Top 4 things not to use your interns for


At UniversalGiving we love our interns and recognize the tremendous amount of value they bring to us. We want all of our interns to experience growth not only as employees but also as human beings during their time with us.

Some of us have been working in the workforce for 20, 30, 40 years plus.  We’ve done a lot of things over our career, step by step, building ourselves and organizations to new levels.  

In your mind, you’ve  worked very hard to advance yourself and your company.  You’ve also rolled up your sleeves thousands of times to help make sure the team can succeed, whether that’s raising a new round of funds, or xeroxing.   Meeting with a millionaire investor, or cleaning the dishes after a team event.   You feel you have paid your dues.

Yet being a part of a company and culture isn’t genuinely driven by that mindset.  Your devotion to work should be because you want to, and would like to help. That sincerity will advance you light years.   Not only will your managers recognize your genuine attitude, but you will feel a sense of integrity within, which is driving you for the right reasons to serve.  

But you might be tempted.  

“I worked so hard!  I need help.  It’s time for the young 18 year old to roll up their sleeves so I can do the important work.”

Part of that is true.  Your interns should want to serve and help in any way they can.   But it can never be your attitude in full.  People of any age deserve to have meaningful opportunities to grow. Provide them an enriching experience that will help them grow as individuals and professionals.


So here are the top 4 things you shouldn’t ask your intern for:

  1. Go get coffee.  Everyone does this! There is no reason why you can’t get up from your office to go get your coffee and show the team that you are working to provide for yourself—your own caffeine fix!  Please keep in mind as well that as the newer generation is more socially conscious, they may not agree with caffeine or even the type of drink you are having, or even feel it is holistic or organic.  So, where you can you want to avoid any sense of conflict of values.
  2. Xerox.  We all need help with copying, faxing, and it’s okay to ask them to do it.  However, please be mindful that this should be no more than 5-10% of their job.  They are coming there to gain experience, not to press buttons.
  3. Personal errands.  Unless you have an agreement—which usually isn’t the case for college interns that they are doing personal errands for you—that should never be the case.  They are coming there to get work experience, not to pick up your dry cleaning.  Remember, they are an important part of the brand that you are building.  They can post online about anything that concerns them, but more important is that you want to make sure you’ve got a great relationship with them.
  4. Leave them manager-less.  If you are not present, make sure someone is.  They are looking for guidance, they want to grow, and they want to learn.  They don’t have anyone to go-to to ask normal questions about business.  They are going to feel stranded, and their work product will suffer, their experience will suffer, and your relationship with them will be not so strong.

We all need help and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Make sure that you give your interns positive ways to succeed in the workplace and build their resume.


May Your Work Bring Just and Lasting Peace

Our CEO Pamela Hawley uses quotes to motivate herself and to teach others. Here is her analysis of a lovely quote from her blog Living and Giving.

President Lincoln advised us… “Whatever work you are devoted to….may it bring just and lasting peace.”

Our respected President Abraham Lincoln brought this to light in his 1865  Inaugural Address. What a calling for each of us to think, as we go about our work each day, how it can bring “just and lasting peace.”  And I think work here is not just our professional work, but any task to which we are devoting ourselves.  Any project, endeavor, activity — from raising a child to decorating a Valentine’s Day wreath — can have kindness, justice and peace as a necessary ingredient to our performing of it.

President Lincoln says something instrumental here: As we strive for our goal, it should be peace brought between each one us, and then also with all countries.  The point here is that gentle justice, no matter how small, and a caring, kind sense of peacefulness in all our interactions, bring that sense of worldwide peace. And it must start with ourselves, our conversations, our actions between each person we meet. That’s a great calling for us in living rightly every day!

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) served as the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln led the United States through the American Civil War and in so doing, preserved the Union, ended slavery, strengthened the national government. He promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, canals, railroads and tariffs to encourage the building of factories. He is admired for his commitment to national unity, equal rights, liberty, and democracy in America. 

The second child of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Lincoln,  Abraham was self-educated, and became a country lawyer, a Whig Party leader, Illinois state legislator during the 1830s, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives during the 1840s. Married to Mary Todd in 1842, he was an affectionate husband and father of four children.

Bio Source: Wikipedia: Abraham_Lincoln

Devote yourself by volunteering for peace and justice here.

Juliana Margulies – Smile at a Stranger, and the Important Reason Why

This post is by CEO Pamela Hawley’s from her blog Living and Giving.


“Walk down the street and smile at a stranger. He’ll smile at the next stranger passing by, and then the whole street is smiling. And no one knows why.”  — Juliana Margulies

I love this quote. The only reason why we need to smile…is simply to give joy.  Give joy to ourselves and to others…it’s one of our main reasons for being.  And while people may not know why you are smiling, they’ll soon find out:  It makes the world go around with peacefulness, graciousness, and lovingkindness.  That’s reason enough. 🙂

Juliana Margulies is an American actress who achieved success as a regular character on ER, for which she received an Emmy.  More recently, she took the lead role in The Good Wife, and has received a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild awards.

