Pamela Hawley is a pioneer in modern ways to optimize philanthropy. She's the winner of the Jefferson Award, which is the Nobel Prize in community service, and she was the finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award She is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, an award-winning nonprofit that helps people give and volunteer worldwide. She is also the co-founder of VolunteerMatch. This organization has matched more than four million volunteers with nonprofits. During her time there, she generated more than one million dollars in revenue. Pamela has a political science degree from Duke University and a master's in international communications from the Annenburg school of communications. Great episode with Pamela on Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People Podcast!
I'm Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. I'm on a mission to make you remarkable.
Helping me in this episode is the remarkable Pamela Hawley.
She is a pioneer in modern ways to optimize philanthropy. She's the winner of the Jefferson Award, which is the Nobel Prize in community service, and she was the finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award She is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, an award-winning nonprofit that helps people give and volunteer worldwide.
She is also the co-founder of VolunteerMatch. This organization has matched more than four million volunteers with nonprofits. During her time there, she generated more than one million dollars in revenue.
Pamela has a political science degree from Duke University and a master's in international communications from the Annenburg school of communications.
Since I went to Stanford, I started off by asking her why she chose Duke over Stanford way back when.
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People, and now here is the remarkable Pamela Hawley.
My first penetrating question is why Duke over Stanford?
What a great question and I think it's a great leadership question. I actually came in a crisis moment in my PJs in making that decision. There was a lot of...
First of all, let me just say what two great schools. You can't miss with either of them. Those are just two wonderful schools. I went to an all-girls school. Four of us got in and I was the only one that turned it down.
I got a lot of flak. I had some teachers write notes to me that I was making the worst decision in my life. But I'm a very big believer that one has to really follow what is right for you, and the only person who really knows that is you yourself.
Now, you should be surrounding yourself with advisors and people who can coach you. I don't think that ever stops. I'm a mentor to people. I have twenty mentees, and I've got twenty mentors.
I am constantly surrounding myself with people. I don't believe in age and I don't believe you ever don't need a mentor. You should always be learning.
In that decision, there's a lot of default pressure to go to Stanford. But what happened for me is when I went and I visited both schools, there was this incredible sense of joy and enthusiasm about Duke and a well-roundedness that just made me feel like people here are living life successfully.
They may or may not have been the top pianist. They may or may have not been the top biochemist. They could have been, but there was a joie de vivre and a sense of groundedness there that I felt this is not just for school, this is about how I want to be in life.
Now, when I went to Stanford, it was just like amazing in a different way.
It was like the person who played the trombone on the corner of the road to support their family or was the number one in physics.
At that time, I didn't feel quite that same sense of that joie de vivre.
For me, I had to go, “Am I going to go strictly only with the top people in the world? Or am I going to go with the people who are, I believe, living life in an incredibly joyous and thorough and wholehearted and balanced way?”
I've never regretted it. My best friends, I'm still in contact with them every week. Relationships are so key. The final kind of story about this is I'm very fortunate this way, I had actually written out, Guy, the note saying I'm going to Stanford.
I'm in my PJs. I walk across the street. We have the blue mailbox. Opening up the blue mailbox. For me, it's a cavern, right?
If you put it in there, there's no way you can hold it back. I'm seventeen. I'm like, there's no way. It goes in the mailbox and you're done. And that moment was great for me. I went, "No, this is not right for me."
Shut the mailbox. Ran back in. Said to my parents, "I'm going to Duke," and they were like, "Great!" Kudos to them for being so flexible.
But it's those inflection points where you listen to what I call your SGI, your spiritual gut instinct. It doesn't matter whether you're religious or not. Everyone has that inner calling, that inner voice. You got to listen to that.
I've done that many, many times and never regretted it.
So long answer, but I think a very important answer about many of the questions that we face in life.
And where was this house when you didn't drop it in the mailbox?
That's the same house that my parents are still in now in Menlo Park. It's still the same house.
If you had gone to Stanford, you'd have gone a mile down the road.
That's true. Yep.
You made the right decision. You need to get away. Kids need to get away. You should never be someplace close enough where you can bring your laundry home. That's my test.
Well, I agree with that too, but I didn't leave to just go away. I think that's important, right? You don't want to leave to just escape. You should get out there and experience different parts of the world. Absolutely.
Okay. Now, second question that people listening to this may wonder, what the hell is Guy talking about, which is, are you still learning from the trucking industry?
That was great. A phenomenal man in our industry, Jed Emerson, I was starting out as a social entrepreneur and the concept was just coming up. You didn't even have like social enterprise. I was stuck between wanting to be an efficient go-getter business person, but do it for good. And you didn't have that. You didn't have that choice. It was nonprofit. It was for profit.
Here comes Jed Emerson, George Roberts, REDF, really innovative groups. He was speaking and I would follow wherever he would go he's speaking. I ran up to him and I'm like, "I want to be a social entrepreneur. What do I do?"
And he's like, "Read everything that has nothing to do with it. Read truckers magazine. Read hair cutters magazines." I was always such an absorber, very earnest, not a bone of cynicalness within me, cynicism.
