38,000 opportunities for change

Posted by Donna Callejon on July 26th, 2011

Yesterday we launched our most recent partner program - a custom portal that allows Eli Lilly and Company’s 38,000 employees around the world to support 800 of the projects currently available via GlobalGiving.  The Lilly Foundation will match their donations of $25 USD or more, up to $1 million annually.

Why is this blog-worthy or unique?  For a few reasons:

1.  Organizations otherwise wouldn’t have access to these 38,000 donors and the matching dollars.

Our mission is to make it possible for great ideas and organizations around the world to have a shot at raising funds they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.  And while there are certainly more than a few projects run by larger organizations in the Lilly portal, the majority of organizations only have a shot at receiving matching funds from US donors and companies via GlobalGiving.  They have completed our vetting process and, in most cases, participated in a Global Open Challenge, so we know they have the capacity to receive these funds.

2.  An opportunity for all employees – not just those in the US, UK and Canada – to be matched.

During the last few months we have participated in a number of convenings and meetings with companies large and small at which the topic was, “going international with workplace giving.”   Even some of the largest, most globally respected companies struggle with providing an equitable – and culturally relevant – program that embraces all their employees.  Lilly is taking a unique approach, combining a focus on its corporate areas of interest  – health, education, hunger, and the environment – as well as themes that resonate with its global employee base, including disaster relief.  It’s an experiment, to be sure, but one in which a leading company is taking a bold step to address this vexing question of parity of employee engagement programs worldwide.

3. A company putting its money where its mouth is.

Coincidentally, the launch comes on the same day as the release of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of most generous corporate givers.  At #28 on that list, Lilly “wrestles above its weight class,” as described by the Indy Star.  So it’s really no surprise to long-time CSR/Philanthropy watchers that the company that supports education/wellness for kids with diabetes, or invests in organizations fighting MDR-TB around the world, would make this program available to its team. What’s not so typical is that the Lilly Foundation has directed a $50 credit to each employee’s “giving account.”  Enough to get them started and familiar with the website.  In the 24 hours since the portal launched, nearly 3,000 employees have already logged on to activate those vouchers, and contributed an additional $7,600+ of their own funds. 

4.  This partnership has made GlobalGiving stronger already.

To be selected by Lilly to provide this giving platform, GlobalGiving has gone through rigorous reviews.  Let’s be honest, these guys have high standards.  These reviews have caused us to strengthen our already considerable data security regime, to document our processes in more detail, and to think strategically about our longer term infrastructure needs.  It’s hard for a non profit social enterprise to make these investments in abstract.   But thanks to the encouragement and support of  the Lilly team  (and a little extra love from our friends at Dell for Good), we have been able to make investments that are critically important as we continue to grow the GlobalGiving platform to serve – for the long haul – even more great organizations doing important work globally.

Let the giving begin.

 

 



 

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!

Bittersweet Spring – an update on our Japan efforts

Posted by mari on April 15th, 2011

For us in DC, life is back to normal.  Spring is here and although I couldn’t quite make myself go view the cherry blossoms this year – associated as they are in my Japanese mind with celebration – it’s hard not to feel all revved up at the prospect of warmer weather, longer days, and days off.  And this year I feel keenly that it’s a luxury to feel this way.

Because for people in Japan, life is full of reminders that it’s not back to normal. Aftershocks continue, as you can see here in a map covering just the last week, and my mother tells me you just can’t get bottled water in Tokyo ever since the radiation scare that started 22 days ago. And people in the Tohoku area are mourning the 25,000+ people who were killed or are still missing, more likely than not at an evacuation center – for there are still more than 170,000 registered at the official centers. Then there are still others, official numbers unknown, who are squatting in buildings they were able to reach and take shelter in.

