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.

Farewell (But I’m not going far)

Posted by dennis on January 4th, 2011

After ten fabulous years at GlobalGiving, I fully turned over the reins to my co-founder, Mari Kuraishi, at the end of December.  This completes a transition that we began in 2008.

Although the decision to step down was hard, I feel that now is the right time.  We have proven the concept, established a world-class online platform, and made a big impact. When we started ten years ago, the idea of an open-access approach to aid and philanthropy seemed radical; it is now becoming the new norm.

To date, we have helped direct over $47 million to 3,000 organizations in 110 countries.  This funding has come from nearly 140,000 individual donors as well as from many of the world’s most innovative companies, along with their employees and customers.  We have been featured in over forty books and countless magazine articles, radio and TV pieces, and online media. Our success has spurred similar initiatives in other sectors and countries, and we now partner with some of these organizations to push the whole sector ahead.

Our accomplishments and momentum are the product of an amazing team here at GlobalGiving.  Our people are stellar, but more importantly they all work together like a finely oiled machine.  Our project team, donor team, business development team, tech team, finance team, and operations team work seamlessly. They can move new ideas, opportunities, and features from concept to execution and evaluation faster than any organization I have ever worked with.  I really am in awe of the people I have had the privilege to work with at GlobalGiving.

In late 2000, Mari and I left the World Bank to pursue a simple idea: that everyone in the world with an idea for improving their world should be able to have their voice heard.  We believed that any person, company, or organization should be able to support the ideas directly.  Not everyone would succeed, of course, but everyone would have an opportunity.  We had spent our previous careers in aid agencies that granted access to ideas and funding to only a select few.  We thought the time had come for   an open-access market connecting ideas with funding that provided a level playing field for all bona fide participants.

We also felt that with open access should come increased transparency and accountability – and an emphasis on continuous improvement. Our idea was that groups seeking funding should have their proposals displayed publicly, should be willing to answer questions from potential supporters, and should provide frequent updates on the site so that donors could see the impact of their support.  We felt that beneficiaries and others should be able to post reviews and comments on the site for everyone to see. We felt that organizations that learn and adapt should be encouraged and rewarded.  We felt that donors should be able to talk to each other about which projects and organizations they supported, and why.

Though we have not yet achieved everything we set out to do, the bottom line is this: For the first time in history, any group pursuing good in the world can now have its voice heard.  And donors of all sizes are empowered to make a tangible contribution to good in the world by connecting to those groups.  I could not be more proud of that.

Even as I turn over all day-to-day responsibility to Mari, I will remain very active in GlobalGiving.  I will be out there raising awareness, raising money, and advancing the mission.  I believe that over the last ten years we have laid the foundation for our next act, in which GlobalGiving’s impact will be ten times greater.  I intend to help make that happen.

In the first half of 2011, I plan to devote more time to writing and speaking on the general concepts behind GlobalGiving, which are applicable in many other sectors and endeavors.  During that time I will do some consulting for organizations that are looking to break down barriers so that they can unleash the potential of their own people, constituents, and customers.

Finally, I want to thank you for your encouragement and support over the years.  We could not have done it without you, and I am profoundly grateful for what you have done, in ways both big and small.

Crowdsourcing Social Innovation, or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Open Up GlobalGiving

Posted by john hecklinger on December 23rd, 2010

At GlobalGiving, we’ve been effectively crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and crowdevaluating social innovation for years.  From early experiments with prediction markets, to collaboration with The Case Foundation and Network for Good on America’s Giving Challenge, to working with GOOD and Pepsi on design and implementation of the Pepsi Refresh Project, we’ve woven experiences into the core mission of GlobalGiving – creating open access to philanthropic markets for small and large organizations worldwide.

We just wrapped up our largest Global Open Challenge ever, an initiative started in 2008 which has become the primary way we find and qualify new organizations for the GlobalGiving marketplace.  Over 230 organizations headquartered in 38 countries serving beneficiaries in 55 countries participated and collectively raised $569,536.  Each organization, in order to secure a spot in the GlobalGiving marketplace, was required to raise $4,000 from at least 50 donors during the month-long challenge.   Over 75 organizations achieved this goal by mobilizing supporters to vouch for them with their donations.

This is not a public voting contest to determine which organization receives a grant, though every donation is a vote.  This is not simply crowdfunding a specific project, though specific projects get funded.  This is not a matching campaign, though there are modest financial incentives.  Using a design thinking approach, we fuse elements of voting, crowdfunding, and matching to identify and qualify organizations for participation in the GlobalGiving marketplace.  We’re using components of all four crowdsourcing models Beth Kanter describes in her recent post:  Creating Collective Knowledge or Wisdom, Crowd Creation, Crowd Voting, and Crowd Funding.

