Impact Topics

How will you Make your Mark?

View as:
Topics FAQs

Advisor / Board Member

Advisor / Board Member is a Topic that highlights those people that give their time in strategic ways to ad a differential value to the organizations they support. These volunteers contribute hours of their time, from a very specific role, and assume a set of responsibilities and obligations they maintain for a fixed period of time. The experience and expertise of these individuals are highly valued, and the reason why they are often invited to join an organization in any of the following positions: Advisor, Pro-bono Consultant, Mentor, Board Member. Contributions by people in these roles can have enormous impacts on improving the performance of both nonprofits and "for-profit, for-good" companies.

Unit of Measure: Hour volunteered

40 Marks One hour volunteered

Airline Miles Giving

Airline Miles Giving is about airline clients that choose to donate miles they have accumulated over time in a given frequent-flyer program. Most airlines worldwide have frequent-flyer programs to reward their passengers for their loyalty, and many have added the option of donating those miles to charity. Donating miles can be completed directly with the airline, which will manage the accrued miles in favor of social projects, or through nonprofits that have a partnership with one or more airlines. Donated miles (by passengers and also by the airline) are most frequently assigned to individuals needing medical treatment in a distant location, especially children who cannot afford travel costs, or humanitarian aid programs where people and goods need to be transported from one place to another. An important fact to consider: many times miles go unused and expire without anyone benefiting from them. So, check your frequent flyer account, and spare some miles to helps others!

Unit of Measure: Mile donated

0.02 Marks One mile donated

B Corp

B Corps is the Topic that features for-profit companies that have been awarded the B Corp certification. B Corps are a type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems, and their goal is to create general public benefit. In contrast to traditional corporations, they strongly consider the interests of all stakeholders (employees, suppliers, the community, the environment, shareholders, etc) in their decision making process. The B Corp movement was started by nonprofit "B Lab" from New York, and in only a few years has expanded internationally. In many states across the US a Benefit Corporation legislation has been approved, allowing companies to legally incorporate under this form. People that purchase goods or services from B Corps are recognized in OurMark on the basis of the amount purchased, since buying from B Corps is a way of fueling a new, for-good, economy.

Unit of Measure: 1 US$ purchased

0.2 Marks One US$ purchased

Bicycle Sharing

Bicycle Sharing reflects the utilization of systems by which bicycles are made available for shared public use, at no cost or for a fee, for a short period of time. The use of these bikes occurs between stations, where they are both picked up and dropped off, each time by successive users. Bicycle Sharing has become increasingly popular in modern cities, where it is conceived as a transportation solution to the increasingly car-congested roads and highways. Systems are often operated by nonprofits, community groups, private companies or by government agencies through public-private partnerships. Using Bike Sharing systems benefits not only to the city (through less air and noise pollution, and milder traffic congestion) but also the rider who will enjoy cycling's health benefits. In the last few years, the number of systems and cities utilizing bicycle sharing has grown enormously: from 68 in 2007, to an estimated 493 in 2012.

Unit of Measure: One bike ride

1 mark One bike ride

Blood Donation

A blood donation occurs when a person voluntarily gives blood for the purpose of having it used for transfusions on patients in need and/or made into biopharmaceutical medications. A single blood donation can help up to 3 people, and a healthy person can donate, on average, 4 times a year (once every 3 months). During this process, blood is treated to separate its components, and can be stored several months until use. Blood Banks are the main collectors and allocators of stored blood, with an increasingly successful strategy of using Òblood drivesÓ to recruit donors Ð the use of vehicles equipped with collection equipment to reach out to areas of high donor concentration (companies, community organizations, events). Donating blood can take less than 1 hour, and does not carry any risks for the donor.

Unit of Measure: Unit of blood donated

100 Marks One unit of blood donated

Bone Marrow Donor

Bone Marrow Donor features the act of becoming a potential donor by being incorporated into a Bone Marrow Registry. The registry collects the genetic information of people who are willing to donate bone marrow, and then matches their pattern with that of patients in need of a marrow transplant. Only 1 in about 40.000 people are compatible for transplants, so it is vital to build up sizable and varied registries. A global collaboration effort has resulted in a universal database that increases the possibilities of matching donors and recipients. Being added to a registry is simple: you will get (a little) blood extracted, or some cheek cells collected, both of which are then analyzed to obtain the genetic pattern that is finally stored in the registry (on file). Potentially, one day a patient in need may match your pattern, and you'll receive a call giving you the opportunity to save a life. This topic represents the intention of becoming a Bone Marrow Donor by entering the registry, and not the donation itself.

