The Gift of Giving


In the spirit of Christmas, this entry is dedicated to the gift of giving. I’ve come across a couple of very interesting ways to change the world through philanthropy:

First, Unitus. The purpose of Unitus is to fight global poverty by increasing access to microfinance. It accelerates the growth of the world’s highest-potential emerging microfinance institutions (MFIs) by providing capital investments and capacity-building consulting—thus empowering these organizations to scale and provide life-changing financial services to dramatically more of the world’s working poor.

It has a four-step approach that’s modeled after venture capital (in a good sense!):

  1. Selecting and partnering with the world’s highest-potential emerging MFIs.

  2. Structuring investments that enable MFI partners to create sustainable capital foundations.

  3. Providing capacity-building consulting services to remove MFI partners’ growth constraints and helping them become for-profit banks for the poor.

  4. Exiting partnerships after MFI partners achieve scale and have the capacity and financing to support their continued growth.

Unitus has given over $1.2 million in grants, on top of
significant in-kind donations of technical training. In addition, Unitus
helps its partners build long-term relationships with international and
local banks by providing lines of credit, loan guarantees and other
financial support, totaling more than $4.1 million. Unitus has helped
arrange similar financial support of more than $500,000 through their
strategic partner, the Dignity Fund. The Unitus Equity Fund has also
invested more than $1.76 million in Unitus MFI partners.

In total, Unitus has provided or been instrumental in helping its eleven
microfinance partners access more than $7.65 million in growth capital
over the last five years.

Click here to help Unitus.

Second, Network for Good. This organization brings together donors, volunteers, and charities online to accomplish good. The organization enables people to donate to more than one million charities and search from among more than 36,000 volunteer opportunities. Think: “Amazon for charities.”

Since its inception in November 2001, more than 430,000 people have donated more than $100 million to over 20,000 charities through Network for Good. Another 232,555 people have found volunteer opportunities through Network for Good. We’ve also helped more than 6,000 nonprofits raise funds, cultivate donors and recruit volunteers through our online tools.

The organization provides a cool widget that enables sites to raise money for their favorite charities. Check out the widget here.

Third, the Fistula Foundation. This is an organization that my wife and I support. An obstetric fistula develops when blood supply to the tissues of the vagina and the bladder (and/or rectum) is cut off during prolonged obstructed labor. The tissues die and a hole forms through which urine and/or feces pass uncontrollably. Women who develop fistulas are often abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities, and forced to live an isolated existence.

Eradicated in western countries at the end of the 19th century when cesarean section became widely available, obstetric fistula continues to plague women throughout the developing world. It is estimated that there are 100,000 new fistula cases each year, but the international capacity to treat fistula remains at only 6,500 per year. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates the world’s population of fistula sufferers at more than two million.

The WHO has called fistula “the single most dramatic aftermath of neglected childbirth.” In addition to complete incontinence, a fistula victim may develop nerve damage to the lower extremities after a multi-day labor in a squatting position. Fistula victims also suffer profound psychological trauma resulting from their utter loss of status and dignity.

Click here to help the Fistula Foundation.

Finally, in the process of writing this entry, I came across an interesting report called Activation Point. It is an analysis of the best practices of persuasion and is tailored to the unique needs of social change organizations. However, I think it’s very applicable to both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations who want to persuade customers.

By |2015-03-17T09:41:46+00:00December 20th, 2006|Categories: Uncategorized|27 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Mehul Patel December 20, 2006 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Great write up especially for Christmas, I like to learn new thngs and today I learned about Unitus thanks to you!
    I recently blogged about ‘Life 2.0’on a friend’s hyperactive blog in the Bay Area, few people commented that I sound and write like Guy Kawasaki. I have no clue why!!?
    As I thought I was me, myself, orginal but I would belive them if you would feel or tell the same?!
    Happy Holidays to you, your loved ones and your team especially Gina (she must be tried sending out preenations to the whole world)!
    Gina: if you are listening Merry Christmas and God bless 🙂