I'm just like, okay, and I literally went and got and tried to find magazines like that. It did change my life, because I looked at it and it was like, I'm going to learn as much as I can.
And to this day, I would say I have a huge addiction, which is constantly, constantly learning from things that seem to have nothing to do with what I do. And if you do that, you're just going to be a phenomenal, I believe, leader because you're constantly seeking curiosity, enthusiasm to learn.
And then it's wonderful to be with people. Because when you're with people, it doesn't matter what their interest is. If you're interested in them, they will feel honored and you'll learn something.
Now, I want you to explain what are luxury troubles.
I became really obsessed at a young age, around twelve, with understanding that there was inequity across the world that was just shocking to me. You've got all this wealth and luxury in America.
Many people don't think that, but that's what we have, especially in California. When I was twelve, I went on a family vacation in Mexico. And away from the marketplace and away from all the music and the jewelry and all the wears they were selling, I went down a cul-de-sac and I saw all of these begging, starving children.
I was like the word unacceptable imprinted across my mind. My life changed at that moment. I went and started serving in East Palo Alto, using my Spanish to help with translations, passing out food, clothing.
And then as soon as I could, on the earthquake crisis in El Salvador, worked in the victims of Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, worked in Uganda on HIV.
I just went all over the world. First of all, I saw a lot of wealth there. Families stayed together. Families ate meals together. Families worked together to make their lives work. There wasn't a go to the dry cleaners.
You do the laundry. You get it done. There was a lot of wealth there that was spiritual wealth, familial wealth, relationship wealth, connected to the earth wealth. When you come back to the United States, you don't always have that. There's a lot of separation, divorce, isolation.
We don't always have that wealth in the United States. And then we have wealth of, we have a cell phone. Maybe we have a work phone and a personal phone.
We have a home that costs a lot of money. But the issue is that when something happens in the United States, normally there's a resource we can go to.
We can go to a place to get our cell phone fixed. We can go get our laundry done. We can go to a restaurant if we don't feel like cooking, which is not available in many nations across the world.
When something doesn't work out, we're like, "Oh my gosh, my phone isn't working." There's this tension. There's this stress. And it's like, no, no, no, no, no. That's a luxury trouble. That's a luxury to have a phone and it's a luxury to have this trouble that your phone isn't working.
It is a luxury trouble that the electricity went out on your house. Get some candles. It's a luxury trouble that, "Ugh, I can't walk today because it's raining." Sure you can. A lot of people walk in the rain. I do. That never holds me back. If you're in Seattle, you walk in the rain all the time. Why do we in California go, "It's raining. I can't walk." Get out there. Walk.
To me, the luxury trouble is you think that's a trouble. No, that's a luxury that you have there. That's a luxury you have that cell phone and that you can pay for it. It revolutionized my life.
I hope everyone can travel to developing nations or other places. The troubles we have here are luxury troubles. If we realize that, our lives are going to be a lot more filled with joy.
I would say that in the Bay Area, we are at the center of luxury troubles, but I digress.
Would you explain how UniversalGiving works?
Yes. UniversalGiving is a website that helps people connect to vetted donor and volunteer opportunities. So that when you want to volunteer, you know it's vetted. You know that we've gone through a twenty-four-stage model to vet it for you and 100 percent goes to the cause.
When we look at these NGOs, we don't just accept any nonprofit on our site. They have to pass mission, vision, terrorism, OFAC, financial review, and we keep adding on.
When I first got back from my international travels, I had six stages. Now, there's twenty-four.
I tell my team, "We are dead if you don't start innovating." Our latest one is Me Too Movement. We go in and we vet for workplace misconduct. Is it hard to do? You bet! But the thing is, you've got to try and get in there and make it the best that you possibly can.
We do media vetting. We do social media vetting. Constantly adding on.
What we do then is allow you as a donor to feel secure when you give, that you are giving to a vetted accredited nonprofit. We've been doing this for twenty years. And now what we do too is adding onto that, how do we make money as a nonprofit?
We go into companies, help them with our corporate social responsibility programs, the strategy, operations, the vetting, the disbursements. We work with key top clients, such as the Bezos Foundation. We have Apple TV+. We have RSF, GAP.
It's so exciting. We get out there and we really help these companies operate their programs really well. We have 100 percent track record of making sure that there's been no maleficence at any of these companies.
We've pulled VPs off the boards. We've pulled CEO's wives out of involvement of a nonprofit. And all of that's happened before anything negative could occur. We're very, very good about prevention here to make sure that this is really quality philanthropy and quality volunteering that you're involved in.
Wait, you have told organizations that the CEO's spouse has to get out of the organization because it's conflicting?
Yes. It's not just conflicting. There are serious issues with that nonprofit.
There could be fraud. There could be political lobbying where it's not in the guidelines to give to it, that they're doing political lobbying. We often see nonprofits state that they don't do it and they do.
It just depends on the foundation guidelines as to whether they allow the political lobbying.
There are definitely major issues on the finance front. We have found it both intentionally and unintentionally that nonprofits are not run well fiscally.
