All Together for Good

By Cheryl Mahoney

Lately I’ve had a lot to say about ways to volunteer from home.  And we all know that if you want to cross borders and travel to exciting places to do your volunteering, UniversalGiving is your best destination.  So how about if you want something in between?  You’re happy to go outside, but can’t commit to a trip to Kenya right now–where do you go for that?  Well, UniversalGiving actually does have some national opportunities…and I also want to share with you about one of our latest partner organizations that can help you find the perfect way to do good.

I’m talking about All for Good.  This website is designed to bring together volunteering opportunities from many different sources, to provide a vast database of ways to get involved with the community.  Inspired by President Obama’s call for volunteering and service, a group of engineers, developers and designers all got together to create the site.  They’re coming from cool places like Google, The Craigslist Foundation, YouTube and more, so maybe it’s no surprise the way this has taken off!

I feel like I should tell you how to use All for Good, but there isn’t much to tell–it’s all fairly straight-forward.  Just pop over to the website, put in your location, and scroll through the results.  Find one you like and click for more info.  That’ll take you to the organization that contributed the opportunity, and you can explore more there.  Then, start doing good!

One thing I love to think about is all the people and organizations involved at every stage of the process.  First you have the organizations contributing their volunteering opportunities to All for Good (UniversalGiving included!)  Then all the organizations with people working on the All for Good team.  And All for Good sends the volunteering opportunities on to other websites too.  Have you heard of  If so, you might have heard about it from President Obama, or from Michelle Obama. gets its opportunities from All for Good.  Did you notice your favorite TV characters talking about volunteering and giving to the community about a month ago?  That was part of iParticipate, an initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.  And if you go over to iParticipate to look for volunteer opportunities, you’ll find out that they’re coming from–All for Good.  Another example: MTV is on board with this too!  Even taking the volunteers out of the equation, it’s exciting to think about all these diverse, high-power groups working together.  And of course, we can’t take the volunteers out of the equation–because they’re the whole point, people finding ways to give back and contribute.

It’s also exciting to think about how much All for Good has done in a very short time.  Which means…what else might be possible?


United We Serve

By Cheryl Mahoney

I try to stay aware of what’s happening in the world of service and volunteering–and to get UniversalGiving involved where we can.  Lately, I’ve felt like I had to run to keep up with President Obama in this area.  Every time I turn around, something new seems to be happening–which is great!  There’s, the Serve America Act, the Social Innovation Fund…and the latest is United We Serve.

The President is calling for a “Summer of Service.”  Confronted with so many challenges in this nation, now is the time to come together and go to work in our communities.  As he puts it, “This summer, I’m calling on all of you to make volunteerism and community service part of your daily life and the life of this nation.”  That’s just what we’ve been working for at UniversalGiving too: “to create a world where giving and volunteering are a natural part of everyday life.”  

The Summer of Service kicked off yesterday, June 22, and will run until September 11th, which has been declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  As part of launching United We Serve, yesterday Michelle Obama visited San Francisco, volunteering with Maria Shriver at Bret Harte Middle School, and speaking at The National Conference on Volunteering and Service.  The Conference is put on by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Points of Light Institute.  It started yesterday and runs through tomorrow, bringing together almost 5,000 people who are passionate about volunteering and service–including our founder and CEO, Pamela Hawley. 


Pamela emailed me yesterday while listening to Michelle Obama give the keynote address–I admit, I’m a little jealous!  But for all of us not in the crowd to hear Michelle in person, at least there’s a video of her discussing United We Serve on, which is a great website for connecting to service opportunities.   And I’m not very jealous anyway–I saw Barack Obama speak when he came to San Francisco last November.  You can watch a video of him speaking about United We Serve too.

I feel like I’ve been seeing a growing emphasis lately on volunteering.  Some of that is coming from Washington, but it’s everyone out here on the ground getting involved who are making things happen.  It’s exciting to see, and makes me so hopeful about what we might achieve, not only in our communities but in the world, by helping someone across the street or across an ocean.  Ultimately, it’s about reaching out.

Presidential Address on Service

By Cheryl Mahoney

statue-of-libertyIn my efforts to be a conscious citizen, I try to keep up with President Obama’s weekly Saturday morning addresses to the nation.  I thought he had a particularly good message this week, one I’d like to direct a little attention towards.  This is not a political blog and I have no intention of it becoming one, but the president’s message this week about coming together and valuing service is a truly bipartisan one.

Beginning with a discussion on the disaster and relief efforts in North and South Dakota and Minnesota, President Obama moves into a broader statement about the value of service, commending all the individuals who volunteer to help their communities, in this particular situation and in all situations.

Let me share my favorite quote from the address:

“It’s also a reminder of what we can achieve when Americans come together to serve their communities.  All across the nation, there are men, women and young people who have answered that call, and millions of other who would like to. Whether it’s helping to reduce the energy we use, cleaning up a neighborhood park, tutoring in a local school, or volunteering in countless other ways, individual citizens can make a big difference.”

You can view the entire address on The White House Blog.  He moves into a more general discussion of service about halfway through, around 2:38.

Feel inspired?  Make a difference.

Thoughts on Hope and Change

By Cheryl Mahoney

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I don’t know what country you might be in as you read this. Here in America, January 20th, Inauguration Day, has arrived. Political opinions vary, but just about everyone can agree that it’s a historic event–the swearing-in of the first African-American president.  In recognition of that, I thought I’d offer a few words on social change from our soon-to-be 44th president, Barack Obama.


“You know, there’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit – the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this – when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers – it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.”

–Barack Obama, speech, Aug. 11, 2006

“We have a stake in one another … what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and … if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth.”

–Barack Obama, speech, Dec. 1, 2006

“Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have courage to remake the world as it should be.”

–Barack Obama, speech, Jan. 3, 2008

That’s what we’re all about, right?  Regardless of political party, even regardless of nationality.  These are universal values: hope, and helping, and coming together to remake the world, each in our own small (or large) way, a little bit at a time.