Archive for the ‘General’ Category


It’s important to arm Nigerian girls, especially when the other guys won’t.

Posted by dennis on July 15th, 2010

It’s been obvious to me for a long time that the way to fuel sustainable, positive change in the world is to find, nurture, and fund local, grassroots solutions, like arming Nigerian girls…with the weapon of education.

So it’s always pleasantly surprising when I come across people who aren’t necessarily as steeped in the wonkiness of foreign aid and development as I am who completely get this intuitively.

Like Olivia Wilde, an actress who is currently on House. While I like the show, she really got my attention when she featured a GlobalGiving project on her blog.

Better yet, she explained why, writing, “Here’s the skinny: Small, grassroots organizations that focus on specific projects operated by the local community are often more effective and accountable than gargantuan, broad based, NGOs.”

Nice, Olivia.  It took you far less time than it took me to figure that out.

And now, I can only hope that with this kind of enthusiasm for the power of locally inspired projects and solutions ebbing up from all over–from Hollywood actresses to Alanna Shaikh–that eventually our major foreign aid institutions will follow suit and find ways to funnel more funding directly to them, as quickly as possible, and to allow the marketplace–not program officers or aid wonks–to decide what ideas should surface and which should sink.

So that instead of writing funding proposals and focusing on political relationships and attending meetings, the people with the great ideas can focus on doing what they do best: arming Nigerian girls with education and the like.

As Olivia astutely points out, that’s where the real effectiveness and accountability lie.

Dennis Whittle is Co-Founder and CEO of GlobalGiving.

More on gift-wrapped rats.

Posted by dennis on July 7th, 2010

Bill Schmick’s daughter gave him a rat for Father’s Day, and he was so happy about it that he wrote this blog post.

Getting to write sentences like that is just one of the reasons that I love my job.

Another one is providing a way for people like Bill, as he describes in his post, to make personal connections to projects and ideas around the world.  While I appreciated Bill’s post and his enthusiasm about GlobalGiving in general, my favorite part was his description of how he came to choose the projects when he redeemed his gift card from his daughter.

He wrote, “Well, I split my gift with the lion’s share going to HeroRATS…As many of my readers are aware, I have a deep attachment to Africa where I have traveled and conducted business for over 25 years…As a self-confessed animal lover and a Vietnam Veteran, I gave a donation to help feed 140 orphaned chimpanzees and the final third of my contribution to helping U.S. war vets suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…I have picked those projects which have inspired me personally.”

In addition to supporting projects and ideas that are changing communities around the world, a big part of why Mari and I started GlobalGiving was to create a way for people to make meaningful connections to those ideas and to choose what to support based on what was needed and would work given their own experience and wisdom.

Bill, you’re a great example of just that and I thank you for sharing your enthusiasm about GlobalGiving. We’re thrilled to have you as part of our community.

Dennis Whittle is Co-Founder and CEO of GlobalGiving.

Crossing the $30 million mark

Posted by mari on July 2nd, 2010

We passed $30 million in lifetime contributions to thousands of grassroots projects all over the world yesterday.


Most of us were so engrossed in our work that when we arranged for an impromptu gelato party, everyone looked surprised and happy, but a little sheepish about grabbing a cup and heading back to their desks.

And truth to tell, the milestone sort of crept up on us–we have annual, quarterly, and monthly goals and monitor them closely–but rarely step back to think about what $30 million really means.

$30 million over the last eight years translates to an average of $3.75 million a year.

That’s to say that if we were an endowed foundation following minimum guidelines on payouts, our endowment would be about $75 million. In reality, of course, our grantmaking has grown every year, and the $30 million actually doesn’t capture some of the other grantmaking that we carry out for some of the organizations that we work with.

And as we had a rushed debate–frozen yogurt? gelato? brownies and cookies?–with the ticker counting the donations coming in yesterday, I had a flashback to a day back in early 2001.

We had no name and no staff. We did have a clear idea about who we wanted to support and why, but only the fuzziest ideas about how we would persuade other people–funders, donors, technologists–to do that with us. We were with Barbara Gee, who, on the strength of one of our mentors, Randy Komisar, had flown out to Washington, D.C. to help us think this through.  On her dime.

We were also with Janine Firpo–another Good Samaritan who also was just helping us.

And we had rushed out to get something to eat–sandwiches and cookies–and gotten back to discover that the cookies were simply enormous. We joked about them, including the rush that had led to us getting an 8-inch cookie each.