Why would organizations put themselves through this?  Every day, we receive online requests to be part of GlobalGiving, and our goal is to accept as many as can qualify.  We don’t want to turn away innovative, but unproven organizations.  Many of these applications are from individuals or organizations with questionable motivation and capacity.  Many of these applications are from great organizations that need exactly the kinds of tools and services that GlobalGiving provides – a safe, transparent and tax deductible way for donors to give, a set of donor management tools, ongoing trainings, and the possibility of connecting with new donors.  From the applications, it’s hard to tell the difference.

Intead of sorting through applications and having our team decide which organizations gain access, we throw the decision out to the crowd.  We invite every organization that passes our rigorous due diligence process to participate in a Global Open Challenge.  If an organization can mobilize enough funding from enough donors, it’s a good indication that they can use our platform productively and that their idea has support.  It’s hard to get 50 people to give money to a really bad or fraudulent idea.  We’ve gotten pretty good at predicting which organizations will succeed, but there are always big surprises.

This model has the added benefit of sustaining itself.  The transaction fees generated during this process support the large amount of due diligence, training, support, outreach, and disbursement work that goes into throwing a challenge of this magnitude.  We do not charge organizations a fee to participate.  We feel strongly that any organization working towards social change should have a shot at articulating its work and raising philanthropic funds to support its growth.  Manmeet Mehta heads up this initiative at GlobalGiving and has continually enhanced the strategy, the incentives, the processes, and the support to make this an effective and sustainable program for GlobalGiving.

How do organizations hear about GlobalGiving in the first place? A quick Wordle of all responses to the question, “How did you hear about GlobalGiving?” reveals the interplay of offline and online networks that drive participation.  “Friend” and “Internet” figure most prominently:

Wordle: How did you hear about GlobalGiving?

Organization responses to the question, "How did you hear about GlobalGiving?"

I’m proud of the continuous experimentation that has resulted in this method of opening GlobalGiving’s doors as widely as possible.  We’ve tripled the number of organizations using GlobalGiving, and we’ve kept disbursements per organization steady.  Our marketplace is becoming richer in feedback and more self-sustaining.  2010 is already GlobalGiving’s biggest year ever, with over $10,400,000 in donations.

GlobalGiving’s Storytelling Project

Posted by john hecklinger on December 13th, 2010

GlobalGiving has a modest budget and team of around 25 people, all in one room in Washington, DC, but we face challenges similar to those of the largest of institutions involved in philanthropy and international development.  One of the biggest is assessing the impact of what we are doing.  With over 1,000 organizations implementing small projects in over 100 countries, it is impractical for our team to study each project’s impact in scientific detail.

Beyond easy measures of donation flow and reporting compliance, how do we know whether the marketplace we’ve built actually accomplishes something of substance in the world?  Which organizations are doing great, and which are struggling?  How can we celebrate the former and assist the latter?  Does all the work we do in cooperation with our on-the-ground partners all add up to something?  Are we sparking and fostering innovation?  Are the organizations participating in the GlobalGiving marketplace different from other organizations in positive ways?

In cooperation with Rockefeller Foundation, Cognitive Edge, and independent consultant Irene Guijt, GlobalGiving has found an promising way to tackle this problem.  In Kenya, we launched the GlobalGiving Storytelling Project, which asked people to tell stories about community projects and the individuals, organizations, and government entities working to make change happen.   We gathered 2,700 usable stories from individuals primarily in Nairobi and the Rift Valley.

Using the SenseMaker® methodology of capturing people’s stories and asking those people to “tag” their own stories, we are able to see how thousands of stories relate to each other.   We can visualize patterns in the stories that help us understand how people see organizations working in their communities.  Our next step is to make this method available more widely, providing a toolkit that helps our project leaders learn more about how people see them by launching their own storytelling projects.  We want this to be a useful way for GlobalGiving, our partner organizations, and beneficiaries to .

This pilot has huge promise, not just for GlobalGiving but for the philanthropic and development sectors as a whole.  Much has been written about how the lack of quick feedback hinders development work.  See Owen Barder’s recent blog post.  Like marketers of soda or electronic gadgets, how can funders of development initiatives quickly measure performance and make real-time adjustments to meet real needs in efficient ways?  Our pilot is a promising way of establishing meaningful feedback to power this type of real-time learning .

Marc Maxson, GlobalGiving’s chief feedback loop instigator and impact assessment innovator, has pulled together online resources that show how our pilot worked and what we’ve learned.  We will add further resources as our approach evolves.  Our next step is to expand our work in Kenya and to begin working with organizations in Uganda and Tanzania.

