Giva Blog Categories : Non-Profit

World Changers: Giva Salutes

Here at Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

Charles Best and his colleagues at a Bronx high school were having difficulty raising money for class projects. This challenge gave Mr. Best the impetus to start, an online charity dedicated to raising funds for public school class projects. His colleagues posted the first 10 projects as a way of testing the new tool. Mr. Best proceeded to anonymously fund each of them giving the impression that the website was a quick success. Fortunately, the donor base has grown considerably since the initial test. With over 250 million dollars raised for over 471, 027 projects, it is safe to say no longer relies on Mr. Best for funds. The organization continues to prove itself as one of the most innovative charities in the world. In March of 2011, it became the first charity to make Fast Company's annual ranking of the 50 most Innovative Companies in the World. Each year becomes more ambitious relying on its simple model to accomplish even loftier goals. is a database of thousands of public school projects posted by teachers seeking funds. All projects are approved by the organization ensuring their legitimacy. Donors can then search through the database by category or keyword until they find a project that resonates with their interests. No minimum donation is required. Individuals can give as little as 1$ to a project. This structure allows anyone looking to support public schools to help out. Once projects raise sufficient funds purchases the materials and ships them off to the teacher to use. Donors eventually receive photos of the project, as well as a letter from the teacher and insight into how their money was spent. The entire process is highly personal and extremely transparent. About 70% of projects are successfully funded through the site, an indication of its popularity. Both donors and teachers feel empowered, and have a clear way to support the next generation of thinkers. is a personal and reliable way to give back to one of the community's most important assets. It has established a large and excited donor base and is primed to tackle more challenging problems. By tracking the kinds of projects that appear most often on, the organization hopes to better advise local governments and school boards on how to allocate funds. It is also attempting to support 100% of high-poverty public schools. Its goals are certainly ambitious, but given the strength of its tool and the trust it has established, is ready to address these important challenges.

To learn more about or to support a project visit:

Non-Profit/Business Partnerships

As social challenges merge with business challenges in the contemporary world, corporations are beginning to look for opportunities to engage in shared value initiatives. Increasingly, shared value projects involve partnerships between NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and businesses designed to address common issues. When these partnerships are formed correctly, they can be instrumental in tackling some of the toughest problems currently faced by the business community.

Successful partnerships occur when each party complements the strengths of the other. Businesses are able to provide a conglomeration of resources that many nonprofit organizations lack. They are able to implement change on a massive scale. This opportunity allows nonprofits to expand their impact and take on initiatives that require many resources. Businesses also provide a natural discipline that ensures all agreed upon solutions are sustainable in the private sector. For their part, NGOs are able to fill certain knowledge gaps in the private sector. Some understand specific cultures and relationships in under-served markets, while others are attentive to the specific needs of different communities. Often NGOs are called upon to evaluate unknown areas of the market. Valuations of areas like biodiversity are critical for businesses looking to transform their supply chain.

The partnership between Coca Cola and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is exemplary of a successful shared value relationship. The WWF began working with Coca Cola in 2007 to conserve freshwater resources. The partnership has been extended through 2020 and will now focus on 11 key regions of freshwater basins. The two parties have also elected to expand the initiative to other conservation areas. By 2020 Coca Cola hopes to reduce carbon embedded in drinks by 25%, begin implementing plant-based renewable packaging, and ensure all ingredients are sustainably sourced. The WWF's detailed knowledge of biodiversity, ecosystems, and climate change is an essential tool in each of these projects. By developing environmental models and a system to evaluate the tradeoff between conserving biodiversity/ecosystems and minimizing costs, the WWF hopes to embed environmental sustainability into decision making. Coca Cola hopes to demonstrate the business case for investing in natural capital. The two parties have much to gain from the joint venture. If their actions are successful, society will gain too.

World Changers: Giva Salutes "A Wider Circle"

At Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

A Wider Circle

Perhaps no image is as emblematic of poverty as the empty unfurnished house. It is difficult to achieve a stable and independent lifestyle when one is deprived of the comfort and necessities of a home. Mark Bergel founded A Wider Circle after observing the number of unfurnished homes in poorer areas of Washington D.C. He vowed to sleep on his own couch until every family in America had a bed to fall asleep on. It is this unwavering commitment that has led to his nomination as a 2014 CNN hero and propelled his organization to a level of national recognition. A Wider Circle now operates two warehouses that stock furniture freely available to families lacking basic supplies. It also runs a series of life skills workshops designed to empower people with knowledge. By providing families with this level of personal attention and support, A Wider Circle has helped thousands of people feel more at home.

The organization's signature program is its Neighbor-to-Neighbor initiative. The program provides furniture free of charge to families emerging from challenging circumstances. Beds, dressers, tables, chairs, and dishes are some of the items available to these families. Each year, A Wider Circle furnishes more than 4,000 family homes and refuses to turn any family down in need. Amongst the myriad of challenges present in the modern world, it is sometimes lost how empowering simple acts can be. Providing a desk to a young child can at times be just as influential as improving parts of the local public school. The work of A Wider Circle is evidence of this power.

Propelled by its early success A Wider Circle now offers additional programs in job preparedness, life-skills, and parental training. Recognizing that the only sustainable way to emerge from poverty is through a steady job, A Wider Circle offers classes in resume writing, interview skills, and job selection. It also offers a wide array of professional attire and accessories.

