Tag Archives: community

A CEO’s Thank You To A Precious Team Member


Germaine & Pamela

In November of 2015, UniversalGiving celebrated a wonderful milestone.

We celebrated matching 10,000 volunteers with global service projects, all over the world.

The Event

That means people were giving of their time by saving an elephant habitat in Thailand, cleaning up a river in Peru, and serving women in microfinance in Tanzania.
More than 10,000 people gave their time, creating more than $31 million dollars worth of value for our communities. 
We celebrated a very special event with all our team, supporters, and NGOs leaders. It was a night of joy and inspiration that makes up UniversalGiving’s  special community.
So many people helped make it happen… and one in particular was Germaine Lau, who was the Event Lead.  Below is my tribute to her from my voicemail to her and her family.

Hello Germaine Lau Family,

Oh my goodness, I cannot thank you enough for last night! That was just amazing. Germaine, as you know I told you two months ago, I said, whatever the event is, I am already happy and so grateful. You’ve done an amazing job and I know it. 

You are so talented and you have an amazing design. You have an incredible sense of sophistication and kindness and I am so grateful to have you on my team. You are becoming such a stellar professional. As you know this, I esteem you very highly. I just wanted to thank you all so much for all the sincere effort that you’ve put into this event. Such a beautiful design and professional work. I told you that two years ago, you have such a talent here, your amazing. Stay humble, but you are doing amazing things and lets get you in charge of some design for UniversalGiving. It is just beautiful. Thank you so much. 

I want to thank the Lau family for all your effort and work. Mrs. Lau’s friends who provided such generous donations on the tennis front, what a great showing that was! The prizes we had, those were significant, and thank you, thank you, thank you!

I want to thank you all, for Mrs. Lau bringing in the food, Germaine, to thank your dentist, we need to get a lot of thank you notes out! So thank you very much to the Lau family for all your help, Germaine, your brother coming out and helping. It was just such a successful event! It was a gift to the world, a gift to the community, a gift to the UniversalGiving team, a gift to me, and a gift to my parents. Thank you so much to all of you, the world takes a family, a lot of families, to help make it run. 

Much love and much gratitude to all of you. Have a joyous day and please know how much that event meant to me. I’ve asked Germaine to pass this on to you and I hope you know how much I appreciate it!

I look forward to seeing you all soon,

Thank you!”

Happy Valentine’s Day from Pamela

Dear Living and Giving Fans,

I wanted to include you in my Valentine’s greetings, and wishing you kindness throughout the year!

Best Wishes from my family to yours.   

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Pamela’s Weekly Words of Wisdom: Why Volunteers, EDs and Boards All Start in the Same Place



An article from Bridgestar titled “Starting Off on the Right Foot: How to Establish a Good ED-Board Relationship” explores what executive directors can do to lay the foundations for a solid relationship with board members. This started me thinking that developing a great relationship between a new ED and the Board actually starts with the same premise as volunteering.

What does a good volunteer have in common with a paid Executive Director or a professionally engaged Board?


Everyone needs to listen.

Everyone wants to be heard.

Often I am asked by a volunteer before they go on a trip, “How do I need to be prepared?”

And the first thing I say is to be a good listener — Build Together.

In my first volunteer trip to Managua, Nicaragua, we were scheduled to build schools and dormitories. At that time, 90% of students in the community were not currently attending school. We jumped into the project with the villagers and finished the school — but ran out of materials for the dormitories. First instincts as Americans were to brainstorm every possible way to get it done. But access to resources was severely limited. As our Nicaraguan leader stated: “You Americans just want to complete things. We want to create and nourish relationships.”

As we let these words sink in, we truly began to connect and listen to this community. We learned about their life. We built relationships, played with their children, helped cook hundreds of tortillas over hot grills for hundreds of people in the community. We embraced their daily life, and the more we did, the closer the bonds of understanding and joy grew.

It is wonderful to go to another country, complete a volunteer project, and feel that you really had an impact. But establishing a relationship with the local people is by far the most important aspect of the volunteer trip. Building true, lasting relationships results in the greatest benefit for our world: fewer barriers are formed and increased understanding is achieved. We are all a team working together to face and resolve the challenges in our world.

It’s the same principle here. The Executive Director needs to listen and learn from the team, from the board, from the interns, the funders, the accountants, everyone. It’s an important time to understand how processes work, how operations occur, how different personalities and teams functions, how the values live themselves throughout the organization.

Equally, the board can listen and learn from the Executive Director. Once the ED has demonstrated the humility to honor current processes, and understand them thoroughly, there should be an openness to new ideas, new efficiencies, new styles, new communications, if they will help the goals of the organization.

Listening… allows everyone to feel heard. To be honored. It’s the cement building blocks of any good home, and, any good relationship. From there, innovation can spring forth and thrive.

Whomever you are, at whatever state you are in, listening is a great balm to establish and maintain an effective relationship. May listening help all of us in our day-to-days… I am constantly reminding myself, too!

“Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”


“I was trying to get ahead by correcting others when I should have been trying to connect with others”

– Jim Collins, Good to Great, pg. 29.

If you are a busy leader… you might fall into this trap.

We need to get things done. And with a significant proposal or partnership, you might need to correct someone working for you.

Connect with them first. Try to slow down, or tell them that the deadline is next week. You can tell them how much you enjoy their work, or even make them laugh.

