January 29, 2010
John W. Gardner Leadership Award
1602 L Street, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20036
RE: Letter of Merit for Pamela Hawley
To the John W. Gardner Leadership:
I’ve known Pamela Hawley since she was young, but I’ve truly gotten to know her as a social entrepreneur in her adult life. When I first met with her about her idea for UniversalGiving five years ago, 20 minutes into our lunch I said, “I think you’re going to do it. In fact I know you are going to make this happen.”
Pamela has stayed true to her vision. UniversalGiving is an award-winning organization in a tough, global climate. She’s successfully leveraged technology to not only get thousands of people involved, but also to support thousands of women across the world through microfinance, health initiatives, training, education, and daily support.
Pamela has several qualities that make her unique. She’s intelligent with sound reasoning. She’s tenacious and not easily deterred. She’s open to feedback and embraces personal growth. What ties this all together is her personable nature. She’s a friendly, optimistic person, and it’s a joy to hear her updates because she’s on a constant quest for excellence and does so with a positive attitude.
That’s all well and good, but she takes these qualities and invests her energy in social entrepreneurship, with a focus on web-based marketplaces. VolunteerMatch was her first initiative and it has now matched more than four million volunteers nationwide. Next, she successfully launched UniversalGiving in a challenging environment. She’s facilitated thousands of people’s volunteer efforts, allowing them give to needy people all over the world.
A key reason why she has been successful is because she has used her business instincts to create sound operations and has vetted the NGO partners based on a venture capitalist perspective. Another critical point is that she knows people. Those at UniversalGiving meet with, speak with and work with the people at the NGOs to ensure that they are successful leaders. She knows that personal relationships and having strong managers and leaders in place in these NGOs is the key. Her focus on people and values make her and UniversalGiving a success.
That could be enough, but Pamela is not a “normal” nonprofit leader. She wanted a revenue model to prove her service was of value, and to not rely on grants. Pamela devised a corporate model, UniversalGiving Corporate. UniversalGiving helps companies with their brands and with making successful NGO relationships on the ground, and UniversalGiving gets paid to do it. As a result, she attains her vision of making the UniversalGiving service free to the public—and then attains revenue and support from the companies, companies that she is also helping. Both meet her mission of helping alleviate global poverty.
What I see is a young woman devoted to our communities and one who operations in a smart, sophisticated and clear way. She’s a model businesswoman, and she happens to have devoted her skills to the social entrepreneurship arena. We’re lucky she did.
Pamela is a practical optimist. When challenges come her way, she views them as an opportunities to get better: she focuses on improving her organization or herself, and she enjoys it all. I can’t think of a better model for women social entrepreneurs in technology.
Please call if you’d like any further information.
William H. Draper III