The organization also hosts a Well Mother, Well Baby program that aims to help teenage mothers succeed despite some challenging circumstances. The program ensures mothers have a healthy pregnancy, provides them with necessities like cribs and diapers, and matches each of them with a mentor who continues to support them through the early years of motherhood. These actions are one more way the organization works to ensure a comfortable home environment.

A Wider Circle provides thousands of people with the resources to construct a better home. It deserves immense credit for addressing complex challenges in effective ways. In the process of creating better homes it is truly creating better lives.

To learn more about A Wider Circle or to donate money visit:

World Changers: Giva Salutes VolunteerMatch

VolunteerMatch describes itself as an organization dedicated to connecting good people with good causes. As their Annual Impact Report shows they have been incredibly successful at accomplishing this challenging goal. In 2013 alone, VolunteerMatch helped create 915 million dollars in social value and attracted 900,000 new volunteers. For every 1 dollar invested in the organization, VolunteerMatch was able to produce 190 dollars in social value. Given the success of this phenomenal organization and its importance in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) industry, it surely merits a closer look.

One of the largest hindrances in the nonprofit industry is the information gap that exists between volunteers and nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits have difficulty communicating the skills and attributes they need in volunteers, and can occasionally struggle to communicate their message to a larger audience. Conversely, volunteers have trouble finding organizations that represent their concerns and interests. VolunteerMatch solves this problem by synthesizing a vast network of nonprofits with a vast network of volunteers. The entire process is personalized. Prospective volunteers begin by selecting an area of interest such as Animals, Education, or the Environment. They are then matched up with a local opportunity to contribute to this nonprofit sector. In essence, VolunteerMatch makes it easy to search, sign up and contribute to these wonderful causes.

The customization of this process helps explain the positive impact VolunteerMatch has had on a variety of workplaces. According to their Annual Report, 3.7 million employees had access to their services in 2013. In total, 38% of VolunteerMatch activity occurred via workplace programs with the average employee dedicating 36 hours to altruistic endeavors. By utilizing the skills and enthusiasm of their employees many companies were able to make significant contributions to their local communities. They were also able to track their efforts, including the hours logged by their employees, to determine the success of each program. This ability to track and quantify the value of volunteerism has provided valuable feedback to individuals and firms about the significance of their contributions.

By connecting volunteers with nonprofit organizations VolunteerMatch has helped thousands of causes across a wide range of communities. Their ability to personalize and organize the volunteering experience has been essential to the development of social responsibility. Their efforts are to be commended.

For more information on VolunteerMatch or to begin volunteering in your local community visit:

Skills-Based Volunteer Programs

Companies are increasingly looking for ways to involve their employees in different communities by inspiring them to volunteer. One of the more effective approaches that has been implemented by some larger firms is the concept of skills-based volunteering. Skills-based volunteering takes advantage of the unique talents of employees by pairing them with nonprofit organizations that can use their expertise. To understand this concept in detail one can look at the efforts of Morgan Stanley and IBM. Both have implemented effective programs that demonstrate the value that can be produced from well-designed volunteer schemes.

Morgan Stanley’s Strategy Challenge provides nonprofits with pro bono strategic consulting advice. Teams of talented employees are formed and paired with a nonprofit organization seeking expert advice on how to increase their impact in different communities. Each team is comprised of four Morgan Stanley employees at the Associate or Vice President Level as well as a Managing Director and expert in nonprofit consulting. Relying on an analytic approach, teams assess the most appropriate measures their nonprofit can implement in order to accomplish a series of goals. The eight-week project culminates with a final presentation in front of a panel of experts. The presentation details the actions each team believes is best suited to improve the productivity and impact of their nonprofit. The 2013 winner of the Strategy Challenge is exemplary of the impact Morgan Stanley is trying to achieve. A team helped Bring Me A Book, an organization dedicated to improving literacy in underserved Californians, expand their book access program with the introduction of digital media. The project did an excellent job orienting the nonprofit towards the future.

In total, Morgan Stanley employees have helped 77 nonprofits by dedicating 45,000 hours to produce 6.8 million dollars in value. But, these statistics only detail half of the equation. Morgan Stanley employees often leave the initiative having developed critical business skills and further contacts within the company. Skills like client management and communication are honed throughout the process. Most importantly, employees leave with an appreciation of the nonprofit sector and the satisfaction that comes with contributing to its goals.

IBM’s Corporate Service Corps is likewise an initiative that has received much praise in recent years. The company routinely sends 10-15 person teams of top management prospects on four week projects to address economic concerns in emerging markets. The goal is to provide local groups and governments with superb consulting advice developed through years of experience working on similar projects around the world. Communities can be sure they are making smart development decisions while IBM can be sure they are gaining knowledge of and improving their reputation in growth markets. It is a win-win for both parties and has brought positive exposure to some underserved areas of the world.

Skills-based volunteering is an excellent way to provide professional services to worthy nonprofit and government organizations that would not otherwise be able to afford them. It is a different way of thinking about the nonprofit sector that inspires employees to give back. Many are thrilled to learn that the skills they have developed in their professional lives can be used to help nonprofit organizations. This enthusiasm is shared by the charitable organizations who receive specific and productive help. The result is a fruitful alliance that excites both parties and highlights the power of skills-based volunteering.


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