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West Africans are not powerless against Ebola…and neither are we

Posted by Alison Carlman on November 17th, 2014

This article was originally published on How-Matters.org

Archie Gbessay, 28, is a fierce protector of his siblings, and a passionate young leader in a Liberian slum called West Point. After his mother died of cancer, Archie had a dream to become a surgeon. He works hard to save $20 each month so he can start a small business selling electronics. Archie hopes the business will earn him enough money to go to medical school some day. But when Ebola came to Liberia, Archie took the lead of a community task force to head off the disease. Archie’s dream to become a surgeon is now on hold; today he’s driving the Ebola-Free West Point Coalition, and he’s fighting to keep his community alive.

Equipped with information, a megaphone, buckets, chlorine, and community trust built over his lifetime, Archie is a one of the most crucial weapons against Ebola in Liberia.

Foreign agencies and our military are bringing beds and protective suits to treat the sick, but Archie has the skills to prevent his neighbors from contracting Ebola in the first place.

Photo courtesy of The Coalition To End Ebola via GlobalGiving.org

There seems to be a narrative coming from the aid community that Americans don’t care about Ebola in West Africa, but I believe there is a solid core of generous people who would’ve been moved to act sooner if we, at aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), had told stories coming from locally-driven prevention and treatment efforts more urgently, realistically and effectively. As this blog points out,stories about the local response to Ebola are hard to find.

The biggest of all international disaster responders, the American Red Cross, held held off on mobilizing individual donors to respond to Ebola partly due to a lack of (donor) interest, according to an ABC story. They waited until this month to create an Ebola-specific donation campaign. This delay (or choice not to engage individual donors) certainly influenced other major funders and responders who are hanging on the sidelines waiting for their influential peers to act first. The result? As one NY Times story explains,Americans aren’t giving because they haven’t been asked.

I work for GlobalGiving, the first global crowdfunding marketplace, and we’ve matched more than 400,000 donors with more than 10,000 grassroots projects in the developing world over the last decade. I’ve read enough emails from GlobalGiving donors over the last few months to know that individuals from outside Africa do care. What we as aid agencies and non-governmental organizations need to do is a better job of demonstrating how one person’s donation can make a difference for individual people fighting Ebola in their own neighborhoods.

This health crisis has turned into a humanitarian crisis that will have devastating long-term psychological, social, and economic effects. In “Hotel Rwanda,” Joaquin Phoenix’s character predicts that when the public is confronted by footage of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, “they’ll say ‘Oh my God, that’s horrible,’ and then go on eating their dinners.”

Two decades later, we can’t stand by with the same sense of helplessness in the wake of this ongoing tragedy. It’s 2014 and this time, Americans have the means, the technology, and the will to engage with and support people like Archie who will stop the Ebola outbreak.

By all means, yes, we should continue to implore international leaders to invest right now in immediate efforts to stop the epidemic and long-term work to develop better health infrastructure in West Africa. But you better believe that after the U.N. and the U.S. have packed up their tents, Archie and community-based leaders and organizations will be the ones driving the long-term recovery for a generation ravaged by Ebola.

So please don’t believe it when you hear that Americans don’t care about Ebola. All of us—everyday citizens as well as NGO communicators—need to change that self-fulfilling narrative. Help your friends and family feel empowered by knowing that there are safe, efficient, and reliable ways to make meaningful contributions by supporting vital local community leaders like Archie and the Ebola-Free West Point Coalition. In doing so you’ll let those courageous women and men know that that we are with them.

Testing triggers for generosity

Posted by Alison Carlman on November 12th, 2014

Do you think you’d be more likely to donate when a nonprofit gives you five project choices or just features one? And how close to the deadline of a matching offer would you be most compelled to give? That’s what we sought to find out with a recent email test…

In a 2012 project partner survey, we found that our nonprofit partners want more reliable funding from GlobalGiving. They wanted to be better able to plan and budget in advance; more monthly recurring donations from GlobalGiving donors would help them do so. In 2012 and 2013 we experimented with new ways to boost recurring donations, and one of our most successful techniques was a matching offer for new recurring donations that we emailed to our e-newsletter list.

