Friday, April 30, 2010

Total Surrender

Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.
~ Unknown

I never really knew what surrender was, let alone total surrender. I was a woman with a plan. I always had a plan, and a back up behind that, and another one after that – a safety hatch, a chicken exit. Recently, I was forced totally let go and not have a plan and to truly trust in the divine order and wisdom of things.

I was on a call with a dear friend of mine, talking about my adventures with OneGiving and all that had recently transpired. You see, this thing called starting up a company is hard – really hard! I guess that is why more people don’t do it. I was telling him about the recent ups and downs – the coming and going of different people on my team. How people start out committed, but when it gets hard their energy wanes and other things take priority. It is a painful process to go through as the visionary and initiator of the dream. People come and go, and you have to let go of the attachment to what it looks like or who starts out and who is going to stick it out.

I told him how over the last month I had truly begun to know what it meant to surrender. My meditation practice had kicked up – I had gone from an hour or two a day to getting out of bed at 3 or 4 am to do not one, not two but three to four hours of meditation and yoga a day. It was the only way I could keep focused to stay the course. It was the only way that I could keep my heart, mind and soul in the game and keeping moving forward with each set back, each loss, each doubt, each fear and each delay.

As I told him the story of the last month and my incremental letting go more and more every day and surrender, he said to me, “You are doing great, yet you are still hanging on to something; you haven’t fully and completely surrendered.” I thought about it for a moment and thought, yeah, I think he might be right. But I could feel it coming on that something was coming to put me into a state of total surrender. I just didn’t realize how soon it would be.

Later that night, my team had a call, that totally and completely disintegrated and the team fell apart into exhaustion, dysfunction and mistrust. Earlier that day, I had felt totally confident and excited going into the call, thinking to myself, I have the perfect team, the perfect mix of brilliant people to pull off this dream in a way no one else has ever thought of, and yes, perhaps the perfect “plan.” Only to be foiled a few hours later. As the call deteriorated, I realized my “perfect” team and my “perfect” plan was no longer.

I hadn’t realized on the call earlier that day that total surrender would be so near, that total surrender would actually hit that night. But it did and I did – totally surrender, that is!

I didn’t grow up believing in God, religion or anything of the sort. I believed that religion was the root of all wars, conflict and trauma on this earth and so by default, didn’t believe in a God. Yet over the past few years, with my own life circumstances, with the deepening of my yoga, meditation and spiritual practice, I had begun to find peace and belief in a higher power, in universal, or divine, wisdom and even had become comfortable with using the word God.

And here and now, with so much of my life invested in this dream of OneGiving, with such a strong calling to keep going and to not give up or quit, I let go of my plan and of complete control and asked for divine guidance to show me the way. I no longer knew what the staircase looked like, just that I needed to take the next step.

When I told my friend, he told me that I had shifted from trust to faith. I guess that is what it means to surrender – to truly let go of the plan we had and to be in complete service and utter faith in that service.

That is what OneGiving has been for me – a journey in service, surrender and believing that what we are creating is not about any ONE of us, but that it is the energy of a movement we are creating. A movement to bring together many not just to facilitate more and easier giving on the planet, but better opportunity for equity, transparency and fairness in giving, in resource exchange and in economic equality. It is not about me, but is about whatever is being created.

As I surrendered into the moment, I realized I didn’t need a plan. Every sign along the journey had and has come at the exact right moment. Not on my timing and in the moment that I thought it should come or wanted it to come, but in exactly the right moment that was needed before I would go completely over the cliff. This is the point of trusting and walking in step with faith and letting go in complete surrender. I also believe it is why so many people hit the breaks just before going over the cliff because it is in that moment that we must truly believe and have faith that we will be caught and the net will appear, yet so few truly believe. This is faith. This is what total and complete surrender has become for me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

From My Next Book...

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life
as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
~Joseph Campbell

When was the last time you felt really alive? I mean that you felt at the core of your being just pure life, vitality and passion. When you didn’t feel lethargic, resentful, achy, sad or any sort of ailment? I bet for many, it has been a long time! I know it was for me…a few years before writing this book. Yet, thankfully, as I write this book I feel more alive and in love with my life than I ever could have imagined!

I remember reading Paul Coehlo’s book, The Alchemist—it was a real turning point for me in my life. If you haven’t read it, I would highly encourage, in fact, I’d even urge you to read it, if you haven’t. It is an amazing tale of a boy who sets off on a journey to find his dreams. The part that I remember most vividly is that along the way to his dreams he stumbles upon a crystal shop that has dusty crystal. He goes in to tell the owner that if he’d clean his crystal he might actually sell more crystal. The owner hires him and he proceeds to clean the crystal and the shop begins to truly thrive. As it does, the boy stays on longer and continues to support the owner with the shop, until one day he realizes he is stuck in the crystal shop. That is, he has stopped moving forward in the direction of dreams and has been lulled by comfort, complacency and the material gains that have resulted from working in the crystal shop. When he decides to set back out to go after his dreams, others think he is crazy for leaving the comforts and goods he has attained.

