Archive for February, 2012

 

Celebrating 10 Lessons Learned Over 10 Years

Posted by Alison Carlman on February 14th, 2012

GlobalGiving Co-Founder Mari Kuraishi speaks about what really mattered in the beginning…

Ten years ago today, we turned the switch ‘on’ at GlobalGiving. At the time it wasn’t even called GlobalGiving—it was called DevelopmentSpace—and as you can see from the screenshot below, we’ve come a long way.

Screenshots of DevelopmentSpace (2002) which became GlobalGiving (2012)

We’ve come this far due to the incredible devotion that all of the staff, interns, and volunteers have given to GlobalGiving—believing in the little dream that Dennis and I had about creating a ‘space’ where ‘development’could happen at its own pace, driven by the bravest and most passionate.

We’ve come this far thanks to the unwavering support that our project partners, donors, corporate partners, and funders gave us along the way. We’ve come this far because we have improved over the years how to convey with greater fidelity the amazing work that is undertaken every day, in every country we serve, by people who don’t just live with the status quo.

So in honor of these ten years, we are kicking off a year-long celebration here on our blog. It is a great opportunity for us to reflect on our learnings of the last ten years and to share it with you. So watch this space for a monthly series: Top 10 lessons learned from the last 10 years.

Mari and Dennis in 2011

To start it off, here’s my lesson:

Back when we first had the idea of starting GlobalGiving, Dennis and I took several months to think about it (in other words, we didn’t quit our day jobs immediately).  We thought through the pros and cons, and tried very hard to solidify the business plan. The truth is, that despite all of the cogitating, we didn’t really foresee the triumphs that would make our hearts sing, and the challenges that would test us to the limits and facilitate growth. It turns out that the vision that we had back then was far less momentous than any of the real successes we have had in the subsequent ten years.

That being said, the one thing I could imagine back then was embarking on this adventure with Dennis. That, basically, is all that mattered, ultimately.

And so our GlobalGiving family grew over the years—first Donna, then John, Steve, Kevin, Jen, Ingrid, Britt … well, you get the picture. But starting out with the right partner from the very beginning was a joy and a privilege, and I was lucky.

Happy Valentine’s Day Dennis!

Make February 14th Generosity Day

Posted by Alison Carlman on February 10th, 2012

By Shonali Banerjee, Unmarketing Intern

Valentine’s Day, one of the year’s more polarizing holidays, often elicits a whole spectrum of emotions.  The infamous day can leave you feeling loved and content, or sometimes wistful and lonely.  But what if Valentine’s Day could make you feel… generous?  We here at GlobalGiving think it should!  Last year, Sacha Dichter of Acumen Fund posted about rebooting Valentine’s Day and turning it into Generosity Day:

  “We’re rebooting Valentine’s Day as Generosity Day: one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying ‘Yes.’ Let’s make the day about love, action and human connection – because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly.”

Generosity Day embraces many of GlobalGiving’s favorite values: passion for humanity, unabashed generosity and saying “Yes!” whenever possible.  We’re pretty besotted with this video brought to you by Sacha and his Generosity Day co-conspirators – we think you’ll love it, too.

This year, in addition to (or instead of?) the heart-shaped box of chocolates and pricey romantic dinner, give the gift of a not-so-random act of kindness.  Generosity Day should be a day for doing the small things that we always think about but never do– donating the clothes we haven’t worn in years to Goodwill or bringing in lunch for coworkers! You can sign the Generosity Day Pledge here, committing to spend February 14 exclaiming an enthusiastic “Yes!” to all requests for help.

But true GlobalGivers won’t stop there.  This Valentine’s Day, we’re also inviting you to make your Valentine a girl you don’t know. These lovely ladies don’t need jewelry or champagne, but they do need schooling, financial independence and the opportunity to prove how vital they are to their communities.  If you already have a special someone in mind, make a donation in his/her honor! This year, we think your Valentine will be happiest if you give a gift to someone else

Happy Generosity Day everyone – make this one count!