Looking for ways to optimize returns on this tried and true email campaign this year,  we tested two different hypotheses in our September 2014 send:

  • First, would offering people a choice of five projects to support outperform an offer presenting them with just one choice?
  • Second, would it be better to send the appeal on the day before the deadline or the day of the deadline? We measured success by tracking the dollars raised per one thousand emails sent.

Cell 2 The metric of success in this experiment was dollars-per-thousand-emails-sent, or $/1K sent. This is a metric that is helpful at comparing performance of appeals across lists of varying sizes and levels of engagement, and is one of the key metrics featured in M+R’s annual benchmark study on the online activity of nonprofits. We also regularly track open, click-through rates, and conversion rates to learn about engagement with our emails.

We created four test cells to generate emails containing donor history-based personalization. We created four equally-sized randomized segments of our audience for this promotion. The subject line was kept constant across all cells. The four test cells were:

  • Cell 1: One project + sent the day before the deadline
  • Cell 2: Five projects + sent the day before the deadline
  • Cell 3: One project + sent the day of the deadline
  • Cell 4: Five project + send the day of the deadline



Here’s what happened:

The people who had five projects to choose from were more likely to give than those who just had one, and the emails sent the day before the deadline raised more funds than those sent the day of the deadline.

Four-cell test results

Here’s what we learned, and what we’ll do in the future:

1. Five choices are better than one. Although people clicked through the email at slightly lower rates when presented with five projects, (1.1% click-through rate for five projects versus 1.5% click-through rate for one project) readers of the five-choice emails were 27% more likely to give than those presented with just one project – and that’s a statistically significant finding. Going forward, we’ll now feature more than one project option, and we’ll hone our findings by testing five options versus four, three, or two.

Significance Test

2. Give ‘em some notice. The average $/k emails sent for the day-before emails was $135, and the average for the day-of-deadline emails was $118, making the day-before emails the winner. There was no statistically significant difference in the open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates of these emails; the only difference that stood out was donation amount: the people receiving the appeal the day before the deadline made donations that were 12% larger than those receiving the appeal the day of the deadline. This wasn’t an expected outcome, so we’ll see if this trend continues during future promotions of the same kind. Until we figure out more, our plan will be to send an appeal the day before the deadline with a follow-up the day of the deadline.

 

 

 

New Infographic: GlobalGiving’s Bet on Improving Nonprofit Effectiveness

Posted by Alison Carlman on September 16th, 2014
Click to read about the impact GlobalGiving has in the world

Click to read about the impact GlobalGiving has in the world

You may be familiar with GlobalGiving as a way to help nonprofits raise funds from individual donors and progressive companies. But that’s only part of our mission. Our mission is to catalyze a marketplace for information, ideas and money, helping nonprofits access not only critical funding, but also critical tools and knowledge so that you can be as effective as possible with the resources you do have.

What do we mean by effectiveness? Well here’s what we’ve seen: whether in business, government or the nonprofit sector, the world’s most agile and adaptable organizations are learning organizations. They’re engaged in a continuous Cycle of Progress: listening, acting, learning, and repeating. (Sound a little like a core value you might have heard from us before?) These organizations are constantly honing what they do based on the best information they can get their hands on.

Check out our new infographic. that explains how we can make sure every dollar you contribute will have the highest impact possible, by helping you channel it toward the most agile and adaptive organizations in the areas that are most important to you.  

GlobalGiving to Hold Its First Summit on Social Media & Online Giving July 1-2, 2014 in New Delhi, India

Posted by Alison Carlman on June 11th, 2014

(WASHINGTON, DC), June 10, 2014 – GlobalGiving, the organization behind charitable giving websites GlobalGiving.org and GlobalGiving.co.uk, will hold its Summit on Social Media & Online Giving on July 1-2, 2014 in New Delhi, India. The Summit is produced in partnership with Social Media for Nonprofits, the premiere global event series on social media for social good.

The first-ever, two-day in-person event from GlobalGiving will bring together representatives from global technology services and leading South Asian NGOs to share insights, trends, and best practices for effectively engaging supporters and donors online. Fundraisers, executive directors, program managers, and communications staff from more than 100 organizations are expected to attend.

Confirmed speakers at the 2104 Summit on Social Media & Online Giving include:

India’s NGO community plays a large and active role in social change in India and around the world. More than 120 Indian organizations are actively fundraising on the website and more and more organizations are joining GlobalGiving every year. The 2014 Summit on Social Media & Online Giving is an opportunity to provide hands-on training to GlobalGiving’s existing partners and to introduce GlobalGiving to organizations that are interested in the fundraising platform. GlobalGiving is excited to host its first event of this kind in New Delhi.

“India’s NGO community already has the passion, creativity and people to tackle the extraordinary needs of its local communities, “ said GlobalGiving’s Chief Program Officer John Hecklinger. “With this Summit we’re bringing some of the best online tools and smartest practices into the mix.”

Since it was founded in 2002, GlobalGiving has enabled more than 4,000 nonprofit organizations to access technology, training, and visibility to raise funds for more than 9,000 projects in 144 countries. In January, the Washington, DC-based organization announced it had reached $100 million in total donations providing through its platform.

The event will take place at Habitat World at the India Habitat Centre. Staff from GlobalGiving partner NGOs and other nonprofit organizations are encouraged to attend. Regular registration is Rs. 4,500 with discounts provided to organizations that are members of GlobalGiving.

The 2014 Summit on Social Media & Online Giving is generously sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund.

For more information about the 2014 Summit on Social Media & Online Giving, visit:
www.globalgiving.org/summit-2014/

For more information about GlobalGiving, visit:
http://www.globalgiving.org/

About GlobalGiving

GlobalGiving is a registered nonprofit organization with the mission of catalyzing a global market for ideas, information, and money that democratizes aid and philanthropy. Its online fundraising platform, GlobalGiving.org, is creating new possibilities for everyday philanthropists, effective nonprofits, and innovative companies around the world.

About Social Media for Nonprofits

Social Media for Nonprofits is a nonprofit committed to providing nonprofits quality and accessible education on leveraging the power of social media for social good. We are the only series in the world dedicated to Social Media for Social Change. We provide capacity building training to nonprofits in this area with programs focused on fundraising, awareness, and advocacy.

Happy Money

Posted by Alison Carlman on October 18th, 2013
Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending - Book

The Science of Smarter Spending – Book

If you think money can’t buy happiness, think again. In their new book Happy Money, our friend Michael Norton and his fellow behavioral scientist Elizabeth Dunn, explain how money really can buy happiness – if you follow five core principles of smarter spending.

One of the principles should come as no surprise to all you GlobalGivers: spending money on others can increase your happiness even more than spending your cash on yourself.

It’s not just a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s science. Click here to see the book or read more in this Economist article.

10 lessons in 10 years: you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Posted by Alison Carlman on December 21st, 2012

Ten years ago, Co-Founders Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle launched GlobalGiving in the United States. In honor of the past ten years and in the spirit of one of our guiding core values, ‘Listen. Act. Learn. Repeat,’ we have launched a monthly blog series guest-written by former and current staff members. Each writer has spoken speak candidly about his or her experience with GlobalGiving and something that they learned. Dennis finishes off the year-long series with this post. 

Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle, Co-Founders of GlobalGiving

The other day a friend asked me to look back at my professional career and tell her what I was most proud of.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, you did all those multi-hundred million dollar projects at the World Bank in the 1980s and 1990s.  And then you were instrumental in creating the original Innovation and Development Marketplaces there.

“And now GlobalGiving has helped over 7,000 projects around the globe get $100+ million in funding from 300,000 donors and some of the most innovative companies in the world.  Plus, GlobalGiving is one of the few online giving platforms that has attained financial self-sustainability.  So which of those things are you most proud of?” she asked.

I paused, but only briefly.

“What I am most proud of is the team that we have built.  Every time I walk in the office I have an almost overwhelming sense of pride in the people there.  If you come visit some day, you will feel a hum in the large, wide-open space. People will be concentrating intensely, but periodically the room will be punctuated by laughter or by a bang on the office gong, signaling some milestone or breakthrough.

