Archive for August, 2010

 

More Than Me on giving the gift of education through GlobalGiving.

Posted by lisa kays on August 5th, 2010

Having nothing yet possessing all things. A little girl dancing on the street. She got to go to school for the first time.

The More Than Me Foundation provides scholarships to girls in Liberia who would not otherwise be able to go to school.

This photo captures what More Than Me’s work means to those girls. It was also the Grand Prize and Africa region winner of GlobalGiving’s first Facebook photo contest. It appeared captioned as shown.

Last month, More Than Me’s founders, Katie Meyler and Stephanie Hood, stopped by a GlobalGiving staff meeting to talk about their work and give staff a glimpse of how GlobalGiving is serving its project partners well and where we can improve.

We were also curious about the strategy they used to win the photo contest. As part of efforts to strengthen the capacity of the non-profits we work with, we like to constantly be learning about best practices we can relay on to others competing in challenges in the future.

I have to admit, theirs was quite unexpected.

Stephanie and Katie explained that they were consistently in the running for first place, but that it was a tight race due to a highly competitive photo of a very cute little turtle.

Photo submitted by Saving Endangered Turtles in the Pacific Northwest project

So, on the final day of the challenge, they took their campaign to the streets. Or, to the circle, to be exact. Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t necessarily a pre-conceived plan. As Katie sat in the circle furiously emailing friends and family to ask them to vote for the photo, she found that people were curious about her efforts.

When she explained what she was doing and why, people started to, quite literally, line up to vote.

“I had this line at my laptop through Dupont Circle,” Katie explained to the staff.

And that, she thinks, is how they won.

At first, Katie and Stephanie weren’t sure they should tell us that. They wondered if it was fair.

Sure it is. Whether online or off, the spirit of GlobalGiving and these types of competitions is to foster awareness of and participation in making the world a better place through local efforts that address the direct needs of the people being served.

As you’ll see in the video below, raising awareness that leads to action is just what Katie and Stephanie are doing through More Than Me, and their story reveals how GlobalGiving can be a powerful part of that work.

People may not have come to Dupont Circle that day for an education in girls’ education, but if they went away a bit more curious about or committed to it, then the photo challenge–and Katie and Stephanie–had done their jobs.

Thanks, Katie and Stephanie, for sharing your story about how a global marketplace of concerned citizens helps you do more than any of us could do alone.

Lisa Kays is GlobalGiving’s Acting Communications Director.

Gaming for change: Not a job for just one superhero.

Posted by manmeet on August 2nd, 2010

Going to school doesn’t always produce innovative, smart young leaders. Video games do.

Sometimes.

The Urgent EVOKE project emerged from discussions between the World Bank and universities in Africa that revealed widespread demand from the universities to find avenues to encourage their students to think creatively and focus on local development challenges.

Here’s the twist.

They decided to take the learning out of the classroom. They did away with the textbooks. And the traditional teaching format.

They created EVOKE.

As the World Bank explains, EVOKE follows the exploits of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers. Each week, players learn more about this network from a graphic novel. Players form innovation networks and brainstorm solutions to real-world development challenges that are released to them as weekly missions. They perform tasks to address these challenges and seek feedback for these ideas and actions.

Food security. Renewable energy. Clean water. Empowering women.

Graphic from the World Bank's Urgent Evoke game

These are just a few of the challenges that the first round of 19,324 Evoke contenders from 150 countries worked on for 10 weeks. They wrote about 355 blog posts every day during the 10 week competition, and posted videos and photos inviting comments, discussion and feed back.

When the first season of the EVOKE game closed on May 19, 2010, the top players were invited to realize their EVOKATIONS by participating in the EVOKE Challenge on GlobalGiving to raise funds and build a community of donors and investors.

Some of the projects include developing a gaming software to help those without access to formal education learn how to manage money, creating an affordable “solar mill” to generate power in East Africa, treating autism in remote parts of the world through an online community, creating energy with rainwater runoff in Liberia, and turning a “squatter camp” into an “Eco-village.”

Game on.

This type of Challenge is unprecedented at GlobalGiving, a marketplace that typically hosts projects already being implemented. With the EVOKE Challenge, we get to the core of our mission: pushing boundaries, fostering innovation and collaboration, and granting access to a marketplace for ideas in their inception—untested, unproven, unknown.

So, during the EVOKE Challenge, which runs from today until August 31, EVOKE players’ ideas will raise funds, individually and together, to make their ideas a reality.

Some will win and get implemented. Some will not. You, as part of the marketplace, will decide.

To be successful, entrepreneurs–like all social entrepreneurs–will have to build a community of support, communicate the value of their idea, and create dialogue so that diverse perspectives, including those of the people they’re working to help, are included.

Therefore, the first incentive invites collaborative action. Fifteen projects must raise $30 from 5 donors and receive 1 project comment. Once 15 projects have met these goals, each of them will be rewarded $100.

If 15 don’t manage to do it, no one gets anything.

But that won’t happen. The participants are already rallying around each other to figure out ways to collaborate and support each other.

Their ability to work together will release a cascade of collective and individual incentives. You can see them here.

With this EVOKE Challenge, a new generation of inspired, well-networked social entrepreneurs will emerge and take a shot at realizing their solutions to the challenges of their communities.

No generation has been under such compelling pressure to change the way we live and work as much as the current generation. The deep flaws in established economic and social structures have been revealed in unprecedented events and circumstances capturing the attention of people everywhere.

We have to try something new. We have to try to make new things work. And we have to do it together, as a community.

Because the world needs more than one superhero.

Manmeet Mehta is a Program Officer at GlobalGiving.