  2. Neil McDonnell December 20, 2006 at 6:29 am - Reply

    Good for you Guy! The Art of Giving (gift of giving) is not only appropriate for this season, but for your audience. I’d venture to say that your audience is as generous as we are ambitious.
    Personally, I’ll make time to learn more about your third suggestion. I have a lot of sisters and constantly think (in these type of situations) what if this was happening to my sister or neice. Would I get involved? Let’s hope.
    Merry Christmas, Neil McDonnell

  3. Ben Fulton December 20, 2006 at 7:58 am - Reply

    I like for microfinancing. It lets you see exactly who needs the money and how much thay’re asking for.

  4. Austin Hill December 20, 2006 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Hi Guy,
    Thanks for this, it’s a very seasonal post. We saw other people posting their donation ideas online and decided to pool the efforts together in a social giving experiment called the Million Dollar Blog Post, where we raise $1 million dollars for charity through people leaving a wish on our blog post.
    For each comment that includes a wish for the world, we will have a sponsor donate $1 dollar to charity.
    We would love your thoughts on the project. (This is the first of a few experiments we are conducting in the power of grassroots social generosity).
    You can check out the wishes people are leaving for the world and leave you own at Million Dollar Blog Post
    For background on the behind the project, check out About
    We already have hundreds of wishes and sponsors lined up for the first couple thousands of wishes.
    If you want to help raise money for charity, it’s free to leave your wish for the world and it’s for a good cause.

  5. DMac December 20, 2006 at 9:39 am - Reply

    I would also second

  6. Austin Hill December 20, 2006 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Me again. Also Guy, if you’d like to post redacted copies of your receipts on your blog with the words “GIFTER.ORG” attached we can list you as a sponsor.
    For $1 a wish you could let your readers know that your donations to charity paid for their wish for the world to be seen by millions of people.
    Here are the details about how to post your donation details and sponsor some wishes if you’d like your audience to know that there are wishes available for them.

  7. Mikko Wilson December 20, 2006 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Cool list.
    I’d like to add one of my personal favorites:
    They are a web portal with built in Google search, free e-mail, a discussion forum, photo galleries, etc… all the regular web portal stuff.
    What makes isara really cool is that instead of asking for or promising to make donations, they simply use 100% of their advertising revenue for charity projects. Just by having them as your home page you really make a difference.
    They just posted a video on their front page ( that details more about what they have achieved in the past year. Check it out!
    – Mikko

  8. Tees My Body December 20, 2006 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the links- I’m going to look into Unitas. I stopped giving to the Red Cross after the serious misappropriation of funds during Katrina.

  9. Regina December 20, 2006 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    My first day to stumble on your blog, and it’s on giving. 🙂 Great!
    I’d like to follow up Mikko’s comment regarding Isara that I also support.
    100% of its ad revenue goes to projects without a middle man using funds for overhead costs. All funds are used to benefit others. Recently, Isara visited a Burmese refugee camp in Thailand and donated basic necessities. In November, Isara visited with a lot of students and gave a lot of helmets away (moped accidents are a leading cause of death in Thailand).
    If you use a search engine as a homepage, why not use one that helps others? I like to think of it as the lazy man charity. 🙂 You help out just by changing your homepage. How cool is that?

  10. Bob December 20, 2006 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Don’t forget that local giving is important too! There are tons of small, local organizations that meet a wide variety of needs from the arts to community development to meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. My organization is a tiny hole in the wall that helped over 150 families facing foreclosure (at NO cost) in the last year, provided homebuyer education to over 200, reverse mortgage counseling to over 20 senior’s households. Not bad for a staff of three in a 15’x60′ office space. Like most organizations our size, we’re very local, and rarely heard of beyond a small network of supporters and advocates, even within our local community.

