An Exploration of Contrasts: My Internship at UniversalGiving

This summer, I joined UniveralGiving as a member of the Marketing Team. I applied for an internship at UniversalGiving after hearing CEO, and Duke alumna, Pamela Hawley speak at an event for women in entrepreneurship at Duke. I was looking for an opportunity to learn and make a genuine impact at a values-based company. At UniversalGiving I experienced how seemingly diverse skills and ideas harmoniously come together to create a successful business. Here are three things I learned:


  • Branding:
    Over the course of our weekly marketing meetings, our team developed our company brand. We curated content to promote our values of giving, volunteerism and international interconnectedness. We also branded ourselves as thought leaders on topics of interest to our community, creating dialogue on world issues. By publishing posts designed to spark conversation, showcasing our NGO partners doing meaningful work around the world and contributing to posts on others’ pages, our social media presence was about much more than increasing our business and traffic to our website. 

    Through my work, I learned that the value of a company’s social media extends well beyond self-promotion and provides an opportunity to create a values-aligned brand and authentic engagement and conversation.


  • Full Circle Work:
    Because of my quantitative background, my main responsibility on the marketing team was to produce weekly analytics reports for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Analytics. I monitored and tracked changes in likes, comments, shares, followers and user acquisition week after week.I, however, was able to better analyze trends and put them into perspective because I also helped curate the content. I evaluated the numbers within the context of our weekly social media campaign themes and nuances of our specific posts. Because UniversalGiving is a small company, I had a full circle view of our social media strategy; I created the posts, studied how they were received and recommended new strategies. Contributing to both the content and the analysis was immensely helpful allowing me to take on a prominent role in restructuring our social media tactical plan and creating a more effective strategy.

    Through my work on the Marketing Team, I learned the value of having both a quantitative and creative skill set. By blending together these two seemingly disparate areas, I was able to be more effective in both.


  • Precision Finance:
    My quantitative background also took me out of the marketing world and into the Office of the CEO preparing financial reports for the CEO and CFO. Not only did I learn how to create professional products, but I got a close-up view into how the finances of a company are managed and the level of detail required for this line of work. My work on the financials involved preparing invoice spreadsheets for analysis, creating expense reports, and working on the three-year budget projection for an upcoming board meeting. 

    By gaining insight into the financial branch of a company, I learned how broad this area can be; it requires both extreme attention to detail and an ability to abstract into the future. Precision and prediction must blend together to create a dependable financial base for a company.

My experience at UniversalGiving demonstrated how diverse skills and ideas align and integrate to create stronger outcomes. This was a fitting lesson to learn as UniversalGiving is a social entrepreneurship venture; with a goal of both promoting values and maintaining financial stability, contrasts are built in its foundation.


Why I Love @Canva for Nonprofits and Why You Should Too

By Beth Kanter

I am in Cambodia as part of Tech2Empower, an initiative of Wake.  I traveled with a team of Advisers to conduct an interactive “Tech2Empower” workshop for leaders of anti-trafficking and women’s rights NGOs.  Advisers contribute their skills and expertise to provide training and mentoring to help amplify the work of anti-trafficking organizations in Cambodia.  I am serving as the Master Trainer and facilitator for the event.

If you know my work, you know I have a strong connection to Cambodia because I adopted two beautiful children from the country who are now teenagers.  For many years, I served as a board member for an NGO, The Sharing Foundation that manages and orphanage and many other programs in Roteang Village, including an education program.  The proceeds of my two books have been used to send two young women to college through the Sharing Foundation’s program.beth kanter 1.jpg

I’ve also taught social media to young people in Cambodia.  In 2007, I was the first person to use Twitter to fundraise so I could attend and help sponsor the first Cambodia Bloggers Conference.  I also used Twitter to get pro bono donations of technology t-shirts from technology companies to give to the Cambodia bloggers.

In my other training work, I’ve been a “Canvangelist” sharing Canva for Nonprofits at many of my workshops.  Canva and Guy Kawaski generously sent me some t-shirts that I have gifted during my workshops.  In Cambodia, we are also teaching Canva, but I was all out of t-shirts.  I asked Canva if they could mail some to me before my departure.

Canva is a design that lets you create beautiful images without having to be a designer.  It makes creating visual content for social media channels a breeze.  The tool is easy to use, includes templates, and lots of useful how-to information.  I recommend at every workshop, and it is a fantastic tool to introduce NGOs to in other parts of the world.