I remember at the time I read this, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt constricted in my throat and stomach – I too, was stuck in the crystal shop. How long had it been for me since I had truly felt alive and even dared to go after my dreams? I was stuck in the comforts of every day life, having things, acquiring things, buying things and pretty much living in a dead state. I had most of the things society deems “normal” and “successful,” but I was miserable. I was so numb I didn’t even know what my dreams were at that point. The funny thing is that I was also sick with all sorts of random things at the time. Interesting how the body let’s you know it when things aren’t right, when you aren’t in alignment.

The bad news is that it took me a while to do anything significant about it. The good news is I finally did wake up and start pursuing my passions again and living my life fully and feeling oh so alive. When was the last time you felt really alive? Are you stuck in the proverbial crystal shop? What will you do to turn your life around and start heading in the right direction – in the direction of your dreams, in the direction of your heart? Don’t get stuck in the crystal shop, because as you do, your body, mind and soul begin to wither with it. As it was said in the movie, Shawshank Redemption, “You can either get busy living or get busy dying.” May you get busy living, find what the meaning of life is for YOU, and start really feeling alive again!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April's Latest e-Giving News

Giving keeps coming up in the news as more and more corporations jump into corporate social responsibility, nonprofits get active in social media, foundations take more risks and individuals give. All of this makes more of a case for OneGiving - stay tuned! Here is the latest e-Giving news!

You get the best out of others, when you give the best of yourself. ~ Harry S. Firestone

Global Giving
United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria Announces the Social Media Envoy Group - - UN Special Envoy for Malaria announced the formation of a Social Media Envoy group chartered with inspiring and activating social media audiences throughout the year in support of malaria control. The Social Media Envoys are using social media to keep online and offline media audiences focused on the movement, milestones and resources required to achieve the Secretary-General's goal of providing all endemic African countries with malaria control interventions.

Corporate Giving
We're Going Barefoot on April 8th. Are you? - - One Day Without Shoes is the day to raise awareness about the impact a simple pair of shoes can have on a child's life. On April 8th, Tom's Shoes is asking people to go the day, part of the day or even just a few minutes, barefoot, to experience a life without shoes first-hand, and inspire others at the same time.

Individual Giving
34 entrepreneurs who could change the world - - These entrepreneurs could change the world. By sponsoring them, you can decide which 25 will attend the Unreasonable Institute, where they will receive training, mentorship, and access to capital they need to take flight.

Nonprofits, Social Media & Giving
Several lists of nonprofit leaders & social media -
Top 25 Most influential Non-profit Tweeters -;
Top Nonprofit Leaders to Follow on Twitter -;
25 of the Best Non-Profit Websites -

After Facebook and Obama, Chris Hughes launches nonprofit Jumo - - Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who helped launch the social networking phenom and then the tour-de-force online organizing campaign for Barack Obama's presidential bid, on Thursday unveiled his latest endeavor: A website to connect individuals and organizations striving to help the world.

Promoting Giving
Partying to Change the World -
Wedding Favors for Charity -
Initiative to spark engagement & innovation in effort to end hunger - and
Facebook Advertising Experiment for Nonprofit Organizations -
Twestival Lessons for Nonprofits to Engage Volunteers and Donors -

Zoetica Iphone App and Nonprofit iPhone Apps - - Beth Kanter announces Zoetica iPhone application, is now live on the iTunes store.
Mobile Benchmarks 2010: How Are Non-Profits Using Text Messaging? - - The study takes a look at how organizations in the US are using text messaging and how subscribers are responding.
The Demographics of Text-Message Giving - - Donors age 45 and younger were far more likely to make text-message donations for Haiti relief efforts than their older counterparts, according to a new study.

Giving Trends
Using curiosity to engage your community online - - How are we-as interaction designers-leveraging curiosity in our designs?

Giving Measurement/Outcomes/Evaluation
Measuring the Bang of Every Donated Buck - - Ask enough people why they don't donate and a common theme emerges - fear their money will be wasted. Measuring the impact nonprofits have on the problems they seek to solve-and, in some cases, deciding whether one cause is more deserving than another-has become a pressing issue for the multitrillion-dollar philanthropy industry.

For Discussion
iPhone App or a Mobile Website? - - Which is a Better Investment for Your Nonprofit Here are five reasons why it might make more sense to initially invest in a mobile website over an iPhone App.

Thanks for your continued contributions and gifts in the world! Keep on giving back! You can follow us on Twitter @onegiving & on Facebook Pages or me @pilarstella and