Double Bottom Line

with Pamela Hawley

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Inspired to Give

Universal Giving

Pamela Hawley

Philanthropist, Social Entrepreneur, Founder, Improv Star

Lessons Learned

UniversalGiving is public and free. 100% of your donations go directly to the cause.

It is unacceptable to stand by when help is needed.

UniversalGiving Corporate helps Fortune 500 companies manage corporate social responsibility.


Lesson: Double Bottom Line with Pamela Hawley

Step #10 Inspired to Give: Universal Giving

Universal Giving is a website. It's a marketplace that helps people donate money and volunteer all over the world. People come to the site and they might give $25 to build a well in Haiti or they might volunteer to help clean up a river in Brazil, or go help fund a school, even for $25. What's so special about it, and part of my passion, is the fact that we vet everything so it's trusted in quality projects, and 100% goes directly to the cause.

Universal Giving works in a unique way because we're a social entrepreneurship organization. To me, having been a social entrepreneur for more than 15 years, it's very important to create a service that is public and free, and that's what Universal Giving is. You can come on board and find a project or volunteer anywhere in the world.

We have a second service called Universal Giving Corporate that works with Fortune 500 companies, such as Cisco, BHP Billiton, Gap, Sabre, Fluor, RSF Social Finance. All of these are very, very important clients to us. What we do is help them with their global corporate social responsibility, or global CSR. We're helping them figure out, "How do you get into 40 countries across the world and help set up giving and volunteer programs?"

We source the NGOs, the non-profits. We vet them with a very strict quality model, and they pay us to do that. So that generating of revenue and those sales, if you will, then helps feed the Universal Giving public sit, allowing you to donate and we don't take a cut.

Universal giving has a team of worldwide experts. These are people, groups on the ground. They can be anyone from a political person to a high network donor, to tribes-people, anyone who has that buy-in, that local license to operate on the local ground, we get in touch with.

When we enter into a community, we want to know that the non-profit is strong. We want to know other non-profits in the area as well, there, too. We want to make sure that those worldwide experts are helping identify them.

We also have another sense community on the ground there as well, which is all these people who find out about us. We have people from Uganda and Tanzania and they're basically seeing us on Facebook and saying, "How can I help?" So we have a program to help get them to help, too. They might or might not be an expert, but they care, and they want people in the community to be able to do good work. And we embrace that across all countries.

Finding a team of worldwide experts is something that is a very granular step-by-step process. It's going through a beautiful maze where you uncover one step, one turn, at one time. You might make great non-profit relationships, let's say, on inaudible 00:02:45. When you're facing a crisis, you can give through Universal Giving and we need some of those non-profit partners, who are doing great work on the ground.

Then what happens is you might learn about someone else. You might ask them to have a recommendation, or maybe a high network donor just went and traveled through China, and one of them went and actually had done some work with Packard Foundation on energy conservation in China. We would ask them for their expertise. So it really is about having great long-term relationships with non-profits, companies, donors, tribes-people, politicos, people from all over, and that helps provide this confirming evidence that you are headed in the right pathway, working with the right groups, the right non-profits, and creating the right sense of community.

The inspiration to create Universal Giving stems from so many factors. I don't know how many. I don't know how to thank enough people for it. First, I think, there was a story behind that, my personal story. I believe everyone has a story. For me, my story started at the age of 12. I was in Mexico. My family was there on vacation. I'm very close with them. We were at a marketplace. I think it was at Mazatlan, or one of the coastal towns, and we were around this marketplace with sombreros and food and joy and music. My dad and I veered down this cul-de-sac and we saw all of these begging, starving, dirty, maimed children and it just literally, at the age of 12, the word "unacceptable" just blew across my mind. How could this happen? And from that time on, I started volunteering.

I volunteered at East Palo Alto and served meals and helped hand out clothing, and just did whatever I could. But I am also very causeless, so I will go and serve anything. It can be the earthquake crisis in El Salvador, or education or human rights. To me, I want people to have their needs met, and so that's the inspiration. I do need to make sure, always an inspiration, the wonderful people in my life; my mother, my dad, my sister and brother-in-law. Those influences can't ever be understated.

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