Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

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).

GlobalGiving’s second disbursement for Japan relief

Posted by john hecklinger on March 25th, 2011

Last week, I posted a blog detailing our disbursement strategy for donations to GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.  We announced our decision to disburse  $725,000 from the fund to International Medical Corps, Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, Peace Winds, Japan Platform, and Lifeline Energy.  Including disbursements connected with specific projects, we announced a total of $814,820 in disbursements one week after the earthquake struck.

In the coming weeks we expect corporate donations, fundraisers, and auctions to become the main flow of resources to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. It has been incredibly gratifying to see how creative both individuals and organizations have been in contributing not only money, but their time, skills, and networks.  As of this writing, donors have given over $2,000,000 to the fund and over $450,000 to specific projects posted by International Medical Corps, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, and Lifeline Energy.

As I wrote last week, we intended to disburse a larger portion of the ongoing funds gathered in the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund to local, Japanese NGOs responding to the crisis, and this week we will do just that.  Britt Lake’s update contains more detail, but overall we are going to disburse a total of $825,000 to Japan PlatformPeace WindsJapanese Emergency NGOs (JEN)Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA)Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR)Civic Force, and Basic Human Needs (BHN).  We are not including International Medical Corps, Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, Lifeline Energy, Mercy Corps, and ShelterBox in this disbursement, as they are successfully raising funds through specific projects on our platform and through other sources, but we will disburse all funds we have gathered on their behalf.  In total, we are set to disburse $934,988.  Over the coming days, we anticipate that some of these Japanese organizations will post specific projects on GlobalGiving, but for now, our Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund is the way to support these local efforts.

Our team has been in touch with each of these organizations directly, we have defined how the funds will be used, we’ve agreed on reporting requirements, and we are ensuring that each organization meets international grantmaking criteria.  Our conversations confirm that there is indeed a need for an NGO response to the disaster.  These organizations are coordinating response among agencies, supplying medical volunteers, delivering basic supplies to shelters, producing English-language radio broadcasts, and generally responding to emerging needs.

What we are doing with funds collected for Japan

Posted by john hecklinger on March 18th, 2011

In the days since the earthquake in Japan, GlobalGiving has experienced an unprecedented outpouring of generosity from individual and corporate donors.  While overall giving has not been as swift or as large as the support to Haiti last year, giving through GlobalGiving is more than double what it was in the same time period after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Very early in the crisis we launched a general fund to collect donations, and we set a funding goal of $90,000, confident that one or more of our partners would assist on the ground.  After a major disaster, we typically set up a general fund, as it provides a convenient spot for first-responder donors, various partners, social media advocates, and traditional media outlets to send donors.  We disburse those funds among specific projects that emerge over the following days and weeks.

Over this week we have seen the donation flow accelerate, and after talking with our partners on the ground, we raised our funding goal to $4,000,000. International Medical Corps confirmed they were filling gaps in local infrastructure and supplies, and they posted the first specific project. Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, and Mercy Corps were next, posting projects specific to their roles in the relief effort.  As of this writing, donors have given over $1,400,000, and we expect at least a million more from corporate partner campaigns.

We now have an enormous responsibility to the people of Japan and to the donors trusting us to allocate the more than $1,300,000 collected in GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund as of 3/17/2011.  Donors use GlobalGiving because we disburse funds quickly, and we find local organizations that would otherwise be difficult to fund.   The situation in Japan has been uniquely challenging for us, as we do not have an extensive NGO network like we have in the developing world.   Yet, in less than a week, and in a difficult communications environment, we are working with several local responders.  Their work will be available for funding alongside the international NGOs.

