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:

Bridging the World Together

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

During my senior year in high school, I experienced my first identity crisis. Since I was 10 years old, I had been set on becoming a pediatric oncologist, outlining my future and mapping it out perfectly. It was when I was applying to colleges that I realized that medicine was not for me, initiating Operation Freak-Out.

While I was fortunate enough to figure out where my true passions lied upon my first year in college, I know that some are not so lucky, bouncing around from major to major for a good number of years before realizing what they want to do. Moreover, we have all heard those stories of individuals completing medical or law school and working for a couple of years, only to return to school after realizing that their current occupation did not bring that sense of personal satisfaction many experience with their careers.

Abigail Falik in The Christian Science Monitor

Luckily, Abigail Falik is helping students find their passions while emphasizing the importance of having a worldly view by founding her nonprofit, Global Citizen Year (GCY). Through this nonprofit organization, Falik hopes to give young people an experience that will mold them to become leaders with an ethic of service. High school graduates spend a year before entering college to work in a developing country, building not only leadership skills but also becoming fluent in the local language. Falik was inspired to create this institution through her adventures in her youth, traveling with her family to developing countries, and taking a year off in the middle of college to work on projects such as helping street kids in Brazil. GCY won first place in the Pitch for Change Competition sponsored by Harvard Business School in 2008, and Falik was awarded with a social entrepreneurship fellowship in 2009.

Falik and her organization truly serve as an inspiration for everyone to give back and to immerse oneself into a completely new culture. It encourages people to go beyond the “conventional approach,” and to help bridge the world together through philanthropy and tolerance.

Learn more about Falik and GCY in The Christian Science Monitor, just one inspiring individual among many in its “People Making a Difference” series.

Inspired to give back? Visit UniversalGiving’s website and make your own difference by preventing political violence in New Guinea or volunteering in a South African orphanage.


By Kyle Daley

For most kids, summertime brings the joy of youth sports programs; where friendships are born, skills are honed, and life lessons of teamwork are learned. These programs offer an opportunity for kids to get out of the doldrums of a long summer day and become active in a sport they love. But for a majority of those in the inner city, these sports programs are a world away.

That was until Cle Ross came into play. A former professional baseball player with the Texas Rangers, Ross returned to his Kansas City roots and was in despair when he saw Heathwood Park, a field that gave birth to his career, in ruins. Due to cuts, the park was closed in the late 1990s and hadn’t been kept up since.

Nevertheless, Ross was determined to restore the baseball diamond to its former glory from his childhood and with it, the youth baseball program. When growing up, Ross remembers when an anonymous package arrived at his doorstep filled with sports equipment that his mother and he could never afford on their own. This sole act of charity touched the young Ross, who promised one day he would pay it forward.

That day came in 2004.

After arriving back in his hometown, Ross formed a non-profit — KCK RBI, took ownership of the field, built a small battalion of volunteers to repair the park and the facilities. Soon he found himself working with the Major League Baseball again, but this time with their Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.

In 2009, Ross hit a milestone. He was able to organized more than 150 kids into his baseball league. But it didn’t stop there. This season, nearly 500 kids of all ages play on 28 teams.

Ross’s dedication to the youth in his hometown is an inspiring story of how one act of kindness to one person can spread to hundreds more years later. His ability to serve as a role model to the next generation of youth in his community showcases his skills at serving as a great team player. Something he teaches every day.

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

If you would like to help with youth sports programs:

  • A $15 donation to Sports Gift will will provide a soccer ball for an impoverished child.
  • Play Soccer helps develop build a holistic year-round sports program across the globe.
  • Donate to Right To Play, an organization that helps disadvantaged through the use of sports.

For more ways to help, visit