Unit of Measure: Registration as donor

100 Marks Registering as a donor

Charity ($)

Charity ($) is the Topic that features making a money donation to a nonprofit to support its work and mission. Donating funds is a very traditional and well-established way of supporting social causes. Money donations are, from among all income-generating activities, the main source of income for most nonprofits, and are applied to fund their programs and operating costs. Raising funds usually demands huge efforts on the part of nonprofits, including investing money to set up fundraising campaigns. In the last few years, technology has opened up new ways of charitable fundraising, such as giving via internet portals, or even mobile phone applications. This is immensely important, since it lowers the costs of funding for nonprofits, and helps them reach a larger audience.

Unit of Measure: 1 US$ donated

1 mark One US$ donated

Food Donation

Food Donation is contributing food items to an organization that assists people facing hunger. That people still suffer from hunger in this era of plenty is completely avoidable, considering that there is enough food in the world to feed the entire population, twofold. However, a lot of this food goes wasted due to multiple factors: over production, expiration, failure to harvest, and even marketing and other business decisions. Soup kitchens are one of the most relevant actors in the field of hunger alleviation: every day, all over the world, they act locally to sustain children and adults facing critical situations. On a broader level, Food Banks have proven that hunger relief can be operated in scale and efficiently. Food banking is a system that captures surplus food and delivers it to the people who need it most. Food banks acquire donated food, much of which would otherwise be wasted, from farms, manufacturers, distributors, retail stores, consumers, and other sources, and make it available to those in need through a network of community organizations that provide food to the hungry.

Unit of Measure: One food donation

10 Marks One food donation

Gently Used Goods

Gently Used Goods represents the generous act of giving used goods to individuals or organizations that transform those products into a benefit for society. Used goods have to be in good shape, and once donated, are either used directly by the recipient organization, given at no cost to people in need, or resold as a way to raise funds for social programs. Furniture, electronics, home items, and clothing are the main categories in the giving of goods, and many organizations offer both drop-off locations and arrange for a pick up at an individual's home. Besides grassroots organizations that receive this type of donations, a very efficient channel for converting used goods into usable items are the so-called "Thrift Stores". These stores are operated both by nonprofits and "for-profit, for-good" companies, all of whom use part or all the proceeds to fund social programs or community organizations. Giving goods in this way not only helps fund social initiatives, but also keeps useful goods out of landfills.

Unit of Measure: One donation of used goods

20 Marks One donation of used goods

Hair Donation

Hair Donation is the act of donating ones hair so that a person suffering from medical hair loss can obtain a wig to alleviate embarrassment or emotional distress. To donate hair effectively, it must be at least 10-12 inches long (30 cms), and be cut following specific instructions to preserve it for subsequent use. As many as 12 to 16 pony tails are needed to put together a child's wig, which can have a market price of around US$ 3000. Hair donations are received by nonprofits that manage wig-banks, or have alternative strategies to get wigs into the hands of people with this urgent need. Being able to access a wig in difficult times like these has a significant impact on the self-esteem of recipients. Considering most hair cut each day goes to waste, and that millions of people currently suffer from medical hair loss, isn't this an amazing way of Doing Good?

Unit of Measure: One hair donation

100 Marks One hair donation

Impact Investing

Impact Investing is a way of using money to achieve positive social and / or environmental change. With this type of investment, the investor is expecting not just a financial return on top of the original amount, which can be null or minimal, but also an Impact return: knowing that his / her money has helped other people or the environment in some way. In recent years, many new organizations have emerged to attract investments from individuals or organizations in order to channel them towards projects or companies in fields like microfinance, education loans, fair trade, and renewable energies. Loans or equity are the most common ways of investing, and crowdfunding has opened up new possibilities for individuals to participate in this Topic, aligning the use of their money with the values they hold and believe in. This Topic features how much an individual has invested: the more money we invest this way, the more resources are available to nurture a new "world economy for good".

Unit of Measure: 1 US$ invested

0.1 Marks One US$ invested

Kms for Good

Kms for Good is the Topic that recognizes when people participate in a walk or race in support of a specific social cause. These events have different goals: highlighting a certain issue, honoring a cause or person, fundraising for an institution, or collecting some kind of good (food, sportswear, etc). The greater the number of participants, the greater the impact. With running having become an increasingly popular activity in the last few decades, advocacy groups and nonprofits have started to organize such events all over the world. Sometimes races are organized by a company, but with all or part of the proceeds going towards a nonprofit, group, family or person. The beautiful thing about this Topic is that the mobilization of people around a given cause is very explicit, and participants put in a real effort (covering the distance) in addition to any registration fee or in-kind support.

