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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!

Listening to Community Feedback

Posted by Alison Carlman on November 3rd, 2011

By Emily Bell, GlobalGiving’s Unmarketing Intern

The number of rapes and sexual assaults reported around the world each year is rarely indicative of the size and severity of the problem. In Africa especially, rape is underreported and perpetrators are seldom convicted. In his recent article In This Rape Center, the Patient Was 3, Nicholas Kristof wrote that “women and girls ages 15 to 44 are more likely to be maimed or killed by men than by malaria, cancer, war or traffic accidents combined.” I’m not quite sure how anyone can take in that statistic.

Mrembo project leaders talk straight with girls in a Nairobi slum

At GlobalGiving we work with many nonprofits around the world that are addressing rape and gender-based violence. But beyond that, we’re also helping nonprofit organizations find out what their communities are saying about these issues, whether or not their core programming directly addresses the problem of rape.

For example, a group of Kenyan girls involved in the Mrembo project, an after-school program that promotes honest, issue-based discussions for over 200 girls in the slums of Nairobi, had the opportunity to tell their stories as part of our Storytelling Project. When asked about issues they most often faced, these 8-13 year-old girls brought up the issue of rape themselves.

The project leaders behind Mrembo read those stories and decided to take action. They made changes to their programming to address the prevalence of rape in the girls’ community. For example, this December will mark the first Miss Mrembo pageant where the project leaders will address the relationship between self-esteem and rape. Take a look at what these Mrembo girls are saying now about the project. (Search for “Mrembo” – these are their personal stories!)

 

GlobalGiving Gets More Money to the Ground with FXecute

Posted by Alison Carlman on November 1st, 2011

It’s a great week to be a GlobalGiving nonprofit partner (and donor!). We’re excited to share the news that we’ve launched a new system of payment disbursements that will save most of our international partners a significant amount of money. Hooray!

GlobalGiving is now implementing a new donation disbursement method for our international partners called FXecute. When compared to a traditional bank wire transfer, FXecute promises to save our international partners collectively hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in wire transfer fees and currency exchange premiums, getting more of our donors’ dollars to the ground.

FXecute delivers local currency to our partners’ international accounts via their country’s domestic ACH system (similar to a direct deposit) rather than using the typical international bank wire transfer system. Avoiding the intermediary bank and the beneficiary’s wire department, we are able avoid typical wire fees of $55, and in some cases as much as $95, per transfer.

In addition to saving on wire fees, GlobalGiving will be able to reduce the currency conversion premium on international disbursements from 3-11% (typical international wire transfer currency conversion rate) to 0.3-1% (FXecute’s conversion rate).

What does all of this mean? It means that a $1,000 disbursement to a partner in Kenya would have cost that organization $105 in bank fees and currency conversions before now, causing the organization to lose 10.5% of the donations on top of our 15% fee.  Today, that same $1,000 will be disbursed as $995, costing the Kenyan partner $5 in currency conversion fees – making the total cost of  the transfer less than one percent.

We’re doing the best to continually add benefits that make the GlobalGiving system more efficient and more valuable to our nonprofit partners every day. We’re pleased to roll out this new disbursement program this week, just in time for the holiday giving season!

 

“I promise I’m not a creep; I just like you”…

Posted by Alison Carlman on May 17th, 2011

… that was a subject of an email we received today from Katie Meyler, a project leader behind the Elementary Scholarships for Liberian Children project on our site. This wasn’t our first email from Katie; several different GlobalGiving staffers have worked with Katie and the More Than Me Foundation since they joined the site through one of our Global Open Challenges. But today’s email from Katie was what every non-profit worker loves to hear – a success story that we couldn’t have written better ourselves:

Dearest Global Giving Friends,
It’s been about a year now, maybe a little bit longer since Stephanie signed us up for that thing where you get 50 + people to donate $4,000 or more.  I just wanted to say thank you again; Global Giving really has been a game changer for More Than Me.  Last year we only had a couple thousand dollars in our account and struggled to figure out how we were going to sustain 33 girls in school for 3 years.  This year we will get to help around 75 to 100 girls get off the street and into school  and provide all they need to stay there for the next 3 years!  I know you guys are working in offices and rarely get to visit the projects so I wanted to help you understand how your work really is changing small pockets of our world.

I was just in Liberia less than 2 months ago.  We work in the poorest slum in the country, West Point.  People refer to it as the bottom of the bottom and Liberians do not even want to visit and don’t believe me when I tell them that is where we work.  Truthfully, I don’t find it to be as scary and dangerous as people say, it’s just extremely poor.  I was walking in West Point early one morning and I see this 6 year old little girl squatting in the dirt under some tin for shade.  She had a bucket, broken flip flops, and a tray of peanuts which she was selling.  I walked by we smiled into eachothers eyes.  She followed me, trying to make it seem like she wasn’t, hiding behind market tables.  Long story short, I found out her name, Musu.  I got her some new shoes and put our project manager’s name and number in the bucket and told Musu to tell her mom to call.  Her mom did and I ended up meeting Musu’s mom.  Musu is the provider for her family because her mother is going blind.  She would never have the opportunity to go to school and this fall she will start.  Truthfully, I can’t WAIT to get back to Liberia and see her and Princess, Elizabeth, Agnes, and the others who all have similar stories.

I don’t pretend More Than Me is changing the world but putting Musu in school changes her world.  We are able to put this many girls in school this year largely because of the donors that come to us through Global Giving (holy moly Christmas time was awesome this year), wining the Ford Focus contest which we wouldnt have known about if it wasn’t for you, and the money and attention raised from winning this contest.  Things are not perfect, we still have SO MUCH to do.  We are all still volunteers, Steph is still working a full time job, I’m still living on couches but we have come A LONG LONG way this year and it’s mostly because we signed up at Global Giving.  I never stop singing your praises.  I tell every small non-profit I can to sign up if they want to grow.

Thanks again for all you do, your computer job or whatever it is you do REALLY does translate into Musu off the street and into school.

More Than Me is Because You are,
From the heart,

Katie & team More Than Me

We hope that Katie’s story is inspiring to you whether you’re a donor, a project leader or even a new visitor to the GlobalGiving site.  Our project team works hard to help grassroots project leaders access funding for their ideas; it’s great food for the soul to hear how our “computer jobs” helped put Musu in school! If you’ve donated to a GlobalGiving project, then we hope you know that you and your computer job/waitressing gig/stay-at-home parent role are also doing global good!