“If you keep watching, you will see that someone has hit a road block or has a question, and he will walk over to a colleague’s desk to ask for help.  The two of them will confer quietly. Someone else will look up from their work and come over to join the conversation. If you get closer, you will hear that the task at hand involves something that most teams would consider impossible.  And yet the problem gets solved, and the impossible is achieved – if not the same day, then the next day, or in any case soon.

“In the area where we have our weekly all-hands meetings, you will see what some team members have inscribed in big letters high on the wall:

ALWAYS OPEN

NEVER SETTLE

COMMITTED TO WOW

LISTEN=> ACT=> LEARN=> REPEAT

“Those are not just words – they really are the tenets that guide our actions and decisions day in and day out.

“They are the values that explain why the team can do exceptional things when others are stymied.

“They are the principles that explain why forty people can run and continually improve a platform that supports thousands of heroic project leaders and hundreds of thousands of donors in over one hundred countries.

“They are the reason why you ain’t seen nothing yet.  GlobalGiving has achieved a lot in its first ten years.  But just wait until you see what GlobalGiving does in the next decade.”

That’s what I told my friend.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Well-executed ideas are rare, and there is no team that can execute like the gang at GlobalGiving.  My deepest appreciation goes to everyone who has been on our team since we first opened our doors ten years ago. Thank you all for making me so proud.

10 Lessons in 10 Years: Don’t give in; Don’t settle; Love what you do.

Posted by Alison Carlman on November 15th, 2012

10 Year Anniversary of GlobalGivingTen years ago, Co-Founders Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle launched GlobalGiving in the United States. In honor of these past ten years and in the spirit of one of our guiding core values, ‘Listen. Act. Learn. Repeat,’ we have launched a monthly blog series guest-written by former and current staff members. Each writer will speak candidly about their experience with GlobalGiving and offer up something that they have learned. This month’s writer, Steve Rogers, demonstrates how life lessons sometimes imitate baseball. 

____

Seven years ago, when I joined GlobalGiving, I had just finished my (unsuccessful) stint at a technology start up during the dot.com bubble and bust.  I rode it out until I had nothing left to give, but the company had been acquired and taken over.  I started looking for new employment, knowing now that stock options were not the key to success or happiness.  I found GlobalGiving. They were a non-profit, but operating like a startup.  They had a small team and needed some technology leadership. Sweet!

When I walked in my first day, I found two dedicated individuals keeping the site running: Neal and Sombit.  They could write html, but knew very little of the inner workings of the site and infrastructure.  I felt my heart sink a little.  Turns out that I was an “emergency” hire. The previous leadership had left unexpectedly, as well as the Java coders responsible for the current state of the site. Sour!

I did not give in. I love a challenge. So, I opened my MacBook Pro (first one at GlobalGiving), and figured out where the code was (CVS), how it was deployed (OMG), and where a test server was, and how it got to production.  I set up a local environment, since Mac OSX runs on Linux. I started learning. That first year was almost all learning – the hard way.  I got a system (Project Entry) “working” – this was the site that was under reconstruction when the previous Java team left.  But I learned to figure things out, ask for help where I could, and I started to find the pain points and sketch a path to making things better.

Over the years, as I have been in charge of systems, websites, Information Technology (IT) and phones, we have moved offices twice, changed Internet Service Providers, changed our phone system, and moved our remote data center.  All this has been a challenge, but it was due to growth and improvement – and never settling.  Along the way, our staff has tripled (at least), and I have had the privilege to work with (and be challenged by) many super smart and dedicated people. I would not trade it.

As many of us who have crossed from the private sector for-profit world to the non-profit technology sector, I love the mission and while often being under-funded, under-staffed, and over-achieving, any frustration dissipates at the end of the day when I think of all the great social entrepreneurs and grassroots organizations that benefit from what GlobalGiving provides.

I have learned (and live) these lessons:

  • You can’t hit a grand slam if you don’t get some runners on base.
  • You can still score (and win) with several well placed “bunts.”
  • Incremental and iterative growth (a good leadoff) and change can lead to a “game changer” (stolen base).
  • Always be open to new ideas – encourage discussion; be inclusive. Take a seventh inning stretch to reflect and listen!
  • Never settle for, or give in to, the status quo. Don’t worry if that fly ball gets “lost in the lights”, track it, chase it down and make the play!