Unit of Measure: Km covered

2 Marks One Km covered

Mother's Milk Donation

Mother's Milk Donation is the Topic for people and organizations that support the health of babies and mothers through the provision of screened and pasteurized donor milk. Human milk provides optimal nutrition, promotes normal growth and development, and reduces the risk of illness and disease. Donated milk is a vital resource for babies when the mother's own milk is unavailable. Most bioactive properties found in human milk remain viable after pasteurization. Pasteurized donor milk for premature and high-risk infants not only improves health, but also shortens hospital stays, resulting in both short and long term health care cost savings. In order to provide a safe product and maintain the maximum active beneficial components, the processing and dispensing of milk should be done by Donor Milk Banks that follow strict quality standards.

Unit of Measure: Unit of breast milk donated

20 Marks One Unit of milk donated

Pet Adoption

Pet Adoption accounts for the adoption of a homeless pet from an animal shelter or rescue organization. Many animals that have been abandoned face euthanization (a fate millions of unclaimed animals share worldwide every year). This can easily be prevented by giving an abandoned pet a forever home. To help lower the number of animals euthanized, some shelters have developed a no-kill policy. These shelters keep their animals as long as it takes to find them new homes. However, they have a finite number of spaces available, which means they will not take in new animals unless a space opens up. A growing resource for people interested in adopting a pet are online pet adoption sites, which have databases of pets being housed by thousands of animal shelters and rescue groups, and are searchable by the public. Most recently, animal protection advocates have been urging people to adopt instead of buying animals.

Unit of Measure: Pet adopted

100 Marks One pet adopted

Phone Donation

Phone Donation is donating a mobile phone to a nonprofit, or to a nonprofit partner, with the understanding that it will redound in a cash benefit for the organization. Most frequently, people donate their used mobile phone when they acquire a new one, and donated phones are either refurbished or dismantled for their components. Refurbished phones can have an application in social projects, or be sold in lower income communities or countries. Donations of used phones, besides generating an income for a nonprofit, are a way of preventing this particular electronic waste from ending up in a landfill (with many electronic components being highly contaminating). Considering that by 2014 it is estimated that there will be more mobile phones in use than inhabitants on earth what a great responsibility we have to discard our phones properly!

Unit of Measure: Mobile phone donated

5 Marks One mobile phone donated

Platelet Donation

Platelet Donation is similar to Blood Donation in many ways: Platelets are a component of human blood, and the donation is normally completed in the same locations where blood is donated. Yet, there are significant differences between these two very important good deeds: First, platelets play a role in blood clotting, and are needed for life-saving procedures when patients suffering from platelet dysfunction face severe bleeding or hemorrhage. Second, when donating platelets, a person's blood is drawn and circulated through a machine that separates platelets from the rest of blood components, which are then returned to the donor. As this process is more complex than simply drawing blood, a platelet donation process can take between 2 or 3 hours. Third, a healthy person can donate platelets much more often than blood: once every 7 days, but not more than 24 times a year.

Unit of Measure: One platelet donation

200 Marks One platelet donation

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energies refers to the purchase of energy systems for residential use that are powered by a renewable source of energy: the sun, winds or biomass. The most typical systems by this definition are Photovoltaic Systems or small wind turbines for electricity generation, Solar Thermal Heaters for household and water heating, and bio-digesters for cooking and heating (biogas). Adopting renewable energies reduces the use of non-renewable sources such as coal, oil, and gas, which besides being lost forever, generate pollution and contribute to climate change. The use of these types of energies has been increasing steadily over the last few years, and there have been significant technological breakthroughs making them more accessible and popular. Political support for clean energies is critical to maintaining this trend.

Unit of Measure: 1 US$ purchased

0.2 Marks One US$ purchased


Reusing is the action of purchasing and using second hand goods, a trend that is growing as people find economic, social and environmental sense in extending the life cycle of goods that other people can let go of. Reusing is in many cases the last step in the Gently Used Goods distribution process: people that purchase used goods at a Thrift Store to reuse them are helping fund social projects, at the same time giving those goods an extra cycle and keeping them out of landfills. This is why the unit of measurement we choose is the amount of the purchase made: the more you spend in this way, the more good you do. Reusing not only makes perfect economic sense, but also illustrates the opportunity of putting in place systems to get the most out of every product produced on earth. Millions of tons of goods lay unused in everyone's home, so the potential for creating an even bigger reusing culture is at hand. Why not check out your attic and wardrobe for those cute unused goods you don't use anymore?

