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 social 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!

More Than Me on giving the gift of education through GlobalGiving.

Posted by lisa kays on August 5th, 2010

Having nothing yet possessing all things. A little girl dancing on the street. She got to go to school for the first time.

The More Than Me Foundation provides scholarships to girls in Liberia who would not otherwise be able to go to school.

This photo captures what More Than Me’s work means to those girls. It was also the Grand Prize and Africa region winner of GlobalGiving’s first Facebook photo contest. It appeared captioned as shown.

Last month, More Than Me’s founders, Katie Meyler and Stephanie Hood, stopped by a GlobalGiving staff meeting to talk about their work and give staff a glimpse of how GlobalGiving is serving its project partners well and where we can improve.

We were also curious about the strategy they used to win the photo contest. As part of efforts to strengthen the capacity of the non-profits we work with, we like to constantly be learning about best practices we can relay on to others competing in challenges in the future.

I have to admit, theirs was quite unexpected.

Stephanie and Katie explained that they were consistently in the running for first place, but that it was a tight race due to a highly competitive photo of a very cute little turtle.

Photo submitted by Saving Endangered Turtles in the Pacific Northwest project

So, on the final day of the challenge, they took their campaign to the streets. Or, to the circle, to be exact. Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t necessarily a pre-conceived plan. As Katie sat in the circle furiously emailing friends and family to ask them to vote for the photo, she found that people were curious about her efforts.

When she explained what she was doing and why, people started to, quite literally, line up to vote.

“I had this line at my laptop through Dupont Circle,” Katie explained to the staff.

And that, she thinks, is how they won.

At first, Katie and Stephanie weren’t sure they should tell us that. They wondered if it was fair.

Sure it is. Whether online or off, the spirit of GlobalGiving and these types of competitions is to foster awareness of and participation in making the world a better place through local efforts that address the direct needs of the people being served.

As you’ll see in the video below, raising awareness that leads to action is just what Katie and Stephanie are doing through More Than Me, and their story reveals how GlobalGiving can be a powerful part of that work.

People may not have come to Dupont Circle that day for an education in girls’ education, but if they went away a bit more curious about or committed to it, then the photo challenge–and Katie and Stephanie–had done their jobs.

Thanks, Katie and Stephanie, for sharing your story about how a global marketplace of concerned citizens helps you do more than any of us could do alone.

Lisa Kays is GlobalGiving’s Acting Communications Director.

Gaming for change: Not a job for just one superhero.

Posted by manmeet on August 2nd, 2010

Going to school doesn’t always produce innovative, smart young leaders. Video games do.

Sometimes.

The Urgent EVOKE project emerged from discussions between the World Bank and universities in Africa that revealed widespread demand from the universities to find avenues to encourage their students to think creatively and focus on local development challenges.

Here’s the twist.

They decided to take the learning out of the classroom. They did away with the textbooks. And the traditional teaching format.

They created EVOKE.

As the World Bank explains, EVOKE follows the exploits of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers. Each week, players learn more about this network from a graphic novel. Players form innovation networks and brainstorm solutions to real-world development challenges that are released to them as weekly missions. They perform tasks to address these challenges and seek feedback for these ideas and actions.

Food security. Renewable energy. Clean water. Empowering women.

Graphic from the World Bank's Urgent Evoke game

These are just a few of the challenges that the first round of 19,324 Evoke contenders from 150 countries worked on for 10 weeks. They wrote about 355 blog posts every day during the 10 week competition, and posted videos and photos inviting comments, discussion and feed back.

When the first season of the EVOKE game closed on May 19, 2010, the top players were invited to realize their EVOKATIONS by participating in the EVOKE Challenge on GlobalGiving to raise funds and build a community of donors and investors.

Some of the projects include developing a gaming software to help those without access to formal education learn how to manage money, creating an affordable “solar mill” to generate power in East Africa, treating autism in remote parts of the world through an online community, creating energy with rainwater runoff in Liberia, and turning a “squatter camp” into an “Eco-village.”

Game on.

This type of Challenge is unprecedented at GlobalGiving, a marketplace that typically hosts projects already being implemented. With the EVOKE Challenge, we get to the core of our mission: pushing boundaries, fostering innovation and collaboration, and granting access to a marketplace for ideas in their inception—untested, unproven, unknown.

