LIN: From Paper to Online Surveys

LIN is a recipient of our 2015 Feedback Fund. Recently they shared this insight with us.

The LIN Center for Community Development (LIN) supports 186 organizations in Vietnam. In 2013 and 2014, we sent out LIN’s Annual NPO Partner Survey in hard copy and via email as a MsWord attachment. It was 11 pages long. Data collection was onerous and riddled with human transcription errors. In 2015, we hoped to upgrade to an online format. There were several options on the market and we were uncertain which was best. Fortunately, GlobalGiving connected us with a feedback expert who was able to answer our questions and help us decide that a “basic” subscription to SurveyGizmo (which offers a 25% discount to nonprofits!) was best for our needs.

We launched our annual survey in October and received 86 completed surveys, a response rate of 46% (86 out of 186 NPO partners in Vietnam). While the overall experience transitioning from a paper/Word survey to an online survey was positive and presented many advantages, the LIN team and our NPO partners did experience some challenges during implementation. Below is a brief summary of the key challenges and advantages resulting from the transition.


  • Technology – Internet and power disruptions do happen and, for some of our NPO partners it caused the loss of already inputted data.
  • Learning Curve – After launching the survey, one NPO partner discovered errors in the logic and validation for a couple questions. After correcting the errors, we later learned that any NPOs that partially completed the survey (and saved it) before the errors were corrected would have to start the survey over again. (It pays to pre-test!)
  • Accessibility – NPO representatives with a disability and those older in age shared frustrations with regards to the online survey format: One man with a visual impairment said the software he uses to “read” online text did not function well with the online format; Meanwhile, an NPO Director said she struggled to understand the error messages that popped-up when her answers did not fit the required format.


  • Design – The online survey is more attractive compared with the paper version and adapts well to smartphones and iPad’s on our chosen SurveyGizmo platform. Though LIN did not take full advantage of the possibilities, SurveyGizmo allows users to select from a variety of themes, colors and fonts, insert images and more.
  • Confirmation – The online system allowed LIN to send an automatic “Thank You” email when an NPO completes and submits a survey. We also selected the option to include a complete record of that NPOs answers to our survey in the email, which was an unexpected benefit to many of our partners. And, after receiving their “Thank You” email, two of our NPO partners contacted us to correct mistakes they noticed after reviewing their own answers in the email.  People liked seeing evidence that their response was saved more than we could have anticipated.
  • Reduce Human Errors (& Effort) – The online survey helped to reduce errors in data entry. Whenever a user inserts text instead of a number, for example, SurveyGizmo rejects the answer and provides an explanation so the user can revise their answer. Although this frustrated some users, it saved the LIN team from having to go back to each respondent that filled in the wrong information. Also, by using an online survey, we eliminated the need to transfer data from paper surveys to Excel, which further reduced the possibility of human error.
  • Real time Tracking & Checking Responses – SurveyGizmo allowed us to easily track our survey responses. And we used that feature often to check-in with NPOs that started but did not complete the survey and for reminding NPOs that did not start the survey. We were also able to do some quality control on the submitted data and run early analysis.
  • Language – our survey system handled English and Vietnamese without breaking. This is not always the case with technology in Vietnam.

We encountered notable challenges in the transition. Despite this, the online format offered many key advantages, the most important of which was an increase in the integrity of the data we collected.   With continued practice, the LIN team believes we can help our users to overcome, or at least mitigate, the difficulties that they faced the first time around.

Thanks to the GlobalGiving Feedback Fund 2015 for helping LIN to improve our feedback process!


Above is an example of how SurveyGizmo’s logic option ensures that our respondents answer questions only if they are relevant.

This is an example of a GlobalGiving organization that Listens, Acts, and Learns.

LIN: Developing a More Robust Survey

LIN is a recipient of our 2015 Feedback Fund. Recently they shared this insight with us.

Since 2009, the LIN Center for Community Development (LIN) has supported grassroots, not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) working to build stronger communities in and near Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. Stakeholder feedback has always been important to LIN. We integrate it into our programs.

As a small organization with limited survey design experience, LIN often questioned whether our feedback tools were sufficiently robust. Fortunately, a grant from GlobalGiving’s 2015 Feedback Fund gave the LIN Team an opportunity to make some exciting improvements!

Although we realized there was potential for an online survey tool to improve visual clarity, and reduce data entry errors, it was a different experience to actually be guided through the design process. For example, when I entered our first “ranking” question into SurveyGizmo, I was asked to select a “Question Type”. This feature offered a large variety of options, categorized into “Basic”, “Intermediate” and “Advanced” question types.


Even better, after selecting a question type, I was presented with a Getting Started Guide, which summarizes the purpose of each question type and a link to more information.


The information found on the “Learn More” page either assures you that the question type you selected is correct or it helps you understand why it was not the right question type so you can select another option.

Meanwhile, the “Common Answer Library” allowed us to mainstream the answer options we included so that, in the future, LIN can compare our results to those of other organizations asking similar questions. There was also the potential to import our surveys into a separate site,, which opens the door to comparative analysis regarding our impact. LIN is learning more about the Feedback Commons and sharing our survey data for this purpose.

With thousands of organizations conducting tens of thousands of surveys around the world, one way we can be more effective is to use a guided process to design and refine our surveys. For example, it is important to use “basic” questions with people who are not used to answering surveys, or for whom language, literacy, and time are a barrier.