“When you are big and successful, you can get these 8-inch cookies again as a reminder of what a rush you were in back then, to mark some milestone.”

Well, we are still feeling a rush, still making some decisions on the fly.  So I didn’t succeed in getting back to the bakery with the crazy cookies.

And although this isn’t as intuitive a milestone as “$30 million,” I actually got my personal milestone 12 days ago. Janine, who was the person who told us that the 8-inch cookies will one day be a talisman, told us 12 days ago as a user of, that we were delivering real value.

We actually get a lot of people telling us these days. But Janine’s assessment was special, if only because she can remember what it was like nine years ago when it was just an idea on a piece of paper.

Happy 4th of July everybody!

Mari Kuraishi is the Co-Founder and President of GlobalGiving.

Nightline: Soccer program views goals in more ways than one.

Posted by lisa kays on July 2nd, 2010

As some of you know, in honor of World Cup fever, we’ve been highlighting ways that soccer projects around the world are changing lives.

Last night, Nightline went one better and covered one of those projects in South Africa, providing a great article and video piece on how Academy of Hope in South Africa is helping men in prison re-direct their lives by directing the ball around the soccer field.

As Project Leader Mark Slessenger explains to Nightline, “These guys love football. It’s what they enjoy and soccer is just a way to get the guys out of the gangs. And if a guy loves soccer, he’s willing to leave the gang to come and develop because of his love for the sport.”

The program has a great success rate as well. Of 18 prisoners who have gone through it and been released, the story explains, only two have returned to prison.

Andre Soetwateer participated in the program and was released three months ago, writes Nightline. Working as an electrician, he explains, “It’s very hard, very hard. A lot of friends (are) smoking and using drugs….So for me to come outside out of prison, not doing that, is very hard for me to get in with them and try to communicate with them.”

But, he says, “I’m doing so many good things for people.  I’m so happy.”

Nightline explains that Andre is in good company in beating the odds, as the prison he walked out of–where Academy of Hope’s program is based–is the same one that Nelson Mandela walked out of in 1990.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Nightline continues,  “And soccer was key to the anti-apartheid struggle. It was a league inside the Robben Island prison, where Mandela spent 18 of his years behind bars, that served as a rallying point for the anti-apartheid movement.”

So, the legacy of soccer as a tool for good continues. Score!

Learn more:
Academy of Hope: Hope To Youth In Prison Through Soccer In Africa
GlobalGiving Soccer Projects Around The World
Nightline story: Soccer Saves: Soccer Team Changes Lives At South African Prison

Lisa Kays is GlobalGiving’s Acting Communications Director. She grew up playing soccer and knows firsthand that it’s a force for good in the world.

Dislike the oil spill? Hit “Like” to help out the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund

Posted by lisa kays on July 1st, 2010

No one likes the oil spill.

And SharkStores has decided to help do something about it. By “Liking” their page on Facebook, you can show that you dislike the oil spill and want to help with relief.

For every “Like” that SharkStores receives, they’re giving 25 cents to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund via GlobalGiving.

And, if they hit 5,000 new “Likes” by July 8th, they’ll double their gift (for up to 15,000 new “Likes”)!

So, if you don’t like the oil spill and the damage it’s doing to the Gulf Coast, head over to their Facebook page and “Like” it before July 8th to help drive some dollars to help provide emergency grants to nonprofit organizations helping the victims of the oil spill and address long-term economic, environmental, cultural effects of the disaster.

Learn more about the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.

Lisa Kays is the Acting Communications Director at GlobalGiving. She dislikes the oil spill and has thus “Liked” SharkStores.

More about AIDS, lipstick (and World Cup) from our friends at M•A•C

Posted by Donna Callejon on June 28th, 2010


Last week my colleague Lisa wrote a nice piece about opportunities to support organizations leveraging sport to address social problems around the world.  Well, as much as I love Lisa, she was topped by our friend Nancy Mahon from the M•A•C AIDS Fund, who really lays it on the line her her Huffington Post piece Battling HIV/AIDS in South Africa One Goal at a Time.

