Summer Intern Caity Varian ’17 promotes philanthropy at UniversalGiving in San Francisco, CA

Team orientation

Team orientation for summer interns at UniversalGiving.

This summer I am working at UniversalGiving®, an award winning nonprofit allowing people to donate and volunteer with top performing, vetted organizations all over the world. What first got me excited about UniversalGiving was the organization’s vision to “Create a World Where Giving and Volunteering Are a Natural Part of Everyday Life.”® This belief that giving and volunteering should be a fundamental part of not only one’s life but also one’s everyday inspired me.

I’ve only been working as a marketing intern at UniversalGiving for a few weeks now but I’ve already learned a lot about how to research and outreach to develop critical marketing partnerships, how to maintain important relationships and communications history in Salesforce, as well as how to prepare for speaking engagements, conferences and events. But the one thing I’ve learned that will stick with me the most is that philanthropy is not just about money; it’s about building relationships.

Philanthropy may come in the form of a financial gift, a volunteer trip, or a charitable donation to a noteworthy cause, but it can also be as simple as a kind word in a day-to-day interaction or giving a warm smile to someone you pass by on the street.

People need help everywhere. You don’t need to travel the world to give back (though if you have the opportunity to do so, by all means do it!) and the people you are serving don’t need to be the most impoverished. Volunteering and helping wherever you are and whenever you can will have an impact.

Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of giving your time and/or your money to a cause that you are truly passionate about. It’s amazing all of the ways the world needs support – whatever you are passionate about will provide an opportunity for you to contribute to society.

I am passionate about gleaning. What is gleaning you may ask? Gleaning is a form of food rescue that works to address issues of hunger and food insecurity. Gleaning can be done anywhere, including at grocery stores, supermarkets, farmer’s markets, restaurants, community gardens and local farms. Gleaning works to reduce food waste and promote community-based food systems, while also reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture.

I believe that healthy, local foods should be accessible to all and that more people should become educated about where their food comes from, where their food waste goes and how they can become involved in their local community to address hunger and inequalities in the food system. Although there is a lot more that needs to be done to address issues of poverty and food insecurity, gleaning is one way to make a difference and is one of the main ways I engage in giving.

Want to make a difference but don’t know how? Check out UniversalGiving’s public website. Give a gift, fund a project or volunteer. It’s never too late to make giving and volunteering a part of your everyday life!


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