The Power of Video

By Steven Chang

The power of video to successfully promote causes, companies, organizations, people, and yes, even cats, on the Internet is hardly a secret. We can see the power of video almost immediately (how many views/hits did you get?), and we can also see the power of video in our everyday lives (when was the last time you asked a question beginning with, “have you seen that one video…?”).

But how do videos become popular? Two videos that use the same outreach methods – email, social media, word of mouth, live presentation – may not necessarily have the same impact. And a video which hardly uses any of those methods can suddenly go viral solely because of its content and the way that content is communicated.

While there are many guidelines for anyone who is looking to popularize their videos, there is no silver bullet.  So, I’d like to offer my advice, taken from my passion for creating great video content and from my experience at “UniversalGivingTM.

  1. Filter. Only use your most unique, interesting, and high quality content.
  2. Brand. Remind the viewers constantly just where they are getting their video content through visuals, text, and whatever else you can think of.
  3. Outreach. Viral videos are, in fact, quite rare. Your best bet is to continue to aggressively outreach through all forms of social media, while trying to drive all of that outreach to your central “homebase” – a website, your twitter feed, your blog, etc.
  4. Workflow. For bigger video projects, create standards, checklists, and production schedules to guide your project from the early stages of content filtering to the later stages of releasing & analytics.
  5. Focus. There are always more and better ways to promote through video. Tackle the project in stages. Start with a basic strategy, and then build on that as you evaluate and assess the impact of your videos. Sometimes you may stretch yourself too thin by trying to do too much before you release even your first video.

I have also found many helpful tips and guidelines through ListenIn Pictures and their starter guide to non-profit video story telling. While their focus is more on fundraising and campaigns, they have many useful tips and examples of how video can be used to call people to action.

My final tip is to create conversation around your videos. When people really enjoy a video and find it interesting, they will have something to say about it, will engage it, and will respond to the “call to action.” So, what do you have to say about UniversalGiving’s most recently released videos featuring our founder & CEO Pamela Hawley and other Fortune-500 CSR executives?

Pamela Hawley on NGO Vetting

More videos:

Secret to Success: Go Become Famous!

Global CSR Benefits: The Bottom Line

Global CSR Challenges: Co-Chairs and Cross-Training

UniversalGiving at the Commonwealth Club – Video Highlights!

by Steven Chang

On August 11, 2011, founder & CEO Pamela Hawley led a panel of Fortune 500 Corporate Social Responsibility executives in discussing the innovations and practical lessons learned from launching CSR programs all over the world. We’ve taken the highlights from this exciting event and created shorter videos for your learning and enjoyment!

Pamela Hawley on NGO Vetting

Here’s what founder & CEO Pamela Hawley had to say about NGO vetting through UniversalGiving™, which has even helped Fortune 500 companies ensure the success of global CSR programs.

Secrets to Success: Go Become Famous!

Mark Edmunds of Deloitte LLP gave an especially creative & insightful response when Pamela asked him to share his “words of wisdom” regarding global CSR. We’d like to share it with you!

Global CSR Benefits: The Bottom Line

Not only does CSR create positive social outcome, but it also contributes to a company’s bottom line. Here’s how Pamela and Gabriele Zedlmayer of Hewlett-Packard explained it.

Global CSR Challenges: Co-Chairs & Cross-Training

One of these challenges of CSR is operating global CSR programs led solely by employee volunteers. Pamela Hawley and Trisa Thompson of Dell, Inc. explored the topic of cross-training and co-chairs on a global level.

The Commonwealth Club of California has been hosting public forums with exciting speakers for more than 100 years. More information on the Commonwealth Club of California can be found here.

The Intersection of Business and Social: Making Meaning Matter

UniversalGiving has partnered with SOCAP12: Making Meaning Matter in San Francisco, a conference featuring the world’s pioneering impact investors, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, civic leaders and innovators. This year’s conference takes place October 1-4, 2012, and serves to create intersections where you – with friends and valuable strangers – mobilize resources and capital for good.