For example, you could have intentional fraud, but you could also have gross misuse of the funds.
If it's a CEO of a company or a VP, you don't want any kind of liaisons with a nonprofit that isn't topnotch. I'd say that's true for anyone.
I don't care whether you're a person of high title or not. But when you are dealing with people in that high title, they are a position of a public presence. Therefore, everyone in their inner circle has to be liaisoned with topnotch nonprofits.
Secondarily, what if they plan to run for office in the future? You better have those relationships with those nonprofits cleared up now.
Let's say you encounter a nonprofit and they have a private plane and the CEO gets paid half a million dollars a year.
Are those sending up flares that, don't get involved with this organization? Is there a sweet spot where you say, "Yep, that's justified and he or she's worth 500,000 a year?"
That is a very, very good question and it's on a case by case basis, Guy. Because what we do is we have yellow, orange, and red flags.
If the nonprofit gets three orange flags or one red flag, then we are flagging that to our individuals, our corporate partners, our C-suite, our billionaire partners, our millionaire partners. But at the end of the day, they get to make the decision. We're not going to force that on them. We provide the report to them. We give that to them, that's up to them.
But what we stand behind is our knowledge, our ability to do this and to provide you a recommendation of excellence.
Now, when you bring up those criteria, we're also looking at that in light of all these other criteria. We could not just evaluate it based on what you gave us. Let's say that person earns $500,000.
This is hypothetical, but let's say that their overhead is 8 percent. That's lean. That's really, really good.
What if the person who earns $500,000 brings in 300 million? It's a big difference if they earn $500,000 and they bring in three million, right?
As with most things in life, it's very dangerous to just pull out one item and say, "Is this in or out?" It really has to be evaluated within the larger contact. And you know that being a VC, right? You look at some person and maybe they walk in, and they walk in jeans and their shirt's untucked and they look like H-E-L-L.
But you say that's just one criteria. Let's hear what this guy's mind is, right? Now, if the guy's mind's crazy, then it's, "Okay. Thank you so much. Take the sandwich. You can take everything else. We'll see you later." But if the guy's mind is engaging, you bump that up and you forget about that.
To me, what I learned in venture capital, Bill Draper is one of my top mentors, I talk to him as much as I possibly can, you're constantly looking at the entire landscape, and then you're always looking for new information all the time.
Let's say we get a report on a nonprofit, and let's say that the client isn't sure about it. We say, "Let's wait six months. Let's do some more due diligence in six months," just like a VC would. We like your idea. We like your deal. We're going to come back in six months. We're going to come back in a year. We're going to come back in eighteen months.
You don't have to make all these crisis immediate decisions. Because guess what? There's a billion nonprofits out there.
If we want to find something else that's cleaner, let's go find a different nonprofit. There's a lot of options about how we would handle that. But I would never come to you and say, "Yep, they're out or yes, they're in." You got to be a lot wiser about how you evaluate that.
Do you ever do this vetting in person? Do you ever go to this organization that's halfway across the world?
We have done that. It's not an overt all these people on the ground, because that's so expensive and it's really hard to do. When you do go on the ground, it can often be a dog and pony show and you had to be really, really careful.
We had an example of that actually when I was in Ecuador, and we were there working on the forest and the difference between preserving forests and also corporations coming in there. We came in. We met with one of the tribes leaders there. Everything seemed to be fine. And then I happen to go into the room behind his office and there's an office there and the whole walls, everything is plastered with, I don't know, is it Playgirl, Playboy?
I don't know the difference. But the point is that you had this very humble astute leader and then you see this. I've always been taught, explore a step further. Go see something that maybe isn't being presented.
And of course, that's not going to tell the whole story, but you start to wonder, what's really going on here? How did they get those? Did they use funder money to buy these magazines? Why are they there? What is it saying to the rest of the villagers?
You have to ask yourself those questions. Being boots on the ground is important, but it's not everything. We have gone. We do go, but it's difficult because they know you're coming. It's really hard to show up in the forest six hours outside of an airport and say, "I'm not going to tell you I'm coming."
Do you also vet the other side where it's a donor? I mean, do you try to prevent taking dark money or dirty money?
That is such a good question. That is on the future vision list. We have not gotten to that yet. That is a really important idea about is the money clean. We hope that our donors and the people that are involved with us, they see us as a family. We see ourselves as a UniversalGiving family. We're very much about community.
If you look at our values, trust, excellence, listening, measurable results, and then the last one is love and graciousness.
Now, I got pushback from that. They're like, "That's not Silicon Valley. That's not tough enough." This world needs love and graciousness, and we stand by that firmly and strongly. People being engaged with us, I think it's harder for them to be engaged with us if they aren't true to themselves because we're really living our hearts out here in a very familial and value centric way.
In this future, what happens if Mark Zuckerberg wants to give you money, but now there's some dubiousness about Facebook? Or taking a really extreme example, what if the Sackler family wanted to donate or something like that, what would happen?
