Archive for April, 2008


Nothing like a cool diaper bag.

Posted by john hecklinger on April 30th, 2008

I have to say I love the diaper bag I got for my first Fathers Day. It’s a gray messenger style bag with a pocket for all essentials – sippy cup, emergency rations of Spaghetti-O’s and goldfish, wipes, diapers, changing pad, butt cream, and purel. It’s got room to spare for a change of clothes and a few books.

For gear heads, parenthood opens up a whole new world of possibilities – from the mundane details of which baby bottle works best for your infant, to the very important performance characteristics of a stroller, you can really go overboard on things. Still, with my Diaper Dude bag and my Bugaboo stroller (both provided through the unbelievable generosity of friends and family), my son and I are ready for just about anything.

Poop in a museum? No problem.

Haircut trauma? Got a music cube and lollipop for that.

Like a guy I used to wait tables with in grad school used to say, “Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail.”

I’ve been working closely with the great folks at JOHNSON’S® on the “Celebrity Hand-Me-Down Auction” that went live on eBay last night. Well known moms and a dad (Matt Damon) have donated baby gear for auction, with proceeds going to a selection of mom and baby-related projects on a GlobalGiving web site customized for JOHNSON’S®. The projects range from providing baby gear to families in the Bronx to helping teen moms in Kenya start small businesses.

Huge thanks to the celebrities who donated very nice gear, and a big thanks to JOHNSON’S® for choosing GlobalGiving as its charitable partner.

I am an idiot.

Posted by dennis on April 25th, 2008

I am an idiot, according to my colleagues here at GlobalGiving. That is because I am clueless about a lot of popular celebrities who are in the news these days.

But my cluelessness reached a new low (high?) this past week at the excellent Fortune Magazine “Brainstorm Green” conference, which was all about global warming. During a break between panels, I turned to introduce myself to the guy sitting next to me. He had been listening closely to the speakers and had been taking a lot of notes. Obviously a scientist type or policy wonk.

Me: Hi, I am Dennis Whittle. Nice to meet you.

Him: Hi, I am Chuck Leavell. Nice to meet you.

Me: What do you do?

Him: Oh, I grow trees in Georgia. I also play the piano a little bit. What about you?

Me: I work at GlobalGiving, which is sort of a marketplace for goodness. What kind of trees do you grow?

Him: I have been trying to create an approach to sustainable tree farming using native American species.

Me: Oh, very cool. And what kind of music do you play?

Him: Oh, all kinds, really.

Me: Do you ever play in public?

Him: Sometimes.

Me: What’s the name of your band?

Him: Well, I’ve been in different bands, but since 1982 it has been the Rolling Stones.

Me: Oh, yes, I have heard of that band.
* * *
(Chuck’s bio is here for any of you other clueless readers out there.)

Survey Says, “DONATION!!”

Posted by michael on April 23rd, 2008

I have been fascinated with survey data my entire life. In 6th grade, I polled my classmates on whether or not they liked my classmate Kenneth Klein, to this day one of the 3 funniest people I have ever known.

I regularly watched Family Feud (I watched when Richard Dawson was the host.) As a political science undergraduate student I actually railed against “horserace” polls and their misuse in the media. Later after working for a few years, I decided to go back to school and had the great fortune to study survey research and work at the Center for Survey Research at The Ohio State University. While there, I read an article in the New York Times that rocked the foundation on which I had been working and studying. Here’s the segment of interest from the magazine article (free registration required) by Max Frankel, former executive editor at the New York Times, talking about how he was interrupted at dinner time by a telephone survey:

“…That telephone pollster called, naturally, in the middle of dinner. He asked what kind of car I dreamed of owning next. Fortunately, I was annoyed.

“Do you get paid for asking that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, then, how much will I get for my answer?”

“Why nothing, sir. We have selected you so that we can learn how to serve you better.”

With no thought at all, I heard myself inventing a doctrine that I have smugly invoked ever since: “No pay, no say.” …”

The cliched lightbulb went on for me. The entire discipline of survey research rested on the assumption that people would answer researcher’s questions for free. Max wrote that in 1995, at the dawn of the internet. Today, online survey practitioners consider incentives as a matter of course.

As did we when we surveyed GlobalGiving’s donors and newsletter subscribers recently. (If you replied, thank you!) We offered respondents the opportunity to enter into a drawing for ten $50 gift certificates, for a total cost of $500. We received over 1,200 responses, so each survey “cost us” a little more than $.40 in incentives.

