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.


Doing Good (twice over) with Holiday Gift Packages

Today’s guest post is from Chelsea Iverson.

If you will be giving to charity this holiday season or are considering making a personalized and meaningful donation on behalf of someone you love, you’re not alone.

Holiday giving is a tradition that combines the Scrooge-inspired spirit of Christmas with generous year-end-tax breaks. Each year, charitable organizations around the world receive millions from contributors during the holiday season. It seems that the tougher the economic times, the more dedicated we are to helping those who are most vulnerable. According to the Red Cross, 68% of Americans believe that it is especially important to give to charity this year due to poor economic conditions, and 79% of Americans admit that they would prefer to receive a charitable gift in their honor than a present they would not use this holiday season.

Two years ago, when my father asked that we donate to a meaningful charity in lieu of giving him a Christmas present, I immediately knew I wanted to donate to an organization that would save the world’s trees. My father loves trees. He loves their resilience, their fortitude and their ability to withstand so much human destruction. Overwhelmed with all the charitable organizations out there, I wondered how to select the most impactful, the most meaningful organization and how to be confident that my donation was going directly to saving trees.

Through my experience looking for a charitable gift in honor of my father, I discovered that there are so many charitable organizations spreading so much hope all over the world, and deciding where to give can be difficult.

UniversalGiving offers a tool that helps you find gift packages – from thousands of charitable organizations – suited to your loved ones. This tool helps ease your concerns about choosing a trustworthy organization and provides clear gift amounts that allow you to see what your gift will actually achieve.

Saving trees is just the beginning. There are over 400 gift packages available on, which means you will be able to find a charitable gift package for all your loved ones. To give a gift package in honor of family members, friends or colleagues, begin by thinking about their interests, concerns and cares, and search for the gift package that best suits them. UniversalGiving’s pre-packaged gifts make it easy to see where your gift is going and who the beneficiaries are. Here are some examples of the gift packages that are offered:

For the teacher in your life:

Give $25 to provide an impoverished child in the US a pair of eyeglasses so he or she can see the blackboard and succeed in school.

For the cook in your life:

Donate to supply in-school meals to hungry children.

For the doctor or nurse in your life:

Give $258 to train a doctor to perform life saving surgery for children in Peru.

Check out more gift packages

UniversalGiving screens non-profits for you with their Quality Model™ standard, so you can be assured that your gift will go to a top-performing organization. You want to do as much good as possible, and since UniversalGiving takes nothing from your donation through their website, you don’t have to worry.

When I was searching online for a charity for my father, I wished that I had better options for sorting through the abundance of organizations that help save our planet’s trees. I needed an organized catalogue of charitable organizations that I could easily search by cause and have the confidence that my gift was making the greatest possible impact.

This year, I think I’ll help reforest Haiti in my father’s honor. Thanks to UniversalGiving’s gift packages, I know my gift will go directly to support the cause he believes in so much.

Chelsea Iversen is a San Francisco-based freelance writer. She works with non-profit organizations to strengthen their messaging and communications. You can contact Chelsea at or

The Top 6 Ways to Support UniversalGiving

  1. Shop!

Who knew shopping could help the world?  By shopping through  UniversalGiving’s unique link on AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate between 4.5% and 8% of your purchase to UniversalGiving!  AmazonSmile offers the same Amazon products at the same low prices, no added cost to you.  The more you shop, the more you support UniversalGiving!

Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Register with AmazonSmile: Click here and sign into your Amazon account.  From there, it will ask if you would like to select UniversalGiving as your charity.  Click yes!
  2. Click on our custom link, to begin making purchases!
  3. Bookmark our link for your future Amazon purchases!

Be sure to share this link with friends and family!  Click here to share your support!

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2. Volunteer with UniversalGiving

Looking for an impactful summer getaway or a”travelthropy” opportunity?  Look no further!  Volunteer through UniversalGiving and find a variety of ways to help better the international community.  Take a trip to Vietnam and teach children English, or visit a chimpanzee rescue center in Cameroon.  When you volunteer through UniversalGiving, you can travel the world with a purpose.  Not only will you do great things, you’ll feel great doing them.

3. Give a gift

You can also stay right at home and still make a big impact.  Giving a gift through UniversalGiving guarantees that 100% of your donations will go to a cause you care about.  Just ten dollars can provide a child with a mosquito net or a nutritious meal.  You can even give a loved one a gift certificate from UniversalGiving and allow them to choose what cause they want the money to go to.  Gift certificates are perfect for the holidays or birthdays if you’re looking for  a gift that gives back!

Amazon smile 2

4. Fund a project

Looking to give back but don’t have the time to go on a volunteer trip?  Donate to one of our vetted NGOs’ projects to help fund vital causes.  From creating a clean water system for a Chiapas community to helping create sustainable livelihood for female farmers in India, your contributions are crucial to making these projects come to fruition and, ultimately, benefitting a community in need.

5. Raise for a Cause

If you feel particularly passionate about a cause or multiple causes, why not create your own fundraising page?  Set a deadline or a dollar goal and share your page with friends and family.  Simply add your favorite projects, gifts, and organizations to your personal list and get started!

