Individual Passions



At UniversalGiving, we hope to give our interns experience in a variety of business units, from social media to executive assistant to marketing. Below is a testimonial of Bronte, who, previously an intern, is now working for us!

“I started working at UniversalGiving (UG) as an Executive Assistant intern, and I loved it so much that I joined the team afterwards! My favorite part of UG is that everybody has their individual passion for what brings them into the nonprofit sector – whether it’s sustainability, human rights, etc. – which makes our teamwork and collaboration so exciting. Not only am I pursuing my passion, but I’m working with individuals full of enthusiasm, great work ethic, and compassion as well!”

Bronte Kass, Recruiting Consultant


Youth Speaks: The Power of Language

By Pamela Hawley, CEO of UniversalGiving®

What a joy to visit Ashley Smiley and Gabriel Cortez at Youth Speaks. Youth Speaks has such a variety of programs and what I enjoyed the most is that it is not just about creativity; the program creates a long term community, life network and actually follows the kids through their life chapters. While it starts off with training in writing, the children are also exposed to numerous events regarding how to live life in a positive way, job connections, and as Ashley said, “we create a true family”.

Here are some of the programs with which I was very impressed. First, they have After School Programs all over. They are pretty much in every state and in multiple places across the Bay Area including San Francisco, The Mission, Berkeley, Oakland, etc., and in these after school programs they focus on writing.

Next, there is Open Mic. Open Mic allows you to practice and get your poetry up and on the stage. There isn’t a grading system and there’s no pressure. It is an opportunity for you to put forth your voice.

When you feel you are ready, then you can go on to formal competitions. Each stage you advance to, you must have new original content, and you are graded.

Finally, if you continue to progress, you may be chosen to be a part of a team referred to as Brave New Voices. Brave New Voices usually consists of at least five poetry creators who create three minute and thirty-second long poems. You have a coach and you go to a national competition.

With this support, there is a clear way to express yourself in a non-pressured way and in a supportive community. There is also a way to continue to ascend and become more advanced if you so choose. I like this as it doesn’t put pressure on the kids, but also shows them that there is a pathway to greater success if they like.

What is notable about Youth Speaks is that they also provide many different types of experiences. They have an annual event called Life is Living; they feature dance classes, sustainable foods, a petting zoo and speakers. Their point is to expose you to all the positive things that go on in life, and how you can live a life that is connected to the earth and doing good. It is a good example of how to make choices in your day-to-day, such as choosing organic foods or composting.

Most impressive is their work with accomplished authors. This summer, Ashley worked with Anna Deavere Smith at some of the poetry competitions. They also work closely with the San Francisco Jazz Festival and every year they have their annual competition/event. This year it will be held at the War Memorial Opera House. It is quite the impressive array of events that can meet every person’s need.

One of the most appealing aspects of Youth Speaks is its informality as well as access to elegance. You can simply take a class, which feels like a natural extension of school, or you can progress up to the heights and actually go to the Opera House for an amazing celebration with high-level authors and speakers. It is essential that our youth experience both of the following: 1) comfortable and ease of involvement and 2) access to experiences that they would never have. If you have the former, then introducing the latter is much easier. We want to open up the children’s minds as to how special they are and what they can do. They should be going to the Opera House just like everyone else.

Recently, I have been looking in to volunteer opportunities as well as helping coach some improv that could help students at YouthSpeaks when they get distracted or frozen on stage. Since I work at a nonprofit, I also felt it was critical to provide a donation. When people ask for a site visit it takes up valuable program time and we need to make sure that the people working so hard on the ground are supported.


Youth Speaks is a San Francisco based organization that seeks to empower youth by giving them the power to harness their own voices through written and spoken language. Youth Speaks is a leading nonprofit in the Spoken Word community, and currently provides programming and educational opportunities throughout the Bay Area and on a national scale.

A Message from Millennials: It’s All About Social Responsibility

By Karen Kwiatek

If you are unfamiliar with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), now is the time to learn. Social responsibility in the private sector has grown rapidly over the past 50 years.  The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) defines CSR as “[T]he continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large” (2015). Today, CSR is pervasive in the consciences of corporate professionals, responding to the ever-increasing demands by millennials seeking to work for ethical and responsible businesses. Many companies are enthusiastically building up their CSR by reducing their carbon footprint, donating to a charity, and promoting equality or improving labor conditions in their company.

