Universal Giving

Universal Giving

I interviewed my friend Pamela Hawley, who is CEO and Founder of Universal Giving, and I am delighted to share it with you.

Tell me, who is Pamela Hawley?

Most important to me is that I believe family is first. We should take care of our own home, and then we can help the community.  For me, I feel so grateful for my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my 2 nephews and nieces, as well as extended family.  And friends who have become family, too.  Loving our “first circle,” I believe, can be our biggest contribution to our world.

At the same time, I also have a calling. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to start UniversalGiving™ (www.universalgiving.org), an award-winning nonprofit that helps people give money and volunteer with vetted, quality opportunities all over the world.  Opportunities range from giving $100 to help a woman in Haiti start her own business, to volunteering with impoverished children in Kenya.  All projects are vetted through UniversalGiving’s trademarked, proprietary Quality Model™. 100% of each donation goes directly to the cause.  We believe all your money should serve the nonprofit you choose, and we also want the person on the receiving end to receive 100% as well.  Part of my calling, too, includes writing every day on my blog Living and Giving (http://pamelahawley.wordpress.com), about leadership, how we can advance ourselves, global trends, and how we can help.

I graduated with a Political Science degree from Duke University and am definitely a devoted “Dukie.”  We have a wonderful community and most people are so heartfelt, smart, kind, and spirited.  I also have a Masters in International Communication at the Annenberg School of Communications, USC, where I finished my studies in Prague, Geneva, London, and Paris.  I am now a guest lecturer in USC’s Marshall School of Business. I love learning, and learning globally. I am about 50% fluent in French and Spanish, and try practicing every chance I get. Each day a new word!

On the side, I love improv.  I perform it in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and it’s a great joy.  It’s a wonderful sense of listening, give-and-take, and teamwork. Then, there is the fun character work. I really enjoy doing in-depth characters and you can see that on my website and you can also  watch me in action! My experience ranges from solo and group singing, to voiceovers, sketch, theatre and television.

When I can, I love to salsa dance and swing.  And of course, I volunteer.

How did you get the idea for founding UniversalGiving.org?

We all remember a time when we were “hit” with the importance of getting involved globally. For me, I was twelve. We were on a family vacation in Mexico, near a traditional marketplace. My father and I wandered off, just a few paces away, and were confronted with a cul-de-sac of unwashed, handicapped, begging children. Having my eyes widened with disbelief and overwhelming sadness, I simply remember the word unacceptable flashing across my mind. I still feel it, and see that word all the time. It’s simply “not okay” that millions are starving.

That scene has driven me ever since. I started volunteering at the age of twelve—in soup kitchens, with welfare recipients, crisis counseling in the United States.  Eventually my volunteering transitioned to the international front. I volunteered after the earthquake crisis in El Salvador, with the victims of Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia on computer training, in microfinance in India, on climate change and environmentalism in China.

From these experiences, I wanted to find a way for people to connect with quality, trusted ways to give and volunteer. To  I also fell in love with the web!!  I wanted to scale what I had experienced, to get millions of others involved.  UniversalGiving (http://www.universalgiving.org)  was created to provide that resource.

UniversalGiving’s mission is “To connect people to quality giving and volunteer opportunities worldwide.” UniversalGiving allows people to simply choose a country of interest and an area of interest to find a list of vetted opportunities to which they can give their money or give their time.

UniversalGiving’s vision is unique because people can trust that they’re working with a quality project. We vet all of our partner NGOs with a 20-Stage Quality Model. Our clients also know they’re making the maximum impact because we don’t take a cut of the donations. 100% goes direct to the cause.

UniversalGiving Corporate handles the strategy, operations and NGO vetting for corporations, to ensure the success of their international giving and volunteering programs. Two of our core services include NGO Vetting and Launch a City.

NGO Vetting vets all nonprofits with a proprietary Quality Model, safeguarding against terrorist activity.  Launch a City helps companies expand their CSR programs city by city, in accord with legal, cultural, and policy requirements in each country. UGC works with companies to strengthen their global brand, increase corporate employee giving and volunteer rates, increase employee retention and attraction, and build a stronger, more loyal client base for our corporate partners.  A few of our clients include Cisco, Symantec, Fluor, BEA and MTV.


What is the relation between Pamela the designer/actor and Pamela the entrepreneur?

Design is important to me. Just because my heart is about serving the world, doesn’t mean we don’t need design in many, many areas.  For me, the UniversalGiving website design should be upbeat, clear, and positive. The visual elements should be compelling and the process must be simple and intuitive. That’s our job, to provide an engaging and easy experience.

Personally in my own life, I go for simplicity.  Less is more. For example, when I buy higher end clothes, I think about keeping them for 7-10 years. Will this be classic enough for me to keep? Sometimes, we buy something that seems inspiring, cool or interesting in the moment.   But will you want this 3, 5, 10 years down the road?   There are also “go-tos” I know I will wear all the time. So end-of-year sales, I’ll buy 5 khaki sweaters!  I go through them like bread. :)

I also think about simplicity and accentuation regarding jewelry. I normally don’t wear all three: earrings, necklace, and bracelet. I find it’s too much for me, so I will choose two out of three.  That way I don’t look over or under done, but just right.   You need to know not just what goes together, but what also looks good on you. This is not just the cut of a design, but also the amount or “volume” you wear. You want your outfit to speak as a whole. And it should speak “you.”

Regarding my home, simplicity again.  I don’t like clutter, and it’s a quest for me to get it simpler. I am actually not that great at it, so I make an effort every day.  I love clarity.

That gives you a start on my design. And more to come!   We’ll talk about the influence of design on UniversalGiving, on building teams, designing your professional Life to be what you want, designing your wardrobe, home, meals, friendship and group interactions because…

All is Beautiful by Design

Trust Your Path


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