10 Lessons in 10 Years: Commit to Bliss

Posted by Alison Carlman on October 24th, 2012

Ten years ago, Co-Founders Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle launched GlobalGiving in the United States. In honor of these past ten years and in the spirit of one of our guiding core values, ‘Listen. Act. Learn. Repeat,’ we have launched a monthly blog series guest-written by former and current staff members. Each writer will speak candidly about their experience with GlobalGiving and offer up something that they have learned. This month’s writer, KC Ellis Sledd, shares two of the most important lessons she’s learned. 

__

“Donor Relations Specialist?” I asked.

“No, no, get more creative,” Kevin Conroy, Director of User Experience and Product Innovation, pushed me as I was creating a title for my new customer service position on the Unmarketing team at GlobalGiving.

I churned, wondering what kind of a title I could possibly invent that A) made sense for my never-existed-before job, B) wouldn’t look too silly on a business card, and C) made Kevin happy.

I studied my job description and parsed through the goals of my position. I recognized that I wanted my title to reflect our value of being committed to WOW. The other values are important, of course, but a commitment to WOW resonated with me most of all. A brand new position pioneering a devout love for customers felt like it needed to embody this value most ferociously out of the four that GlobalGiving holds dear.

Knowing that Kevin would never settle (value #3) for anything less than a fantastic job title, I iterated again and again on a series of possibilities, when suddenly, I remembered something he had told me in a conversation about his own role: “I’m like the Lorax; I speak for the users.”

With this in mind, I decided that I wanted to speak for our customers, too. I would fight for their needs and fight to make them happy. After all, without our donors, GlobalGiving couldn’t exist, and our partners wouldn’t be able to fundraise for the projects that help make our world a better place.

And then it hit me. I could be more than a fighter, I could be a champion: a Champion for Customer Bliss (and yes, that is what is on my business card).

So, every day, I try to delight the crew of GlobalGivers who support projects on our site. It’s not always easy, but our donors (and even the folks who decide they don’t want to give through us) make each interaction worth it. They are our reason to be, and I am so grateful that I get to learn their stories, answer their questions, and help them give. Our donors are a pretty awesome group of people!

My lessons learned were twofold:
1.     Never doubt Kevin Conroy, and
2.     Unconditionally love your customer.

I have learned that if you truly dedicate yourself to your customers, your customers will love you back. Our donors and supporters humble and inspire me daily with their benevolence, their generosity, and their compassion.

To our customers reading this, I’d like to say, with unwavering appreciation, thank you. This whole operation hinges on you, and I am grateful that you give us the opportunity to help you find your little earth-changing idea. Thank you for letting me be your Champion.

Devotedly yours,
KC Ellis Sledd
Champion for Customer Bliss

10 Lessons Learned Over 10 Years: Launching GlobalGiving in the UK

Posted by Alison Carlman on September 17th, 2012

Ten years ago, Co-Founders Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle launched GlobalGiving in the United States. In honor of these past ten years and in the spirit of one of our guiding core values, ‘Listen. Act. Learn. Repeat,’ we have launched a monthly blog series guest-written by former and current staff members. Each writer will speak candidly about their experience with GlobalGiving and offer up something that they have learned. This month’s writer, Rachel Smith, is the Programme and Operations Director at GlobalGiving UK, the London-based sister platform of globalgiving.org.  Rachel was part of the founding team at the organization. Below, she reflects on  her experience working in a small start-up organisation and how they were able to “achieve a lot with a little.”

As a young start up organisation, learning lessons is a constant activity for our team at GlobalGiving UK. The first few years are defined by figuring out how we work best and learning what doesn’t work so well. I often think that we must experience similar challenges and rewards that many of our grassroots non-profit partners experience. I hope this lesson will resonate and inspire others to ‘think big’ and bravely try creative solutions to bring a vision to fruition.