So imagine my surprise, when performing one of my other duties here at GlobalGiving, analyzing site traffic that leads to donations, I saw that we actually received donations from people who had filled out the survey at Sixteen separate donations, averaging just over $100, for a total of $1,647! No, we won’t be sending out surveys to collect donations. But yes, here is yet another data point showing how lucky we at GlobalGiving are to be bringing together our donors and projects, breaking rules left and right.

How to get a Prius cheap

Posted by dennis on April 22nd, 2008

Trimming the amount of meat Americans eat would not only help the planet – a mere 20 percent reduction is the equivalent of switching from a Camry to a Prius.

That is from The High Price of Beef in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine. By this measure, I have had a couple of Priuses in my garage since the late 1980s, when I reduced my beef consumption in half. I initially did this because the quality of beef was poor in Jakarta, where I lived for five years.

Around that time, a lot of research came out about the health effects of eating too much red meat, so when I returned to the US, I kept my red meat consumption low. I didn’t eliminate meat altogether (I like it too much), but I swapped quantity for quality – eating good cuts of meat fewer times per week.

More recently, I have begun eating mostly organic beef, again primarily for health reasons. I pay more for it, but eat even less of it. So my wallet wins, my health wins, and the global climate wins.

And I can tell my friends that I have not only one, but two Priuses… :)

“It still has some cement on it!”

Posted by alison on April 18th, 2008

Recently, the GlobalGiving blog has been moonlighting over at eBay’s What Gives!? blog.  So when my friend, Roman from eBay, emailed me yesterday with a link asking me to write a post about it, I could hardly say no.  Frequent readers of this blog will know that I never pass up a legitimate excuse to blog about the Red Sox.

A quick recap of JerseyGate 08 for anyone not as thoroughly engaged with New England sports: The Yankees are building a new stadium, and one of the workers on the concrete crew – a diehard Red Sox fan – decided to “curse the new stadium by burying David Ortiz’s jersey in the brand new foundation of the new park. This is humorous at the very least, but after an 86-year World Series drought in Boston, AL East fans take even the vaguest semblence of a curse seriously (even if they won’t admit it). So seriously, in fact, they dug up the jersey.

But there’s a point beyond good old Red Sox/Yankees trivia.

The jersey is being auctioned off on eBay. They’re using this latest incident in the long-time Red Sox/Yankees rivalry to raise money for cancer research.

The jersey is being auctioned in its current condition (“It still has some cement on it!”, the auction page boasts) as part of a larger package that includes tickets to an upcoming Red Sox game at Fenway Park. All proceeds (over $30,000 at the time of publication) are going to the Jimmy Fund, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

I’ve written here before about this concept: Sometimes the best approach isn’t to try to get people excited about what you’re doing, but find out what they’re already excited about and get involved.

What started off as a funny prank and baseball folklore for years to come has ended up as a generous windfall for the Jimmy Fund and cancer research. (Construction) hats off to you, Gino Castignoli, Randy Levine, Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber.

Thanks and go for it, Kellogg Foundation

Posted by Donna Callejon on April 17th, 2008

We probably don’t say as much as we should about the people and organizations who have directly supported building the GlobalGiving marketplace. It’s a pretty amazing group of funders – Omidyar Network, Skoll Foundation, John and Ginger Sall, and the Hewlett Foundation – and a couple of anonymous donors – have all contributed significantly. We are both humbled and inspired by their confidence in GG’s vision, and our ability to execute against that vision. A few years back the Kellogg Foundation provided a small grant that was very timely. And we are about to work with them on some innovative ways to leverage online giving tools to support their grantees.

Two reasons for this post:  First, as a shout out to Kellogg for being a strong and innovative funder in the philanthropy space. They have consistently supported anchor organizations in the philanthropic sector (e.g, Independent Sector and Guidestar), and made important investments in emerging and innovative organizations like Kiva, Network for Good and the Women’s Funding Network. We’re glad to count ourselves among that latter group.

Second, on Monday the Chronicle of Philanthropy ran an article about WKKF’s revitalized mission – focusing on vulnerable children. Since the Chronicle has a subscription-only block on the article, (if you have a subscription, can be found here) here are the opening paragraphs:

In May 2007, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation gathered its more than 200 staff members for a three-day discussion and brainstorming session. It was the start of a soul-searching process that has led to a new mission statement and, for the foundation’s program staff, a new organizational structure that goes into effect this week.The changes are designed to break down divisions among departments within the organization, seek multifaceted approaches to solving problems, and sharpen the organization’s focus on the vision of its founder, W.K. Kellogg, the breakfast-cereal magnate.