  11. Crawdaddy December 20, 2006 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    You’re a good guy to remind people make a difference through giving. My job is fundraising for a small independent elementary school, so I spend a lot of time talking with people who are serious about philanthropy. It’s all about impact, baby, and making life more meaningful. I read recently in The Chronicle of Philanthropy about a study that shows giving money to a noble purpose stimulates the same parts of the brain that are activated when having sex. Reminds me of a quotation I once read: “Philanthropy gives you a feeling you can’t quite get in any other way.”

  12. Morgan Ramsay December 20, 2006 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    RE: Activation Point. In the report, why are the cartoons sheep? Seems to work against the message.

  13. Laura Quinn December 21, 2006 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Thanks for the timely post, Guy! I third the nomination of – it’s an amazing site that allows you to lend money (not really donate at all) to entrepreneurs in third world countries.
    I’d venture to add my own organization to the list for you techies out there – Idealware ( We provide Consumer Report style reviews and articles about nonprofit software, to help all nonprofits choose and use software more effectively – and thus operate more efficiently and with more impact.

  14. Rick Van Ness December 21, 2006 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Great article Guy! Thanks. If readers are interested in microfinance this is a very interesting read:
    State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report

  15. Sean Tierney December 21, 2006 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    also check out Changing the Present:
    idea being that rather than giving someone a christmas gift this year, give to a charity on their behalf.

  16. Shakespeare’s Fool December 21, 2006 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Did Stewart Alsop by any chance introduce you to

  17. alan December 22, 2006 at 7:07 am - Reply

    Hi there Guy
    I’ve been fortunate enough to work on the development of a couple of these ‘social change’ and ‘social investment’ sites from South Africa. I’d like to add a couple to your list, if I may:
    A social investment exchange:
    SASIX provides you with the opportunity to invest in carefully selected high-performance development projects with measurable outcomes and an evident social return.
    And, just in time for Christmas:
    Purchase any of the gifts in this catalogue and make a real difference in uplifting lives by benefiting the development project you choose.

  18. Brewer Shettles December 24, 2006 at 6:34 am - Reply

    The best giving is inspiration and wisdom from the heart, mind, and soul – which you give to others with incredible boundless passion.
    I suggest creating a minumum Angel / Mensch gift fund (5000.00 to 20000.00) to help entrepreneurs focus more time getting ideas off the ground. Diamonds in the rough can be priceless gems when cut and polished right.
    Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Great New Year 2007!!!

  19. Hannah December 27, 2006 at 1:52 am - Reply

    Thank you for talking about fistulas. I had one here in the US after giving birth in 1974–was horribly, painfully and humiliatingly misdiagnosed for 3 months. Doctors had never seen one. Very difficult to cure–antibiotics then surgery. Incredible pain. It was exactly as you described. I will definately contribute.
    Thanks again. I had no idea fistulas still happened. Was told I was a “freak case” and they’d been eradicated 100 years ago. Oh well..

  20. Shakespeare’s Fool December 31, 2006 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    I agree with you about the good being done through microcredit. From what little I know about Unitus, it is as good a place as any to support that work. (I began contributing to the Grameen Foundation before there was a Unitus. From reading your comments and the Unitus web site it seems to me they have the same goal and similar methods.)
    As you know, Muhammad Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, won the Nobel Peace Prize. His Peace Prize Lecture is on the Nobel Committee’s site.
    There is an open source project to help local microfinance agencies. I suspect they could use your help learning how to evangelize their search for volunteer programmers.

  21. Fundraising Organization January 1, 2007 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Fundraising Organization

    Participants will learn how to In As your organization prepares to undertake the fundra

  22. The MooseHat Blog January 3, 2007 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Letter from Vancouver (North) Part 5

    Happy New Year and all that good stuff 🙂 It’s not that I mean to sound tired of all the seasonal greetings but it will be good to get back to some form of normality, assuming of course we know…

  23. On Social Marketing and Social Change January 14, 2007 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Discovering the Activation Point

    The similarities between great social marketing and great advocacy programs are more numerous than the differences. Once you get past the determinants and outcomes issue (is it behavioral determinants and change we are seeking to influence or social on…