“Sail Away from the Safe Harbor”

Here is one of our CEO Pamela Hawley’s favorite quotes from her blog Living and Giving.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didnt 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.” – Mark Twain

Its okay to feel safe. In some ways, we need to feel safe as a launching pad, knowing that someone believes in us.  And from that harbor, we can and should launch into spectacular venues where we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. You will grow and be inspired in ways you could never imagine.  You inspire.

For those of you who dream and discover starting from shaky ground, you have a courage that will carry you through to new heights and insights.  You inspire!

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835.  In his writing, he presented an honest, yet satirical portrayal of antebellum south.  His criticisms of the south, such as in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, cried out against racist attitudes.  He led an exciting life as a ferry boat driver and a prospector during the Gold Rush; his experiences enhanced his understanding of the American culture which he wrote about.

Consider leaving your comfort zone by volunteering abroad. Search for an opportunity here.

Impact Investing — Taking Off in Latin America!

So where is one of the greatest hot spots in Impact Investing? Latin America.

What I love about Impact Investing is its emphasis on supporting entrepreneurial people and teams. If you can put a small amount of money aside and invest in one of these enterprises, you can often see great results. However, be prepared that it is a risk and a worthy risk!   Investing is never a 100% guarantee.

Let’s take a look at how this industry continues to scale. In Mexico, we see the greatest leader; nearly $400 million in investments; Brazil nearly $190 million; Colombia: over $50 million.

Considering Impact Investing was coined in the 1990s, that’s a lot of money – showing a lot of awareness! Let’s be grateful for that. Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs showed the rise of Impact Investing in Latin America in their article The Impact Investing Landscape in Latin America.

What People Invest In

Let’s break this down a little bit. Within a two-year period, the number of Impact Investors increased by 25% in Brazil. The major areas they invest in are health, education, agriculture and financial exclusion, according to Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs.

It’s great to see Financial Inclusion, as we usually see more urgent needs such as food or shelter.  It’s nice to see people caring about providing financial training, access to financial services and helping people of the lower class move to the middle class. As we know, this strengthens the entire community.

Now let’s look at Colombia. Colombia’s average deal size is much larger, but the issues focus on mostly Financial Inclusion and Agriculture. These investments in financial and agriculture have the most opportunity to make a difference because they benefit the most vulnerable populations. Therefore, the most popular sectors of Impact Investing rest in Financial Inclusion and Agriculture.

Next up is Mexico, the “Mother of Investing.” Mexico now has 50 investors with 20% of them who invest only in Mexico. That’s impressive! It shows we’re not just exporting people from the US or other more developed countries to plant the idea of impact investing. People are investing on their own soil. It is exactly what we want to see, so they truly own their investments and participate in building their local community.

One of my favorite groups is the National Institute for Entrepreneurship  LINK which focuses on increasing Entrepreneurship in Mexico. Here is the astounding number: both from national and international investments, there is more that $7 billion dollars being invested. And true to the importance of local people playing a strong role, the local investors are the primary investors. That’s because the know their turf, they know their land, and they know what will work. A great example.

A success story from Impact Investing in Mexico is through a company called ClickOnero. Click Onero uses SMS messages and social networking to spread promotions of companies, such as Coca-Cola, to a wide list of users. The users clicked the “Like” button to companies’ promotions, and in exchange, received points that could be used for SMS or cellular prepaid airtime. Why is this important? Well, it helps companies advertise, but also helps the “liker.” They have their cell phone costs reduced, which is often important to their livelihood in selling crops in the market.  You’re reducing their cost of doing business, making their businesses more profitable and reducing their living costs. This makes for a more successful life.This company has done a great job and has been growing consistently since 2009.

So that’s your crash course in Impact Investing in Latin America. We are also seeing it grow and also increase in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua.  If you’re global and reading this, maybe you can set aside a small amount to invest in your local community. You might be the next investor!

Think Big and With A Big Heart,

Pamela 🙂


“The Impact Investing Landscape in Latin America.” Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs. Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), Latin American Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (LAVCA), and LGT Impact Ventures, Aug. 2016. Web.

My Volunteer Experience in Tanzania

By Nicola Da Silva 

The phone buzzed and it was my mom. “Guess what? Nic, Andrew, and Lex booked a trip to Zanzibar, Tanzania and invited me to join. We wish you and Daniel could join to – any chance of that??” Sometimes you get invitations to events and you weakly offer to try your best to make it happen and other times you get an invitation to something and you know that no matter what you will be going! This was one of those. I don’t know why I felt so strongly about going on this trip, but as soon as I knew about it, I couldn’t think about anything else. I started making plans the very next day and everything fell into place perfectly in the 3 weeks I had to pull it off.

I also decided to contact UniversalGiving and see if they could set me up to do some volunteer work while on vacation. Amazingly they helped me find Embrace Tanzania. I emailed them and they got me in touch with Selestin, who is based in Zanzibar and manages the volunteer effort there. 2 days before I left on the trip I emailed Selestin and told him I was coming and would love to have a look at what they  were doing in Zanzibar and see if I could help and also get them connected with Universal Giving. Selestin replied straight away and gave me the address and his telephone number. By the time I checked into the hotel, he had already spoken to them to help organize a day I could come see the different volunteer sites.