SOCAP believes that to create the world we want, we have to bring all of our selves to the tasks – from our passion, to our time and talent, to our investment dollars – that’s what it takes to make meaning matter.

The themes for this year’s SOCAP closely tie in with UniversalGiving’s vision to “Create A World Where Giving And Volunteering Are A Natural Part Of Everyday Life.”™ SOCAP is the market at the intersection of money and meaning; it’s a place where we put purpose together with capital. Similarly, UniversalGiving Corporate strives to make global Corporate Social Responsibility necessary for every company. By helping Fortune 500 companies establish and manage CSR programs, UniversalGiving Corporate helps companies strengthen their global brand; increase corporate employee giving and volunteer rates; increase employee retention and attraction; and build a stronger, more loyal client base. SOCAP also understands the importance of this intersection between business and “doing good”. SOCAP12 connects investors and entrepreneurs, public and private sectors, technology providers and technology users in an attempt to create better solutions to the world’s problems. Meaning is at the heart of the market; SOCAP is the place where people bring their intentions to make a difference and make connections to push their projects and goals forward.

This year SOCAP is offering both entry-level and expert-level workshops, with over 150 keynotes and panelists from across the globe, with a wide range of expertise in social innovation. Check out the event themes, confirmed participants, and register with 30% off today! Visit SOCAP12


An Exciting Trip to Synergos with the Global Philanthropists Circle

Today’s post is from UniversalGiving’s Founder and CEO, Pamela Hawley.

I recently attended the Synergos Conference in New York, where we were invited amongst 100 global donors.  I wanted to share some exciting insights with you!

We’ve been honored now to be invited for our 6th year in a row, as part of Synergos.  Synergos is a group that brings together global leaders who want to give effectively in developing nations all over the world. At the same time, it also supports social innovators in more than 40 countries through their Senior Fellows program.  They are social leaders who sincerely and effectively serve our communities in diverse ways, in healthcare for children in Zimbabwe, gender equality in Bangladesh and Uganda, poverty alleviation in Thailand, an environmental protection in the Philippines.

This meeting concerned a group of international philanthropists from more than 100 countries.  During this meeting, we heard from Peggy Delaney and from Bill Clinton.  Former President Clinton was quite formidable in the high calling he set for himself regarding philanthropy.  The Clinton Global Initiative is involved in numerous philanthropic projects.  Many of them revolve around renewable energy in hydro and electric policy and implementation.  He is focused on supporting both forprofit and nonprofit groups in this endeavor.  He’s watchful of emerging projects that are successful abroad, which can be utilized here in the United States.

Many professors from Harvard and Dartmouth are covering emerging markets in a new way. What’s called Frugal Innovation or  Reverse Innovation looks at low-cost, effective projects that are working abroad, and brings them back to the United States.  Instead of the U.S. always being the pioneer — international countries, and often developing ones, are the initiators. Product include everything from low-cost medical services to shaving razors, which are now undercutting the market here.

However, U.S. companies are also taking the lead.  For example, PG&E is undercutting itself, by introducing these products back in the United States.   If they don’t, they are concerned that another country will do so.  So they are pre-empting this move, but offering both types of products, low and high end, low cost, high cost.  Fascinating!

For example, the razors are indeed different.  In India, the U.S. razors are re-crafted to take into consideration a local country’s situation. Indian men often don’t have mirrors, operate off a small bowl, have limited water, and also need sharp razors that can outlast dullness.

As a tangent, there are so many innovations from abroad… The UK is coming up with more unique versions of philanthropy.  I just read that their cultural minister is trying to allow people to make a donation when they are at ATMs.  I am so heartened to see such good exploding across the world… :) in so many ways, that affect our lives practically!

Back to Synergos. :)  Then we went on to a dinner session.  The session was 20 tables related to CSR, health, innovation and education, and then all different country areas.  I was put at the Middle East table, and it was amazingly fascinating.  I wanted to see how UniversalGiving could support more projects in philanthropy in the Middle East, in this burgeoning area.