There is a nonprofit version that every nonprofit around the world should use!

Link to Original on Beth’s Blog:


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?

Social Media for Social Change

By Cheryl Mahoney

Have you ever thought, “I really wish there was a webcast that would let me find out about innovative leaders in social change and entrepreneurship, and that maybe I could even attend in person if I happened to be in San Francisco”?  If so, you’re in luck!

UniversalGiving is so pleased to be partnering with BusinessBoomer, a San Francisco-based social enterprise that’s creating conversations on and off the web.  They just launched a new, biweekly web talkshow, bringing together social media and social change.  Interviewing leaders in social entrepreneurship in front of a live audience and streaming it all on the web, these are exciting, thought-provoking evenings you won’t want to miss–whether you get a chance to be in the studio audience or if you watch it on the web from home.

Alex Holderness and Pamela Hawley
Alex Holderness and Pamela Hawley

Our founder and CEO, Pamela Hawley, attended their kick-off event September 16, along with another UG team member, Natasha Indi.  Everyone agrees that it was an amazing evening.  Guests included Alex Holderness, COO of VolunteerMatch, and Mary Colvig, Community Manager of the Mozilla Foundation (another UniversalGiving partner!)  They just had their second web talkshow yesterday, focusing on Social Innovation in Journalism, and their next event will be October 15th, looking at The Business of Sustainability.  Find out about the upcoming shows here.

If you’d like to attend, contact  It’s just $15 at the door, and we’re grateful to be able to announce that throughout this season, BusinessBoomer will be donating 20% of the proceeds to UniversalGiving!

So you get to hear leaders in the world of social entrepreneurship, you get to meet with an amazing group of people, and your admission price helps support world change.  What better way to spend an evening?

Don't Keep Up With Social Technology

by Anis Salvesen

If you go to the Harvard Business blog, you will see a great article by Alexandra Samuel called “Don’t Keep Up With Social Technology”.  I encourage you to read the actual blog post, but basically she talks about how keeping up with all of the latest technology in social media is not the answer.  She has this great example of going to Ikea with a friend and being reminded by this friend, “there’s no combination of boxes that’s going to turn you into an organized person.”

Below is a comment we posted to Alexandra’s article.  We are extremely curious; what are your thoughts?    And before I forget, thanks for reading this post.   Bolded words allow you to skim.

What a great post.  Just this morning I was talking with the founder of SHARED, Inc. about getting a Twitter account. I used to work in the corporate world, and there I never had to think about such choices; there was an entire tech department and a marketing department who stayed on top of the latest technologies for the rest of us.  Now that I work at a non-profit (UniversalGiving), it’s much more of an “issue,” if you will.

Non-profits have fewer resources to dedicate to learning all about new technologies and to then actually implement them.  Should you have a volunteer update your Twitter account, or should they spend their time keeping up your Facebook Page?  Do you want to have your marketing team post to your organization’s blog, or is it better if they try to get your organization featured on a great site like TechCrunch?

The decision-making process is further hindered in smaller non-profits by the fact that the person who ultimately makes these decisions, or at least sets the framework by which to make these decisions, is an already over-worked CEO.  This is especially true when the CEO is an entrepreneur.  It’s true that these CEO’s have to trust their team, but at the end of the day, it’s their (the CEO’s) organization.  It’s their sweat, their dreams that are on the line.

Another thing is that most of these entrepreneurial CEO’s, these social entrepreneurs, are aware of the fact that they have limited resources.  They have a perhaps unspoken fear of lagging behind the corporate world.  It’s too much of a stretch to say that these CEOs think that if they don’t keep up with the latest technology, people they are trying to help will pay the price.  That is to say, that if they fail to move on a hot new trend, X-amount of children they could otherwise have saved will die.  As I said, that would be an exaggeration.

But I do think there is the feeling that they somehow owe it to these people in need to keep up on all of the latest trends.  Their work is their passion, their life, the embodiment of their values, and any failure to stay at the forefront of technology is a failure on their part to walk the talk.

The idea that quality not quantity is what matters, I think applies here.  It’s exactly what you say in your post about “choosing technologies that support the goals and priorities that matter to you.” 

Alexandra will be responding to these comments on her Social Signal site