On Monday April 28th, my mom and I stepped out of our hotel and into a cab and went to Bububu, Zanzibar. Selestin met us there and showed us around the building where volunteers stay and then Selestin, his colleague Edward, my mom, the cab driver, and I went for lunch. We chatted about the different volunteering options and how my mom and I could get involved. Next stop was the orphanage where Mama Suz looks after about 30 children. The house is a school in the morning; then some of the children go home and others stay at the orphanage. Some children are orphans and others have parents in the sober houses nearby.

I could see that Mama Suz tries her best to look after all these children, but I also noticed that she was conscious of the state of the building and the lack of beds for all the children. We met the kids and then had a “business meeting” in the shade of the tree. I explained what UniversalGiving does and that I would get her connected with them and then asked what her ideas were. Wow – she has such amazing plans and knows what’s important. She said, “these children are orphans and the best thing for them is to have a stable home.” She wants to buy a house so that the children feel secure; buy a bus and have other children in other villages attend her school and pay school fees; and have the school fees as an income so she can afford to look after the children in the orphanage. I loved the idea and we started chatting about what she needed for that to happen. We figured out that the best thing would be for her raise money to buy a piece of land and have a volunteer project set up to build a house for her and the children.

The next step would be to raise money for the bus and get the new children from other villages enrolled in her school. She may need to get more volunteer teachers or hire some more teachers. I offered to do all I could to help her with this dream… and to be honest ever since I got back a month ago, all I can think about is how to help Mama Suz and the children have a home.

Inspired by this amazing story? Click here to change a child’s life by volunteering in Tanzania!

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya – Sustainable Tourism, Supporting People And Planet

This is a guest blog by Sally James; a mother and a world traveler!

I’ve always loved to travel. These days, however, it’s hard to reconcile a love for travel, a love for the planet, and a basic respect for local cultures. While most of us travel in order to experience the latter two, the travel industry’s thirst for tourist dollars has done an awful lot of damage to the environment, and has irrevocably altered the character and culture of many communities across the globe. So what’s a travel-loving philanthropist to do?

Well, take heart, travel-lovers. There are a growing number of places out there which are proving that tourism can be sustainable and ethical. And they are not only proving this, they are also proving that tourism can actively be both a driving force for conservation and of huge benefit to local people. One particular place in Kenya nicely exemplifies what I mean by this: Ol Pejeta Conservancy is doing fantastic work to preserve wildlife and using the tourism money it generates from its pristine habitat to benefit the local community.

For someone like me, and there are a lot of us around, beautiful, biodiverse habitats and the creatures living therein are a huge draw. I love the idea of a safari in Africa, for example. Both environmental and tourism groups are now waking up to the idea of using well-conserved ecosystems as an incredible resource. Rather than simply campaigning for ecological preservation for its own sake (and that of the flora and fauna relying on said ecosystems), groups are now teaming up with tourism initiatives and adding ‘loss of tourism’ to their list of reasons not to destroy vital ecosystems. Sadly, money talks. If moneymaking schemes are the main driver behind habitat loss, etc, why not use that same driver to preserve habitats?

Ol Pejeta Conservancy does just that, then takes it one step further. Comprising 90,000 acres in central Kenya, it is the largest sanctuary for black rhinos in East Africa, as well as home to elephants, zebras, lions, the world’s last white rhinos, and many more animals. The Conservancy team also rehabilitates chimpanzees rescued from the exotic pet trade. The work is largely funded by ecotourism, therefore you can stay at the Conservancy and enjoy the quintessential African safari experience (with an ethical, sustainable MO, of course!). In addition, Ol Pejeta is Not For Profit – and this is where things get really cool.

Ol Pejeta plunges its excess funds into local community projects, as well as making active efforts to ensure that local people benefit directly from any tourism income which comes into the area. In the past, the profit from tourist ventures in nations like Kenya has largely bypassed local communities (indeed, they’ve often been exploited by tourist initiatives), and passed straight into the hands of corporate operators. Ol Pejeta works to ensure that this does not happen. Conflict between local human interests and the interests of wildlife is a big problem for many ecological initiatives (Illegal deforestation in the Amazon springs to mind. It’s an ecological disaster, but the local people doing the deforesting are simply trying to feed their families). Ol Pejeta therefore works hard to ensure that the Conservancy’s success benefits the local community. They have helped local farmers harvest rainwater, funded educational projects, supplied ICT equipment for schools, installed solar panels for households. In the future, they plan to continue pouring money into social initiatives to generally improve the local quality of life, and provide opportunities for local people.

Creating a mutually beneficial relationship between people, especially local people, and the environment is, needless to say, a win-win situation. In my opinion, initiatives like Ol Pejeta are very exciting. They provide a beacon of hope, demonstrating that humans and animals really can co-exist to the mutual benefit of all. By being practical enough to recognize that human profit is key if conservation is to work, but idealistic enough to pursue their dream of mutual benefit, Ol Pejeta is blazing a trail for similar initiatives in threatened ecosystems all over the world, so, if you’re booking an African vacation, consider Ol Pejeta!

Make your travel more ethical by volunteering abroad. Search for volunteer opportunities here.