For years, HIV cases in South Africa have been disproportionately concentrated among women and girls. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women between 15 and 24-years old account for 75% of total HIV infections. In South Africa specifically, a young woman is four times more likely to be HIV-positive than a South African young man…

And M•A•C has been addressing these issues since 1994.  They make grants in the US and in 66 additional countries.   And they have one of the most successful cause marketing programs in history with their Viva Glam lipstick.  Yes, lipstick is helping people with AIDS around the world.   With Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga front and center, 11 MILLION lipsticks have been sold.  And here’s the best part. Unlike programs that contribute $1, or even 10% per product sold, 100% of the purchase price of Viva Glam products goes to fight HIV/AIDS.  Think about what one lipstick purchase ($14) can do:

In the US…

  • Pay for 2 emergency boxes filled with non-perishable food
  • Fund the printing of 15 copies of “Tips to Eating Well with HIV/AIDS” booklets
  • Buy 18 personalized birthday cakes to be hand-delivered to a person living with HIV/AIDS on his/her birthday
  • Buy 1 week’s supply of groceries (about 4 bags of food) for 2 clients


  • Provide support and education for 5 pregnant women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS giving them the tools to prevent transmission to their unborn child
  • Provide 2 children with 2 meals per day at Noah’s Ark for 1month
  • Buy 1 pair of school shoes for a child orphaned by AIDS

Not bad for a tube of lipstick.

Nancy makes the following important point in her post:

Much of the press coverage around social issues in South Africa over the past week or so has focused on the high AIDS rates but few have mentioned one of the largest drivers of the disease — sexual violence against girls and young boys. All of the AIDS education in schools and billboard campaigns in the world will not effectively tackle the South African AIDS epidemic unless we create and support programs that honestly confront this national and international sorrow.

So whether it’s sex trafficking in Atlanta (see A Future Not a Past) or the stunning statistics on rape in South Africa, there is much to be done by individuals.  And progressive companies like M•A•C.

Rats for Dads

Posted by mari on June 17th, 2010


Today, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof ran an op-ed urging his readers to make meaningful gifts this Father’s Day.

“Wouldn’t most dads feel more honored by a donation to any of these organizations than by a donation to commercialism?,” he asked.

Many of the organizations he mentioned in his article are hosted on GlobalGiving, and we were, of course, thrilled and appreciative that he chose to highlight our partner organizations in this way.

To date, Kristof’s article has raised just under $30,000 from over 600 donors for just one of the projects he mentioned—the landmine detecting, mega-smart hero rats.

And the number goes up by the minute.

To us at GlobalGiving, this is yet another powerful reminder of how one person—or one idea—can make a hugely significant impact on a corner (or in Nick’s case, many corners) of the world.

I’m particularly appreciative to Nick given that this article falls on the day after his own father passed away.

Given what Nick has said about his father’s life, it’s no surprise that he would raise a son who would have such a broad, positive impact on the world. To all the great fathers out there, and the wonderful values they instill in their kids.

Mari Kuraishi is Co-Founder and President of GlobalGiving.

A crowd-sourcing experiment to improve beneficiary feedback loops

Posted by Marc Maxson on June 16th, 2010

Effort improved.png

I’m recruiting for a short-term crowdsourcing experiment we’re starting in three days at GlobalGiving. Do you know anyone who’d be interested?

The Question: “Can a crowd of readers reach the same conclusions as an eyewitness about aid projects?”

The answer could help us improve the communication with people on the ground and their donors.  The time commitment is 15 hours over the next month and we’ll share all the results with you. It’s virtual volunteering – so you never have to leave the comfort of your own home.

The Gist:  Read a bunch of project reports, which are written by project leaders in Kenya and sent to their donors to keep them in the loop. We’ll then ask you to provide context (no essays or anything, just sliding knobs around on 2-D spatial representations of the story elements). We’ve collected 4000 stories from beneficiaries on the ground about these organizations that we want to compare to this stuff.

Other than a huge thank you, you get a GlobalGiving gift card and a full debriefing on the analysis ahead of any papers or press releases. Use the gift card to support your favorite project on our site and then two organizations will benefit from all your hard work!

Let me know if this sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in by Friday. (You can respond via twitter @marcmaxson, or skype:marcmaxson, or Marc Maxson on Facebook, or via

Today brings 50% match and world of difference to projects like Wuqu-Kawoq

Posted by lisa kays on June 14th, 2010

Today is Bonus Day, when, until 11:59 p.m. EDT, GlobalGiving matches all gifts made at up to $1,000 per project per donor at 50% up to $70,000 total–enabling donors to make their gifts go further and projects to receive significant inflows of funding that make a significant difference to their work.