6. Share your support!

Finally, an easy way to get involved is to share your support for UniversalGiving!  Click the below Facebook or Twitter icon to share your support for UniversalGiving to friends and family on your social media.  It’s as simple as that! Telling others about UniversalGiving and all the good we do is a great way for you to make an impact and help create a world where giving and volunteering are a natural part of everyday life™.

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How One Day Changed my Life

give a day global

by Kerry Rodgers

“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, as 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 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 Kerry_websiteDay 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!”


We believe that there is no better way to describe what volunteering is than through the words or our friends and partners who give back to our global community.

For Kerry everything started that day

At UniversalGiving, our goal is to provide you the opportunity to have an incredible volunteering experience. Who knows, maybe you will discover a new passion!

Here are some of our partners looking for incredible volunteers:

1. Give a Day Global
2. Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children
3. WAND Foundation
4. Biblioworks
5. Green Cameroon

Brand Image and the Importance of CSR in the New Digital Age Part 3

csr framework graphic

By Matt Gallagher

Developing CSR Programs Conveniently, Efficiently and Effectively

Time, planning and management do not necessarily have to be a big part of your investment in CSR. Websites and services like UniversalGiving can handle all of the legwork so that your contribution is focused on providing a greater good. Your administrative requirements remain minimal, with 100 percent of your donation going directly to the cause of your choosing. Charitable organizations such as UniversalGiving can handle the administrative end, vetting projects through a trademarked, proprietary Quality Model. They consult on proper methods of engaging with nonprofits and how you can maximize your social impact. UniversalGiving clients gain a viable way of helping to build a sustainable society, contributing to a better world while improving reputation and likability among their employee base and their consumers.

Sample Case

Cisco Systems, Inc.: Donation Programs Vetted, Saving Time and Money

The worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate, and collaborate, Cisco Systems designs, manufactures, and sells computer networking services and product equipment. UniversalGiving partnered with Cisco to provide highly customized international and domestic NGO Vetting Services, as well as implement the Launch a City program. UniversalGiving vets all of Cisco’s grants based on its proprietary Quality Model TM. More than 500 nonprofits have been vetted for Cisco’s Matching Gifts Program and UniversalGiving vets all of Cisco’s international giving platforms. UniversalGiving  also helped the company implement its Launch a City Program to determine the best CSR Strategy and Implementation across 40 cities in which Cisco is based around the world.

The successful partnership has enabled Cisco to ensure that all Cisco employees can donate to vetted, on-the-ground NGOs. The efforts save Cisco time and money by handling all operational and client-support services such as NGO related calls and inquiries. By encouraging a culture of generosity in their business plan, Cisco boosted employee morale and brand image, improving client retention and employee incentive.

UniversalGiving Corporate

UniversalGiving Corporate (UGC) is a customized service helping Fortune 500 companies scale their Corporate Social Responsibility programs worldwide.  UniversalGiving Corporate handles the strategy, operations and NGO vetting for corporations, ensuring the success of their giving and volunteering programs.  

What We Do

magnifying glassInternational Vetting

We vet every non-profit and project with our 24-stage Quality Model (TM). You’re ensured superior, top performing partnerships.


globeTargeted Expansion

You pick the city, nation or region. We match your employees with high quality local nonprofits. We go where you operate – or plan to set up shop.


plus signDisaster Response

We help you create and operate immediate disaster response programs, connecting you to localized expert NGOs across the globe.


Cpeopleross System Collaboration

We work seamlessly with your giving platforms, so you don’t have to handle back and forth NGO communications and technology issues.


lightbulb1CSR Consulting

We have the industry and international expertise to help design, launch, manage, and communicate your good work globally.


In Summary

While CSR obviously benefits society, it also stands as an investment in a company’s brand image, client acquisition potential, and ability to attract high quality talent.

As Carroll and Shabana conclude in their paper, “the business case for corporate social responsibility can be made. While it is valuable for a company to engage in CSR for altruistic and ethical justifications, the highly competitive business world in which we live requires that, in allocating resources to socially responsible initiatives, firms continue to consider their own business needs. In the last decade, in particular, empirical research has brought evidence of the measurable payoff of CSR initiatives on firms as well as their stakeholders.”

Perhaps that explains why, according to a Wharton School Analysis, as recently as 10 years ago, only about a dozen Fortune 500 companies issued a CSR report. Now, more than half do.

Fortunately, CSR does not need to be a reinvention of the wheel or require much corporate commitment beyond the financial. Charitable organizations such as UniversalGiving can provide the strategy, operations and expert NGO vetting for corporations, ensuring the chosen causes are appropriate, just and customized to a company’s unique social needs. Investing in a better future ultimately builds a better company and a greater world for our children and grandchildren to prosper.

csr part 3 pic

  1. Carroll, Archie B., and Kareem M. Habana. “The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of Concepts, Research and Practice.” International Journal of Management Reviews. The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial RegulatioJuly 2011. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.
  2. Retrieved 20 August 2015 from