  24. PAKISTAN TRACT SOCIETY February 7, 2007 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    >Dear Sir/ Madam,
    >This is in reference to the untiring contributions of your
    >organization in addressing the needs of local marginalized
    >Communities and organizations in different parts of the world.
    >The active participation of people associated to your esteemed
    >organization in enhancing and empowering the level and capacity of
    >people and organizations involved in Evangelism. I hereby avail
    >myself of this opportunity to introduce my organization.
    >PAKISTAN TRACT SOCIETY is a non-governmental, non-profit, non
    >political-organization, committed to the goal of promoting
    >Evangelism, in the peripheral areas of Pakistan. Globally the
    >organization is a member/partner of INTERNATIONAL TRACT SOCIETY and
    >locally it is rooted through its advisory members.
    >At present,
    >PAKISTAN TRACT SOCIETY has one functional office in the capital
    >city of Islamabad, Pakistan. PAKISTAN TRACT Society’s main focus
    >is on Evangelism and we distribute tracts among Christian and
    >Muslim community as well.
    >Since your esteemed Organization, has been catering to the
    >needs of Evangelism, it will be really encouraging if your
    >Organization could contribute for covering the expenses for the
    >provision of Printing of Tracts ” 4 Truths God Wants You To Know”
    >to the different parts of Pakistan. This could really prove to be
    >beneficial in the disposition of the noble cause of providing
    >funds for the gospel of God.
    >Moreover, PAKISTAN TRACT SOCIETY being a local set up and a
    >dedicated organization working in the fields of Evangelism.
    > Let me further take this opportunity to extend my warmest
    >regard and sincere wishes for your organization’s endeavors in
    >promoting sustainable contributions for the underprivileged. We
    >want partnership with you and your name OR Logo will be use on
    >distributing material.
    >Looking forward to your kind reply,
    >(You can help us with any amount your one DOLLARS can change the
    >life of many in Pakistan/Middle East.)
    >cheques and drafts are the preferred method for funds payable to
    >”Pakistan Tract Society” Or account detail will also be provided
    >on approval of funds.
    >Sincerely Yours,
    >Sakhawat Maseeh
    >Pakistan Tract Society (Pakistan/Middle East Mission)
    >Member / Partner International Tract Society

  25. Ariel Blair February 8, 2007 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Hi Guy,
    I heard about Kiva for the first time last Christmas when friends sent me a gift certificate with which I could make a micro loan. It was my best gift of the season. Gifts of charity are just as appropriate for birthdays, Mother’s day, Father’s day, etc.
    There is another charity that makes great use of the web which is a favorite of mine. It is Nothing But Nets. Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria. Malaria is a preventable disease. A low tech solution is to provide families with insecticide treated bed nets. For $10, Nothing But nets purchases a net, delivers it and trains people in its proper use. 100% of all donations go to the nets and right now the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching gifts. For the cost of a couple of Lattes anyone can provide a couple of nets and save several lives.
    The fun part of this site is that you can create a team, set a goal (mine is to save 30,000 lives) and then invite others to help reach your goal. I have sponsored a team called “A commitment to Help.” I would love all the help I can get in reaching my goal. My team website is (Sorry, it is a horribly long url.)
    Thanks for raising awareness around charity gift giving.

  26. Phyllis Mufson November 21, 2007 at 7:37 am - Reply

    Hi –
    I’ve just posted an article on my blog titled “Give Gifts that Give Twice” that I think will interest you and your audience.
    It’s about artisans and designers who sell though (there are more than 40,000 worldwide) and donate all or some of their profits to charity. Many do, including me, and I highlighted a group whose work would be interesting for holiday gifts.
    These folks are some additional creative examples of individuals finding ways to multiply the impact of their work in order to benefit others.
    The article is at

  27. Mrs. Gulzar Shamshad November 29, 2007 at 12:12 am - Reply

    To make our dream true we need moral and financial support from you. Even $ 1 is enough for the food of one person. Your small contribution can make a big change in the lives of many people.

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