GlobalGiving: $25 for Your Thoughts

Machik Tibet

Imagine sitting around your holiday table discussing which project each member of the family chose for their GlobalGiving contribution. Because you gave each of them a gift card for $25, and they went online to choose from a plethora of options. Or, imagine giving gift cards to your employees, and they're sitting around a pizza at lunch discussing the projects they chose.

In a meeting with me yesterday, Dennis Whittle, Co-Founder and CEO, GlobalGiving, noted that it's "amazing how much of an impact you can have in the world with contributions of $10, $25, or $100. We give you the opportunity to choose a project that's personally meaningful; we make it easy."

Just to give you a taste, here are a few options for only $25: protect two children in Uganda from malaria (one child dies every 30 seconds from malaria); educate 15 women in Afghanistan to learn to read; provide one year of primary school education for a Nepali girl who has been rescued from virtual slavery; purchase a public transportation card for a refugee to attend classes and job interviews in Chicago; or buy 147 feet of piping for sustainable irrigation for a Rwandan orphanage. Or, for $30, fund the nursery and planting of 150 trees in the Phillipines to support watershed conservation. Or, for $75, buy a bucket of chlorine tablets to combat Haiti's spreading cholera crisis;.

GlobalGiving vets the nonprofits before listing them

image "The nonprofits that you give to through GlobalGiving are vetted by us," explained Whittle. Not only does GlobalGiving vet nonprofits for compliance with anti-terror guidelines and compliance with international guidelines of philanthropy, but GlobalGiving goes deeper with Primary Evaluations, Secondary Evaluations, and Self-Reporting. According to Whittle, "the vetting process also includes our soliciting a wide range of views using our network of experts in the nonprofit and philanthropy communities."

The final step for a nonprofit to be accepted as a GlobalGiving nonprofit partner is to raise $4,000 from 40 donors. For many organizations, this is a daunting challenge; in those cases, GlobalGiving provides coaching, including from veterans of the process. Ultimately, the successful nonprofits thrill at their achievement and are positioned to advance themselves with their new base of support. Once they become GlobalGiving partners, nonprofits not only benefit from access to online and corporate donors, but also to GlobalGiving's organizational development resources including information exchange among GlobalGiving's many nonprofit partners.

What impresses me about GlobalGiving's approach is that as an intermediary between donors and nonprofits, they go far beyond reviews of basic compliance and financial information. The basics are essential, but they don't tell you anything about the value or quality of the services being provided or about the personnel. In an ideal world, we will truly be able to assess and compare the impact of various nonprofits - an area in which I have produced, tested, and published approaches in subsectors since the 1980's. But until we find the perfect assessment models, GlobalGiving evaluates nonprofits the best way we know how at this point--visits by in-country teams of evaluators, and references by a large network of funders and experts in the field.

An example of GlobalGiving's role when disaster hits a community

Mari Kuraishi, Co-Founder and President, joined us in the meeting. I asked Kuraishi for an example of an organization where she personally saw the impact on the ground and where online donors helped.

"Half the Sky is an amazing organization that was built by an adoptive mother and film producer that in the last 10 years has transformed the care in nearly a thousand Chinese orphanages. As a development professional when I saw their facilities and networks in China I was blown away with what they had been able to accomplish.

"When the China earthquake hit in 2008, they were on the ground in Szechuan providing critical care--and donors had the opportunity to hear about it directly from Chengdu, sometimes on a daily basis. For Half the Sky in turn, we were able to handle their interactions with thousands of individual donors--something they were not set up to do, especially in the maelstrom of the earthquake relief activities. That's the kind of connection GlobalGiving was created to support."

GlobalGiving going forward: helping nonprofits increase their impact

Presently, GlobalGiving provides support and advice to its partner nonprofits, particularly related to fundraising. Very needed and important.

But GlobalGiving's bigger vision and plan is to help its partners to increase their impact in solving global problems...further leveraging your financial contributions ... or investments, as some prefer to say. "In the next two years, we'll be in a position to potentially revolutionize the effectiveness of the thousands of organizations we work with in the field, by giving them feedback tools that allow them to really see how they are delivering value," according to Kuraishi. "Key to this is the scalable, mass beneficiary feedback program that we have piloted in Kenya and expect to roll out to all our partners next year. This will massively enhance the effectiveness of the resources we make available to these organizations, and potentially speed up the cycle time of innovation and breakout ideas exponentially." This GlobalGiving initiative is being conducted with support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

You, your loved ones, and your colleagues at work can be part of the solution to global issues of conservation, disaster relief, economic development, education, and health care. GlobalGiving invites you to participate during the holiday season and year-round.

[Top photo: Machik's Summer Enrichment Program in Tibet
Side photo: Building Tomorrow's "Build a Classroom Project"]

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