It’s required extraordinary efforts to keep a semblance of normalcy together in Japan. One of our project leaders has been just buying fuel, shipping it into Japan, and distributing it to people to power their kerosene stoves to stay warm. It’s not a long-term solution by any means, but it’s badly needed. To help with these efforts, and thanks to more than 30,000 donors and dozens of companies, GlobalGiving and GlobalGiving UK have disbursed more than $3 million to 14 organizations: Architecture for Humanity, Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA), Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Civic Force, International Medical Corps, Japan Platform, Japanese Emergency NGOs (JEN), Lifeline Energy, Mercy Corps, Peace Winds, Save the Children, Shelter Box, Shine Humanity, and Telecom for Basic Human Needs (BHN).

But we’re also looking at the medium-term transition and a partial return to normal:

  • Civic Force has partnered with local carpenters to build bathhouses, making it possible for individuals who have gone weeks without bathing to wash;
  • JEN staff and volunteers are removing sludge from public buildings and homes;
  • Peace Winds and Mercy Corps have teamed up to train caregivers to help children through the trauma of disaster;
  • AMDA has organized movies and sports events and provided exercise equipment to alleviate boredom and restlessness in evacuation centers; and
  • The International Medical Corps has partnered with local organizations to provide telephone counseling and training in psychological first aid.

To support these ongoing relief and rebuilding projects you can head over to our Japan Earthquake and Tsunami landing page.

Others have begun to develop long-term plans for recovery. Architecture for Humanity is committed to the physical rebuilding of communities, while Telecom for Basic Human Needs has developed a plan for reestablishing radio infrastructure in collaboration with Japan Platform. You can see – and support – these specific projects on GlobalGiving.org and GlobalGiving.co.uk.

Over the next month or two, we’ll be channeling the funds that are still coming in from corporate matching campaigns, cause-marketing promotions, and individual donors. On our blog you can read more about how GlobalGiving’s corporate partners are contributing. And in the UK, GlobalGiving UK’s partnership with JustGiving continues to provide an easy way for individuals and corporations to fundraise for disaster relief projects. Ocado, the home delivery company, used JustGiving’s platform to raise £200,000 from staff and customers for Mercy Corps’ work via GlobalGiving UK.

For more real-time updates on our work, you can follow us on Twitter (@GlobalGiving) or “like” our Facebook Page. And updates from the field are all on our “Updates from Japan” page.

Many thanks to Adam Baker, whose photo graces this blog post (copyright Adam T Baker)

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.

Why 15% Makes Sense

Posted by john hecklinger on February 17th, 2011

People sometimes ask me why we charge a 15% transaction fee.  My cheeky answer is, “So I can be sitting here having this conversation with you.”  As Chief Program Officer at GlobalGiving, my job is to make GlobalGiving more valuable to more organizations around the world.  We work with thousands of organizations, qualifying them, supporting them, disbursing funds to them, monitoring their activities, and maintaining an online platform for them to connect with donors.  Work at this scale would be impossible with an all-volunteer team.  Without great people and robust systems working full-time, GlobalGiving does not work.

Could we find a large donor to fund operations, making the ongoing transactions free?  Maybe, but we believe a transaction-based fee is a better idea.  Funders like Skoll Foundation, Omidyar Network, Hewlett Foundation, Packard Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Kellogg Foundation have invested in our effort to make the transaction-based model work, and we’re almost there.  The model gives GlobalGiving a strong incentive to invest in the performance of our marketplace, which aligns nicely with our partner organizations’ goals and the needs of donors – the more funds flowing, the greater the social impact.  We are motivated to build better tools for donors and project leaders, we aggressively court corporate partners, we attract donors through a strong social media presence, we offer free training and development opportunities to our project leaders, and we find innovative ways to demonstrate results.  We strive to earn our 15%, and GlobalGiving only works if we deliver the value.