This was the case for Wuqu-Kawoq, which was able to fully fund a child nutrition project due to our last Bonus Day in March. This year, they hope to do the same for a project focused on helping victims of Guatemala’s Tropical Storm Agatha.

Here’s their Bonus Day story in the words of Peter Rohloff, Wuqu-Kawoq’s Executive Director:

Wuqu-Kawoq addresses barriers to health care for Guatemala’s indigenous Maya population.

When Bonus Day came along last March, the result of our participation exceeded our wildest expectations.

Within one day, one of our projects–Child Malnutrition in the Bocacosta of Guatemala–had exceeded 100% of its fundraising goal, raising more than $10,000 on Bonus Day alone.

We were floored.

By leveraging the GlobalGiving community and matching funds, we were able to fully fund the project much faster than we could have otherwise.

Bonus Day helped reduce malnutrition among children
As a result, we were able to purchase “Sprinkles,” a micronutrient preparation for babies that tastes much better than the product we had been using. We were also able to install water filters in every home in the communities where we work–one of the most sustainable ways to prevent childhood disease and malnutrition.

It worked.

Over the life of the project,  malnutrition in children declined from 70% to 35% and we prevented and reversed stunting in children from 6 months to age three.

Our hope is for Bonus Day to fuel relief efforts for survivors of Tropical Storm Agatha
This year, we hope Bonus Day will help us raise critically important funds to help rebuild following Tropical Storm Agatha.

Our relief project will implement two phases of recovery in the communities where we work, where 1,000-2,000 families are now without homes and the storm destroyed all crops and municipal water systems.

After a thorough needs assessment, which we’ve been conducting over the past few weeks, we will focus on providing critical clean water and medical supplies, and then will turn to re-establishing a stable water source.

On behalf of my colleagues at Wuqu-Kawoq, I’d like to thank the GlobalGiving community for supporting our work in Guatemala.

To further assist survivors of Tropical Storm Agatha and to make your gift go further, please consider making a gift to our relief project on Bonus Day (today!).

Or, give to any project on All gifts made today through 11:59 p.m. EDT (or until the $70,000 limit is reached) on will be matched at 50% up to $1,000 per donor per project.

Peter Rohloff is the Executive Director of Wuqu-Kawoq, a project of GlobalGiving.

World Cup inspires seeing soccer/football as mechanism for social change.

Posted by lisa kays on June 11th, 2010

Yesterday, I got a Tweet from @Alyssa_Milano reminding me that, “Before the #WorldCup is won, 100k Africans will die from malaria.” She encouraged me to, “Join players & fans: #endmalaria.

The link clicks through to the United Nation’s “Unite Against Malaria” Facebook page.

This was quite timely, as the Tweet came through just as I was creating GlobalGiving’s World Cup landing page, featuring projects related to soccer.

Not long after, Tobias Eigen, President of Kabissa, an organization that bolsters civil society in Africa, sent out a message asking everyone what they were doing to leverage the World Cup in their awareness-raising and social change efforts in Africa.

Indeed, when it comes to this kind of thinking about how to leverage this year’s World Cup for good, it seems everyone is on the ball. (Pun intended, but with apologies nonetheless.)

It’s 10 a.m. on the day the World Cup is launching, and, in addition to those above, I’ve already seen Tweets or emails linking the World Cup to issues of global awareness and social action from @growingupglobal and even @usaid, and, of course, @peacecorpsconnect.

It’s fun and exciting to see an international sports platform being used in such creative, inventive ways to draw attention to issues which are less fun, but even more important than a soccer game, such as malaria, poverty alleviation, and HIV/AIDS.

The projects GlobalGiving is featuring on our World Cup landing page drive this home.

In just the sampling of projects we feature that tie to soccer, the issues being tackled include using soccer to help inmates in South African prisons reintegrate into society, reducing stigmas associated with amputees in Sierra Leone through amputee soccer, providing soccer as recreation for children in a refugee camp in Rafah, and using soccer as a means to build leadership and self-esteem for military daughters in the U.S.

Those are just a few of the ways that GlobalGiving projects are using soccer to create social change for people around the world. (Here’s the full list.)

We’re looking forward to seeing how the World Cup is used to fuel awareness of and support for projects and issues like these as much as we’re looking forward to the matches themselves.

And trust us, we’re really excited about the matches.