August 30, 2009

UniversalGiving: Tailoring an impact just for you

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Amy Sample Ward“First, we’re strictly nonprofit.” That’s how UniversalGiving begins when describing its work. What it should really say is, “We may be nonprofit, but we are not non-impact.”

Why? UniversalGiving is making great impact on communities around the world, both in the work, funds and volunteer efforts contributed to individuals and groups via their platform, but also in effectively and passionately empowering donors and volunteers to contribute. Additionally, UniversalGiving is a member of Social Actions, ensuring that their opportunities to make a difference are heard and seen in even more places around the Web.

What is UniversalGiving?

UniversalGiving is “an award-winning marketplace which allows people to volunteer and donate to top performing projects in more than 70 countries around the world.”

It’s a marketplace, really, of opportunities to take actions for social benefit in various topics you may be after. Want to donate money and leave it at that? Would you rather connect with a group or individual in need halfway around the world? Maybe you want to join forces for a longer-term project for real impact. People simply choose a country of interest (such as China or Thailand) and an area of interest (such as education or the environment) and find a list of vetted opportunities to which they can donate money or give their time.

I’ve been watching volunteer opportunities related to technology and am so excited to jump in!

What is the Impact?

For those of you who like metrics, here are a few numbers to consider:

  • More than $1.5 million has been channeled through www.universalgiving.org
  • Nearly 10,000 people have volunteered
  • More than 70 countries served

UniversalGiving + Social Actions

I’m really excited about the work Social Actions is doing to help connect the sources of actions and opportunities across the web to push them further. Social Actions is “an open source database of actions people can take on any issue. The actions in our database are aggregated from across the social web and include everything from volunteer opportunities to micro credit loans.”

UniversalGiving has partnered with Social Actions to ensure that the volunteer and giving opportunities they vet and promote on their platform can be found by even more people, in more places online. These partnerships are so exciting because I know how many people are willing, interested, and ready to contribute to social impact projects, whether big or small, near or far — but they just don’t know how to find the ones that match their interestes or skills. This partnership increases the chance that interested people can find opportunities from UniversalGiving without having to know them.

By collaborating with Social Actions, UniversalGiving also gets to benefit from things like the Change the Web Challenge that saw many new applications for the Social Actions feeds – meaning new applications that could put Social Actions data (whether a general feed of information, or specific search criteria, or one specific action) in public places online like Facebook, blogs, and more. Again, more people can now find UniversalGiving opportunities without even trying.

With the impact of that partnership in mind, I want to share two of the responses UniversalGiving has received from participants:

“Universal Giving is an instrumental partner to Sports Gift and our mission to provide sports to impoverished children.  Universal Giving helps us reach people across the country to tell them about volunteer opportunities, our community service programs and other charitable giving opportunities. Universal Giving has made a direct and significant impact on our ability to provide the gift of sports to thousands of children living in poverty around the world!” — Kevin Baxter of Sports Gift

“Because we’re a relatively small NGO with a fairly specialized focus, it’s been great to be a part of UniversalGiving and gain the additional exposure to potential donors that we may have never otherwise reached. Also, UniversalGiving’s ability to process a high volume of contributions from an intensive online donation drive, something beyond the capacity of my organization, allowed us to benefit from an MTV Networks employee giving campaign, even though it came about on very short notice. UniversalGiving also provided MTV with the donation data they requested, quickly and efficiently, which secured a substantial corporate match for us.  UniversalGiving proved to be a great advocate for my organization.” — Michael Hayes of Solar Cookers International

Clearly, UniversalGiving is doing a good job making positive impact around the world. I’m very excited to see them partner with Social Actions to make this impact reach even further and involve more people. What I’m most excited about, though, is watching UniversalGiving’s work grow!

Connect & learn more

You can follow UniversalGiving or Social Actions on Twitter, follow stories on their blogs (UG blog or SA blog) or visit their websites to learn more.

Cross-posted from Amy Sample Ward’s Version of NP Tech. Amy Sample Ward connects nonprofits with new media technologies. See her business profile, contact Amy or leave a comment.

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