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.