Many of the forprofit people felt, interestingly enough, that an authoritarian government structure was better than a democracy.  They felt these countries were living in anarchy with no government, and it would be better to have their lives ruled by some sort of government structure.  That may be partially true for the short-term stability, but I hope we would all argue on the side of freedom for all people from any type of oppression, any time, anywhere.

However, transition from authoritarianism is a transition.  I’ve long known that just because a dictator is toppled, that doesn’t mean democracy will immediately exist.  We have to be conscious of the fact that when America was created, it was called a “grand experiment.”  No one had had this type of structure before, and we were fighting tooth and nail to prove it could work.  I’m grateful that its structure, no matter how many “dents” it has, is still in place. It preserves so many freedoms for us, in the way that we operate, both in our personal lives and businesses.

Here’s an example of just one individual who is most certainly making his mark in the Middle East and won’t be held back by anything.  Ron Bruder is a global leader working on providing employment opportunities for unemployed youth in the Middle East.  (He’s formerly built shopping centers all over the U.S., and is now devoting himself full time to this effort.)  It’s incredible. He’s giving hope to so many in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen.  Tunisia, he says, is the easiest… they just get it and in many locations, in-country supporters (important) provide significant financial backing, with positive government support, too.

I love sharing with you about these philanthropic insights in different areas across the world!  Continue to make your mark on our world as well. No action is too small.

With highest regards,


The Profound Impact of Programs Providing Housing for the Homeless

Today’s guest post is from Catie Keeler.

Most of us will never know what it means to be homeless. To lose everything you own and to have no sense of what the future holds. To live every day in desperation and terror of sinking further.

Most of us assure ourselves that we will never face such circumstances so long as we work hard and make good decisions for ourselves. Yet many people who made the same assumptions found themselves suddenly out of options after losing a job, or suffering a serious injury, or getting a divorce, or any number of other circumstances.

Many programs are available to help the homeless, yet the ones that make the most impact for many are the ones that remove the very status of “homeless” with a singular act: These are the programs that provide new homes for the homeless.

Programs such as Habitat for Humanity and others provide housing for homeless people to give them a fresh start in life. This one act can make all the difference for these people, inspiring positive change in a number of ways.

Providing a Foundation

Think of your own home: What feelings does it bring to mind? You might think of it as your safe place. It is the place you return every night, the place where you can be yourself, the place where you can create a life. Now think about how you would feel if you didn’t have that place in your life. You might feel adrift. Lost. Unsure of yourself. Insecure about your future.

A house provides a person who was homeless a safe place — a foundation for building a life. No longer does that person have to worry about where he or she will sleep that night, whether it will be a safe place, whether it will be protected from the elements, and whether they will have to endure that worry night after night.

Instilling a Sense of Ownership

Homeless people have had to face one disappointment after another. Over time, those disappointments can feel like personal failures — like a reflection of personal worth. No matter what may have cause that person’s homelessness — even if they were uncontrollable circumstances — that person will feel responsible.

Providing a homeless person a home gives him or her a sense of ownership, which fosters confidence and pride. Those feelings help to cut off feelings of defeat and despair, helping that person to heal.

A Real Start for a Job Search

Many people cruelly assume that the homeless don’t want to work and that’s why they are homeless. Yet many homeless people wind up that way through circumstances beyond their control. Then when they are homeless, the odds are stacked even higher against them because they don’t have the things they need to conduct a proper job search — like clean clothes and an address and phone number at which to be contacted.

Providing a home to a homeless person gives him or her the chance to really start the job search again. They have an address to put on their resume. They have a place to install a phone to reach out to potential employers. They have a real chance to be taken seriously as a professional and to expand their opportunities.

