June 2008 Posts

Sports, Sports and More Sports

GlobalGiving has always had an undercurrent of jockiness about it. When I first started working here in late 2003 I was immediately recruited for the Myrtle Beach Relay Marathon (aka road trip with beer to SC). We had a shower in our office. Our first Marketing Manager, Tim, was a championship Ultimate Frisbee player. Dennis and Mari would sometimes show up at work in their biking togs. Dana arrived and put us all to shame with her handstands and backflips across the office floor. Meredith played kickball. As for spectators, well let’s just say that the Tar Heel contingent was strong in the early days. March Madness reigned.

As GG has grown the sports enthusiasm has morphed. We might have more weekend warriors, more members of Red Sox Nation, and more March Madness guessers than marathoners, but it’s still a pretty sports oriented place.

We have been thrilled to be part of Nike’s Let Me Play program for the last couple of years, helping great sport and development projects get access to worldwide donors through a special GG page. And now we are psyched to work with the producers of Kicking It, a new documentary that will be opening here in DC this weekend, and will be distributed by ESPN throughout the summer. Kicking It follows several Homeless World Cup teams as they prep for the 2006 Cup. You can support the teams here. It was directed by a local DC star, Susan Koch, and our pal (and one of the producers) Ted Leonsis has been blogging it like crazy over at Ted’s Take.

For you DC folks – or anyone who will be in town this weekend – the US trials are being held at a new soccer (aka football) pitch in downtown DC. Should be a cool set of events, games and promotion for Kicking It.

Go get ’em, sports fans!

Things Suzanne Vega and GlobalGiving have in common

Preceding my return yesterday, which was glamorously announced by Alison, I was touring the USA with my parents for a couple of weeks and thus not reading any news, so today I browsed the New York Times and came across this article  by Suzanne Vega where she the describes her experience with the “two-hit-wonder” label she got despite the fact that she is a very active, successful and excellent writer/singer besides those two hits. 

At GlobalGiving  we are in a similar spot. With the recent disasters in Myanmar and China and the following media coverage the donations on our site have spiked. But what is not so obvious is the fact that it takes a lot of continuous effort by a whole team here at GlobalGiving to make it possible that in these disaster situations the donors can be quickly connected with people and projects that need support. What goes often unnoticed is the fact that we are open 24/7, 365 days a year and the projects on our site need support throughout the year not just when disaster strikes. 

The challenge we face is to bridge the gap between the awareness in disaster situations and the generally low awareness when no disaster strikes. And just as with Suzanne Vega we do this by continuos daily efforts to build and expand a platform for projects to get exposure and on the other hand we try to increase the awareness both for the need that these projects have as well as the opportunity people have to support them through GlobalGiving.

Welcome Back, Georg

A tribute to Georg.

To the tune of the Welcome Back Kotter theme song.

Welcome back,
Your trip, it was really long.

Welcome back,
In return, you get this lousy song.

Well the names haven’t changed as you will see,
But we have recurring donations, and we bought a Wii.

So glad things worked out well (So glad things worked out well),
We need HTML (We need HTML).

Your return is heaven, now we don’t need Kevin, welcome back.

Willkommen zurück, Willkommen zurück, Willkommen zurück.


Working within the box and out of the box

Courtesy of NPRDennis has just blogged about Tim Kane’s observation when he first visited Japan in the 1980s-where he encountered a humbly equipped man sweeping the tarmac at Narita airport as if his life depended on it. Kane linked it to the overwhelming ratio of perspiration v. genius that adds up to excellence.

There’s something else there though. It’s symptomatic of how intensely Japanese individuals and organizations have come to focus on discovering value within their constraints. Toyota’s continuous reform (kaizen) program is justly famous for the way they look at change as a continuous stream, but a lot less is said about the implicit mindset that allows for what feeds that continuous stream. It’s the idea of working your framework so intensely and carefully and allowing the individual changes combine and “re” form the whole until you’ve eventually got a different box. But you didn’t start out insisting on getting out the box. In fact, it comes from a culturally mandated willingness to focus intensely on where you are and what you have. (The flip side of course, is that it can drive you mad to be so constrained, but more on that another time.)

What I was saying about the incredible Tokyo discipline to obey what can seem like a pettifogging rule of standing on the left is, I’m convinced, part of the same phenomenon-everyone is intent on getting the most out of every frigging commuting minute. It just wouldn’t happen that way otherwise. Same reason Japanese geeks are the most intense geeks anywhere. Or why Japanese classical concertgoers bring sheet music to performances. And why I am currently obsessed with us doing a better job facilitating the exchange when our project leaders can convey to donors the sense of incredible value and adventure that every project on our site represents. Here’s just a hint of what donors say when when the value gets uncovered. (It’s also why I try to wash and reuse our ziploc bags. It just seems un-Japanese not to.)

I don’t want to write ‘Goodbye’ because I hate ‘Goodbyes’

Before I send my farewell message to the project leader universe, I thought let me post a farewell on the GlobalGoodness Blog (a practice goodbye if you will). Saying goodbye is harder than I thought it would be…so here’s a go at it…

My husband and I are relocating to New Orleans so this is the end of a lovely seven years in DC to start a new adventure in an entirely new city. I look forward to getting to know the city and its people and hope that I can volunteer and learn more about some of the work that is going on there. This really isn’t a goodbye because I will always be a GlobalGiver and am fortunate enough that I will be working on a few projects with my colleagues from NOLA.

I love that at GG you can connect with a project and be a part of it from afar. You can see this in the comments that donors have left wonderful comments on updates-like this one:

 “Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to help support these wonderful brave women. Giving financial help as a tool and respecting that these women  truly are the experts in their community and do have the best ideas to make social change is in my opinion the best type of support .  I have been looking for a way  to give my support so thank you so much”

Then there’s our great project leaders whom I feel are a big global family.  Between emails discussing projects, project updates, and donors with project leaders, there were also emails about family life, dreams and everyday life in the US and abroad. Over 2.5 years I have formed lifelong connections with extraordinary people doing amazing work all around the world in circumstances so very different from what I face everyday. I feel so connected to many people whom I have never met and hope that we will always keep in touch and that our paths will cross again. GlobalGiving has allowed me to get to know these wonderful men and women.

And of course, I am sad to be leaving DC and GlobalGiving because I leave behind a family here at GG. I am so lucky to have worked with such a passionate group of people doing so much good for givers and community leaders around the world. 

GlobalGiving to me is passion, connection and just pure goodness. Every day is a new experience, a new donor, a new project leader and a new beautiful story or story of courage from the other side of the world.