I think we would do a very similar model guide to what we do with the nonprofits, which is you come up with a vetting criteria, what that vetting criteria is, and then give that decision to the nonprofit, which is here's a donor, you do the same thing that you do to the CEO of Apple or of GAP, and say, "Here's the nonprofit. Here's all the positives. Here's the challenges," and you let them make the decision.
We do the same thing with the nonprofit. Now, there might be some certain criteria. Let's say it was just black and white made it through drug trafficking or something like that.
Then I think you'd have some barometers that we say, "Absolutely not." A similar situation for us would be like 35 percent overhead, something like that.
But I would say in general, we're very much about putting forth the truth, but then what you have to do is say entitle people, allow them, empower them to make that decision themselves about how they want to either give or receive money.
We're not really about dictating how the world should work in philanthropy. We're about quality philanthropy, and then you make that decision in.
Hopefully people are sophisticated enough to understand that just because the organization is a dot org or a dot edu doesn't necessarily mean everything is great and above board. Let's say that we already understand that, but how much does being a 501(c)(3) really mean?
Ooh, that's a big question. It's an important starting place. I would never rest on that in just assuming that everything is okay ever. That's just a starting place.
And to be honest, there are a lot of scrappy on the ground nonprofits that don't have 501(c)(3)s because they're in the heart of Cambodia or on the ground serving HIV in Uganda.
When I was in Uganda, that clinic for HIV was open 24/7. They had rotating people. They had a line that was three times around the building and that building, with such heart and so well-run, that didn't have a 501(c)(3).
It's a starting point, but it is not a be all, end all and you should not rest only on a 501(c)(3).
I'm doubting my judgment more and more. How do I know that... I'm in Santa Cruz.
Some organization called Clean the Ocean and their website is cleantheocean.org and they are 501(c)(3). Now, how does Guy know that it's okay to give them money?
Just come to UniversalGiving, we'll vet it for you. We'll vet it for you for free. That's why we're here.
That's why we started it. Yeah. You send it to us and we will vet it for free. That's my whole point is to do this to make this as...
Yes, it's a free service for all the donors and volunteers. Anyone can come to us and say, "Can you vet this," and then we get it up on our platform if it's legitimate.
Save the Ocean would then come up on our platform. We would vet it and we would go through that process for you. We do it for free. We're a nonprofit. That's what our mission is to help people give and volunteer with quality vetted nonprofits.
And then how we make our money is through the company. When I set this up, I was like, you have to be really smart about this, because all these people are going to be coming to you to get the nonprofits vetted. Well, how are you going to make money? We separate it out and we say, "You, the individual donor and volunteer, you get it for free, and you the company or the foundation or the millionaire or the billionaire, you pay."
And that's how we set it up.
Okay, that's great. I had no idea.
In my life, one of the things I defaulted to was that you're in the Schwab Foundation list, which I hope they vet as well as you do.
We're in conversations with them. We'd like to work with them.
I don't know how they vet, but couldn't they vet with you? You should be a source for them, right?
Yes, exactly. We can work with donor-advised funds and the financial institutions. Yes.
Great. As you can see, I'm very interested in this topic about vetting both sides, but you have a window and also you are one into the challenges for not-for-profit organizations.
I watched a video of you where you said, "Oh yeah, it sounds like it's so easy and I did this so fast but let me tell you how hard it is." What are these great challenges for NFPs? Because it's not all unicorns and pixie dust when you start an NFP.
Quite the contrary, probably. What are the greatest challenges?
Wow. If someone told me what would've happened when I started, I would really hope I would still start up again.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs say that it's a beautiful journey. Be ready.
I'm a Dukie, so be on your basketball toes. Be ready to go. Be ready to go where that ball's going to go.
I love sports analogies. I couldn't even tell you what's going to be down the pike five years from now or five minutes from now. Something's going to happen. It's going to be a positive challenge. It's not a problem. It's only a problem if you think it's a problem. It's a challenge.
A challenge means you're going to overcome it. Stay on your basketball toes and be ready to go wherever you need to go. It's not easy. I think if you have business skills and business predispositions, either an entrepreneurial drive towards you, want to solve, want to solve things, that's going to help you a lot.
I have been sued from the name and correctly having the name, but not having enough money to defend myself with our name. We had to switch names. We got really low on payroll at the beginning.
That's why I set up the revenue generation because I never want to go through that again and so many nonprofits are hand to mouth.
A lot of challenges that nonprofits face is that they're all about the heart. I don't think you can be all about the heart.
You have to be about the heart and let that drive your vision, and then you got to have boots on the ground, smart business skills to make sure you're ordered, you've got strong operations, you can execute well, and you can have good fundraising mechanisms.
Make sure you can run the business of your nonprofit, the operations and the finances really well.
If you don't have the heart for that, you need other people surrounding you. And regardless, even if you do, you need other people surrounding you.
Challenges will come in finding the right fit with a team or not, whether you're a nonprofit or for profit. Define, define, define what that criteria is of how that person fits into your corporate family. That is critical. Having people who pull the organization forward rather than pull it back is critical.
I would say the biggest challenge is, because you could write a book on this and I am, is operations, finance, and team. You've got to have those down.