Restoring Pride

One of the most profound ways programs that provide housing to the homeless help to transform these people’s lives is by restoring a sense of pride. These people can start to feel “normal” again — to have a shared experience with those in their community. They don’t have to feel like outcasts and rejects.

Programs that provide housing to the homeless also show them that other people care, and that helps them maintain a sense of hope and optimism. It also inspires a sense of philanthropy, encouraging those who have received help to reach out to others and help, as well.

The next time you consider what volunteer activities you’d like to be involved in, consider volunteering for a program such as Habitat for Humanity or another that provides housing for the homeless. You will be changing a life for the better, and your actions will have immediate and profound results.

Catie Keeler is the primary researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with a degree in business and communications. Her current focus for the site involves mortgage insurance rates and mortgage rates california.

Contest Winners: Volunteering in Haiti, Article #4

This is another installment in our series of articles on volunteering in Haiti, selected from the articles written for our contest with Helium and GlobalPost.  Read our first article selection and more background here.


By James Mallon

The Non profit agency called UniversalGiving provides people the opportunity to use their skills to volunteer in countries where their expertise is urgently required. The organisation also accepts donations, but their real vision is to “Create a world where giving and volunteering are a natural part of everyday life”.  This is a practical and personalised form of making a donation; it also means the recipient receives 100% of what is possibly the greatest gift of all, your very own time and commitment.

Two years have passed since a catastrophic earthquake shook and reduced a large part of Haiti into a pile of debris. Most of this rubble still lies in the place where it fell today, as if in honour to the forces of nature and its merciless potency.  This disaster obviously attracted the attention of worldwide governments, charitable groups and relief agencies, including UniversalGiving who have several schemes in operation, to help rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure.  Some of the volunteering projects available include rebuilding Homes, summer camps for children, Medical supplies, clean water and teaching.

The projects are all equally important; they highlight the basic human needs that people are lacking in this country, with respect to community services and life saving supplies and equipment; items we simply take for granted.  Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and will need huge financial support and manpower just to resuscitate it back to its impoverished pre-earthquake lifestyle, which most of the population were originally accustomed to. Haiti has been in economic turmoil for years and the arrival of that natural disaster, complicated matters to the extreme.

If I was offered a volunteering opportunity from UniversalGiving, I would request a project teaching children for the reason they are the most vulnerable members of any society. Before the earthquake, there were approximately 380,000 children living in orphanages, which is nearly 10% of the child population in care.  After the tremor, it is not fully known how many additional children became orphans, or how many more should be in care, as a result of losing their parents in those tragic circumstances.  Irwin Redlener, a representative of Columbia University, said “I think we’ll be facing the most horrific disaster for children in memory.”  It was also stressed that rebuilding efforts in such circumstances, often focused too heavily on the infrastructure, instead of communities and schools.

In any disaster situation, what really matters is the stability and welfare of children.  The earthquake destroyed most schools in Port–au-Prince and the surrounding regions, so there is an urgent need to rebuild their schools.   Prior to the earthquake, only 2% of children completed their school education because they were forced out of the learning process through abject poverty.  In theory, elementary education is compulsory, but most children drop out before they reach the fifth grade. Education is meant to be free for children, but only 15% of schools are government controlled, with the remaining private institutions charging tuition fees.  Education is simply too costly for most families to support a population of children under the age of 18 years, which accounts for nearly half the population.

Many nations occasionally suffer a temporary form of amnesia, which prevents them remembering that their youth is the future of their country, and that the appropriate investment in their education system should be made.   Haiti suffers permanent memory loss, due to a poor political system, corrupt governments and poor administration that places little emphasis on important social community needs.  It is very unlikely that even with, or without future tragedies, that this country will pull itself out of the huge abyss of poverty it has been entrenched in for the last couple of centuries.

The latest tragic event has resulted in many children suffering from post traumatic stress; therefore any form of stability will bring an improvement to their lives.  Providing them an education will provide a modicum of human attention, which will hopefully bring them some normality while enriching their knowledge through schooling.   This would be a sufficient enough reason to provide some free time, which would be a very good cause; however it will take more than a couple of weeks to mend the pain and suffering that these children have endured over the last two years.