GlobalGiving UK has landed
Almost four years ago to the day, GlobalGiving.co.uk launched to the world. I’d never been involved in a tech start-up before so I really wasn’t sure what to expect from ‘launching a website.’ Lots of preparations in advance and then at the point of launch…not much happens. At the switch of a button and we were live and online. It almost seems like nothing had changed from three seconds earlier.

Of course, there was more to ‘launch day’ than that. The GlobalGiving seed of something new had just spouted and on that day:

  • GlobalGiving’s online giving platform had launched for the first time in a new currency and market bringing additional benefits to GlobalGiving donors and non-profit partners around the world;
  • Our small team (then just two of us!) brought together more than 50 founding supporters and friends to begin our journey to engage the UK public and development sector (the highlight being a keynote speech from the then Secretary of State for International Development); and, also, not so conveniently…
  • Lehman Brothers collapsed sending the world in a turbulent global recession.

These were potentially not the most fertile of circumstances to launch an online giving platform! Although as we were starting from zero, the only way was up! We had to learn how to grow and respond to the environment we faced and take creative approaches to meeting our aims.

Lesson: achieve a lot with very little by being creative and open
Over the past four years, through testing and piloting, listening and learning, and developing partnerships and collaborations, we have (amongst other successes):

  • helped non-profit partners gain access to over £1.5m to fund projects around the world
  • supported more than 500 organisations with their online fundraising
  • provided a fundraising and communications training course to more than 100 organisations
  • and launched a skills-sharing platform – GlobalGivingTIME – providing grassroots organisations with access to skilled professionals such as those at Aegis Media.

Aegis Media’s online volunteering platform, GlobalGivingTIME

Success rests on many factors but I believe that one of the key factors for success for us has been leveraging everything and anything to make things happen. That is not to say that everything we tried worked, however! (A failed pro-bono partnership helped us learn to be realistic about what could be achieved, scaling our extremely ambitious plan back to something more manageable.) Some of our other keys to success have been:

  • Leveraging networks. We developed collaborations between more organisations, investing in team creativity, and forming win-win partnerships. These were ways to get things done that didn’t require us to throw money around.
  • Promoting GlobalGiving.co.uk for ‘free.’  We have never spent any actual money on advertising the website. We have developed pro-bono relationships with Google and 77academy to help us spread the word, for example.
  • Bringing professional skills to non-profit partners anywhere. Spurred on by our vision to provide access to funds and resources to under-resourced grassroots organisations, we developed a long term collaborative partnership with Aegis Media and Sparked.com and launched GlobalGivingTIME connecting 1000s of professional online volunteers with our charity partners around the world (this project was honoured by the Guardian Sustainability Awards).
  • The power of the team.  Everyone in the team is valued and everyone can contribute to the ideas generation, planning, delivery and review and lesson learning. We bring the whole team together to ‘get creative’. We know this has also worked for non-profit partners too – PEPAIDS cited the value of their team in raising over £10,000 for their project: “Sharing the responsibility gives you confidence, momentum and helps you aim high”.
  • Partnerships that make the right connections. Our partnership with JustGiving.com – the UK fundraiser platform (think online sponsorship forms) – has generated over £500k from 1000s of people for GlobalGiving projects. Highlighting just some examples shows how working together with others from inside and outside the organisation and being creative (thinking ‘out of the box’) can yield marvelous things! You don’t need a lot of money: just a willingness to develop relationships, listen, try things out, be brave and accept when things don’t work out (and celebrate when they do!)

GlobalGiving UK remains a very small team but our partnerships, collaborations and team energy, creativity, and passion means that we are far more than the sum of our immediate parts.

10 Lessons Learned in 10 Years: Redefining the Status Quo

Posted by Alison Carlman on August 30th, 2012

Ten years ago, Co-Founders Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle launched GlobalGiving. In honor of these past ten years and in the spirit of one of our guiding core values, ‘Listen. Act. Learn. Repeat,’ we have launched a monthly blog series guest-written by former and current staff members. Each writer will speak candidly about their experience with GlobalGiving and offer up something that they have learned. This month Alexis Nadin, Senior Program Associate, shares three lessons she learned during her transition from an intern to a full-time team member.