It cannot just be the heart. The heart does drive you, but you got to have a lot more than heart in order to run this well.
Can you give us some absolute best practices? Let me give you a hint at what I'm after here. Would you say that a best practice is that you and your spouse are not in the same organization?
Do you have best practices like just don't do that? The odds that your spouse is the best marketing person in the world is not high.
Do you have anything like that, like a short list of best practices?
Definitely. Actually that did come up on a very critical vetting we did for a Fortune 500 client, which is the husband was the ED. Got involved in fraud and misuse of funds. They kicked him out. His wife took over.
We were explaining to the client, that does not mean it's clean. The wife is now running it and comes home to dinner and discusses with a husband, and the husband could be coaching her what he wants to have happen. Then she leaves and he comes back on the board. In essence, even though they got rid of him, they never got rid of him because his wife was there.
And then he came back on the board after she left. We're able to make those... It's not that black and white of, “Oh, the wife is leading it and the husband is the CMO.”
It's actually something a little bit more subterfuge like what I'm explaining to you is it looks like things got cleared up.
It looks like they did, but people think it's a little bit more simplistic than what it is. We did have that situation and we brought it to light with a client and they were shocked and grateful and a lot of other issues as well.
But going back to the things that I have learned, for example, I've actually coached for profit entrepreneurs on this as well. When you can, get a year in the bank, because you are saying to your employees, I am not going to run out of money. I'm not just going to have to use my own payroll. We make sure we have a year in the bank." I've been through three recessions.
Every single time I get on the phone, I get on Zoom, and I get on Zoom with my team, my global team, and I say, "Team, we are going to be okay during this time. We are not only going to be okay. We are going to thrive."
It's so much of calming down the team of understanding that as long as your performance is strong, your salary is not going to be cut. Your hours are not going to be reduced, and it is going to remain stable for you as long as your performance stays intact.
We've done that every time and every single recession, the last three, maybe you don't call COVID a recession, but that cataclysmic event, we not only stayed true in no reduction of hours and no reduction of salary, but we also last year hired seven people.
I would say one of the biggest shortlist is have a financial buffer. I've studied Stanford's endowment. It's fascinating. They have three, maybe five different buffers that they go through. If this falls through, we have this buffer. If this falls through, we have this buffer.
We're not as advanced as that, but I was so impressed with that, and I put that into our financial thinking.
Again, going back to Jed Emerson, I can't really liken UniversalGiving exactly to Stanford endowment at all, but I can learn from them, and I can put together a buffer.
You learn things and you mitigate it for your situation. Number one, have a financial buffer.
Number two, over hire. That's right, over hire. If someone transitions, you've got someone else that comes right in. You don't feel that pressure of, oh, we're out for another six months, another year.
We have to take the time to find the person, which you should do. You should take the time, but we over hire, and we have them in areas.
For example, we always need people in NGO outreach. We always need more NGOs on our site. We always need more volunteer opportunities on our site. We always need more giving opportunities. We hire them, and then this is point number three, we CT. We cross train.
They're in NGO, but they're also cross trained somewhere else. If we need to pull them into another area, we can. I would say those would be the three. That would be the most important, what I would focus on, which is have that year cushion in the bank, over hire, and CT, cross train.
We have spreadsheets on every single business unit that says who's the lead and who are the three CTs.
Those kind of things sound simple, but they take a lot of energy to Institute. But if you get it in the DNA, you'll find your team going, "But wait a minute, who's CT'd on that?" Ha, ha! They're thinking the right way, because they're thinking, "Wait a minute, I'm the only person who knows that."
Big mistake. Then you've got a huge hole. If you're good in recruiting, you know good recruiting doesn't happen in a day. It could take you three months, six months. Three months if you're lucky. Six months, a year to find the right person.
If you've over hired, you've got those right people in place and can move them into other areas that they need to be in.
Point of clarification, when you say over hire, you're talking about head count, not necessarily qualifications, background, or ability, or both?
No, I'm talking about the first, which is let's say you have in your planning that you need five people on NGO outreach. Hire ten. You hire ten, and then you cross train some in operations, some in development, some in other areas.
They want that. They're excited about that in their role. Other people might only want to do NGO outreach, but you do that and you cross train them and you're clear with them, you're up front with them about that from the beginning. They want it too.
It has to be an agreement with that hire that they also want to do two roles. They're excited about that. We educate them that we're here to serve. You might be asked to serve in another area. Is that okay with you? They're like, yes. Usually that's what we need at our organization. It's overhiring so that...
We could always use more people in NGO, but we can move them into other areas when it's needed. But no, we don't over hire on qualifications. Because if we don't utilize that person in the right way, they would get B-O-R-E-D.
That word is a swear word from my grandmother. She doesn't let me use that when I was growing up. She grew up in the depression and was the first woman flutist at Juilliard.
I go over in scrub floors with her. One time I told her I was B-O-R-E-D and she washed my mouth out with soap. Now everyone at UniversalGiving knows that word is a swear word.
She said, "If you are ever that word, I will put you to work so hard, you will not ever remember that word." If we over hired, people might be that and we would never want to do that to them.
