NGO Spotlight: In Defense of Animals – Africa

In Cameroon, habitat destruction and the illegal commercial ape meat trade are pushing chimpanzees towards extinction.

image-1.doHaving spent her whole life committed to working with animals, veterinarian Dr. Sheri Speede founded In Defense of Animals – Africa (IDA-Africa) to make sure endangered chimpanzees are able to thrive in their natural habitat. IDA-Africa partners with Dr. Speede’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center and the government of Cameroon to rehabilitate orphaned chimpanzees and enact policy changes to protect these magnificent animals.

Within the Mbargue Forest of Cameroon, IDA-Africa houses chimpanzees that are victims of illegal trafficking and rehabilitates them to return to the wild and is working to bring eco-guards to protect chimpanzees from future abuse.

IDA-Africa also strives to create meaningful and lasting change through the promotion

image.doand support of law enforcement, habitat protection and education. They work closely with the locals of Cameroon to foster a healthy and connected community that benefits both the residents and the chimpanzees. IDA-Africa employs local residents, purchases local fruits and vegetables to support a village market economy and funds a sustainable agriculture project that improves the diet of both local children and chimpanzees. Additionally, they sponsor education programs for village farmers to learn about sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry and others for children to learn about chimpanzees and why they need protection.

To learn more about opportunities to partner with In Defense of Animals – Africa and adopt an orphaned chimpanzee, volunteer in a chimpanzee sanctuary or fund a youth education project, look for them on UniversalGiving.


How a Day of Volunteering Changed the Way I Travel

UniversalGiving is proud to support Give a Day Global, an amazing organization providing short-term volunteer opportunities for people who want to enrich their travel experiences. Below is a post from our guest blogger, Kerry Rodgers, who is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Give a Day Global about the story behind this organization.


While traveling in South Africa 6 years ago, I volunteered for one day at a wonderful non-profit in a township outside of Cape Town. It was serendipitous – one of my traveling companions had a personal connection and invited us to join him for the afternoon. The experience was transformational – I walked away deeply inspired about the work of community-based nonprofits. Although we were only there for a couple hours, I became an ongoing supporter of the organization. It occurred to me that this one day was a win-win: the nonprofit had a new contributor and for me it was the most memorable day of my vacation.

I sat on the idea of replicating my experience in South Africa for many years. In the meantime, I began volunteering every chance I could get. I went to Haiti for weeks at a time. When I came home, I became intently focused on the question: How can I work to get more people to care about what is going on in Haiti and in other places in the world facing enormous challenges?

I realized that my interest in global issues began on that one day, in South Africa. Maybe experiences like mine could be replicated across the globe? I shared this idea with some friends who had similar ideas, and then Give A Day Global was born!

By donating one day of your vacation to a local nonprofit, you can make a difference in international communities while creating meaningful memories and life-long friendships. We believe that it’s not what you can finish in a day that matters – but what you can begin in a day!


So, what are you waiting for? Click here to plan your journey today!

Pamela’s Weekly Words of Wisdom: Tips for New Entrepreneurs

Halle Tecco posted an excellent article on Huffington Post, “10 Free Things Every Social Entrepreneur Should Have.”  A social entrepreneur herself, Halle brings great wisdom to the subject, offering excellent resources and ideas every new social entrepreneur should think about.  These include everything from board members to social media accounts to an exciting logo.  I recommend checking out the complete list, and I also wanted to share a few of my favorite “things every social entrepreneur should have.”

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Start Your Own Volunteer Group

Today’s guest post is from Aniya Wells.

People who are passionate about helping others are unique in that they are able to see solutions to problems. Society, however, sometimes makes it easy to ignore or overlook problems like poverty, homelessness and hunger.

When confronted with these issues, certain special people ask, “What can I do to help?”

Sometimes, there are huge organizations that are already working on solutions.  Other times, we notice things that no one else is talking about. If you see a problem, you can help be the solution. All it takes is a pinch of creativity, a lot of elbow grease and a few friends who are passionate about helping.

When I was in high school, I began a volunteer organization called Getting Involved and Volunteering (GIV). After pitching the idea to my school principal, GIV launched.  Our major fundraiser provided entire Thanksgiving dinners for a dozen disadvantaged families in our county.

During college, there were plenty of options for volunteering; but I was busy with working and studying. I was working with elementary-aged children at a juvenile therapeutic center when I was inspired to start another volunteer group to promote literacy and strengthen reading skills among the youngest kids.

Both of the volunteer groups presented unique challenges and honed my leadership skills. I went into each project completely fueled with passion, with no background in organizing or teaching, so I had a lot of room to grow.