See the winners and read more articles on the Helium website!

Contest Winners: Volunteering in Haiti, Article #3

This is another installment in our series of articles on volunteering in Haiti, selected from the articles written for our contest with Helium and GlobalPost.  Read our first article selection and more background here.


By Benny Muiruri

The world watched in horror as the 2010 Jan, 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit one of the poorest countries in the world bringing the nation of Haiti to its knees. Buildings were reduced to pieces and lives were lost. Many people were left homeless and children, orphans. It was estimated that the total damage was over US$ 3 billion and more than 300,000 lives perished.

Down the line, two years later, “All over Haiti, the atmosphere was and continues to be one of fear and uncertainty.” (UniversalGiving). According to the NGO – UniversalGiving – the country has suffered 15 major calamities in the past decade. This means the 2010 Jan disaster left the country poorer and the government overwhelmed.

Out of goodwill, many countries pledged money, NGOs rushed to help in whatever they could or areas they were specializing in; and individuals donated their money and others, time. However, even as the country receives aid in various forms to rebuild it, there is still more that needs to be done, especially volunteering.

Volunteering enables a volunteer to get at the need level – the heart of the affected person. The person who is helped will feel appreciated, cared for, loved and have hope for the future despite what happened and the consequences that followed. This is particularly true when it comes to children, since most of them lost their parents or guardians. Mother Teresa said while alive and which rings true when it comes to volunteering, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do,” and “We are all pencils in the hand of God.” How true it is when it comes to volunteering.

UniversalGiving, a non-profit organization mandated to vet NGOs that want to offer their services in Haiti has various volunteering opportunities. A volunteer can decide in which area to work in as UniversalGiving has given descriptions of the NGOs in its main site. It assures volunteers that they are working hard to ensure the NGOs wanting to offer their services in Haiti “…meet the highest standard of quality, transparency and trust.”

Among the volunteering opportunities offered by UniversalGiving is teaching children. God’s Children Ministry, a non-profit vetted by UniversalGiving offers opportunity in teaching children. The NGO was founded in 1989. Its mission is to help the people come out of poverty by providing the necessary aid. Therefore, “In recognition that poverty ravages many areas of Haiti, victimizing families, children and the elderly, we dedicate ourselves to a ministry of relief and development to aid the poorest of the poor. Wherever possible, our work is not to sustain the needy but rather to break the cycle of poverty that plagues them.” This, the NGO does by “providing educational opportunities and focusing on community development.”

If I had 2 weeks of free time to volunteer and decided it would be in Haiti, it would be teaching the children at God’s Children Ministry. What should be noted is that many children are still traumatized by the 2010 Jan earthquake. They do not understand why this had to happen to them. They lost their parents or guardians. They feel hopeless, helpless and depressed. As a volunteering teacher I will be able to talk to them, encourage, inspire, uplift and motivate them. Then, they would know that disasters such as earthquakes are natural causes and there is not something they did bad to deserve it. The most important thing is to light hope even if it is a small one in their hearts.

Also, as a volunteering teacher I will be able to impact in their young minds the skills I have learnt and education gained through the years which among them includes teaching English, computer skills, soccer and enabling them to bring out the talents that are in them. This way, their talent will be nurtured which will be of great benefit in the coming years.

Knowledge is power and it is the key to unlock the future. Once they know this and gain the necessary education, not only from me, then they will be creative and innovative in finding ways of creating jobs and improving the economy of the country when they grow up. If a high percentage of people are literate then the poverty level will decrease at a high margin.

As a volunteering teacher, I will be able to empower them by “heightening their awareness of their rights and responsibilities, their abilities, and enhance their self-confidence to enable them improve their lives” (UNESCO).

“There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.” (Mother Teresa).

See the winners and read more articles on the Helium website!