Do you still make everybody start as an intern?
No, we don't. We bring in people at all different levels.
You used to, right?
I think that was in the scrappy early, early days. That was really, really early. But I think that was probably in the first two or three years, but no, we've been hiring strong over the past like fifteen years right out of whatever position that we need.
From your observation with bringing these people on, do you think that educational background, degrees, et cetera, et cetera, and work experience, previous relevance, et cetera, et cetera, accomplishment, are the past things like that good predictors of success for the future?
What a tough question. That is a really tough question.
I will give you some micro examples because I think recruiting is critical and it is an art and a science and you're never going to get it 100 percent perfectly.
We take it very seriously. We have full-time recruiters constantly recruiting. We never go and recruit just for position. We're constantly, constantly hiring always.
That would be my shortlist point number four, always hiring. I think that it's a unique and individual each time, but I will give you a hint on this. The first thing we review, and this is part of our secret sauce because we have a long interview process, is the video. Our team does not look at the resume before that video.
If that video... It comes in as one component. It's almost like a vetting situation.
We're looking at that. We're looking for eye content, body language, sincerity, hard work ethic. We're listening for answers. We're also listening for the voice tone. We're watching for how they present themselves. We're watching for authenticity.
That is one thing that I would say is equal or more important than experience, because we're looking to see, is this person in values alignment?
One of the things that we found is that when you hire off of resume and experience and degrees, we have found for us, it ultimately fails.
You are not looking at enough criteria, because we've seen examples where someone comes in, they're incredible, they started a nonprofit, they have an MBA, they have a PhD, and they also have a massive attitude.
That doesn't fit. You have all this experience. You have these degrees and you have a serious attitude. It's a disaster for us and it'll hold back your organization.
It is one factor we take into account, but I will give you an example of someone at our organization currently who is just accelerating up the ranks. Hard worker, good instincts, constantly open to feedback. That person at our organization, this is this person's first job out of school.
They will jump promotions two slots every year for the way we forecasted with their growth plan. That would be my point number five, have a growth plan for each employee. We are not going to hold this person back.
They are so good that in year two, their second year of being with us, they could become a manager. That's another, I'd say point seven for us, is we're age agnostic.
I do not believe in age. My grandmother was ninety-seven teaching at Stanford when she passed on. She told me to never believe in age. I don't believe in it.
I do not classify people by age and experience. If experience can help you be a better person, great. But we do not look at experience, titles, degrees as a predictor of automatic success.
Well, back up here for a second. You said the video. What video is this? Is this a video interview? Is this you submit a pitch? What's this video you're looking at?
When we do our recruiting, we've done this for many, many years, part of how we weed people out is through our recruiting process. You're required to have a cover letter, two writing samples, a video with certain questions that we've given you.
If you pass that, then we have a five-page questionnaire for you that ranges from skills to ethics, values, and cultural synergy.
Part of the way that we are able to determine if you are serious about UniversalGiving is going through this very thoughtful process that is very self-revelatory, helpful for both you and for us, to determine if it's a good fit for UniversalGiving, because we want it to be a good fit for you long-term and for us long-term.
But if I may just push back a little bit, don't you think a video provides information that may not be let's say the best information in the sense that; this person is my race. This person is just like me. This person is attractive. This person is not attractive. This person is brown, black, yellow, orange, purple, not white.
Who knows? This person has an accent and it's not a British accent. It's a, I don't know, Hawaiian pidgin accent, so this person sounds ignorant.
Doesn't video introduce a bunch of problems too?
It could. Everything could introduce problems if you look at it the wrong way. Everything can.
It all depends about your motive. Here's how we approach that.
First of all, we have an extremely strong DEI policy, and we really live that, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We really, really live that. When we look at that, one of the biggest mistakes we see in DEI policies is stopping with Black Lives Matter.
You keep Black Lives Matter. You thrive on that. That is so important, and we've added people of color lives matter. We've added indigenous people matter. We're about anti-ageism. We are about people of all different ethnicities matter.
We have basically revolutionized that policy and gotten it covered by about forty experts. I mean, we worked really, really hard on this. We have binary, non-binary gender, gender fluid, transgender, don't know where you are right now, conflicted.
We put that all in our policy and we educate our team on that. What we did, normally we don't do this, but we went to our team and said, "We want your feedback on our policy." We not only went to forty experts, but then what we also did is we said to the team, "This is such a critical policy. We want your feedback. You need to be involved."
That doesn't mean just the recruiters. That means everyone there. Secondarily, we have a diversity report we do every year. The team is infused with wanting diversity and we have that. I'll give you an example of what we need to hire right now. We need a white male.
We don't have it because we're too diverse. We don't have it. We work so hard at diversity. I agree with you, it can be an issue, but we watch that and say, "We're aware of the fact that we're like watching for people of diverse views, diverse backgrounds."
We're seeking it. We're seeking it out. We are looking and saying, "We don't represent these countries." Our whole team is aware of that and we're constantly trying to bring in more countries on our team.
