“The Power of Giving”

by Charles McWilliams

“In order to get something, you first need to give” –Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad

Many successful businessmen and entrepreneurs practice this basic property of reciprocity. Those who we consider ‘rich’ are often capable of giving much more than those we may consider ‘poor’ and I’m not referring to monetary assets by any means. Those who are ‘rich’ are capable of giving value to others, and this is precisely why they tend to receive so much. Yet, one more important principle works imperatively with the basic properties of reciprocation, especially when applied to human interaction: one must give to give, instead of giving to receive.

When Robert Kiyosaki feels needy or short of something he gives what he wants first so that it will come back in buckets. This is true of money, a smile, love and friendship.

Robert Kiyosaki is an American investor, businessman, self-help author and motivational speaker. Kiyosaki is best known for his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series of motivational books and other material published under the Rich Dad brand.

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.

Philanthropy with a Fashionable Twist

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

As with the rest of the UnivesalGiving team, I love to give back, and have been taught the power of community involvement from an early age. One thing that really drew me to UniversalGiving was the fact that all of these nonprofit organizations that you can volunteer or donate to are top, legitimate organizations from all over the world.

Just like UniversalGiving, SelflessTee has shown a creative yet simple way to give back. Started by Danny B., one of the founders of SelfessTee, Danny raised over $11,000 from selling t-shirts, using the funds to provide 1,000 mosquito nets to families in Kenya. From that project, SelflessTee exploded into a successful organization that now serves to promote other nonprofit organizations and the great work they do.

The process is simple: a nonprofit is featured on SelflessTee’s website for two weeks, and a designer will help create a t-shirt design that promotes the nonprofit organization. Once 100 shirts are pre-sold, the shirts are ready to be printed! Moreover, SelflessTee will donate one quarter of its profits AND time to that specific organization, bringing back footage so individuals can see exactly how they are donating their time. It is a great way to give back and to serve as an inspiration for others to give back as well!

SelflessTee recently received a $50,000 grant from Pepsi and are now able to help domestic causes, whether it be supporting the Boys and Girls club or providing lunches for children who would otherwise go without. SelflessTee is a great organization that combines giving with a fashionable twist; definitely check them out and order a shirt!

If you are looking for other ways to donate or volunteer, check out UniversalGiving’s website.

  • $15 can provide one month’s supply of emergency supplies to one person in Africa.
  • Spend the summer or winter in Thailand to help educate men about HIV/AIDS.

Little Feet takes Big Kick for Change

By Karis Ingram

I wasn’t always the most athletic kid growing up, but I did love to play. I remember not being able to wait for break in school, so that I could play handball, kickball or double dutch. Once the recess bell rang, I would race my friends to the playground to get first dibs on a ball. I lived for playing and having fun – it was my life. Playing sports and games helped me improve my health habits, and helped me develop socially, physically, and mentally. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like if I had to sit in a classroom all day long without being able to play.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where some kids don’t have this outlet. Many kids around the world do not have access to clean, safe playgrounds or the equipment necessary to play the games that I so looked forward to as a child. Because of this, too many children are not getting the proper exercise and play necessary for child development.

Fortunately, there are ordinary people, like you and me, who seek to change this. Like Trevor Slavick, founder of Little Feet Foundation, is working to create opportunities for kids around the world to have access to soccer balls and healthy play programs. Using the One for One business model, Little Feet Sports matches your purchase of a soccer ball by sending an additional ball to a child in need. For example, if I buy a soccer to try to become the next Mia Hamm (highly unlikely!), Little Feet will send a ball to an underprivileged child in need around the world.

Talk about giving back! This is such an amazing idea, why didn’t I think of it first?

In its first few years, Little Feet Foundation has already donated soccer balls to over 20 countries. They’ve also recently branched out from an online store and have added the sale of Little Feet soccer balls at the national chain store, Sports Chalet. You can now pick up a life changing soccer ball at a California Sport Chalet near you!

Aside from their work providing soccer balls, and developing sustainable soccer programs, Little Feet is also seeking to help local economies worldwide. With the discovery that coffee farmers are only paid less than a penny from a $2 cup of coffee, Little Feet created a unique and sustainable way to help the kids and local farmers. If you want to help Little Feet reach their goal of building 8 soccer fields and soccer programs by 2014, you can do so by purchasing Little Feet Coffee. Buying Little Feet coffee will help local farmers receive better prices for their hard work, while also funding soccer programs and fields!

By purchasing a Little Feet Soccer Ball or Little Feet Coffee, you can do your part too and help kids in need race their friends to their local soccer field in hopes of becoming the next David Beckham. Check out Little Feet’s website and buy a ball for a friend, one for yourself, or your whole family!