Are you looking for a way to learn more about how people view your work?   Are you struggling to find an effective and inexpensive way to evaluate your impact?  Please contact Marc (mmaxson@globalgiving.org) to learn more about getting involved.

Drive More than a Car with Ford

Posted by Donna Callejon on December 2nd, 2010

In the auto industry, collisions are generally not a good thing.  But the collision of brand and cause marketing continues apace.

As media and its delivery evolves, borders are blurred by technology, and consumer brands embrace the notion that their customers care about things, and want them to care too, these campaigns get more creative.

Take for example the Ford Focus Global Test Drive.  As part of the program Ford will select 40 lucky individuals to travel to Spain in February to test drive the 2012 Ford Focus before it hits the market.  In addition, Ford will award $10,000 to a charity of each winner’s choice, in the categories of environment, education, or hunger.  And, making this truly a ‘global’ event, organizations from around the world are eligible to receive the grant.

To compete, individuals create and upload a two minute video to the Ford Focus Facebook page via the Global Drive tab.  The video has to be compelling – about a cause and desire to drive the car.    Selections will be made based upon criteria such as the quality and creativity of the video, the submitter’s social networking savvy and his/her soci
al media reach (including the number of people who “love it”).

Just another marketing gimmick aimed at cynical Americans?  Not so much. As a partner in promoting and vetting the charity aspects of the program, GlobalGiving has had the chance to see how Ford has brought together marketing, philanthropy, and social media in a truly global way.   And what’s fantastic is that Ford Focus is not “recreating the wheel” (pun intended).  Building off of the success of the Fiesta Movement,  Focus is running a campaign that both brings new aspects of “challenges” to bear (check out the video invites to key bloggers), but also leverages existing platforms and partners, including  Facebook, Twitter, Votigo and GlobalGiving.  Smart.

Get off the curb – submissions have to be in by December 31st.  Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

Hybrid Models for Non-Profits

Posted by mari on October 26th, 2010

Stephanie Strom’s article in the New York Times about hybrid organizations highlighted some of the challenges social entrepreneurs face as they innovate. Having experienced these challenges first-hand at GlobalGiving, we wanted to offer some additional thoughts about the trial and error process, and what it takes to keep iterating to Plan B.

We originally structured GlobalGiving as a hybrid organization because we believed that doing so could bring the discipline and capital of the for-profit world together with the mission focus of the non-profit world. As it turned out, after the tech bubble burst, it was easier to raise funds for the non profit, which became the dominant partner. Respected innovative funders like the Hewlett Foundation, Omidyar Network and Skoll Foundation provided up $7.6m of grants to GGF specifically for the purpose of investing in MFI. The founders contributed $1.4m as well. It was structured as a convertible note until a 3rd party could set a price–that happened at the end of 2008, and the result is that GGF owns 98% of MFI (and the founders have donated the proceeds from their shares back to GGF). At that point, we decided to consolidate all operations under the GlobalGiving nonprofit umbrella, explained here in detail.

As Ms. Strom notes, we believed so strongly (and still do!) in the power of connecting people, ideas, and resources that we were willing to put up our own money to get it started. Although our original business model is not our current business model, the bottom line is that it is working; GlobalGiving has now facilitated over $40 million to over 3,500 projects projects in more than 110 countries around the world. Thanks to the power of the internet, many of the community groups that list projects on GlobalGiving are able, for the first time, to reach out for ideas and support from around the world, not only their immediate neighbors. And we are doing this at a cost well below the cost of fundraising through typical mail, telephone, and other solicitation campaigns.

There are few silver bullets in any endeavor. Rarely does a single approach to any problem prove to be magic. We make progress in the world through trial and error and through incremental improvements–punctuated by an occasional breakthrough. The wonder of it is that so many of the people we know in this hybrid space have been willing to try different things, and keep trying others when they–and we–run into roadblocks. That’s why we are proud of what we and our colleagues in this field have accomplished over the past decade, and we look forward to even more progress in the decade ahead.

Dennis Whittle and Mari Kuraishi, co-founders.

Sometimes Top Down Is Needed

Posted by Donna Callejon on October 18th, 2010

 

Three seemingly disparate events prompted this post (in order of occurrence):

1. A trip to NYC from DC on Amtrak

2. Attending the Women’s Sports Foundation annual gala dinner

3.  Walmart’s announcement of their global commitment to sustainable food and the Heritage Agriculture program

In different ways each of these  remind me that leadership and “top down” commitment can have dramatic positive impact on the economy, people,  the planet, and the world.  GlobalGiving is built on the premise that “bottom up” solutions need air time and support, and can often be more impactful than “central planning.”  I agree.  But we also recognize the reality of the power of large institutions to make change happen fast.  At scale.  If leadership is committed to change.    What do these three events tell us?