So, during the EVOKE Challenge, which runs from today until August 31, EVOKE players’ ideas will raise funds, individually and together, to make their ideas a reality.

Some will win and get implemented. Some will not. You, as part of the marketplace, will decide.

To be successful, entrepreneurs–like all social entrepreneurs–will have to build a community of support, communicate the value of their idea, and create dialogue so that diverse perspectives, including those of the people they’re working to help, are included.

Therefore, the first incentive invites collaborative action. Fifteen projects must raise $30 from 5 donors and receive 1 project comment. Once 15 projects have met these goals, each of them will be rewarded $100.

If 15 don’t manage to do it, no one gets anything.

But that won’t happen. The participants are already rallying around each other to figure out ways to collaborate and support each other.

Their ability to work together will release a cascade of collective and individual incentives. You can see them here.

With this EVOKE Challenge, a new generation of inspired, well-networked social entrepreneurs will emerge and take a shot at realizing their solutions to the challenges of their communities.

No generation has been under such compelling pressure to change the way we live and work as much as the current generation. The deep flaws in established economic and social structures have been revealed in unprecedented events and circumstances capturing the attention of people everywhere.

We have to try something new. We have to try to make new things work. And we have to do it together, as a community.

Because the world needs more than one superhero.

Manmeet Mehta is a Program Officer at GlobalGiving.

The democratization of aid.

Posted by dennis on July 29th, 2010

This piece on Mari and the inspiration for GlobalGiving is great. It explains accurately and concisely the rationale Mari and I had when contemplating leaving the World Bank to start GlobalGiving.

The article explains, “But Kuraishi had spent years working to change the world with a top-down approach and saw its shortcomings as clearly as its strengths. The idea of top-down is that if you can effect change in governments and economies, then you’ll naturally reduce poverty and improve lives. And while that approach works, Kuraishi decided there was also room for a bottom-up approach—especially in countries with weak or corrupt governments. ”

Indeed, when we left, that was the idea–an alternative model that would grant access to funding and markets to people and communities that were otherwise left out, whether because their government was too corrupt or they weren’t established enough to acquire high-level grants with big institutions like the World Bank or USAID.

That was and is our vision. But, as the article documents, our vision is also expanding with our success.

Tara Swords writes in the article, “Eight years later, the organization has raised US$29 million for grassroots charity projects in more than 100 countries. Perhaps Kuraishi’s former World Bank colleagues should reconsider.”

I won’t lie. I smile every time I wrap my mind around the extent of our growth and success (2,800 projects now funded, in fact). And you might wonder what thoughts cross my mind when I read thoughts like “Perhaps Kuraishi’s former World Bank colleagues should reconsider.”

What runs through my mind is hope.

Because our success indicates that this model is working, and will continue to work.

But what makes me even more hopeful is that as I realize the effectiveness, potential, and power of our model–now tested for eight years–I’m increasingly aware of the possibility that GlobalGiving will not only serve as an add-on to traditional aid structures, but actually can serve as a model on which to base their work.

My hope is grounded in reality.

The World Bank’s Urgent Evoke project, for example, is a brilliant concept that puts development entrepreneurship into the hands of, well, anyone.  And next month, they’ll be working with us to launch the funding component where the best, brightest ideas will have a shot at the GlobalGiving marketplace.

Graphic from the World Bank Urgent Evoke game

But the impetus and the seed money for this huge undertaking came from the World Bank.

This initiative is new, innovative, and smart. Not your standard World Bank funding fodder. I commend them for this type of open-access initiative.

I also admire their documentation of best practices and lessons learned, including what hasn’t worked. That’s brave and serves as powerful learning for the entire development community–exactly how it should work.

There are other hopeful signs out there of a shift in aid–that’s it’s moving, albeit slowly, to recognize that the true potential for change lies within the people and communities who are affected by the world’s problems, and not necessarily the people who write the most effective grant proposals.

So, when I hear others comment on our success, I’m hopeful. We no longer want to just be the guys who left the World Bank. We want to be part of a larger community of people dedicated to the democratization of the aid process. And it’s happening!

Dennis Whittle is Co-Founder and CEO of GlobalGiving.