Uncategorized Posts

Happy Money

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.

Virtual Community, Actual Impact

Paul was a teenager when he was drafted into the United States (US) Army during the Vietnam War.  And when the US ended its military involvement in Vietnam, it was just the beginning of a longer battle for him.  He was later deployed to multiple other international posts, and when he finally returned home, he was left with little support and undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The disorder wreaked havoc on his life, leaving him homeless, unemployed, over-medicated, and depressed.

Today, with the help of Canines with a Cause (CWAC) and the generous donations of VMware employees all over the world, Paul has a second chance.  CWAC carefully partners veterans with the life-saving companionship of rescued shelter dogs.

“Many with PTSD remain hyper-vigilant, suffer from nightmares, and have difficulty sleeping.  The dogs give them a sense of security so they can sleep well,” explains CWAC founder Cathy King.  “When veterans have an anxiety or panic attack, we train the dogs to paw or bark at them, bringing them back to the present and not somewhere dangerous in their minds.”

photo courtesy of canines with a cause

photo courtesy of canines with a cause

More than four million healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized in shelters each year.  One in four war veterans will come home with PTSD.  The CWAC program prides itself on being able to save two lives at once — it helps both Paul and his former shelter dog reconnect with society.  “He has responsibility and purpose now,” says Paul’s friend.  “Through the CWAC program, he thinks he’s training the dog but really, he’s retraining himself.”

The VMware Foundation partners with the GlobalGiving Foundation to support the work of CWAC through its ‘Citizen Philanthropy’ approach to giving.  The VMware Foundation provides a platform for its more than 13,000 employees worldwide, enabling each employee to amplify his/her contributions to the community. One way VMware supports employee-led giving is through its Milestone Awards. Celebrating service with VMware, people receive charitable donation gift cards when they join the company and when they reach their 1-year anniversary. VMware people can direct the donations to a GlobalGiving charitable project that’s close to their hearts.

Gail Gilstrap, a VMware Engagement Manager based in the Washington, DC, area recently celebrated her 1-year anniversary with VMware. Gilstrap explains how the company has supported her charitable interests.

“There were a lot of organizations to choose from but I gave to CWAC because animals have always been close to my heart and my daughter is studying to be a veterinary technician.  A lot of my family has also served in the military so I thought, ‘what better way to support?’”

Another employee, Priya Kornalius, recently joined VMware as an IT Change Manager in Bangalore, India.  On her first day, she received a GlobalGiving gift card as a welcome gift from the VMware Foundation

“I was pleasantly surprised by the GlobalGiving gift card at first but, really, it has set my expectations for VMware — it’s a company that values people and giving back to communities in need,” says Priya.

“I’m from a small village in India and I’ve seen so many children who don’t have enough money for a better education,” Priya continues, “It was such a joy to donate to help schoolchildren in the Sundarbans (India).”

The Sundarbans is a remote delta region located partially in West Bengal, India.  About 80% of rural households in this state are not electrified.  This limits economic opportunity in the region and consequently, a high proportion of its dense population lives below the poverty line.

For schoolchildren, the lack of electricity means that at nightfall, it becomes simply too dark to study.  Kerosene lanterns are sometimes available but they are expensive, release dangerous smoke and fumes, and frequently cause fire accidents.

Priya used her VMware GlobalGiving gift card to provide solar lamps to children and classrooms in the Sundarbans.  The Indian non-profit organization, the Association for Social and Environmental Development (ASED), leads this initiative and has received more than US$12,760 from VMware employee Milestone Awards

Fourteen year-old Kakoli Giri received an ASED solar lamp in April 2012.

She comes from a family whose monthly income is just 2000 Indian rupees (US$37).  They practice subsistence farming and her father migrates seasonally in search of daily-wage work in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

Kakoli is currently in the ninth grade and her favorite subjects are physical science and geography.  In the evenings, she uses the solar lamp to study.  She attends tutorial three times a week and during this time, her younger brother is able to use the solar lamp for his own studies.  Since receiving the lamp a year ago, Kakoli’s grades have improved and she has moved from 39th to 33rd in her class.

“GlobalGiving has been a wonderful partner,” says ASED project leader Diti Mookherjee.  “Together we are securing brighter futures for needy children.”

 

VM Ware Employees Share on VMLink, the company's internal social network

VMWare Employees Share on VMLink, the company’s internal social network

 

VMware continues to support the personal charitable interests of its employees.  To date, more than US$170,000 has been donated to more than 1100 projects in more than 100 countries throughout the world by VMware people starting their journey with VMware and those marking their 1-year anniversary through giving back to the broader community.

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

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 Learned Over 10 Years: Launching GlobalGiving in the UK

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.

freedom starts at home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Independence Day in the United States.  On this day we celebrate our freedom from oppression, tyranny, and our equality, our freedom of speech and, among other things, right to pursue happiness.  Often these freedoms are framed in an historic and military context, dating back to 1776.   And they are framed with an eye toward meta- or country-level independence, freedoms and rights.

And while the USA  is a great country in many many ways, we still have a lot of work to do.   We have much to learn from other cultures and countries.  We are – and will always be – a work in progress.  And we have miles to go before these concepts are a reality for all of our citizens and residents.

So today, I share with you some fantastic organizations and projects working here in the United States of America, fighting every day to ensure that the ideals we celebrate on July 4th apply to all:

War Vets Heal with Help of Shelter Dogs

Protect 250 Women Immigrants fleeing violence

Stop Homophobic Bullying in Schools

Provide School-based Healthcare for Poor Kids

Happy 4th.