Philanthropy Friday: Wonderbag, the Slow Cooker with a Social Conscience

wonderbagunpackedDisclosure: I received a Wonderbag to aid in the writing of this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed, as per usual, are my own.

The Wonderbag is a portable, non-electric slow cooker with a social conscience. Created by Sarah Collins, a South African adventurer, entrepreneur and social activist, the Wonderbag eliminates the need for tedious wood fire cooking and /or electricity.

The idea for the Wonderbag came to Sarah while in the middle of a rolling power outage in South Africa, resulting from the country’s precarious electricity reserves. Wanting to still cook without electricity, Sarah remembered her grandmother taking pots off the stove and wrapping them in blankets and furniture cushions in order to keep perfectly cooked casseroles piping hot. This heat retention method also enhances rural women’s quality of life by reducing the time spent cooking and keeping them from inhaling so much hazardous smoke from their cooking fires.

The Wonderbag itself is made from a simple colorful fabric filled with repurposed foam chips, a waste product of furniture and mattress manufacturing in South Africa, and fits 2 – 9 quart pots. You sit your pot on a trivet in the bag and the top seals with a drawstring. It continues to cook food which has been brought to boil by conventional methods for up to 8 hours without the use of additional electricity or fuel.

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I made a Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup in my Wonderbag, and it was delicious. I prepped the soup, boiled it for a few minutes and let it sit in the Wonderbag for a couple of hours before serving. It was piping hot when my boys and I ate it, and I didn’t have to deal with washing my big crock pot afterwards. It would be great to bring to hot foods to parties or even for camping.

The best part is that for every Wonderbag purchased in the US, one is donated to a family in need in Africa. Here is more on the social impact:

  • Smoke inhalation from wood fire cooking is the leading cause of death globally. More than 50% of premature deaths in children under five are related to household air pollution

  • Each Wonderbag saves 1.7 trees, 1,000 liters of water, and 1,248 hours of time not spent collection firewood

  • 82% of female rapes in Africa occur while collecting firewood for cooking

  • One job is created for every 1,000 bags sold. Over 700,000 bags have been sold to date

Watch this video for more on the social impact that Wonderbag is making.

You can buy the Wonderbag on their website or on Amazon.

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday: Share Your Good Day

share your good dayShare Your Good Day is a micro-donation platform that allows you to donate $1 to outstanding charities in honor of anything good that happens to you.

When I spoke with founder / COO Jeremy Neil in November, Share Your Good Day was just four weeks old as a live company. He explained to me that the company was a family affair that came about after a brainstorm with his father-in-law around ways to give back. They were impressed by the ways people could collectively make their small donations bigger and more impactful through crowd funding. He also wondered what would happen if you put that crowdfunding idea together with gaming.

The purpose of Share Your Good Day, according to Jeremy, is to create a cultural shift into what happens when you do something good. As Jeremy notes, most people can afford $1. The website helps people think of others when good things happen to them. They share the good and donate $1 to a charity they choose on the website. People can read up on the charities to find out whom they want to support. At the end of the week, “votes” and donations are tallied. The charity that was chosen by the most people that week receives 50% of the week’s donations while the second and third charities receive 25% of the donations.

Right now, Share Your Good Day features three different charities each week, though this number may expand in the future. Charities are identified and researched using Charity Navigator. There are no fees for the charities and Share Your Good Day works directly with them to ensure a transparent process.

Also a 501(c)(3 )nonprofit organization, the purpose of Share Your Good Day is to give back and not to make money. Due to credit card fees, $0.85 of every dollar goes into the donation pot. The website is mostly run by friends and family members of Jeremy who volunteer their time. Your donations are also tax deductible at the end of the year.

Jeremy hopes that he will inspire a younger group of philanthropists to think about donating money when good stuff happens to them by making giving a game. He also hopes that his unique giving platform will also allow people to learn about new charities to support.

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

Yesterday I donated $1 after being invited by a local television station to talk about conscious holiday shopping on air next week. A good day indeed! The bonus is that Share Your Good Day is currently matching each donation dollar for dollar. They’ll even double donations that come from referring friends.

What good thing has recently happened to you?

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here

Philanthropy Friday: Q & A with Heifer International + The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World

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I’ve been talking a lot about gifts that give back on the blog lately. It’s the giving season after all. One of the classic examples of a gift that gives back is Heifer International’s catalog where you can buy things like goats and (you guessed it) heifers. You know the catalog I’m talking about, right? It’s The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World.

Heifer International is a nonprofit community development organization dedicated to helping end hunger and poverty while working to protect the environment and care for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Gifts through Heifer International go to families around the world living with hunger and poverty so that smallholder farmer families can feed themselves and their communities, women who never had a voice before find one and become leaders in their communities and children can go to school and realize their dreams.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Heifer’s Vice President of Marketing, Christy Moore, by email. I thought it would be fun to ask more about Heifer’s alternative gift giving catalog, the impact it has had and her own thoughts on giving. Following are my questions and her answers. 

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1. Tell me more about alternative gift giving and how/why Heifer International started their Gift Catalog.

The original idea of alternative gift giving was developed in the 1970’s by a Heifer International volunteer. This idea developed into The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World, which was first mailed in 1990. The catalog was developed as a way to engage donors and their families. Through the catalog families can shop for meaningful gifts to give in honor of loved ones while also learning about the importance and impact the gift of animals and training has on small-scale farmers around the world.

Watch Heifer’s new holiday PSA

2. What is the most popular item in the catalog? 

We have several popular items including goats, heifers and chicks.

3. Can you give me a story or two about the impact these gifts have had on the recipients or the givers themselves?  

When I think about our small-scale farmers, Lovisa Wamukota from Eastern Uganda always comes to mind. She is a 72 year old grandmother who is caring for 12 of her young grandchildren, all orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Her story is one of courage, hard work and big dreams. Although her family struggled to find enough food, she was determined to send her grandchildren to school. After receiving a goat from Heifer International, and with a lot of hard work, Lovisa has been able to send four children to secondary school and five more to primary school. Lovisa’s story always moves me. Through her hard work and determination she is providing a better life for her grandchildren. She truly represents the spirit of women’s empowerment. SHE is empowering others and providing a brighter future for those she cherishes most.

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Photo Credit: Heifer International

4. How can everyday citizens give year round? 

We believe that only through working together as a global community can we end hunger and poverty – I believe that we can all make a difference whether it involves donating your time, resources or making a financial contribution. It is important for everyone to make a commitment to make the world a better place.

5. What does giving mean to you? 

Giving means that you find something you are passionate about and you do whatever it takes to make a difference. You lend your voice to the cause, you support financially, you donate your time and you recruit as many people as you can to help support the cause. Giving is something you do because you believe it will make a difference, not only to the cause you are giving to, but also to yourself.

6. What should my readers know about Heifer that they might not already know? 

The core of Heifer’s model is Passing on the Gift.  Every person who receives a gift from Heifer becomes a donor. Imagine the power in that. I have personally witnessed many Passing on the Gift ceremonies and I always feel overwhelmed and so thankful to be a part of something so magical. The pride and dignity that each person receives by giving is something that can never be taken away.

Thanks, Christy!

Have you ever purchased livestock from Heifer International’s gift catalog?

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here

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