Importantly, CSR programs are seen as a profit-booster.  That is, the consumer’s desire to spend their money on products and companies that generate positive social change has spiked. Andrew Swinland, co-founder of Frequency540, is a prominent advocate for the CSR industry. He stated, “(Millennials) are coming of age professionally nearly at the same time as the baby boomer population starts shrinking, and they are very attuned to social issues and their relationships to their favorite brands” (2014). Millennials are much more likely to associate themselves as social activists and utilize technology and social media to voice their causes as well as promote socially responsible products. “70% [of millennials] said they are more likely to purchase a product from a company that supports good causes while offering fair prices over a company offering deep discounts but no support for causes” (Eldelman, 2010). Further, a whopping  69% claimed they would not work for a company that is not socially responsible (McGlone & Spain, 197). Even John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management, created a $50 million Blue Water Project aimed at protecting freshwater claiming that, ““Employees and customers want to work with a company that they respect.” Taft believes that, instead of the for-profit “tunnel vision” that many companies traditionally adopted, the corporate world is beginning to sell itself to employees and customers through its CSR programs. Put simply, it’s the non-profit values of companies that are attracting and retaining the younger workforce as opposed to shiny salaries.

A wealth of research studies paint a picture of the millennial generation as believing they are not only individually accountable for making a difference: so is big business. Swinland’s business has allowed him to understand that millennials are making noise against short-term CSR projects which lack authenticity and smell of a quick fix for a public relations blunder. Instead, they seek sustainable initiatives which engage the community in order to create a new cycle of positive social and environmental change. Gone are the days in which businesses could exploit resources for purely personal gain without question or ridicule: this is a generation that is demanding ethical behavior to be balanced with profit. Truly, CSR is becoming a vital organ to companies’ wealth creation as well as sustainability.

Millennials are coming of age in a time of unprecedented technological growth and environmental degradation. The prevalence of issues such as climate change and societal inequality have driven many millennials to demand change from their employers, government, and themselves. Given that the millennial population is projected to exceed that of the Baby Boomers, it is imperative that businesses adapt their corporate culture in order to stay relevant and competitive. Integrating CSR policies into one’s business is perhaps the most effective way for business to increase their profit margins and retain employees, all while improving the lives of their consumers and the planet.  

UniversalGiving (UG) is at the forefront of this movement and is creating innovative social responsibility services for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Here you can find a wealth of CSR information and opportunities that UG provides.

For further reading:

Ambition for Change


Here is a testimonial from our development intern, Natalia! The work ethic of our interns is so inspirational and we are lucky to have them!

“I have been wanting to work in a non-profit for a while and change the way we see our jobs. It is possible to work and help others at the same time and UniversalGiving shows that with the service we provide, its mission and values. In addition, the UG team is composed of people with great ambition for change and inspiring visions of the future.”

-Natalia Junger, Development Intern

Laugh 'Til You're Green

By Cheryl Mahoney


Eating ethically photo

I love it when I find a site with cool suggestions or resources for how to help a good cause, and I love it even more when I find one that will make me laugh while educating me.  Even better if it’s a site focusing on environmental issues, a cause I’m especially interested in.


All that being said, I’m sure you can imagine how much I like DoTheGreenThing.  First – catchy name.  Second – how often do you find a group using weird tentacly monsters to promote a green lifestyle?  (You know that now you have to go to the site to see the tentacly monsters.)

DoTheGreenThing offers seven ways to reduce your carbon impact, things like unplugging appliances, refusing to purchase the latest, unnecessary items, and being “all-consuming” with what you have.  I’ll admit, most of these ideas I’ve seen before, but they’re presented here in a dynamic, exciting way.  Really.  You actually can be dynamic while talking about unplugging a lamp!  DoTheGreenThing has fun videos about each idea.  These don’t feel like public service announcements–they’re more like mini-movies, and they’re funny movies too.  My favorite is “Ninjin – The Way of the Vegetable Assassin” which is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s about someone assassinating vegetables–but only if they’re being eaten out of season.

You can also join and share a story about doing the green thing, adding your story to the 46,500 stories from 200 countries that have been shared.  That’s an impressive amount of green.

Check out for ways to be green, and to have a laugh while you’re doing it.  (And while you’re at it, you can join Climate Reality Action Fund, if you’d like to get emails from Al Gore.)

New Year, New Resolve


It’s the beginning of the New Year and we all know that that means – New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us get really excited about these – a new year, a new goal (or goals!). Others just shrug and write something down on a scrap piece of paper, knowing that, this paper only has a few days before it gets lost in the mess and stress and rubble of life.

A few years ago, one of UniversalGiving’s staff members, Cheryl Mahoney, noted in a blog post the low amount of people that actually keep their resolutions for the full year. She recommends this blog entry which offers two reasons regarding why people can’t keep the first promise they make at the beginning of every year and tips on how to be more successful on the resolution front this year.

UniversalGiving wishes you lots of luck with your 2017 New Year’s resolution, whatever it may be. We hope that in addition to helping yourself, you will consider a resolution that encourages you to help others, too. Whether or not it’s January 1st, we can always resolve to make a difference.