Global Giveback Funding Challenge

Posted by john hecklinger on February 2nd, 2012

This week we launched the final phase of a collaboration between GlobalGiving, InnoCentive, and the Rockefeller Foundation that began over two years ago as a way to connect our project leaders with technical know-how usually devoted to solving technical problems for for-profit entities.  As part of its Advancing Innovation Processes to Solve Social Problems initiative, the Rockefeller Foundation funded GlobalGiving to identify needed solutions to developing world problems that InnoCentive’s community of solvers could help make a reality.  Project leaders working in India, Uganda, Colombia, and Bolivia came up with technical challenges that were impeding their ability to provide solutions to community problems.

Here’s an example.  Fundacion SODIS has been promoting solar water disinfection in Bolivia.  It’s a great idea using readily available resources – water, sunshine, and plastic bottles.  If you leave a clear bottle full of water in the sunlight long enough, the UV rays will purify the water.  But, how do you know when enough sunlight has hit the bottle?  How do you convince people that this method works and give them an easy way to drink the water with confidence?  Fundacion SODIS thought a re-usable electronic device that changes color when the water has been purified would improve adoption and facilitate training.  Fundacion SODIS, in collaboration with InnoCentive and GlobalGiving, posted this challenge on InnoCentive’s platform, and dozens of possible solutions poured in.  Fundacion SODIS chose the solution that seemed most workable, but also invited two other teams that submitted solutions to send their pilot products for field testing.  The designs have since been developed even further, and these solutions are becoming a reality.

After initial lab testing, one of the five solutions to the challenges posted on InnoCentive was found to be nonviable, so the field testing of that pilot will not go forward.  Such is the nature of innovation – not everything works out as planned.  The four remaining projects are now up for crowdfunding on GlobalGiving.  The Rockefeller Foundation generously provided matching funds to help our partner NGOs raise the resources needed to fully test these solutions.  We’re calling it the Global Giveback Funding Challenge.  In this way, we crowdsourced the challenges, the solutions, and the funding needed to implement them.

We’re extremely excited to see these projects go forward.  GlobalGiving’s mission is to catalyze a marketplace for ideas, information, and money that democratizes aid and philanthropy.  This project advances all aspects of what we’re trying to achieve.  We’ve empowered individual technical experts to share knowledge with grassroots NGOs to make these NGO’s ideas a reality.  Individual and institutional donors are now collaborating to fund the solutions.  We did not know in advance what challenges would surface or if solutions would be found, but by catalyzing a free flow of ideas, information, and money, good things are happening.

Interested in learning more? Antony Bugg-Levine is managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation’s initiative on Advancing Innovation Processes to Solve Social Problems – he answers five questions about the Challenge here

GlobalGiving’s Disaster Response Approach

Posted by john hecklinger on February 2nd, 2012

GlobalGiving was not originally established with disaster relief funding in mind. When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit, everyone at GlobalGiving was surprised when the website lit up, the phones started ringing, and donors began asking GlobalGiving to identify local organizations responding to the disaster. Since then, GlobalGiving has connected donors with specific relief and recovery efforts after natural disasters and humanitarian crises in China, Pakistan, Haiti, Australia, Chile, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, New Zealand, India, the USA, among others.

When we first learn about a natural disaster, we assess whether or not GlobalGiving is in a position to respond. In some situations, GlobalGiving project partners assess the situation, formulate a response, and spontaneously post relief projects. When this happens, GlobalGiving’s job is to connect them with donors, so we launch social media and corporate partner outreach.

Sometimes, project leaders do not immediately post projects, but it’s clear that help is needed, donors are willing to give, and NGOs are ready to respond. In these cases, GlobalGiving posts a disaster-specific relief fund to collect donations while we assemble a portfolio of specific projects.

In making the decision to mobilize, we consider the strength of our network in the affected area, the scale of the disaster, the number of people affected, the intensity of news coverage, and social media activity. In extreme situations like the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, the decision is easy. In other cases like Australian wildfires, and Missouri tornadoes, we’re less sure about matching needs with donors, so we wait until we see donor interest or an NGO response before launching.

