like to help with educational programs in Cambodia:

For more ways to help, visit

Mobile Layaway Programs: Helping to Make Investment Possible

By Katie Brigham

Innovative new technology oftentimes has the ability pay for itself  (and more!) over time. For example, KickStart’s low-cost irrigation pump has the potential to move African farmers away from a dependence on “rain-fed” agriculture, and allow entrepreneurial farmers to make money as they take greater control over their crop production. However, for the extremely poor, saving enough money to make an investment in a new technology such as a KickStart pump is highly improbable.

Consider the fact that out of the 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 per day, only 10% have access to a bank account. This makes setting aside money for savings nearly impossible. Despite the best intentions, any money stored under a mattress, or through other informal means, is at risk. Emergencies, impulse purchases, theft, and moreover a culture where spare cash comes with familial demands for monetary assistance all create an environment in which saving just isn’t feasible.

However, KickStart’s recently introduced mobile layaway program works to make saving and investment a possibility for the poor. By utilizing M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer service developed by Kenyans, KickStart has established a method by which African farmers are able to incrementally pay for their pumps. Through this service, farmers can transfer secure payments from their phones to a type of electronic bank, where KickStart is able to track and hold onto the incremental payments, until a pump is paid off.

Considering the prevalence of cell phones in the countries that KickStart serves (Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso), this solution to the difficulty of investment is both innovative and realistic. There is no need for KickStart customers to have access to a bank branch. M-Pesa allows customers to complete simple banking transactions completely electronically, without the burdens and risks that come with having physical cash on hand.

With more than 9 million M-Pesa users in Kenya, KickStart has had initial success here. However, in other countries such as Tanzania, the use of M-Pesa is less widespread, leading many to wonder whether KickStart’s mobile layaway program will catch on elsewhere. Yet though the results of this program remains to be seen, KickStart’s program is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

Learn more about KickStart’s mobile layaway program in this Fast Company article.

If you would like to help support KickStart’s efforts visit UniversalGiving’s website and explore these opportunities: