Fight malaria with tech

Over the last five years, global cases of malaria dropped by 21%, but there is still a lot of work to do. About 429,000 people lost their lives to malaria in 2015, and 90% of those malaria deaths were in sub-image (3)Saharan Africa. This region is disproportionately affected by malaria and One Mobile Projector per Trainer (OMPT) has created an innovative strategy for fighting the disease Gambia.

OMPT teaches each community how to organize and spread valuable knowledge about malaria and prevention through video technology. Cameras, projectors and other important equipment are provided. OMPT runs 4-day video education workshops to teach the local organizations and community members how to use this equipment. Through the use of video technology, rural communities in Gambia can mobilize and share innovative information.

OMPT has deployed 1,989 projectors to underserved communities, giving them access to knowledge about malaria that is life-saving.

Donate to OMPT’s malaria prevention projects here.


Leveraging People, Products, and Innovation to Support the Refugee Crisis

This post was written by a guest blogger from Cisco, one of our clients. Erin Connor is Portfolio Manager for Critical Human Needs, Cisco Corporate Affairs, and Cisco Foundation. 

Today, an unprecedented 63.9 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced, and 21.3 million of those are refugees. From Syria to Afghanistan to Somalia, millions of men, women, and children are being forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution.

Often, they travel hundreds, even thousands of miles to settle in countries ill-equipped to handle the influx of those in need. The journey from Turkey to Greece, for example, is a treacherous one; refugees crossing the Mediterranean often travel in poorly-constructed rafts with little protection from the elements.

And when they arrive at their destinations, whether in Pakistan, Lebanon, or other countries, they’re often met with new challenges. In 2013, Lebanon’s population was 4.5 million, but the immigration of 1.1 million refugees increased the country’s population by a quarter. Turkey currently hosts 2.5 million refugees—the most of any country—but lacks many of the resources to cope with the added population.

The result? At least 40% of refugees in Lebanon live in inadequate accommodation, including makeshift shelters and informal settlements. Others face eviction or live in overcrowded apartments, unable to adapt to their new country’s standards of living. Many are unable to work due to local labor laws, while those in countries such as Greece are detained in camps where they wait hours in line for meals and can barely meet their most basic needs.

Fortunately, global problem solvers are coming together to make an impact in every corner of the globe. Cisco joins a growing list of companies and organizations applying digitization, collaboration, and innovation to solve what’s become one of the world’s most pressing issues.

At Cisco, we understand we must leverage core capability to achieve social impact. Since October 2015, we’ve taken a multi-pronged approach to our response, leveraging our people, products, and financial resources to provide over $4 million in support to the refugee crisis.

Our Tactical Operations engineers and Disaster Response team volunteers have carried out 10 two-week deployments in partnership with NetHope, and together, they’ve installed Merakibased Wi-Fi networks across 75 sites—64 of which are currently active—in Greece and Slovenia and provided remote technical support and equipment for installations in Serbia.

The networks have connected over 600,000 unique devices, allowing refugees to reach more than two million friends and family members through high-speed Internet connections. Using our cloud security software, we block an average of 2,000 cyber threats per day, guaranteeing secure connections for all users. Cisco has granted all of the Meraki equipment needed for these installations to NetHope and provided a supplemental cash grant of $100,000 to support their crisis informatics work, which streamlines their installation efforts.

Cisco has also provided $350,000 to Mercy Corps to support the development and scaling of a mobile-enabled Refugee Information Hub. Currently available in three countries and in three different languages, the hub provides refugees with critical information such as legal options and instructions on seeking asylum, safety information, and available social services. Today, more than 30 NGOs use the tool, which is expected to grow this year to include seven new countries.

On a company level, we understand leadership support and employee engagement drives global action and innovation. A Cisco team of volunteers in Hamburg, Germany worked in close collaboration with a number of ecosystem partners to develop and implement the Refugee First Response Center (RFRC). This innovation transformed shipping containers into doctors’ offices, equipped with Cisco technology that enables access to the Internet and real-time translation services with 750 medically trained interpreters collectively speaking 50 languages.

The original unit, launched in Hamburg in October 2015, caught the attention of a local private donor, who funded $1 million for the production of 10 additional units that have been produced and deployed to Red Cross camps throughout Hamburg. The 10 units average about 30 consultations a day and have provided over 18,000 medical video-supported consultations to date. Two RFRCs have been shipped to Lebanon and Greece for replication.

The Cisco team in Lebanon is working with the Ministry of Health and local NGO Beyond Association to implement RFRC and will include virtual psychosocial services. The RFRC in Greece plans to offer telemedicine services for specialties not available at the hotspots, facilitate remote examinations, interpretation services and video communication for separated families.


Seeing the success of the shipping containers led other organizations to expand on that idea. Deutsche Bahn, the largest shipping and logistics company in Europe partnered with Charité Hospital in Berlin to transform a former passenger bus into a mobile medical clinic – known as the DB medibus

Charité and Deutsche Bahn contacted Cisco, who volunteered to network the bus. Cisco outfitted it with secure wi-fi high-speed connectivity and video collaboration units to allow for translation services in 50 languages. Their first use case for the pilot phase is mass vaccinations to be delivered at refugee settlements in Berlin, and they have already provided 10,000 treatments since launching last fall.

We also recognize the critical importance of education and employment opportunities for refugees. Our Networking Academy in Germany has also committed to providing IT training to 35,000 refugees in Germany over the next three years, and are piloting projects with the International Labour Organization and local universities to train refugees in Turkey through Cisco’s Networking Academy.

Through our annual matching gift campaign in 2015, Cisco donated a total of $743,000 to more than 40 organizations aiding in the refugee crisis. As this crisis endures, Cisco Foundation continues to match employee donations to these organizations dollar for dollar. We know this is an issue close to the hearts of many employees, and viewing them as valuable partners in global problem solving has helped Cisco focus on how best to apply its technology expertise in the field.

Read this blog post here.

Donate to Mercy Corps here.

Are You Willing to Go to Hard Places?

By Marina Smith

Paul Shoemaker is the Founding President of Social Venture Partners International— an organization committed to driving social change efficiently and effectively. SVP has created a network of thousands of individuals dedicated to linking their passions to progress and social change. Shoemaker has made his own impact by connecting people and organizations with the causes they are most passionate about and with the human resources most salient to their missions.  

In his newly released book CAN’T NOT DO: The Compelling Social Drive that Changes Our World (Wiley), Shoemaker traces the paths of dozens of change-makers who acted on their determination to make impactful change. In telling the stories of these individual change-makers, Shoemaker touches upon a vision of the world central to UniversalGiving®: with the right people, drives, and passions, individuals are capable of serving the global community in meaningful ways.

We interviewed Shoemaker to discuss what it means to find your passions and to truly dedicate yourself to your cause.

Can't Not Do

You focus on the importance of human capital, and the impact that individual change-makers can have. What have you noticed that all of these individuals have in common?

Not everybody is looking to support a social cause, or to dedicate their passion to social good. The common thread that links the individuals featured in Can’t Not Do is that there are people at a certain stage in life, mind, and perspective, who really want to dig more deeply into a certain personal cause. They are seeking to learn how and where to go deeper. They want to make a more significant impact, and they are looking for a pathway to do that. Not every person’s pathway into deeper social change is the same-there are lots of steps and paths that people can follow to connect to issues in a deeper way, but everyone who is successful in making a difference is willing to fully commit him or herself to a cause.

How can people best connect to causes and find what they are passionate about?

We are at a point in history where the impact one person can have has never been greater, and there are many pathways to help them find and act on their passion. There are three questions posed at the start of the book: 1. What are you a determined optimist about? 2. Who are you at your core? and 3. What are you willing to go to hard places for? Some people have an epiphany, some people take 40 years, some people’s interests are very general, some are very specific. Find a passion that responds to these three questions.

Why is it important to dedicate yourself to a cause?

I liken finding a passion to having a child: If I have a child, I will do anything I can to keep that kid alive. If you get into this work, you need to throw your blood, sweat and tears into it. If you really are serious about this work (this doesn’t necessarily mean making it your career), you are going to come across times when it is the hardest thing in the world. If you are looking to make a difference, you need to be aware of the issue and of the ways you can most contribute to the solution. It feels hard and painful, but it also feels really right. You will trudge on through it. You don’t care how hard it is and how painful it is. If you don’t feel those challenges, you won’t be as impactful as you can be, and you won’t evaluate the ways in which you can most contribute.

The title of your book, Can’t Not Do, comes from the phrase people often utter when you ask them how they feel about creating a particular change in the world. It speaks to something that goes beyond what they can or should do, and becomes something that, in their life, they simply “can’t not do.”  When did you find your own Can’t Not Do?

I’m not passionate about one social issue versus another. When I got into this job, I started realizing that the way I could give to the world most effectively was to help others realize their own effectiveness. My job is to be a messenger and to help people understand that they can utilize their tools and talents to be the most impactful advocate they can be for the cause they care most about. I want to help people to recognize their power to create social good. If more and more people step up to that bar, and realize their full potential in affecting change, that’s how you create social good.

What common problems do you see people face in their mission to make a difference?

This is not a self-help book. I’m not here to make you feel better — I want you to help the world feel better. What holds people back from making an impact? Basic, core human stuff: fear. There are three types of fear that commonly come up. First, there’s a fear of the unknown; people have been successful in one part of life, but making an impact requires that they learn something completely new. Second, there’s a fear that global problems are massive, and this creates a black hole where we feel like it’s not possible to solve anything. I believe that we do know how to solve problems, and we don’t lack for resources or solutions. The last fear comes when people believe things are solvable, but don’t believe they can effectively be involved in promoting change. People can find the path to help, and to create change-they just need to be determined. Any one of these three fears is a valid human emotion, and can definitely hold someone back from following their passions.

Why can one person have more impact now than in the past?

There are solutions and people out there in the world that know how to solve the problems. Knowing that there are solutions is not the biggest challenge-we know the ways to solve problems. There are a lot more solutions than people think there are; the challenge is connecting people who are passionate about issues and giving them the platforms to effect change.

The second part of this answer has to do with technology. Technology has changed so many parts of our lives- there is so much connectivity, and technology makes so many things possible that didn’t exist before.

How do we take our new tools and apply them?

We can utilize technology to solve all those big, scary, hard social problems. We haven’t employed technology to the extent that it can be employed.

How can individuals make a difference, in a world that seems so controlled by corporations, politics, and big business?

Money always matters, but people and social capital have the most impact. There are so many resources that we have beyond finances, and in order to make money effective, we have to use them. Everyone has individual skills, and people need to learn to use more than money to solve problems. Money absolutely matters, but anyone who says that money alone will solve the world’s problems is wrong-every aspect of change has a human face.


You can learn more about individuals making a difference through grit, determination, and commitment in Paul Shoemaker’s book, Can’t Not Do, released yesterday. Thank you, Paul, for your commitment to serving our global community, and for supporting the vision of UniversalGiving to “Create a World Where Giving and Volunteering are a Natural Part of Everyday Life.”™

The Power of Video

By Steven Chang

The power of video to successfully promote causes, companies, organizations, people, and yes, even cats, on the Internet is hardly a secret. We can see the power of video almost immediately (how many views/hits did you get?), and we can also see the power of video in our everyday lives (when was the last time you asked a question beginning with, “have you seen that one video…?”).

But how do videos become popular? Two videos that use the same outreach methods – email, social media, word of mouth, live presentation – may not necessarily have the same impact. And a video which hardly uses any of those methods can suddenly go viral solely because of its content and the way that content is communicated.

While there are many guidelines for anyone who is looking to popularize their videos, there is no silver bullet.  So, I’d like to offer my advice, taken from my passion for creating great video content and from my experience at “UniversalGivingTM.

  1. Filter. Only use your most unique, interesting, and high quality content.
  2. Brand. Remind the viewers constantly just where they are getting their video content through visuals, text, and whatever else you can think of.
  3. Outreach. Viral videos are, in fact, quite rare. Your best bet is to continue to aggressively outreach through all forms of social media, while trying to drive all of that outreach to your central “homebase” – a website, your twitter feed, your blog, etc.
  4. Workflow. For bigger video projects, create standards, checklists, and production schedules to guide your project from the early stages of content filtering to the later stages of releasing & analytics.
  5. Focus. There are always more and better ways to promote through video. Tackle the project in stages. Start with a basic strategy, and then build on that as you evaluate and assess the impact of your videos. Sometimes you may stretch yourself too thin by trying to do too much before you release even your first video.

I have also found many helpful tips and guidelines through ListenIn Pictures and their starter guide to non-profit video story telling. While their focus is more on fundraising and campaigns, they have many useful tips and examples of how video can be used to call people to action.

My final tip is to create conversation around your videos. When people really enjoy a video and find it interesting, they will have something to say about it, will engage it, and will respond to the “call to action.” So, what do you have to say about UniversalGiving’s most recently released videos featuring our founder & CEO Pamela Hawley and other Fortune-500 CSR executives?

Pamela Hawley on NGO Vetting

More videos:

Secret to Success: Go Become Famous!

Global CSR Benefits: The Bottom Line

Global CSR Challenges: Co-Chairs and Cross-Training

UniversalGiving at the Commonwealth Club – Video Highlights!

by Steven Chang

On August 11, 2011, founder & CEO Pamela Hawley led a panel of Fortune 500 Corporate Social Responsibility executives in discussing the innovations and practical lessons learned from launching CSR programs all over the world. We’ve taken the highlights from this exciting event and created shorter videos for your learning and enjoyment!

Pamela Hawley on NGO Vetting

Here’s what founder & CEO Pamela Hawley had to say about NGO vetting through UniversalGiving™, which has even helped Fortune 500 companies ensure the success of global CSR programs.

Secrets to Success: Go Become Famous!

Mark Edmunds of Deloitte LLP gave an especially creative & insightful response when Pamela asked him to share his “words of wisdom” regarding global CSR. We’d like to share it with you!

Global CSR Benefits: The Bottom Line

Not only does CSR create positive social outcome, but it also contributes to a company’s bottom line. Here’s how Pamela and Gabriele Zedlmayer of Hewlett-Packard explained it.

Global CSR Challenges: Co-Chairs & Cross-Training

One of these challenges of CSR is operating global CSR programs led solely by employee volunteers. Pamela Hawley and Trisa Thompson of Dell, Inc. explored the topic of cross-training and co-chairs on a global level.

The Commonwealth Club of California has been hosting public forums with exciting speakers for more than 100 years. More information on the Commonwealth Club of California can be found here.

How to Use Technology to Recruit Volunteers

Today’s guest post is from Clarissa Meyer.            

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of non-profit, charity, or community organizations in the world. And while some have paid positions, most rely heavily on volunteers to keep their operations running. Girl Guides of Canada is nothing without adults running camps and meetings. Habitat for Humanity cannot survive without people willing to lift, tote, and hammer boards. But how do these organizations find and keep volunteers? In the old days it was through bulletin board notices and phone calls. But in our fast-paced, modern world those strategies are not feasible. The volunteer market is competitive and, while people want to give their time, they are not always eager for a phone call, or willing to volunteer in the traditional ways. Using technology can give organizations a leg-up on finding volunteers.

Using a website to advertise an organization and its volunteer positions is an intelligent and efficient way to use technology. Positions can be updated quickly and easily. Profiles of the organization can be included, which people can read at their own leisure. People can follow links to apply for positions on-line, and schedules and events can be posted as well.

Email is a popular method for recruiting and maintaining volunteers. Many people can be contacted at once, and this is a fast and efficient way to update opportunities or send out general inquiries. People that do not cherish face-to-face communication can respond using the written word, and they can reply at their own pace. Email has an advantage over phone conversations as attachments can be sent, with documents, spreadsheets, images, and videos.

Perhaps the best development with volunteering since the advent of the World Wide Web is what is known as Virtual Volunteering (also known as cyber service or on-line volunteering). A virtual volunteer is someone who assists an organization using the Internet or computer technology. They can do tasks such as manage e-mail, design graphics or web pages, organize databases, edit documents, or write proposals. And the appeal of cyber volunteering is plentiful. Many people can help that would not otherwise do so. They may have physical constraints or time issues. People who volunteer through the virtual realm can have flexible schedules and can work from home. They can help an organization halfway around the world! These volunteers might have different skills than other types of volunteers and their talents can be put to good use. Sponsored by the United Nations, is a site dedicated to matching virtual volunteers to opportunities. Those seeking volunteers may want to peruse this site and use it to advertise their positions.

Any organization seeking to recruit volunteers should not forget about the power of social media. Word travels quicker through Twitter and Facebook then through any other means. Non-profits can expect very quick networking and advertising through these sites when they post a profile or an advertisement.

Some people prefer to support organizations financially. A site such as UniversalGiving helps people support top-performing organizations from all over the world. The site is built so that 100% of donations go toward the cause of choice. But this site also serves as a volunteer matching site, helping people find volunteer positions which suit their interests/skills.

Lastly, organizations may want to utilize computer software to organize, find, and maintain volunteers. A program like Volunteer Reporter, which has existed for twenty years, allows organizations to track volunteers through a database, merge email contacts, and store volunteer profiles. This software is free to use for one year, as a trial. It is useful for the organization as well as for the volunteers, as volunteers can use the program to log in from home and record their volunteer hours.