Our response to more slowly-evolving humanitarian crises like the famine in East Africa is more gradual and organic. Projects from existing partners appear as our partners see emerging needs. Well before media coverage of the East Africa famine ramped up, we saw projects from partners already responding to the crisis. We also received inquiries from NGOs wanting to post projects on GlobalGiving for the first time. When it’s clear that the situation has reached a crisis stage, GlobalGiving mobilizes a response exactly like a sudden natural disaster.

As we make decisions about adding projects and making allocations from a disaster-specific relief fund, our priority is to support the work that the affected community believes to be most important. Generally, we believe local organizations are best-positioned to assess and to respond to needs, so we listen carefully to what they deem to be most critical. Our view is that locally-run organizations can nimbly and effectively provide for immediate and ongoing community needs. Getting funds to them benefits communities directly and quickly.

GlobalGiving has worked with thousands of NGOs in over 120 countries over the years. When a disaster strikes, some of these NGOs naturally begin responding, as was the case after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. We did not have a rich network in Japan prior to the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, but we quickly identified key local NGOs through personal and professional connections. Japanese NGOs found out about GlobalGiving and reached out to us for help in connecting with resources. Ultimately, we were able to begin supporting local NGOs within two weeks of the disaster.

Large, international NGOs that specialize in disaster response frequently provide a necessary backbone and are in many cases best-equipped to provide initial support in affected areas. As we assemble a portfolio of disaster relief and recovery projects, we seek to balance efforts and to ensure a transition from large international NGO projects to local NGOs. Early on, most of the funding goes to projects related to relief efforts. Ongoing funds support more recovery and reconstruction work.

When making allocations from disaster-specific funds to specific projects, GlobalGiving acts more like a traditional foundation than we typically do. We’re accustomed to managing a marketplace of ideas, information and money, not an endowment. When placed in this decision-making role by a large outpouring of generosity, we use the principles articulated here as a guide. We prioritize funding local NGOs that demonstrate clear community ties and an ability to provide specific reports back to donors.

In early phases of a disaster, we disburse funds very quickly – ensuring that donor funds are on the ground, usually within a week of being received. Later, we disburse funds as needs develop, taking a more cautious approach, learning more about the situation, and carefully allocating funds to organizations demonstrating a clear purpose and a willingness to report back to donors on specific results.

After the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, we began disbursing funds weekly, until it became clear that immediate funding needs were being met by the international community. We could have quickly disbursed all of the funding we received, but we waited until local NGOs were able to identify specific recovery efforts. In this way we ensure that our donors’ funds support initiatives that local organizations feel are most important. Since then, we have been disbursing collected funds for specific projects emerging from our partners as recovery continues. We require every NGO receiving funds to report on activities at least quarterly, and we typically conduct site visits to check on the work being done.

For donors, GlobalGiving provides a way to help quickly and effectively without having to do a lot of research. Donors can support a specific relief or recovery project, or they can trust GlobalGiving by giving to the disaster-specific fund. All donors receive specific updates, so they know where their funds have gone and what has been accomplished. Many companies use GlobalGiving to track and match employee donations to disaster relief efforts, amplifying employee impact and driving further support directly where it’s needed.

Donor response in these situations varies widely. After the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, donor reaction was immediate and huge through GlobalGiving and other channels. Sudden, catastrophic natural disasters tend to capture donor interest more than slowly rising floods or gradually worsening famines. Sometimes, a diaspora community mobilizes in a big way, as we saw after the 2011 Van Earthquake in Turkey. The disaster received relatively little media coverage, but a committed group mobilized a lot of support through GlobalGiving.

In the future, as disasters and crises emerge, GlobalGiving will continue to prioritize working with local NGOs to respond to emergencies in their communities. In developed and developing countries, NGOs play a key role in initial relief and ongoing recovery efforts. We’ll make it easy for donors to give by posting disaster-specific funds while providing very specific options for donors interested in supporting unique projects.