Lesson 1: Ideas really can come from anyone, anywhere, at anytime. (Even GlobalGiving interns!)

If you ask any of my colleagues about my personality, they’ll probably tell you that I’m opinionated and demanding. I know that GlobalGiving can make an incredible difference in the world and I want to make sure that our organization is doing the best possible job in supporting our non-profit partners and communities around the world. So I try to set the bar high, for myself and everyone I interact with here at GlobalGiving.

What my colleagues probably don’t remember is that when I first started at GlobalGiving in 2008 as a Project Team Intern, I was not the demanding, opinionated Alexis that they know (and hopefully love) today. When I started at GlobalGiving 4 years ago, I was passionate about the organization’s mission but I was fully prepared to be a fly on the wall. After all, as your average over-achieving university student in Washington, DC, I had had plenty of internships at other organizations and government agencies. I knew my place as an intern—I was a phone answering, stapler wielding, memo editing drone. Right?

Wrong! It was clear after my first few days at GlobalGiving that I was not going to be playing the role of a glorified photocopier machine.  The Project Team was interested in my thoughts, opinions, and ideas. I was invited to take ownership of projects and give feedback on the team’s direction. I don’t remember much about that first semester I worked with GlobalGiving (after all, I was attending school full time and nannying on the side) but I do recall the feeling of having my thoughts and opinions matter. I remember feeling like a part of the team, even though I was “just” an intern. After that first semester, anytime someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I always answered “work for GlobalGiving.”

Lesson 2: Don’t ever underestimate what passionate social entrepreneurs can accomplish.

I was lucky to start interning with the Project Team at an exciting time. GlobalGiving would soon be hosting the first-ever Open Challenge, in which organizations would aim to raise $3,000 from 75 donors to remain on GlobalGiving’s site. But, like many others, I was skeptical. I mean, come on, small, grassroots organizations in developing countries around the world could never really mobilize 75 people to give them $3,000. Right?

Wrong again! That first Open Challenge was a huge success. Twenty organizations from places like Nepal, Madagascar, Philippines, and Sierra Leone raised more than $3,000 and secured a spot on GlobalGiving. Since then, GlobalGiving has hosted more than 30 Challenges and over 500 organizations have secured a spot on GlobalGiving through this process. (I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Manmeet!)

Today, I am a huge advocate for our Open Challenge process. (Check out this blog post I wrote about the rationale for the Open Challenge.) Over the past few years I have learned that social entrepreneurs are a powerful and capable force. Time and time again we have seen organizations beat the odds and accomplish truly incredible things with a little bit of faith, love, and support.

Lesson 3: It’s all about building relationships.

During that fateful first semester I interned at GlobalGiving, Marc (now GlobalGiving’s Innovation Consultant) announced that he would be testing out a new concept for monitoring projects.  He planned to identify select travelers to visit and verify GlobalGiving projects overseas. At the time I thought, “How silly of GlobalGiving, don’t they know that travelers aren’t qualified to visit their projects? That takes a degree and years of field experience.”

Despite my hesitations, I volunteered myself and my boyfriend, Brian to visit organizations in East Africa that summer. In two months, Brian and I visited 20 organizations in four countries. We met rats that are sniffing out landmines, paraded through the streets with 200 female microloan recipients, hung out with university scholarship recipients in Rwanda, and so much more.

During that summer, I learned the value of meeting face to face, of getting to know our partners’ stories and passions and concerns. I got to tell our partners that their feedback matters and that GlobalGiving wants to provide a platform that is meaningful and valuable (and of course, easy to use). And although I didn’t have a degree in M&E, I was still able to tell our partners that GlobalGiving is there for them–that there is a group of people in Washington, DC who care about their struggles and who want to help them and their communities.

Today, I am proud to manage GlobalGiving’s In the Field Program, which trains and sends well-qualified volunteers and interns into the field to visit our non-profit partners. Although the program has evolved since Brian and I were in the field 3 years ago, we continue to emphasize the value of relationship building. This is still one of the number one ways that GlobalGiving maintains close relationships with almost 2,000 partner organizations.