There's a strong disposition on multiple ways as to why we're so focused on diversity. Then we have a program where we are saying, "Bring up what your favorite tradition is," so that we have a global potluck online where we say, "Bring up your favorite tradition."
You have to be responsible at all points to making sure that you are not discriminating, and you are being open to people of all backgrounds. You're being inclusive at all points. You can never stop trying that.
But video is very helpful for attitude, eye content, and intentionality, sincerity, and authenticity. I expect my team to not be focusing on the color of the skin.
Man, I don't know if I could get a job at your place.
Now, first, I don't want to frame you with this question, but at least this is my perception. You can correct me, and then the question becomes irrelevant, but how do you attract talent?
Because I would suppose, there's no such thing as an IPO for UniversalGiving, so you don't have options, and you probably don't pay the highest salary.
How do you attract talent without high salaries and stock options?
That is not easy. It is a big question that we always have to face. It is. That's hard.
One of the greatest ways that we look at this and one of the ways we were able to beat Silicon Valley, which was a huge edge up for us, was when we had an office, I would walk around the office and I would be like, "Okay, it's five o’clock. Do you need to leave? You can go," and team members knew that they could go at five o’clock.
I said, "I'm so happy you're here working hard. I really appreciate that. I'm going to be here, because I like to work hard, but do you have a cat you want to take out here? Do you want to go on a walk? Do you have a husband or a spouse," to really inculcate that balance was okay, not all the time, occasionally you've got a big deadline.
You've got to address that. We've definitely had that where we've had to be like all hands-on to getting a client what they needed.
But if you, again, infuse the concept of balance and that you mean it, and to say it proactively, "I need you to leave at five o’clock today because you've been working hard. I'm so pleased with what you've been pulling out in those eight hours. I need you to leave at five o’clock today." I say that often.
You are proactively saying to your team, "I'm expecting you to have balance." The reason why as a leader you've got to say this is because sometimes your team members won't believe you. They're like, "Are you serious?"
You have to say it again and again, until they understand, I actually can leave at five o’clock. One of the greatest ways we compete with Silicon Valley is you might get a better salary and you might get stock options, but we're going to allow you to have a balance life. That has been a critical recruiting point for us.
Has that aspect been negatively impacted because of the pandemic, where even tech companies with virtual hybrid, it seems to kind of build in balance? Maybe you're not as black and white different from Google, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, and Pinterest, and Instagram.
That's a really good question. Still, we see strong differentiators with us. For example, a lot of the companies are saying, "Okay, meeting time is going to be from ten o’clock to two o’clock."
We don't do that. The thing is we give this free rein. And not only that, but we take it to another level, which we say, "You can work any time zone you want. We're not going to come at you from US perspective."
For example, my guy in Pakistan, I just had a call with him Sunday night. It was midnight my time, noon his time. When I'm on the phone with one of my team members from the Philippines, she starts at nine AM in the morning, it's five PM my time. When my day ends, I'm on it with her. My other person in the Philippines has children. She starts at eight PM, which is eleven AM her time, eight PM my time.
I'm on their time zone. We are constantly making an effort to say, "You get to operate on your own time zone, and we're going to do our best to call you on your time zone."
It's very powerful because it's also, again, not saying you're going to have to run by American nine to five, and you're also not going to have to be involved in meetings. You set up the meetings whenever you want them.
That's another huge distinction with us. We do not have B-O-R-I-N-G meetings. We don't have them. It's a huge killer at companies. We have meetings that are meaningful. People show up because our meetings are so meaningful. We don't have weekly hands-on meetings.
We have them once a month and they're very strapped down, really clear about what we want to communicate. And then they get quarterly meetings with the CEO.
The way we still differentiate ourselves is you get to leave early. You do not have any time with meetings that you've got to be involved in us. We're on a global timeframe. We'll operate on your timeframe. We will try to call you on your timeframe.
We still believe a lot of that really honors the global marketplace way, way beyond what Fortune 500 companies are doing.
But Pamela, what about Pamela? If the sun never sets on UniversalGiving, the day never ends for Pamela.
You know what? I have a different level of balance for me. I tell everyone, "You have to define what balance means for you."
For example, I'm taking care of part of my parents' lives right now. If I need to go out in the middle of the day and take a walk with my dear dad, who's one of my best friends, I'm going to do that, and then I'll work later at night.
It's very interesting. Balance for me often means switching activities.
For example, if I've had a big day at work, if you told me I was at work another three hours, I'd be like, "Oh, that's a lot." But if I switch and I perform improv, ah, I'm all excited.
Or if I switch and I take care of my nephews and nieces, I'm all excited. My energy divert. I think, for me, balance means different things.
I'm not always working twelve-hour days, but there are crunch times.
But I am an entrepreneur. I love what I do. This is not a job for me. I don't look at it as nine to five, but I do get times off.
I love hiking, tennis. I'm a fanatic of old movies. I love studying. I just got certificates in advanced violent mediation, negotiation, peace building.
I hope to get back out on the road to do those things. But I do think, we say this at UniversalGiving, you have to define what balance means for you, and then we'll try to get in line with that.