Clarissa Meyer works on a non-profit project that is deemed to help people with writing their resumes and CVs. Core interests: e-learning, self-motivation and career development.

An Exciting Trip to Synergos with the Global Philanthropists Circle

Today’s post is from UniversalGiving’s Founder and CEO, Pamela Hawley.

I recently attended the Synergos Conference in New York, where we were invited amongst 100 global donors.  I wanted to share some exciting insights with you!

We’ve been honored now to be invited for our 6th year in a row, as part of Synergos.  Synergos is a group that brings together global leaders who want to give effectively in developing nations all over the world. At the same time, it also supports social innovators in more than 40 countries through their Senior Fellows program.  They are social leaders who sincerely and effectively serve our communities in diverse ways, in healthcare for children in Zimbabwe, gender equality in Bangladesh and Uganda, poverty alleviation in Thailand, an environmental protection in the Philippines.

This meeting concerned a group of international philanthropists from more than 100 countries.  During this meeting, we heard from Peggy Delaney and from Bill Clinton.  Former President Clinton was quite formidable in the high calling he set for himself regarding philanthropy.  The Clinton Global Initiative is involved in numerous philanthropic projects.  Many of them revolve around renewable energy in hydro and electric policy and implementation.  He is focused on supporting both forprofit and nonprofit groups in this endeavor.  He’s watchful of emerging projects that are successful abroad, which can be utilized here in the United States.

Many professors from Harvard and Dartmouth are covering emerging markets in a new way. What’s called Frugal Innovation or  Reverse Innovation looks at low-cost, effective projects that are working abroad, and brings them back to the United States.  Instead of the U.S. always being the pioneer — international countries, and often developing ones, are the initiators. Product include everything from low-cost medical services to shaving razors, which are now undercutting the market here.

However, U.S. companies are also taking the lead.  For example, PG&E is undercutting itself, by introducing these products back in the United States.   If they don’t, they are concerned that another country will do so.  So they are pre-empting this move, but offering both types of products, low and high end, low cost, high cost.  Fascinating!

For example, the razors are indeed different.  In India, the U.S. razors are re-crafted to take into consideration a local country’s situation. Indian men often don’t have mirrors, operate off a small bowl, have limited water, and also need sharp razors that can outlast dullness.

As a tangent, there are so many innovations from abroad… The UK is coming up with more unique versions of philanthropy.  I just read that their cultural minister is trying to allow people to make a donation when they are at ATMs.  I am so heartened to see such good exploding across the world… 🙂 in so many ways, that affect our lives practically!

Back to Synergos. 🙂  Then we went on to a dinner session.  The session was 20 tables related to CSR, health, innovation and education, and then all different country areas.  I was put at the Middle East table, and it was amazingly fascinating.  I wanted to see how UniversalGiving could support more projects in philanthropy in the Middle East, in this burgeoning area.

Many of the forprofit people felt, interestingly enough, that an authoritarian government structure was better than a democracy.  They felt these countries were living in anarchy with no government, and it would be better to have their lives ruled by some sort of government structure.  That may be partially true for the short-term stability, but I hope we would all argue on the side of freedom for all people from any type of oppression, any time, anywhere.

However, transition from authoritarianism is a transition.  I’ve long known that just because a dictator is toppled, that doesn’t mean democracy will immediately exist.  We have to be conscious of the fact that when America was created, it was called a “grand experiment.”  No one had had this type of structure before, and we were fighting tooth and nail to prove it could work.  I’m grateful that its structure, no matter how many “dents” it has, is still in place. It preserves so many freedoms for us, in the way that we operate, both in our personal lives and businesses.

Here’s an example of just one individual who is most certainly making his mark in the Middle East and won’t be held back by anything.  Ron Bruder is a global leader working on providing employment opportunities for unemployed youth in the Middle East.  (He’s formerly built shopping centers all over the U.S., and is now devoting himself full time to this effort.)  It’s incredible. He’s giving hope to so many in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen.  Tunisia, he says, is the easiest… they just get it and in many locations, in-country supporters (important) provide significant financial backing, with positive government support, too.

I love sharing with you about these philanthropic insights in different areas across the world!  Continue to make your mark on our world as well. No action is too small.

With highest regards,