All of the foundation’s grant-making staff members will be assigned to interdisciplinary teams in an organizational system that is rare among foundations but common in large companies.

Sterling Speirn, president of the foundation, in Battle Creek, Mich., describes the overhaul as “starting the next generation of our work.”

Speirn most recently led the Peninsula Community Foundation, so he’s lived in the most innovative valley in the country. He has brought on a new crop of leaders, to augment the strong leadership team already there. WKKF is taking on its own culture and norms by structuring itself in a very “matrix-y” fashion – and sharpening the focus of its grantmaking. And they are committing an initial $100 million to a new Mission Driven Investment Fund – twice as large as any other foundation’s “non-grant” portfolio. That’s revitalization!

I spent the day Tuesday in Battle Creek, and I can attest that the place is ready for change. The structures are changing, the expectations are changing. And we are glad to be part of the energy, possibility and promise of the next chapter.

Where we have come from and gone to…

Posted by dennis on April 15th, 2008

My post about Dana’s departure last week made me think about the exceptional people we have had here at GlobalGiving. An organization is ever evolving, including its team.We have been lucky to attract a mix of highly experienced professionals along with smart and committed recent college grads. I am especially proud that many of our younger staff have gone on to grad school and then to great careers.

So where have we come from and where have we gone? Here is a sample:

We came from….

* Fannie Mae
* Washington Area Women’s Foundation
* HP
* Carfax
* Hillcrest Labs
* Accenture
* Ashoka
* Advisory Board
* Safe Kids Worldwide
* Burson-Marsteller
* Akin Gump
* Soros Fund Management
* World Resources Institute
* Peace Corps
* Kinkos
* NuRide
* Business for Social Responsibility
* Stone Yamashita
* Netflix
* World Bank

And our alumni have gone to:

* Maine Women’s Fund
* McKinsey and Co.
* International Youth Foundation
* Gates Foundation
* Wing-Luke Museum (Seattle)
* Business for Social Responsibility
* Google
* Princeton Woodrow Wilson School
* Harvard Business School
* Duke Business School (Fuqua)
* MIT Business School (Sloan)
* UNC Medical School
* University of Capetown
* SunRocket
* Booz Allen
* Bearing Point
* OboPay

Boston Green Sox

Posted by alison on April 11th, 2008

Green is in vogue right now at Fenway – and not just on the 37 foot high Green Monster in left field.

It’s not a huge secret that I love the (2007 World Series Champion) Boston Red Sox.  As a native of Massachusetts, the Red Sox are a lifestyle, more than a team for me.

Two weeks ago, the Red Sox season started against Oakland in Japan.  And after what seemed like an endless roadtrip, opening two more parks, the Red Sox finally came home to Boston on Tuesday for Opening Day at Fenway.  Rings were presented, Bill Buckner was forgiven and there was general merriment throughout the land (well, at least in Boston).

So what’s with the green?  Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported that Fenway Park would be going Green.  The 96 year-old ball park will install enough solar panels to heat 1/3 of the hot water needed in the park and reduce the park’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 18 tons.  As part of a $600,000 initiative, named Solar Boston, that was designed to increase the city’s solar engery output 50-fold by 2015.

The ultimate goal of Solar Boston is to increase the city’s solar output from 1/2 megawatt to 25 megawatts – enough to power over 3,000 Boston households.  The initiative will identify other south-facing rooftops – ideal for the panels – and market the initialtive to more business and homes.  Additional plans include installing the panels on many municipal buildings, including Brighton High School, The Strand Theatre, Tobin Community Center and West Roxbury Branch Library.

From a GlobalGiving perspective, this is a great little earth-changing (or earth-greening) idea.  Kudos, city of Boston and Fenway Park.

Feeling Webby?

Posted by alison on April 10th, 2008

We are.

No, not that Webby.

GlobalGiving’s How It Works video has been nominated for a Webby Award!  We are up for Best Use of Animation/Motion Graphics in the Online Film and Video category.

Click here to vote for us.  Voting ends May 1, so tell your friends!

 [Update: Thanks to IP Pixel and Leo Burnett for developing this.]