Amtrak is essentially a monopoly in rail transportation in the United States. Despite whining about its sustainability, it’s website says, it “operates a nationwide rail network, serving over 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces on over 21,000 miles of routes, with more than 19,000 employees. It is the nation’s only high speed intercity passenger rail provider….”

But – hello! – they can’t put some recycling bins in their trains?  Seriously. I found myself arriving in NYC, and then 24 hours later in Washington DC, carrying my newspaper, magazines, and empty water bottles back to my office so that they could be recycled.    Here’s what Amtrak says  on their embarrassingly un-updated website:  “By the end of 2009, all café and lounge cars throughout the Amtrak system will have a receptacle designated for collection of plastic and glass bottles as well as aluminum cans.”  Except I traveled on Amtrak on October 12th and 13th, 2010.  No recycling bins.  GlobalGiving has 30 people. We are able to figure out how to recycle.  Kimpton Hotels have figured it out.  Even WMATA, the much aligned Washington DC metro overseer, has Newspaper recycling bins in each station.  It’s about top-down commitment and leadership.  Don’t just say it on your website.  Do it.  Consumers care.

In my short trip to NYC  I attended the Annual Salute to Women in Sports, held by the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF).  The WSF was started by Billie Jean King about 35 years ago.  In those days women who participated in sports were somewhat of an anomaly.  And Title IX had just been passed.  And Billie Jean was an icon.

I was a Title IX baby for sure. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t participate in high school and college sports.  But I have Billie Jean King, Donna De Varona and a small cadre of risk-taking leaders to thank for my life-influencing exposure and involvement in organized athletics.  Not everybody loved them. They were called “amazons.”  They were told they should stay home and take care of their husbands and children.  But they took a stand and used the power of their positions and pushed.  Influenced.  Set the table for amazing athletes and women like Mia Hamm, Annika Sorenstam,  and Serena and Venus Williams.  Leadership.

On Thursday of last week, Walmart’s announcement of its enhanced commitment to sustainable agriculture raised some eyebrows, mostly from the skeptics.  But as long ago as 2007 Michael Strong posited that Walmart’s decisions regarding the broader global community could have significantly more lasting impact than its detractors care to admit.  With the largest retail global reach on the planet, and incentives to executives to follow the sustainability mantra, Walmart could conceivably alter the prospects of thousands of family farms around the world.  And this decision comes from the top, just like its promise in 2005  to 1. To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, 2. To create zero waste,  and 3. To sell products that sustain our resources and environment.

Are they there yet? No.  Are they continually defying expectation and making changes that have unmeasurable ripple effect? Yes.  And it’s all been driven from the top, starting with an epiphany the CEO of Walmart had on a trip overseas.   They have been on a march to impact ever since.

Sometimes it takes a visionary or risk-taking leader to move an organization, or a society, forward.  And equally, those in power who fail to take action and “make change happen” are destined to be remembered for their weakness and inaction.

Urban Agriculture Challenge: Communities Helping Themselves (With Delicious Results!)

Posted by dennis on September 27th, 2010


Originally posted on Pulling for the Underdog on the Huffington Post

GlobalGiving nurtures bottom-up, community-based solutions to pressing social problems. We believe in the power of small over large, local over centrally planned and grassroots over top-down. This is why we jumped at the chance to partner with Bonterra Vineyards and Growing Power to support urban agriculture.

Urban farms help low-income communities access fresh food, generate employment, enhance food security, and improve quality of life. Rather than relying on fast food chains or large supermarkets, urban residents with access to a local farm can eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown right in their communities.

I grew up in Kentucky. It’s a great state. But parts of Louisville have been labeled “food deserts” due to the lack of accessibility to fresh food. Through its urban farms, Breaking New Grounds not only brings fresh produce to these underserved neighborhoods, but also provides agricultural training to local residents, and creates new, environmentally-friendly jobs.

In Denver, while fresh food is available in summer, winter months often mean relying on food grown and processed thousands of miles away. Feed Denver catalyzes urban farms that can be operated year-round, giving urban dwellers access to high-quality food from January through December.

Until October 7, these urban agriculture programs — and several others — are participating in an online fundraising challenge on GlobalGiving, with the chance to win up to $20,000 in contributions provided by Bonterra Vineyards.

To further highlight the power of communities working towards a common goal, the Bonterra-Growing Power-GlobalGiving challenge features a collective group incentive. If each participant raises at least $2,000 from 25 or more unique donors, all will receive a $1,100 bonus from Bonterra Vineyards. As on a community farm, each participant’s individual effort will contribute to the larger good. I like the taste of that!