Connecting local responses around the world
I don’t see a time in my life when I have not known the non-profit sector… I was indoctrinated into it. My mother was the director of a small nonprofit organization. After graduate school, I got a job in a grantmaking organization where I worked to support more than 60 nonprofit organizations in Latin America. I began to understand the challenges of funding for the non-profit sector. I experienced that at times, large grants from funding agencies could do more harm than good as they could turn away the NGOs from their core mission. Funding priorities were many times decided at an office in New York for communities far away. I observed frequent disconnects between funders and NGOs – with communication limited to dry reports submitted to donor and infrequent site visits.I came across GlobalGiving, which was bringing together donors and nonprofits running projects under one platform. This was not only generating financial and human resources for locally run development projects, but even more crucially, it was creating a bridge of
regular communication and feedback-loops between the donors and the NGOs. GlobalGiving was helping an NGO in Panama connect with employees at the local branch of a large international corporation. In exchange for volunteer hours at the NGO, the company’s employees would receive GlobalGiving gift cards, allowing them to donate to the NGO. The employees, by being engaged in the NGO, understood the, day-to-day challenges and achievements, and thus, developed a stake in the organization. For the company, the volunteer and gift card program was an excellent way to involve employees in the company’s CSR initiative. The NGO received funds, as well as skilled volunteers. In the end, the employees, the company, and the NGO benefited from stronger communication, accountability, and transparency – a true win-win-win for all three stakeholders.
I went to on to join the GlobalGiving team in February this year. Instead of prescribing programs - like clean drinking water or improved pre-K education, GlobalGiving’s mission is to let communities decide what the issue is they want to address and then help them support that vision. The contributions directly support the entrepreneurial work of communities who are bringing innovative, empowering solutions to challenging social problems at the community level. Through regular project updates managed through GlobalGiving’s platform, NGOs create and maintain dynamic relationships with their donors, sharing the progress and impact of the project. In return, donors are invited to submit comments and pose questions to the NGOs. The funding and project update history for each project is public helps build the reputation for the organization implementing the project.
At its core, I think that GlobalGiving is about building a relationship between the NGO and the funder, which will promote transparency and accountability. We think this will democratize funding and lead to greater sustainability. GlobalGiving is a crowdfunding platform, but it is really more about the human to human connection and building a community than it is the technology or the transaction. Or, as GlobalGiving’s co-founder Mari Kursaishi recently said, “The power of crowdfunding isn't in the funding, it's in the crowd.”
When donors and recipients relate to each other as human beings, they realize that they are connected. And when we realize that we are connected, we understand that each of us brings our own unique gifts and strengths to the process of development. And then we understand that we can learn from each other to work towards our common goal. These mutually supportive personal partnerships will naturally develop and endure.
(GlobalGiving is an online marketplace that connects donors with grassroots projects around the world. Want to join the GlobalGiving community to raise money for your nonprofit? Learn how here. )