Unit of Measure: 1 US$ purchased

0.2 Marks One US$ purchased

Sign for a Cause

Sign for a Cause is the Topic that features when a person expresses support (signs) for a certain social or environmental cause through an online platform. This online signature is collected by an NGO in order to petition to a government or corporation in the name of the signees, normally to change, vote for or reject a law, or to take action in the face of a given situation. This form of petitioning and mobilizing crowds has proven to be very effective in recent years, where the Internet has helped spread the word about certain causes, in literally seconds, to every corner of the world. Both corporations, concerned with their brand image, and governments, worried about public opinion, have recognized the power of this citizen-participation tool. This Topic does not include (for the moment) causes created and promoted by individuals, though these are also a powerful means of influencing public policies and corporate behavior.

Unit of Measure: Online signature

1 mark One online signature

Street Papers

Street Papers are newspapers and magazines that provide an innovative solution to urban homelessness and unemployment. Homeless people purchase copies of their local street paper at half of the cover price to become street vendors and micro entrepreneurs. They sell on the streets to earn their own living and come out of poverty. The purchase of Street Publications not only has a positive impact on the lives of vendors, but also puts readers in touch with contents produced by them, and other great editorial material about relevant social and environmental issues. Street papers provide a means for homeless people to work and earn a living, whilst reporting on social justice issues and informing readers. They are respected for their self-help model and their ability to connect people with a wide variety of social and environmental issues. They also break down barriers and challenge the stigma of homelessness, encouraging readers to get to know their vendors and play a part in bringing about social change.

Unit of Measure: Publication purchased

5 Marks One publication purchased

Train to Help

Train to Help reflects when a person participates in a training course that provides skills that could potentially benefit society. Courses include Emergency Preparedness, First Aid / CPR, and Lifeguarding. Being trained for certain situations can impact positively in two ways: a trained person can help or save someone in a critical situation, or can free up a rescuer to aid someone else if he / she can manage without help. Training takes time, and in many cases has a cost. Some courses extend a credential to the trainee that recognizes the skills learnt, and enables this person to intervene in certain situations. In many cases, trainees have to actually take a refresher course after time to check and update their skills. Having a supply of people trained and prepared like this can mean the difference between facing a minor, unfortunate event, and facing a catastrophe.

Unit of Measure: Hour of training

5 Marks One hour of training

Tree Planting

Tree planting is an activity in which people plant seedlings or young trees, with the expectation that these will grow into adult trees, and in consideration of the impact that this will have on the environment. The growing consciousness of climate change, and the negative impacts of deforestation (flooding, soil erosion, global warming, etc.), has brought about increased public support for this Topic, as it becomes clear that trees play a vital role in making life on earth possible. Tree Planting campaigns are organized both by nonprofits and "for-profit, for-good" companies and have become a popular activity for groups of volunteers from schools and companies. When tree planting is performed properly, it can result in the successful regeneration of a deforested area, and also in the removing of CO2 from the atmosphere (trees absorb CO2 from the air during growth).

Unit of Measure: Tree planted

10 Marks One tree planted

Volunteer Travel

Volunteer Travel means contributing time and effort to a charitable cause while traveling, either internationally or within a country, and is measured in days. This Topic has become increasingly popular in the last few years, as people seek to combine a travel experience with their will to do-good for the communities and places they visit. Both non-profits and for-profit, for-good companies offer these kinds of experiences to travelers, the better part of which involve volunteers from high-income countries participating in community projects in low-income countries. Besides the wonderful experience for the traveler, who will get to know places and people outside typical tourist circuits, Volunteer Travel can mean an important contribution (measured in time, expertise, and resources) for local communities.

Unit of Measure: Day volunteered

160 Marks One day volunteered


Volunteering is about a person giving his / her time to a social cause without receiving payment of any kind in return. This contribution can be made in either simple or highly-skilled tasks, with the volunteer fundamentally obtaining a feeling of satisfaction through support of a given cause. Volunteering is also a fundamental tool for non-profits: given limited budgets, organizations can do much of their work at no cost thanks to volunteers, allowing groups to more directly use their funds for programs and beneficiaries. As for the volunteer, the feeling of being useful to others and establishing relationships around this activity contribute to building self-worth and respect. Communities are strengthened by this activity, which becomes even more valuable during emergencies. More recently, volunteering has also been affected by technology: now, besides conventional on-the-ground activities, people can also volunteer online, and help those in remote areas of the world.

Unit of Measure: Hour volunteered

20 Marks One hour volunteered