gift cards Posts

More on gift-wrapped rats.

Bill Schmick’s daughter gave him a rat for Father’s Day, and he was so happy about it that he wrote this blog post.

Getting to write sentences like that is just one of the reasons that I love my job.

Another one is providing a way for people like Bill, as he describes in his post, to make personal connections to projects and ideas around the world.  While I appreciated Bill’s post and his enthusiasm about GlobalGiving in general, my favorite part was his description of how he came to choose the projects when he redeemed his gift card from his daughter.

He wrote, “Well, I split my gift with the lion’s share going to HeroRATS…As many of my readers are aware, I have a deep attachment to Africa where I have traveled and conducted business for over 25 years…As a self-confessed animal lover and a Vietnam Veteran, I gave a donation to help feed 140 orphaned chimpanzees and the final third of my contribution to helping U.S. war vets suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…I have picked those projects which have inspired me personally.”

In addition to supporting projects and ideas that are changing communities around the world, a big part of why Mari and I started GlobalGiving was to create a way for people to make meaningful connections to those ideas and to choose what to support based on what was needed and would work given their own experience and wisdom.

Bill, you’re a great example of just that and I thank you for sharing your enthusiasm about GlobalGiving. We’re thrilled to have you as part of our community.

Dennis Whittle is Co-Founder and CEO of GlobalGiving.

Simple gives in a down economy

GlobalGiving is at its best when ordinary people find innovative ways to stretch their assets and spread the wealth.Dread party I want to give a shout-out to Appalachian State University student Maggie Osborn for hosting a “dread party” last week. By selling the opportunity to friends to put her hair in dreadlocks, Maggie raised $50 for GlobalGiving. These funds went directly to childhood malaria prevention deaths by providing insecticide treated bednets, malaria education, or treatment.

As a alumnus of AppState, I’m proud to see word about GlobalGiving getting out to the backcWatauga countyountry of Western North Carolina. Appalachian State is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains and isolated hamlets. When I lived there, the “Democratic Party Headquarters” for Watauga county used to occupy a stray rail car on the side of a twisty mountain road between Boone and Blowing Rock, NC. That’s Appalachia for you. And yet one person can send money to buy dozens of bednets ten thousand miles away. Even better, that person can see the impact this donation makes in one village through GlobalGiving’s regular project updates.bed nets line

In the “new economy” (a euphemism about as pleasant as “downsizing”), there are thrifty tricks to amplify your impact. Tell you friends. Even better, give your friends small gift cards to prime their giving impulses. Maggie probably learned about us because a friend or parent gave her a GlobalGiving gift card. That gift card combined with an idea she had sitting in a coffee shop and resulted in a new hair style and more bednets. Look at what one small invitation can do to get more money to people that need it most.

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

It’s been a stressful couple of weeks at GlobalGiving.  The success of last year’s launch of biodegradable gift cards inspired us to expand and improve our offering this holiday season.  Part of the improvement was to outsource the fulfillment of the cards.  Believe me, if you had been in our office around December 12th 2007, and seen the late night card-fulfilling process, you would get what I’m talking about. So we did a very thorough RFP and selected what we thought was a cutting edge vendor.  But things have not gone all that smoothly.  We launched the new “platform” a month later than we had hoped.  (Let me just say for the record our lead developer, Kevin, was on schedule).

After an 11th hour trip to the midwest for a “Come to Yahweh” meeting, we launched the new designs & fulfillment process just before midnight Friday November 21st.  We saw orders flowing through the system within hours.  Sounds great, right?  Wrong. Due to some issues on the vendor’s side, no  cards shipped for the first 12 days.  It’s a long story, but the bottom line is that many GlobalGiving customers have waited WAY TOO LONG to get their cards.  We’ve been upset, nervous and doing whatever we can to get things “unstuck.”  And we think we now have.  But the folks who ordered cards between November 21st and December 1st had an experience sort of like going to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

So yesterday we decided to actively communicate with those buyers.  We sent them an email that, among other things, said, “we understand that you expected to receive your order in a timely manner, we apologize,” we told them when to expect the cards, and we sent them a free $10 gift card.  We expected a bunch of understandably frustrated or angry replies.  We braced ourselves.  We held our breath. But we’ve received exactly none.  Instead, we’ve received these:

  • Thank you for the update! I appreciate the $10 gc toward a donation of my choice, which I just redeemed.  I’ll look for the cards in the next couple of days.
  • I have no problem with the delay.  Obstacles are to be expected.
  • Thank you for notifying me about this problem and for your kind offer of the $10 gift card as a compensation for the inconvenience. I was happy to donate it in honor of my daughter.  Blessings to you for creating this wonderful website and service!
  • Thank you for the notification.  I do not need the cards before the 8th.  Save any expenses you can!
  • Glad I started early with this, so it is not a problem.  Thanks for the $10; it will be put to good use.
  • I’m in no rush for the giftcards, if you want to send them slow, that’s fine with me.
  • you guys rock!!!

We are still learning and growing but we have very high expectations for ourselves.  These responses let more steam out of the pressure cooker than all the yelling in the world.  Wow do we feel lucky to have the kind of community that responds this way.

As a postscript, today I came across Jeff Brooks” post over at Donor Power Blog: Treat Your Donors To Some Unexpected Kindness, in which he lists 10 Treats Customers Love from the Return Customers blog.  The ones that caught my eye were about showing your customers empathy and explaining the details.  Our marketing team didn’t read his blog before sending out the emails, it just what they thought was the right thing to do.  And our customers seem to have validated that.

Now, where are my damn cards?

Thanks, NIKE!

Last week we had two great visits from our friends at NIKE. We’ve been helping them cultivate a network of projects around the world using sport to make things better in their communities – from a women’s football association in Rwanda to basketball for youth in one of Nairobi’s toughest slums. NIKE’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) employees have been particularly supportive of these projects, and now NIKE is giving all of those employees an opportunity to support them even more. This week, all of NIKE’s EMEA employees can donate $15 to any of these projects, just by plugging in their employee numbers as gift certificate codes. I’m thrilled that NIKE has chosen to give this gift to NIKE employees for the holidays, and the projects will benefit tremendously.

NIKE Let Me Play

We’re seeing a huge amount of interest in our new gift cards as corporate gifts – whether for employees, partners, or customers. I don’t want to ruin the surprise by revealing who’s buying what and for whom, but we’re rapidly going through our stock of biodegradable cards and have already ordered more to keep up with the demand.

At a previous job, I remember getting a call from a business partner who had just received a holiday gift from me. They’d been taking bets on what exactly the gift was, and they wanted me to settle things. I believe the objects they received were meant to be a pencil and sticky note holder, and I was happy that they’d brought some entertainment to the office, but I’m sure those gifts went right in the landfill after the betting was over.

Thanks to NIKE and all of the other GlobalGiving partners who are giving a meaningful holiday gift this year!

NY Times on Gift Cards

Today, The New York Times published an interesting article about the popularity of philanthropic gift cards this holiday season.

Key quote : “People are realizing that giving somebody another sweater is not as good as giving them the opportunity to give to a charity they support.”