Four VU Alumnae Help Collect Nearly 80,000 Water Bottles for Flint

YouGiveGoods, an innovative online company that connects donors and charities recently worked with managed care company Aetna to collect 80,000 water bottles for Flint, Michigan. Founded by Lisa Ferrari-Tomasi, ’86 CLAS, YouGiveGoods boasts three more VU alumnae: Mary Keenan-Lonergan’86 VSB, senior director, strategic partnerships; Nancy Ferrari-Ehnot, ’87 VSB, director, finance and accounting; and Diane Ferrari-Frain, ’91 CLAS, director, marketing and communications.

When the Flint water crisis hit the news, Aetna turned to YouGiveGoods to set up a friendly competition where the managed care company’s Michigan offices could work to help their neighbors in Flint. They set an initial goal of 5,000 bottles of water. By the end of the campaign, which expanded to a nationwide effort, they’d collected 78,780 bottles. The logistics of this large, multi-office disaster relief effort simply wouldn’t have been feasible without YouGiveGoods.

Lisa attributes much of the success to YouGiveGoods’ innovative operating model: online shopping meets charity. The company created an online technology platform that works as the middle-man between groups who want to donate (from Girl Scout troops to Fortune 500 companies) and charities that need goods. There is no fee for their services.

Each drive clearly outlines exactly what the charity needs and people can purchase specific items online. There are no monetary donations.  Items purchased online are delivered to the charity by YouGiveGoods at the close of the drive. “It resonates with people that we are not asking for money,” Lisa explains. “The transparency is critical to first-time donors. They know exactly what they are buying and where it is going.”

Further, it’s a powerful tool for charities to get what they need. “You’re not dropping off peas when a person needs pasta,” Mary says.

While Aetna’s water drive raised nearly 80,000 badly needed water bottles, the problem isn’t going away anytime soon, both Mary and Lisa emphasize. Although Aetna’s water drive is finished, there are many more campaigns on the You Give Goods website. Several help residents of Flint, but there are many others too. Natural and man-made disasters make the news, but “most needs are due to the everyday disasters of poverty, creating an ongoing need for food, personal care items, coats, linens and even books and toys,” Mary says. All of these goods and more can be raised through a YouGiveGoods online drive benefiting any charity across the U.S. To see all of the current campaigns that you can donate to, visit

It’s not just companies and groups that can maximize their philanthropic efforts using YouGiveGoods, individuals can start an online drive just as easily.  YouGiveGoods drives are made for social sharing which makes it an ideal vehicle for individuals to support their favorite charity by tapping into their online social network.

“This kind of work exemplifies the Villanova spirit,” notes Daniel Wright, interim dean. “Our graduates go beyond doing well, they also strive to do good in the world.”

The Villanova School of Business (VSB) undergraduate program is ranked #24 in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek and has been at the forefront of business education since it was founded in 1922. Serving over 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students, VSB is home to six Centers or Institutes of Excellence (the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, the Center for Business Analytics, the Center for Global Leadership, the Center for Marketing & Consumer Insights, the Center for Church Management & Business Ethics and the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute) with each center and institute designed to foster innovative, cross-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities for business faculty. VSB is known for academic rigor; creativity and innovation; hands-on and service learning opportunities; a firm grounding in ethics; and an applied education that prepares students to become outstanding leaders and global citizens within the ever-changing, complex, and fast-paced world of business. For more, visit

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