Then the work flows so much easier, so much more naturally. And life and work is more enjoyable too!

Connect… then correct.

Or perhaps even better…

          Connect and recommend, adjust, ask… for their advice… work with them.

Kindhearted teamwork (even when we are under significant pressure) is the right way to go.

This quote is from “Good to Great,” a best-selling book published in 2001 by James C. Collins. This book aims to help readers understand why and how some companies go from being good to being great as was a tremendous success. He has published many well-known books that deal with successful companies, sustainability, and leadership.
Aside from being a respected writer, James Collins is an American businessman and consultant advising firms in the profit and nonprofit sectors, such as The Girl Scouts of the USA and the US Marine Corps. He is married to Ironman winner and accomplished triathlete, Joanne Ernst. He believes that “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.” Click here to be redirected to the “Good to Great Diagnostic Tool” where you can learn about to how to start your personal path to greatness.

The Bundle of Sticks: “Union is Strength”

A certain man had several sons who were always quarreling with one another, and, try as he might, he could not get them to live together in harmony. So he determined to convince them of their folly by the following means. 
Bidding them fetch a bundle of sticks, he invited each in turn to break it across his knee. All tried and all failed: and then he undid the bundle, and handed them the sticks one by one, when they had no difficulty at all in breaking them. “There, my boys,” said he,”united you will be more than a match for your enemies: but if you quarrel and separate, your weakness will put you at the mercy of those who attack you.” Union is strength.
Oh, team, how special….Union is strength. First, who wants to go it alone? Can we really do something special, just on our own?


More and more that I live, I think not. Or at least, it is not as beautiful! To team up, to work together and synergize is inspiring. It is a strength. It is companionship and team cameraderie whether you are launching a blog, building a company, unloading the dishes with a family member, or playing lacrosse; you can’t do that on your own:)


Even further… Union can be a strength to one’s soul during tough times. When a team member doesn’t say a kind word… a  friend leaves… a war starts or a neighbor builds an emotional wall…


We need a team of people, of loving people, to support us, help us, bolster us up.


Don’t be a stick. Join a bundle.


Be strong, together and live with love.



Pamela Hawley is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, an award-winning nonprofit helping people to donate and volunteer with top-performing, vetted organizations all over the world. Unique to UniversalGiving, 100% of all donations go directly to the cause.

Pamela is a winner of the Jefferson Award (the Nobel Prize in Community Service), and has been invited three times to the White House. Pamela was a finalist for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and is an Expert Blogger for Fast Company and CSRWire. She is a philanthropy expert for the new TV show, Billions Rising.

Pamela is also an accomplished actress, improviser, dancer and singer with over 100 performances in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. She is trained by The Groundlings, a graduate of Upright Citizens Brigade, at advanced level Second City Los Angeles, and a BATS improv player. Pamela donates a portion of every show’s proceeds to UniversalGiving.

Good Is Unfolding


“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.”   – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

What is your mind filled with today? What others aren’t doing right? What doesn’t work?


Or is it filled with gratitude for what is working? 


You’re a leader. That means your mind has to be in top-top shape. And that means reinforcing the positive:


  • A team member did a great job — don’t just take it for granted. It’s not the “same-old same-old.”
  • Your dog greeted you with joy when you came home… so sweet. How precious they are here.
  • Your horse has lived much longer than expected. She is slow, and not what she used to be, but you still get to ride her! So lovely.
  • You had a warm, home cooked meal.
  • You bought take out and it tasted good because you were so hungry:)
  • You finished a report just at the point of the deadline, pulling an all-nighter… You got it  in time! Let’s be grateful. this isn’t the norm, and what an accomplishment. That’s the focus, not being tired. (Now if this happens all the time, then maybe time to find a new calling!)
  • Your elementary kids were SUPER ENERGETIC today. Were they out-of-control or full of joy?
  • Your little sister got into Carlton and UPenn, but not Princeton, her first choice. Will you be disappointed or know that a perfect plan is unfolding, where she will meet the right people, learn the right information, and have a super experience?
  • The Jason Derulo concert is sold out. Are you bummed or psyched for others to hear his music? The world is a more fun, energetic place with his enthusiasm!
  • The Janet Jackson concert is sold out. Let’s be grateful she’s still performing and sharing the Jackson talents! Next time.
Team Living and Giving, it’s up to you. You can criticize others or your day….. or you can focus on what is really happening; Good is unfolding. 


H. Jackson Brown Jr. is an American bestselling author for his inspiring books. One of his books named Life’s Little Instruction Book, was on the New York Times best-seller list for more than two years, including more than one year on the number one spot. This book was written by Brown as a guide book for his son when he went off to college. He then wrote a second volume, which also placed in the top selling charts for a long time.

One of his most famous quotes is often mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain. It says: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Guatemala Leads The Way In Correcting Corruption


Guatemala leads the charge in correcting corruption! How are they doing it?

Guatemala has instituted a new commission, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, which is providing systematic investigations. This is bringing to light corruption and preventing officials from continuing corruptive practices.

A new generation is also taking charge. After hearing about bribes within the political office, 30,000 Guatemalans stormed the streets. They simply won’t continue to exist with the status quo.

As we set up commissions, realize our voice and take action in a strong or gentle way, the world will change. And it is. Now, other Central American countries are studying Guatemala to find out how they too can turn the tide from negative civil wars, and achieve lasting peace.