So, why do organizations decide that 15% is good value?  We connect them with new donors, we provide donor management tools, and for some organizations we save the expense of maintaining a transactional web platform.  For international organizations, the ability receive tax-deductible contributions in a secure, transparent platform is worth the 15%.  We do not charge organizations an up front fee to participate in GlobalGiving, so fees only exist when donations flow, and we’re careful to explain the fee to all prospective organizations.  Donors should feel good giving to organizations on GlobalGiving, because each organization calculates that our platform is worth 15%.  Donors always have the option of covering that 15%, and over 50% do just that.  Donors should expect to receive quarterly updates and can exercise the GlobalGiving Guarantee if the experience doesn’t meet expectations.  We just finished our best year yet, delivering more funding to more organizations than ever before.

That said, our 15% does not work for many organizations.  For organizations that maintain a web site with transaction processing, or have a staff dedicated to donor management, or do not like to accept project-specific funding, GlobalGiving is probably not a good fit, and that’s fine.  If a donor simply wants to fund general operations of a US nonprofit, that donor should give through that organization’s web site or a portal like Network for Good, both of which have lower fees.

Our commitment to this model holds us directly accountable to the donors and organizations connecting on our platform.  Organizations and donors do not have to use GlobalGiving  If we are not worth our 15%, people will stop transacting, and GlobalGiving will not survive.  If we are worth our 15%, more transactions will happen, we will continue to improve the platform, and we might just improve the efficiency of giving to the most effective organizations worldwide.

A first person account of haiti one year later

Posted by Donna Callejon on February 3rd, 2011

Below is an excerpt from a note sent by Marisa Glassman to several of our corporate partners this week:

Britt Lake and I spent a week in Haiti in January visiting a number of GlobalGiving project partners, all of which our corporate partners’ employees and communities supported through GlobalGiving last year. I intended to follow-up sooner after my trip, but I’ve admittedly had somewhat of a difficult timing wrapping my mind around what my exact messaging to partners should be. Because as productive and motivating as much of what I saw was, there is still much room for improvement.

The great news is that the organizations we visited were incredibly inspiring.  We specifically targeted some of the smaller, lesser known organizations to better familiarize ourselves with their work.   And we were not disappointed.  The happy, healthy, and absolutely adorable orphans at the Rivers of Hope Orphanage were a joy to see, and the conditions they lived in would make any adoptive parent or donor happy and proud.  We saw some truly community-based work during our visit to European Disaster Volunteers, visiting the various schools and orphanages with which they work.  We met with a clean water organization called Deep Springs International, which is not only distributing chlorine solution and buckets to thousands of families but also employs mostly Haitian workers (all but two of its roughly 240 employees). We visited a Haitian organization called Lambi Fund, with which we have been working for years prior to the earthquake, and met an entire group of their beneficiaries in a rural part of the country.  We visited with International Medical Corps, who operates a primary health care clinic in one of the largest tent cities in Port-au-Prince on the grounds of a former golf course.  They were also kind enough to stay with us for over an hour while our truck got stuck in the mud on the way out of the area (never a dull moment!).  And that was only about half of our visits – there were many other very interesting and moving encounters that week as well.

As I’m sure you’ve heard and read about recently, not all the news to report from our trip is good.  Many people are questioning the ability of international aid and governments to effectively help the people of Haiti as a whole, especially since we passed the anniversary of the earthquake on January 12th and the overall landscape is, indeed, still rather bleak.  Much of the rubble has not been cleared, let alone are many homes and buildings being rebuilt.  Every park and/or open space in Port-au-Prince you can imagine is now an IDP (internally displaced person) camp, housing much of the 1 million-plus Haitians who are estimated to be living in the tents within them. Cholera is a growing problem, and diseases like malaria and tuberculosis persist. While it is difficult to see how and where immediate widespread changes will occur, the organizations we visited provide a stark contrast to the generally grim picture the press has, in many cases rightfully, painted.

The people and infrastructure of Haiti have a long way to go as a whole, and I am proud to be working with project organizations like the ones  mentioned earlier, as well as our corporate partners like Discovery Communications, Capital One, Dell, and Nike to do what we can, no matter how large or small.