Connecting with Pamela  

It is special when two people connect and create such an exciting and mutually beneficial relationship. Here is the story of how Saumya met Pamela Hawley and became an intern at UniversalGiving. Saumya currently works virtually from India!

On the 25th of February, I get a message from my sister, Mahima on the family group chat saying, “Saum look up UniversalGiving. You might want to consider working with them.” She was at a conference at Duke University and had just met Pamela Hawley, the Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving. Mahima thought that Pamela was amazing. Jokingly, I asked Mahima whether she had told Pamela that she had a sister and expected the answer to be no. Instead, Mahima said, “actually I did.” I immediately went on to the UniversalGiving website and looked at all the work that the organization does, domestically and internationally and I could not wait to find a way to work with them.

My sister said that she would email Pamela, mention my name, and ask her if I could get in touch. Even though Mahima had met Pamela, I was not expecting Pamela to say yes, and I definitely was not expecting such a quick response from her. I received an enthusiastic reply to my email within minutes, saying that she would love for me to intern with UniversalGiving. She connected me with Ayuko, the operations director, for additional information about summer internships which led me to believe that I would communicate with Ayuko from there on out. However, after a few days, I received an email from Pamela connecting me with Natalia and the Development Team. Pamela also requested that I call her so that we could catch up on the weekend. Twenty-four hours later, I was on the phone with the CEO of the organization!

Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this was a possibility – that my sister would mention me to someone at Duke and a week later I would be on the phone with the CEO, ready to help her organization with research and social media! My talk with Pamela was absolutely amazing. Apart from how great it was to just speak to Pamela, it was unbelievable how enthusiastic she was about having me on the team. She was as excited as I was, and she wanted me to start working right away! What stuck with me was that this phone call was not a one-time thing. Pamela said that I had a direct line of access to her and I should never hesitate to connect with her. She loves working with the team and I think this is incredibly unique. It is not often that you get to talk to a CEO of a company who is as enthusiastic as you are about working for them.  

This has just been an incredible opportunity, not only in the way that it happened but also the speed at which this happened – not even 10 days after my sister met Pamela, I have a UniversalGiving account and I am signing an Internship Agreement with them. I am so glad that I get to work with this incredible, highly approachable and enthusiastic team!

By Saumya Varma

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.

Driving Change


Our team wouldn’t be half as strong without our staff who work so hard to train interns, manage finances and clients, and keep UniversalGiving running like a well-oiled machine! Below is a testimonial from our Senior Corporate Services Associate, Kristara Bring! We are so grateful for your work, Kristara!

“When I found UniversalGiving, I was intrigued by the idea that our work drives change through partnerships with NGOs, corporations, and individuals. It is amazing to know our team is truly making a difference on a daily basis and I love working with such diverse, inspiring individuals.”

-Kristara Bring, Senior Corporate Services Associate



When A Present Meets Practicality

By Sarah Scott

This past Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the UniversalGiving team came together to create 24 care packages filled with items like bottled water, toothpaste, chapstick, and granola bars. Everyone signed up to bring a 24-count of one or two items (i.e. 24 toothbrushes) so as to evenly distribute the cost of these presents. The result?


In order to learn about how such an amazing project came about, I turned to the Manager of Corporate Client Services at UniversalGiving, Xouhoa Bowen, for the insider scoop.

Xouhoa came up with the idea for this event during an office brainstorm where the team tried to come to a consensus about how they wanted to give back for Thanksgiving. As Xouhoa noted, “UniversalGiving is very cognizant of our surroundings in terms of being aware of who needs help and who needs to be served.” In this case, she was referring to the overwhelmingly visible homeless population in the Bay Area.

According to Guidestar, there are close to 35,000 homeless people in this region, with estimates as high as 15,000 homeless people in San Francisco alone. And while there are homeless populations all around the world, San Francisco’s situation seems particularly dire because of the juxtaposition between extreme poverty and rampant wealth. The homeless and the rich live in very close proximity. For example, on Market Street, you see so much money, shopping, and commercialization. And simultaneously, you see so many people asking for help. “There are so many different identities to the homeless population,” Xouhoa added. “It’s not just people who are mentally ill. It’s also young people, old people, college graduates, professionals.”

After having these conversations, the team unanimously decided that this was the population that they were going to focus on during this giving season.

Xouhoa hoped to create an event that would be “small, meaningful, and not take too much time to put together.” During the team brainstorm, they realized a care package of essentials, such as toiletries and dry food, would be a good way to show their support. The goal was to give something tangible and engaging rather than money that would be quickly spent. Over the next week, the team put together a spreadsheet of different items that they would bring in. Xouhoa explained that one of the most meaningful parts of the project was how involved everyone was. “For those that were out of the office during the initial meeting, we caught them up with quick one-on-one conversations about what we were doing and why we were doing it. We didn’t just want to give out items – we wanted to deliver presents with dignity, care, and meaning.”

In addition to these items, the team also created a list of resources. “We were pleasantly surprised by how many organizations are trying to help the homeless population.” Xouhoa  said. “We were whittling down resources because we couldn’t give them pages and pages! We decided on ones that provided meals for Thanksgiving as well as some creative organizations, like ‘Lava Mae,’ which is striving to increase access to sanitation and showers for all.

When the day arrived, the team took their lunches and their items to the kitchen and put together the care bags. “We created the event so that it would become a part of everything that we were already doing,” Xouhoa explained. “We did the brainstorm during a break, people donated a bit of their free time after work to buy the items, and then we assembled the bags as a team during our lunch break. As it is with all team efforts, no one was being asked to donate too much time or too much money.”


After work, they all took some time to walk around the area outside of the office to gift the packages. This event left everyone feeling satisfied, valuable, and dignified. With Giving Tuesday just around the corner, all of us at UniversalGiving want to know how you will be helping your communities! Please comment below!


Xouhoa Bowen is originally from outside of Chicago. She earned an undergraduate degree in international affairs and psychology from Marquette University in Wisconsin. After she graduated, she gained experience in different sectors through her work with the Peace Corps, refugees in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and schools in South Korea before moving to the Bay Area. She has a masters in project management, which is what has led her to her current position as the Manager of Corporate Client Services at UniversalGiving. The concepts of service and giving have always been important to her and she believes in tackling obstacles and working together as integral parts to achieving results. 


Give, Bond, Support!


Yesterday, our CEO Pamela Hawley bought the UniversalGiving team Chinese food for lunch! It was great to sit down together and have a meal to relax from work. At UniversalGiving, we cherish these moments when we can share our unique experiences and draw connections and similarities. For Thanksgiving, we hope that you find time to sit down with those who support you to talk about the little things, the big issues, and the humanity that brings us all together.

Looking for giving opportunities to support food access around the world in honor of Thanksgiving? Check out the three below!

Provide food for an entire school for one day in Kenya

Create a sustainable food system in Costa Rica

Support food projects for AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe