Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

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!

Global Giveback Funding Challenge

Posted by john hecklinger on February 2nd, 2012

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

Animals for Autism

Posted by GlobalGiving Foundation on January 27th, 2012

In 2010, Pepsi created the Pepsi Refresh Project to support projects that have a positive impact in local communities across America. Pepsi believes good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere and anytime and so they decided to be the catalyst for bringing them to reality. The projects were voted on and chosen by Americans and the result: more than 1.2 million people impacted across the country through more than 1,000 grants awarded in 345 cities and 45 states.

GlobalGiving is honored to be a part of this program. We work with agency partners and grantees to administer, disburse, and monitor these grants. All grantees undergo a due diligence process, whose terms are available as part of the official Application Guidelines at the following link:
http://www.refresheverything.com/official-application-guidelines

We also support grantees in a variety of ways by assisting them with various steps like project planning, budgeting, event coordination and securing local volunteers. GlobalGiving has visited many projects in various stages of implementation. We’ve seen amazing work being done all around the country, such as a turtle rescue project in Pittsburgh, new homes for foster children in Mississippi, a karate program for children with special needs in NYC, and a project to support the homeless in Washington DC.

Over the last few months we’ve heard the concerns raised regarding a $50,000 grant awarded to an individual, Lea Kaydus, in July 2010. The project is to provide ten trained dogs to families of autistic children free of charge. Activities funded under this grant include the construction of a new canine training facility and costs associated with the training of the dogs.

We do not take any expression of concern lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that grant activities are implemented as they were intended. We have been thoughtfully evaluating the situation specific to this grant, in addition to overseeing many other projects that are still actively pursuing their goals. As with all Pepsi Refresh Grants, GlobalGiving monitors project activities to ensure compliance with the terms of the grant agreement. We have been in regular contact with the grantee throughout the grant period (including a recent site visit), and she is in compliance with the terms of her grant agreement and is scheduled to deliver the dogs to the requesting families starting in Spring 2012.

We understand that for the families involved, the care of their children is their foremost concern. We stand firm in our commitment to do everything we can to support the grantee to help bring this project to fruition. We have also encouraged the grantee to be in more regular communication with the families going forward, to which she has agreed. We ask everyone involved to please refrain from personal attacks and understand that the grantee is doing all she can to accomplish her goals with this project.

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!

 

Learning from one another – curating dialogue on Facebook

Posted by manmeet on October 19th, 2011

Do you remember asking a classmate to help you with your homework? Perhaps they owed you a favor because you’d helped them with something else? There are many intellectual, cultural and social reasons for asking friends and colleagues for help, but what is quite fascinating to me is the manner in which we respond to one another. When we engage with others’ success and failures, we learn. Development experts have a buzzword for this type of peer learning; they call it “collaboration.”

At GlobalGiving we crowdsource new partnerships with non-profit organizations that have expressed interest in working with us. Typically we work actively with 500-600 organizations over 2-4 months, through group trainings and individual consultations to help organizations map and grow their networks and building an online fundraising plan. We then invite them to post a project on the site and implement their online fundraising strategy raise funds for their projects. If an organization meets a threshold of raising $4000, from at least 50 donors they are invited to join the GlobalGiving platform. We call this an Open Challenge.

In addition to the trainings and individual consultations for Challenge participants who we call Project Leaders (PLs), we host sessions with fundraising experts and other social entrepreneurs who have successfully leveraged our tools (aha! The peers!).  Several years ago it suddenly struck us – what would happen if we made it easier for organizations to talk to one another?

Facebook turned out to be the lowest common social media denominator amongst Challenge participants, so we created a private Facebook group, first time in December 2010.At first we used it primarily to share fundraising resources, and encouraged people to ask questions about the design and other details of the Challenge.  It was gratifying to watch the conversation start to emerge – people asked and answered questions, others made suggestions  and shared fundraising ideas.

But it wasn’t quite vibrant. We tried something different for the next group we set up for the last Open Challenge we hosted. Here’s what we did differently:

  • Every day during the Challenge we posted relevant content– fundraising tips, links to resources and suggestions for raising funds
  • Regularly asked a variety of questions of the participants
  • Engaged participants that had shown interest by inviting them to share their opinions on a particular question
  • Responded to every single post by a member, with a relevant response
  • Celebrated accomplishments big and small

These tactics were driven by some of our core philosophies:

  • Intention: curating the conversation, and facilitating interaction
  • Relevance: sharing irrelevant information is a waste of time
  • Celebration: fundraising is hard work. 4 out of 10 participants had never raised funds online before, so we celebrated all types of victories
  • Recognition: by acknowledging contributions to the group we encouraged more participation. The emerging dialogue seemed to draw more comments.

Take a look at what happened. In comparison to a Facebook group organized for the previous Challenge in April, relevant posts (i.e. posts that were not just links to their projects, and websites) increased from 8% to 33%. The number of Facebook posts from participants increased from 6% to 24%.

In addition, the content of the conversation changed. The posts and comments covered a range of subjects from ideas for fundraising, potential solutions for questions posed, and reactions to fundraising resources that had been posted. Three out of four posts entered by the organizations resulted in two or more comments.

Wow.  People were talking with each other, and they seemed to find the conversation useful! It was exciting to watch people begin to collaborate instead of just compete. It is heartwarming to see the group celebrate milestones – projects submitted, funds raised, thresholds met.

We will continue to experiment with the way we facilitate these conversations by  making it fun and interesting for members to talk to each other with the upcoming Winter Global Open Challenge. This idea of creating a space for interaction to happen is central to GlobalGiving’s core philosophies. We believe that expertise should be decentralized, and that the possibility of learning from each other is immense.

If you have any experience in facilitating content-driven dialogue online, please do share your thoughts with us. We’re going to keep experimenting, and keep learning.

thank you – HP’s innovative pilot for employee recognition

Posted by nkukowski on September 23rd, 2011

Volunteering and giving have always been a large part of employee culture at Hewlett Packard, whether it be Global Impact Days or through the Office of Social Innovation’s technology and education programs.

Recently, HP launched a pilot program to use GG gift cards to simply say, thank you.

Ahead of the curve on recently emerging Harvard Business School research on what drives employee happiness and motivation, HP is using our e-gift cards to recognize employee volunteers who report their volunteer hours each month.  Every HP employee, worldwide, who reports their hours, receives a $25 gift card via email, which can be redeemed for any project on GlobalGiving.org.

The study notes, “when organizations give employees the opportunity to spend money on others – whether their co-workers or those in need – both the employees and the company benefit, with increased happiness and job satisfaction, and even improved team performance.”

Already the research is proving true for HP employees like Michael Penor, who provided the following feedback, “It was interesting to have a variety of causes to choose from for my donation. I feel like I found an organization that is important to me personally, and will go toward influencing a young person in a positive way.” Caroline Barlerin, Director of Community Involvement, in the Office of Global Social Innovation at HP agreed, stating, “Using GlobalGiving gift cards have provided us with a fast, easy way to reward our employees around the world for their commitment to their communities.”

It’s a win-win for HP: employees feel appreciated and recognized for their volunteerism, the team tracking HP’s corporate citizenship commitments engage employees in an innovative way, and HP acknowledges employees living HP values of community involvement by enabling employees to do even more good and support our global projects.

Thank you HP.

climbing up the hockey stick

Posted by Donna Callejon on August 29th, 2011

It really is hard to believe that it’s been nearly eight years since the day in Geneva when I met Dennis Whittle.   I went 4,073 miles to meet the guy who would turn the page to my career’s second chapter, when his office was just 3 miles from my house.  Three weeks later I met the other half of the founding duo – Mari Kuraishi.  Needless to say they were smart, direct, and impressive.  So not long after that I found myself toiling along with them and two handfuls of others in that sometimes smelly, often music-filled and always fun office above the thrift store down the street.

One of the first things they suggested I do was to read their business plan.  So I did.  It had, like legions of business plans before it, the classic hockey stick growth curve.  In our case, the unit being donation volume.  According to this plan, we would be at $40 million in annual donation volume, and “pay our own freight” by about 2005.  Um, we didn’t quite make that.  Many slightly less sloped hockey sticks followed.  When things didn’t take off like a rocket ship we tried new things, always led by our two fearless (and in this case that word really applies) leaders.  We tried plan b, plan c, and plan d, always with our eyes on the prize of working to make it possible for great organizations around the world to access funds and for donors of all shapes and sizes to support the causes that inspired them.

So here we are in 2011, celebrating two things.  First, our donor community just crossed $50 million in aggregate contributions.  Second, for the first six months of the year we more than “paid our own way,” covering 103% of our expenses on our own steam.  The business model is different from what was in the original plan.  The mix of donation activity is different from what was in the plan.  The mix of revenue comes from sources not in the original plan.  And we don’t yet feel like that 103% is a lock consistently, but we see the end of the tunnel.

Roles have evolved; Dennis has transitioned off the staff and onto the Board.  Mari runs the day to day with her quiet, determined leadership style.

Why did they persevere?  Ten days ago Dennis wrote a very poignant blog post, made moreso by his mom’s passing just a day later.  The post gives some insight into what motivates him.  Mari  has different, but equally inspiring, motivations as described in this Wharton Blog from earlier this year.

From the perspective of their team, we are glad they did press on.  Because they did, more than 50 million dollars have been contributed to social entrepreneurs and nonprofits around the world who are working to educate children, feed the hungry, build houses, train women (and men) with job skills, and catalyze hundreds of other important initiatives. This past week, a generous donor in Singapore gave the 50 millionth dollar through GlobalGiving to help with relief for the East African famine.  This was possible largely because Dennis and Mari have persevered to build a team and a platform that continue to live up to our mission of “unleashing the potential of people around the world to make positive change happen.”

From New Orleans to Miyagi-ken, with love

Posted by mari on July 20th, 2011


Tipitina’s Foundation
(yes, that Tipitina‘s) has a foundation dedicated to helping at-risk kids in New Orleans get access to musical instruments and education. They’ve been GlobalGiving members since November 2010. But in March of this year, they turned around and used the funds they had raised for their own program and chose to use them to purchase new instruments to send to programs in Japan working with youth in the tsunami affected areas to help them pick up their lives and instruments back up again.

Now this, I think, is philanthropy — love of man — at its best and brightest. The idea that people in New Orleans, who suffered as much as they did from Hurricane Katrina, would share the funds they had raised to buy their own instruments with the youth in Japan perfectly captures all of the things that make the act of giving so amazing. Perhaps better than anyone else, people in New Orleans knew the sense of loss and dislocation they had suffered. As Kim Katner, the Managing Director of Tipitina’s Foundation said, “I personally know that I would not have made it through the aftermath of Katrina if it wasn’t for music.” And they also didn’t think twice about whether the kids *needed* the donation of instruments. They just knew that getting the instruments replaced quickly would speed up a return to normalcy. And perhaps they knew that a connection to New Orleans would be particularly meaningful to these kids. As the music director of Bright Kids put it, “I did JAZZ and, through JAZZ, was able to receive the warm feeling of a lot of all of you. I thank Satchmo heartily.”

It’s a privilege getting to see these exchanges day in and day out, working at GlobalGiving.

 

“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!

generosity amplified

Posted by ingrid on April 4th, 2011

Witnessing the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan has been heartbreaking, but the human response – the calm bravery of the Japanese victims and the generosity of people around the world – has been genuinely inspiring.

At GlobalGiving, we‘ve been working hard to channel that generosity to the places where it can do the most good.  Every week, we send the donations we’ve received (over $2 million as of today) primarily to carefully-selected local Japanese organizations.  These groups are providing everything from mobile medical care, fresh food, tents, and portable stoves to childcare, radio equipment, and cell phone chargers.  The needs seem to be endless – things I would never have thought to consider.

In return, we receive frequent reports from our nonprofit partners on the ground, updating us on the situation and their work.   Aside from giving us information, they let us know that our work together is making a real difference.

The generosity we’ve seen isn’t just from the many thousands of individuals who support GlobalGiving organizations, but companies and employee groups who have been moved by the scenes of human need.  These corporate contributions often match individual gifts, significantly expanding our ability to help.  The companies matching employee donations include Dell, Nike, Gap, Hilton Worldwide, Discovery, Jefferies and Co., Capital One, Rosetta Stone, Sabre, LinkedIn, CARFAX, and Fandango.   So far their employees have collectively donated more than $700,000.

Other companies are using their marketing power to get customers involved.   Gap and its sister brands –  Banana Republic, PiperLime, Old Navy, and Athleta – are promoting the GlobalGiving Japan Relief Fund on their websites.  When eBay customers are checking out, they have the option to add a donation to the Japan Relief Fund. PayPal, an eBay company, has featured the GlobalGiving Japan Relief Fund on its homepage. Additionally, over 30,000 items have been listed on eBay GivingWorks to benefit the GlobalGiving Japan Relief Fund.

Gap has designed a limited edition t-shirt to benefit the GlobalGiving Japan Relief Fund.  The Gap Foundation has made generous grants to International Medical Corps and Save the Children. Liquidnet and Gilt Groupe are matching donations, and LivingSocial has broadcast its Japan donation appeal to its entire subscriber base. Other consumer-focused campaigns include Hilton Central Europe, Travelocity, and Anime Matsuri.

It’s worth noting that all of these companies have long histories of charitable giving and socially responsible actions – they didn’t just wake up to international development and aid when the earthquake happened.  And because many of them have worked with GlobalGiving to support development and small organizations around the world, we were able to launch their Japan efforts quickly.  That was, obviously, critical to getting relief to those in need as fast as possible.

In all, we have been overwhelmed by the practical, compassionate generosity shown by people and companies we’ve worked with on this effort.   Our work, and our gratitude to our partners and supporters, will continue as long as there are people in need in Japan (and around the world).