Know the Costs

I started GIV during the fall of my senior year. Luckily, I had an energetic and creative teacher who was able to guide me through the financial aspects of preparing for a fundraiser. We decided that a haunted house would be an excellent fundraiser, but we would need money to cover the costs of creating it. We launched a mini-fundraiser by “selling” dates to the Homecoming dance.

With the money we raised from the Homecoming dance, we bought supplies for the haunted house. It was labor intensive, and it required an entire cast. Once the big night finally arrived, we had a blast! During Halloween, we raised over $1,000 which was a lot for a few high school students.

Unlike GIV, I started the literacy program with no official support. All of the supplies came out of my own pocket; but it was something I could afford to give, especially considering the children had little in the way of possessions or library access.

For formal nonprofit organizations, grants are available. Read more about starting a 501c3.

Consider your Limitations

Even if you want to save the world, you have to accept the fact that you aren’t Superman (or Wonderwoman) and neither are your fellow volunteers.

There are a few things you can do alone. For example, I was able to create summer reading classes for the kids. However, I also needed volunteers to help teach basic skills during the week. I had really high expectations for my volunteers, but sometimes their schedules and other obligations would provide hiccups.

As a leader, especially of volunteers, it’s important to be aware of your expectations and how they contrast with your team’s capabilities. Chances are both of you will have to adjust.

Be Aware of the Risks

During cleanup of our haunted house project, I fell out of a moving vehicle. I received staples in my scalp and had to shave some of my hair. (No lie.) The kids at the therapeutic facility were also socially unpredictable, and sometimes would display aggressive behavior. One of my volunteers was stabbed in the hand with a pencil and subsequently quit.

Also, be aware that your volunteers could be responsible for any damage or injuries they cause. Risk training and other types of education may be needed to ensure volunteers are working safely. Formal organizations may want to purchase insurance to protect against possible damages.

Accidents are uncommon, but they do happen. Being prepared is the best way to handle any setback confidently. Preparing for the unexpected could mean taking a lesson in conflict management (like I did when working with violent kids) or simply wearing a seat belt. If you are in high school, ask your principal about any forms that will renounce liability. Those who are out of high school should operate within the boundaries of other organizing institutions or should apply for nonprofit status.

Aniya Wells is one of the most passionate writers you’ll ever meet. Though her writing interests run the gamut—from personal finance to health to current events and more—her primary interest is modern higher education. She serves as a reliable online degree guide for students considering taking advantage of the conveniences inherent in distance learning. Don’t hesitate to contact Aniya for questions or comments at

Just In The Neighborhood

By Kimberly Ambayec

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Justin who?
Justin the neighborhood, and thought I’d stop by.

– Michael Dahl, Nutty Neighbors: A Book of Knock, Knock Jokes

I don’t think we have to look very far to find life’s treasures.  If you ever need a quick boost to your day, I recommend the following:

1. If you have Internet access, quickly search the terms “knock, knock” and “neighbor.”  You are sure to be amused.
2. If you have a family or neighbors, invest in them.  A sense of community never fails to empower.

At UniversalGiving™, we understand that “creat[ing] a world where giving and volunteering are a natural part of everyday life”™ would be nearly impossible without communities of people.  Thus, in seeking to be an organization that can pride itself on community building, along with leadership and social entrepreneurship, we regularly look for individuals and organizations that share similar values.  At UniversalGiving, we understand that learning from others constitutes the best organizational growth.  Thus, it has been our privilege to learn from author and designedLearning™ consultant, Peter Block.

Peter Block is a man who values “consent and connectedness” over “mandate and force” (  That is, he understands that to create the best workplaces and communities, individuals need to hold each other accountable through open narratives and civic engagements.  Peter is the author of books such as Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self Interest, The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters, and Community: The Structure of Belonging.  Peter’s newest publication is entitled The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods.  In a short interview with UniversalGiving, Peter shared that his inspiration for The Abundant Community was, “Running into neighborhood people who have decided to care, listen to, and seek out all within walking distance of where they live. They do it for the sake of their children, their parents and the well being of something bigger. Mostly they do not even know they are doing something special.” Peter understands that often times, individuals overlook their gifts and talents – the essentials to motivating local, regional, and global change.  Thus, The Abundant Community provides ideas for how to recognize, reveal, and share our gifts and talents with our neighbors.  It is through a sharing of such resources that we become “the architects of the future where we want to live” (

So, in order to build your own abundant community, Peter suggests to, “Be a connector. Start identifying the gifts of those in your neighborhood. Write them down. Ask neighbors what they know that they would be willing to teach others. Then mix and match and get others to do it with you.”

Peter, THANK YOU for connecting with UniversalGiving to “mix and match” our values.  We are incredibly fortunate to have you as a neighbor in the philanthropic community!

Want to see an “abundant community” in action? Check out: World Neighbors – an international development organization that focuses on developing community talents for immediate human needs and structural longevity!