What OneVietnam is and Why it Matters

What is OneVietnam?

OneVietnam is an online network that allows people to fund projects in their homeland and see the impact right away.  Projects can be funded with as little as $1.  In return, donors get to see their money go to work building the places they grew up in through constant updates, pictures, and videos.

We were funded by Ford Foundation in 2010 and were acknowledged by Hillary Clinton as an example of positive innovation in 2012.

Why did we build it?

Chart: Yearly Remittances to Vietnam
Yearly Remittances to Vietnam

Each year, Vietnamese expats send home $8 billion, but only a fraction of that is directed towards philanthropic work due to lack of trust and transparency.

We built OneVietnam to give NGOs a central place to show the impact of their work.  For donors, OneVietnam provides a view into the day-to-day work of nonprofits on the ground, allowing donors to see where the needs are and how their money is spent.  This process dramatically increases transparency and fosters trust.

What makes it different from other funding platforms?

1)  OneVietnam is anchored around a common culture.  Instead of emphasizing specific causes, which few people may relate to, we emphasize a common heritage, which most people relate to and want to see prosper.

We don’t wake up everyday and think about giving our money away.  We do, however, wake up to a reminder of who we are everyday in the mirror.

2) OneVietnam empowers donors through an innovative program called iFoundation, which lets people own a foundation like Bill Gates but on a college student’s budget.

Your iFoundation is your own collection of nonprofits that anyone can donate to.  You track your nonprofits’ progress and choose where the money goes – give any amount to any nonprofit in your iFoundation.  The fact that you can choose to give zero funding to a nonprofit in your iFoundation creates an environment where nonprofits are eager to show their impact and you’re empowered to direct the change you want to see.

Here are a few of great examples of people’s iFoundations:

Minh Huynh

Viet Nguyen

Uyen Nguyen

What do you want to accomplish in 2 years?

1.We want to make donating a dollar to a nonprofit as easy as buying a song on iTunes.  People should be able to donate every where: on a laptop, a mobile phone, or at a live event, and through any means: credit cards, PayPal, or mobile transfer.

2.We want organizations to easily report their work from anywhere – in the field at a distant village in Vietnam or from their computer at their headquarters in Los Angeles.  This allows donors worldwide to track projects, identify the needs, and contribute to the solution.

3.We want 1% of the 2.2 million people in the Vietnamese diaspora to donate 1% of their paychecks each year.  That’s around $10 million a year.  If we grow that total by 10% each year, then by 2025 we will have raised nearly a quarter billion dollars.

What’s the big picture goal?

We want to return the power and responsibility to affect global change back to the people.  In a sense, we want to democratize philanthropy (Sorry Bill Gates).

We envision a world where philanthropy can be as much a part of our lives as checking our emails or making a Facebook update.  We want ordinary people to participate in identifying the problems and powering the solutions.

What’s the one feature you’re really excited about?

I’m really excited about the iFoundation program.  It makes philanthropy extremely personal.  Everyone’s iFoundation is unique and speaks to what matters most to them.  It adds another dimension to their identities.  I see Facebook as your social profile, LinkedIn as your professional profile, and iFoundation as your philanthropic profile.

How do you make money?

We don’t, yet. That’s why we need your support.  Don’t worry though, we have a plan for self-sustainability.

For each donation, we ask for an optional tip, much like Kiva.org does. Our users usually give about 10% of their donations.  At this point, the tips don’t add to much in terms of revenue.  When we hit the $1 million mark in donations each year, however, we will start to become more self-sustaining.

Until then, we need your help to keep OneVietnam running.  If you would like to help, please head over to our donate page – a contribution in any amount is appreciated and is 100% tax-deductible.

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. Coming across iFoundation I was really excited and immediately wanted to donate to the LIN Center, my all-time favorite nonprofit. Sadly I realized I didn’t have a credit card and my enthusiasm faded out. Perhaps this is meant to be used by Vietnamese living in the States, not Vietnam and thus we’re still far from the goal of democratizing philanthropy. Only 20% of the Vietnamese population have a bank account.

    Have you thought of making it possible for people to volunteer their skills and time?

    1. Hi Giao, I agree, there’s much work to be done. This is the first mile of a marathon. There’s an important role for those unable to donate to play: help us identify the issues. We can create the tools but we rely on the community to make it useful.

      1. Right. I’ll make comments til donating becomes as easy as buying a pack of instant noodles, not buying a song on iTunes :D.

  2. I salute and bow down to you for your good heart, well thought and well execution on this project. OneVietnam.org will live on!

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