kenya Posts

GlobalGiving’s Storytelling Project

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 ( to learn more about getting involved.

A crowd-sourcing experiment to improve beneficiary feedback loops

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I’m recruiting for a short-term crowdsourcing experiment we’re starting in three days at GlobalGiving. Do you know anyone who’d be interested?

The Question: “Can a crowd of readers reach the same conclusions as an eyewitness about aid projects?”

The answer could help us improve the communication with people on the ground and their donors.  The time commitment is 15 hours over the next month and we’ll share all the results with you. It’s virtual volunteering – so you never have to leave the comfort of your own home.

The Gist:  Read a bunch of project reports, which are written by project leaders in Kenya and sent to their donors to keep them in the loop. We’ll then ask you to provide context (no essays or anything, just sliding knobs around on 2-D spatial representations of the story elements). We’ve collected 4000 stories from beneficiaries on the ground about these organizations that we want to compare to this stuff.

Other than a huge thank you, you get a GlobalGiving gift card and a full debriefing on the analysis ahead of any papers or press releases. Use the gift card to support your favorite project on our site and then two organizations will benefit from all your hard work!

Let me know if this sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in by Friday. (You can respond via twitter @marcmaxson, or skype:marcmaxson, or Marc Maxson on Facebook, or via

Note from a GlobalGiving Donor

We send personal notes to a lot of donors, and in them we ask how they found out about GlobalGiving, what inspired them to give, etc.  We love to hear their stories.  Here is one that came through to our colleague Wylia last week…every so often a member of our community articulates what we are about so beautifully it re-inspires us:

Hi Wylia!

I thought that I would answer a few of your questions. I heard about by reading White Man’s Burden. The founders and the website were featured and because I was procrastinating writing a paper for one of my masters classes, I decided to take a look at the webpage. I was really excited to see the amount of homegrown effort around the world and thought that I should donate. I have been to Argentina and was heart broken to see the young children on the streets after the collapse of the Argentine economy. I looked around saw the program for education and health services for the Argentine children and thought that could be a way to help.

I was also drawn to the program in Brazil because I have read countless stories about the favelas and how children are impacted by the violence. The particular program I picked had not received too much funding but they were not asking for much either; just enough to pay for the arts and crafts for the children. I thought even if there is a little that I can do to put a smile on a child’s face I have to do it and thought that program was perfect.

Because I am in the military I have been able to travel around the world and see some amazing things. I went to Morocco a couple years ago and fell in love with the country. I saw the water program and was amazed how many Moroccan villagers would be impacted by something we take for granted.
Lastly, my heart went out to the young mothers in Kenya who have been tossed aside by society. I loved how this program is ran by a Kenyan woman who understands the issues these women have to face. I was drawn to her cause.

Overall, I have been very fortunate to have everything that I have. I know others have not been so lucky and I just wanted to donate what I could to help those who needed it. I am looking forward to hearing updates from the programs and will likely share them with my family and friends, many who I already informed them about globalgiving. Hope you have a nice day!

A Rocky Start to 2008

The new year has been off to a rather sad, turbulent start with all the unrest around the world. Myself, I was slated to meet some project leaders in Pakistan and accompany a team of evaluators visiting a project GlobalGiving donors have funded in Mansehra. With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, that plan was cancelled and I flew back to the US from India. Something we often chat about is our worries about our Project Leaders when we hear of such events. I know that at times I get frustrated if they are not responding to emails or are late in follow up. Then I read emails like the ones below and I realize that these men and women are doing great work in very difficult situations.

Hearing about things in the news is one thing but hearing from people in the midst of the chaos, really brings home to me that these are real people, dealing with real situations and real turmoil be it the fallout of post-election chaos or the assasination of a political leader.

From Project Leader Stella Omunga in Kenya:

Yes, indeed they are now even burning people who have taken refuge in churches. The situation in Eldoret is the worst and believe you me, GEMINI has not been cowed by all this. We are regrouping and doing anything in our power to provide humanitarian assistance and on a personal level, I’m providing shelter to the most vulnerable women and children and psychological counseling to the affected families in a nearby church compound.

You can support efforts to provide comfort and relief to those affected by this crisis here:

Urgent Aid for Kenya– Food, Supplies, and Support

From Project Leader Nabeel Khan in Pakistan:

Things in the state of Punjab especially Lahore is settling down as there is deployment of the police however i cannot say the same about the state of Sindh where Karachi (the largest metropolitan) is in a state of shambles where a majority number of cities are under curfew where Rangers have been given a shoot to kill order (which is more to intimidate than any credible threat). Banks and Food Chains have been set on fire. Furthermore, since Kashf has had branches in many parts of Punjab, the area managers were put on high alert. Most offices in Pakistan were either closed due to security reasons and even if some were open, there was but little staff.It is indeed a bad way to end a reasonably good year however lets all hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Our thoughts are with our Project Leaders and we hope for a much better 2008 for everyone. You can always check our see results page for the latest news from the field.