So, here is our strategy for allocating the funds collected in our Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.  On March 18th – one week after the first tremors –  we will disburse $725,000 from the fund to International Medical Corps, Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, Peace Winds, Japan Platform, and Lifeline Energy.  Including donations to specific projects posted by several of the above organizations, as well as Mercy Corps, we will disburse $814,820.  These organizations are helping on the ground right now, coordinating local NGO response and providing direct relief and supplies.  We are not disbursing all of the funds we’ve collected, because the situation at the nuclear plant may further complicate matters, and we want funds to go to organizations best positioned to help, striking a balance between speed and caution.  We will continue to disburse funds weekly, and each donor will receive disbursement updates and progress reports from the field.  Over time, we expect in-country Japanese organizations to receive a larger portion of ongoing disbursements.  We welcome feedback on our approach, and we are committed to complete transparency.  We designed our web site to spark dialog about the work being done, so please provide feedback to GlobalGiving and the organizations implementing the projects in Japan.

It’s clear to GlobalGiving that NGOs have a role in relief and recovery in Japan, and it’s clear that donors are willing to support these efforts.  Japan is the nation most prepared to deal with this type of disaster, but the situation is unprecedented and evolving.  Just as the US government was not fully equipped to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and NGOs continue five years later to play a role in recovery, all indications are that the scale and complexity of the situation in Japan demands a citizen-led response to complement government efforts.  We are honored to be part of that response.

Update: You can also view the project report that we posted on this at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/japan-earthquake-tsunami-relief/updates/

がんばれ、日本 「Hang in there, Japan]

Posted by mari on March 14th, 2011

Friday March 11th passed in something of a blur. I woke up, heard about the largest earthquake ever to hit Japan, and started speed dialing my family and friends. Earthquakes happen frequently in Japan, so every couple of years I end up calling, “Just to make sure.” But this time, I’d gotten an email in the middle of my night, immediately after the earthquake struck in Japan mid-afternoon, from a friend saying, “This might be it. If anything happens to me, please look out for my daughter.” But all circuits were busy. OK, try again later. From the quick snippets of news I saw, neither my family nor friends were anywhere near the epicenter. “Later” eventually got to be too late for me to be hassling people who may have been through a big scare and may have just gotten to sleep. So wait until the end of the day here, when it would be morning in Japan. Distract myself with work.

But working at GlobalGiving requires us to be on top of disasters, and much of the day we were scrambling like crazy to figure out what the scale of the damage was, where our project partners in Japan were, and how we could make sure to channel the outpouring of generosity that was already hitting our servers starting first thing in the morning. So I became glued to livestreamed TV from Japan. I couldn’t get away from it. Knowing all I do about how difficult it is for laypeople to help directly, it was difficult to resist the feeling that I needed to get on a plane back home. Maybe I could get through to my friends and family that way.

It’s inevitable when disasters happen that commentators point out that philanthropists might want to wait until after the immediate relief phase is over. But as I kept up my stream of emails into Japan, checking on existing organizations we work with, and looking for the right new organizations, I’ve been struck by how everyone I have been communicating with is so heartened to hear that someone wants to help, that someone out there cares enough from thousands of miles away to reach out.

GlobalGiving is working hard to identify the best local partners on the ground to receive these funds.  Already, our immediate disaster response partners are having an impact.  Save the Children is working to deliver psychosocial support aimed at children, establishing child-friendly spaces in affected communities, providing support to parents, teachers, and other key caregivers, and working alongside local communities to train volunteers in sounseling techniques to help children after this disaster.  International Medical Corps has already put together relief teams and supplies and have been in contact with partners in Japan in the first day of the disaster.  In the coming days we’ll continue to identify additional Japanese organizations providing relief following the earthquake and tsunami and will keep you updated by email about how the funds are used and the impact your donation is making.

I was glued to the livestream most of Sunday too. It was Monday morning in Japan and TV reporters were positioned at train stations to cover how people were getting back to work. But many stations unexpectedly were closed and people ended up waiting for taxis instead. Then, the litany of train lines that were not running came on–for close to 5 minutes. That spoke volumes. It only made me realize that I had an unspoken hope that life would start returning to normal–and it wasn’t going to. At least for now. The city of Tokyo is at a virtual standstill. Friends in the suburbs are wandering around looking for ATMs with cash and stores with food. Rolling blackouts are finally being implemented. Everyone–including people who weren’t directly affected–is going around in a daze.

And yes, I got through to everybody Friday evening. Everyone I know is safe. But to have thousands of people willing to help means more than I can say.