Take Part in a Small Step to Change the World

By Cheryl Mahoney

Did you watch the Oscars last night?  I was happy about Up, Sandra Bullock, and Star Trek‘s make-up award, so it was a good evening.  And in between the ballgowns and the music, the film clips and the tributes, there was something else I was happy about too.

Did you catch the commercial about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone?  They’re helping thousands of at-risk children stay in school, go to college, and succeed.  Or did you see the commercial with Yvon Chouinard, talking about how rock climbers can protect the environment they’re exploring?  These were two inspiring stories about how to take that first step that can change the world.

These commercials were in connection with Members Project, a new initiative of American Express and Take Part.  They’re partnering together to encourage everyone to change the world, “one step at a time.”  Since I love small ways to make a big difference, that idea sounds perfect to me.  So how can you get involved?  Three ways.

Vote for a charity you think American Express should donate to.  Habitat for Humanity or the Red Cross?  The Jane Goodall Institute or Charity: Water?  You can come back and vote every week until May, when they’re giving $200,000 dollars to five charities, one in each of five categories.

Volunteer for a cause you care about.  Getting involved, helping others, and contributing to the community are all great inducements for volunteering just by themselves.  And if you log your hours through the Members Project Volunteer page, you can earn bonus Membership Points on your American Express card.

Donate to your favorite charity through Members Project.  Or you can donate those Membership Reward Points you earned by volunteering!

So if you have time to vote…time to volunteer…or a little extra money to give to a worthy cause…you can take a step for change.

Cakes for Charity

By Cheryl Mahoney

Everybody loves cake, right?  Well, maybe some of us are Pie People, but even someone who prefers apple pie probably enjoys some luscious chocolate fudge cake too.  And we all like free ways to give to a good cause, of course…so how about combining the two?  That’s what you can do through Kelly Ripa’s Cake-Off.

Kelly Ripa (you know, of Regis and Kelly) is partnering with TLC’s Cake Boss to raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.  They baked and decorated five gorgeous cakes (seriously, they’re artwork).  Here’s where you and I come in–head over to the website, register (it’s free!), and vote for your favorite of the five cakes.  Personally, I voted for Snow Day, which is in a way surprising since I don’t normally find blue food appealing.  For every vote, Electrolux donates a dollar to the OCRF.  So all you have to do is vote!  And just as a bonus, you’re entered in a chance to win a new stove when you vote too.

And you know what else is fun?  You can decorate a virtual cake to send to a friend, and that donates a dollar to OCRF too!  I love fun things that also benefit charity.  It’s just a win-win for everyone.  Well, unless you’ve been trying to resist eating too much cake, and this sort of thing just tests your resolve and tempts you too much…but take the chance.  After all, it’s for charity.

Helping Others…With Socks

By Cheryl Mahoney

I love “giving back” stories about kids.  You might know that.  The blogging team here definitely knows it.  In fact, I learned about my story for today from fellow blogger Anis, who passed it on to me because she knows I like that kind of post.

Today’s story starts with socks.  How often do you think about socks?  Shoes are a big deal for some people, but I don’t think most think much about socks.  I don’t.  At least, not until we don’t have them, and then suddenly socks matter.  And unfortunately, socks matter to a lot of people living on the street or living in shelters.  When is the last time you went past a homeless person and looked to see if they had any socks?  I confess I don’t do that either.

But Hannah did.

In 2004, Hannah was four years old and volunteering with her mother at a Thanksgiving dinner for the needy.  Hannah noticed a man whose split shoes revealed his lack of socks, and she was concerned that his feet would be cold.  Her mother, not wanting her to worry, assured her that he’d be fine with his shoes.  Unconvinced, Hannah suggested that he could have her socks.

The next day, Hannah and her mother started buying and giving out socks at local shelters.  Since then, more than 150,000 pairs of socks have been given through Hannah’s Socks.

My favorite part of this story is the simplicity of Hannah’s offer.  Adults get tangled up in the practicalities, the ramifications, the details.  I do that.  Everyone at the meal was busy serving food, how would you get socks at that moment, a four-year-old’s socks wouldn’t help a grown man much anyway, of course she needed them herself…and cutting through all of that was a child’s simple, profound view.  Someone needed help, and she wanted to help.

And you can help too.  This year, Hannah’s Socks has a goal of giving 60,000 pairs of socks.  They’re approaching 52,000 right now.  Needless to say, that’s a lot of socks.  And you can help them give more.  Find out how you can send socks, or donate to help them spread their reach.  Don’t get tangled up in the practicalities of it.  Just do it.  While I don’t normally believe in trumpeting my own charitable activities, I think this time it’s appropriate to note that…I did.  :)  And I got a very nice email back from Hannah and her mother, thanking me for the donation.  Try it yourself and see.