I forgot to ask you a question a few minutes ago, which is, it seems to me that you may be an expert in something that many NFPs would like to learn about, which is how do you ask for money?
Oh! I take, as with most things, a very, very long-term approach.
I really believe you should be building long-term relationships with people when you're asking for money. That's the way that I do it.
I also believe when you're dealing with fundraising, you need to have multiple strategies.
For example, for us, it's not always just asking people for money. I think the larger question is, how do you fundraise and support your organization sustainably? I'll give you an example with us. We have eleven different strategies all at different phases, but I'll give you an example of a few of them.
We constantly increase our CRM database with Salesforce with new contacts and people that we outreached to. About three years ago, we were at 40,000 contacts. Now we're at 70,000.
We're very intentional about that. We have a team full-time making sure we're authentically getting new relationships on our database. Not just data entry, relationships.
We have a newsletter that goes out that's fundraising. We have fundraising mail outs that go out. We have a tip on our site that when you donate, you can give a tip to UniversalGiving. We have AmazonSmile. We ask people individually. And we have corporations.
I just gave you six out of the eleven. I would say you have to be thinking about a diverse strategy of fundraising to support your organization.
Wow! Tell me how improv works.
That's a great question. It's probably not a short question, but I'll do my best.
I started off, I went on a date with a guy and he took me to an improv show. I was like, I wonder if I can do this. I was in startup mode with UniversalGiving and I was like, girl, you're in startup mode.
You cannot wonder if you do something. You get in there and you go do it and you figure it out. Well, it was hard. I was UniversalGiving, building it out like ten, twelve hours a day. UI/UX drawings all over my living room. My roommates were like, aah! And then I would leave and go to improv from seven to ten at night.
Three years straight, I was horrible. I had glimmers of laughter from the audience. You have to study who, what, where, why, when. Guy, if I'm on stage with you and I say, "Hi, Guy, how you doing," oh my gosh, that's so B-O-R-I-N-G.
What if I come and I go, "Hi, Guy. I just saw a patient in room 232, and it is looking bad. Really, really bad.”
“Really? What's going on in there?”
“I don't know, doctor."
You have to be able to say where you are. You're in a hospital. You just had a doctor. You labeled someone. You have to label and provide a scene. You come out on that floor and you come out saying, "How are you?"
You've asked a question, added no information, you are dead in the water. You better know your stuff, who, what, where, why, when.
I travel down to Groundlings five in the morning. We'd travel into Burbank, rent a car, run to Groundlings class, train there, go to a hotel, go do UniversalGiving email for eight hours, and get back on a Southwest flight at ten at night.
If you're that serious about it, go get trained from the top people. Learn how to be authentic on stage. Get your characters really, really strong. Be a great listener to your partner and build on what you all are creating together.
It's not easy. I love it, but it's not easy.
If I said to you... I'm going to give you an improv question.
I want to see how this works. All right. Two social entrepreneurs walk into a bar.
That's a joke, Guy. That's a joker. That's a riddle.
Improv is building scenes on stage.
I'm also going into stand up. So stand up joke telling and improv are all different. People go, "Oh, you're a standup." I aspire to be, it's hard, but that's different. Improv is like second city, two or more people on stage, and they are interacting and creating a scene together.
Oh! What do I know?
Yeah. If you did that to me on stage, and you said that to me, I'd be like, “All right, Dan, enough of the jokes again. This is a real date. We're in a really nice restaurant here.”
I want to have a real conversation with you. I'd make it more part of your character. It's like, “Honey, no, we are in a counseling session. This is not a time. Mary, can you please step in here? I'm paying you $200 an hour.”
I can do that, Guy, but I want you to be here on the fact that that I would take is your character. You're the joke guy. You're always flipping off a joke. You're not going to take things seriously.
So improv, when you look at it, is critical actually for the workplace.
Got to be on your basketball toes. Got to be ready for anything. Got to be a great listener to your partner. You're not just railroading with information, and you're building conversations as you build your business. You do want to use improv in the workplace as well.
Okay. Well, at least I know the difference between comedy and improv now. That's progress.
That's just icing on the cake for all the knowledge that I and my listeners have gained about social entrepreneur and changing the world. My thanks to you, Pamela Hawley. It's been wonderful.
Oh, thank you, Guy. Thank you for everything you've done for the world. It's an honor to be here and I hope it's been of help.
That's Pamela Hawley. I hope you learned about philanthropy, volunteerism, and improv.
Where else can you put those three things together, but on the Remarkable People Podcast?
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This was Remarkable People. We're on a mission to make you remarkable.
My thanks to Jeff Sieh, Peg Fitzpatrick, Shannon Hernandez, Alexis Nishimura, and Luis Magana.
Last but not least, Madisun Nuismer, the drop in queen of Santa Cruz.
Oh my god, she dropped in on me last week. And then, I'm not making this up, she complained that her ankle hurt because my board hit her.
Until next week, be safe. Be sound. Be happy.
I'm recording this just after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. I want to leave you with this thought, you need to vote as if your rights depend on it, because they do.