It’s as easy as dropping a dollar in the shopping mall donation can — but can be twice as effective.
OneVietnam.org, the Silicon Valley online Vietnamese-American networking group, has morphed from a place to just hang out and talk about which city has the best regional cà phê sữa đá — Vietnamese iced coffee — or what’s happening this weekend to a one-click philanthropic portal that links people with nonprofits doing great work in the Southeast Asian country.
OneVietnam was launched more than two years ago by a group of Vietnamese-American professionals who wanted to create an easy way to connect people from their generation with the culture of their parents, grandparents and homeland, as well as to highlight nonprofits providing assistance to Vietnamese communities.
“With many immigrant communities, once you get to the second generation, it gets harder and harder to maintain a connection with your culture,” OneVietnam co-founder Uyen Nguyen said at the time.
Since its relaunch in late August with a mission of supporting nonprofis, the group has helped to raise $75,000 for worthy causes and has a nonprofit network of 27 groups.
“We came to a point where people were asking, ‘Is this just a Twitter for Vietnamese people?” said co-founder James Bao.
OneVietnam founders hope to create a new way for people to give back to their homeland. “OneVietnam can become a model for diaspora giving for all countries,” Nguyen said.
It just created a simple way for organizations to set up a matching grant program, in which a donor agrees to give a certain amount as long as others match it. Setting up such programs can be a logistical nightmare for a nonprofit, particularly if it does not have a platform on which to advertise the grant. With just a few clicks of a mouse, the program can be set up and sent out on OneVietnam’s network.
For example, U.S.-based Catalyst Foundation recently received a $2,500 matching grant that it posted on OneVietnam. The San Jose Mercury News profiled the work of the organization, whose mission is to curtail the sex trade in vulnerable populations in Vietnam, in a 2009 video.
During the summer, OneVietnam received a shout-out from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In a speech, she credited the group with using “the power of social networking to connect thousands of people in Vietnam – thousands of people of Vietnamese origin – in 30 countries, with health and development projects on the ground in Vietnam, like a cleft lip and palette clinic in Hanoi or dental missions in rural villages, that makes it easier for members of the diaspora to contribute directly to projects they care about and to see the impact of their donations.”