This is an example of a GlobalGiving organization that Listens, Acts, and Learns.

Get Ready for Your Close-Up!

Get Ready for Your Close-Up!

GlobalGiving is excited to announce our fifth annual Video Contest!  Each year our team has the pleasure of watching your inspiring videos to select one grand prize winner and four runner-ups to be featured in GlobalGiving’s outreach efforts to donors.

The grand prize winner will also be featured in one of GlobalGiving’s monthly newsletters. Our grand prize winner will be chosen by Backpacker Films, Inc. who have generously donated their time to help us. The newsletter will be emailed to more than 130,000 subscribers! Past video contest winners have received upwards of $6,000 in donations because of the newsletter.

Do you already have an amazing video on one of your projects? Great! Submit your entry here.

If not, don’t worry! We have some great resources to help you create an amazing video.

How to submit your video:

  • Upload your video to YouTube.
  • Embed your YouTube video into your project page. Save and submit your project edits by February 10th to be eligible. The GlobalGiving team will review and approve your changes within 1-2 business days.
  • Submit the web address for your project page and video in this entry form by February 12th.
  • Don’t forget, even if you don’t win the contest, you will still get GG Rewards points for participation!

Adding Music to your Video

Looking for some music to add to your video without worry about copyright issues? Check out the Vimeo Music Store. The Vimeo Music Store includes songs for commercial use and the site even provides some great songs for free!

Terms and Conditions:

  • Participating organizations must be current GlobalGiving Partners, Leaders, or Superstars.
  • Please note the project must be listed as “active” on by the entry form deadline for the video to be eligible.
  • Eligible videos must be between 00:30 seconds and 3 minutes long. Videos that are longer than 3 minutes will be disqualified.
  • Videos must be embedded in an active GlobalGiving project page in order to qualify for the Video Contest.
  • The submitted video must focus on the content described in the project.
  • Videos should be high quality and creative.
  • Videos may not contain any copyrighted element including music, videos, or photographs. Be sure that you have obtained all necessary legal rights for the content of your video.
  • All video participants must give informed consent of their participation in order to take part in the filming of your video.
  • Videos may not contain vulgar language or inappropriate content. GlobalGiving reserves the right to determine inappropriate content and disqualify a video.
  • Organizations may submit one video per organization.
  • Videos must be submitted by 11:59 pm EST on Friday, February 12th in order to be considered for contest participation.

Please feel free to email us at with any questions. We are very excited to see your videos soon!

A Note from Your Biggest Fan

A Note from Your Biggest Fan

(This post was written by Katherine Sammons, GlobalGiving’s former Senior Program Associate)

Back in 2012, when I first came across GlobalGiving I knew I had found something special. I was then living in Johannesburg, South Africa and was feeling increasingly frustrated as I watched organizations attempt to solve social issues without utilizing local solutions. I was determined to work for an organization that believes that good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere. That belief brought me to GlobalGiving, and GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners like you have only made that belief grow stronger.

As my last day as a GlobalGiving staff member approached, I struggled to write this blog post because, how can you ever say a proper good-bye and thank you to a community you love? You can’t. But, luckily for me being a part of a community means this post is not the end. I know by reading your stories, seeing your photos, and watching your achievements, I will be continuously inspired by your work.

You may remember me as the woman that reminded you to post your project reports but, I think of myself as your biggest fan. You pushed me to be more thoughtful and creative when working to improve GlobalGiving’s programs, user interface, and offerings. By sharing your ideas, feedback, and knowledge, you made and continue to make GlobalGiving a better place. Thank you.

With my farewell comes a warm welcome to Emily James, GlobalGiving’s new Senior Program Associate! Emily comes to GlobalGiving with experience working with refugees resettling in the United States. In her previous role, she was responsible for and successful in making changes that resulted in better experiences for constituents. She is a great addition to the GlobalGiving community. Welcome, Emily!

It has been an honor to be a part of your team and I cannot wait to see what amazing things you do in 2016 and onward!

How to Hashtag with a Purpose: 6 Tips for Social Media Success

Here at GlobalGiving, we are strong advocates for the power of social media. The more people who see your message and the more powerful the message, the more likely you are to garner more donations, create more buzz, and educate more people. With a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ account, we have done our fair share of experimentation to determine how to grow our likes, followers, and shares. Here are tips from our own experiences on how you may be able to cultivate your social media presence: 

  1. Always use photos. 

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, so if you are restricted to only 140 characters, then why not convey more of your message through the use of a photo? That’s not to say that any image should be tacked on to your post. Make sure that the photo aligns with the purpose of the post. If you are posting to remind your followers to donate to your project focused on girls’ education, then don’t post a photo taken of your boys’ soccer program.

Always make sure that any photos you use are good quality, focused, respect the person or animal in the image, and portray your organization in the best light possible, much like the image above.

  1. Tailor your posts to your audience.

Twitter is very different from Facebook and Facebook is very different from Instagram, as are the types of people that use each platform. The length of posts, content, and frequency all need to be tailored to the platform that you are utilizing. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Facebook – 1 post per day, longer post
  • Instagram – 2-3 posts per day, focus on brilliant images, convey stories
  • Twitter – 5-7 tweets per day, brief updates or reminders

Of course, the frequency of your posts also depends on the amount of engaging content you have to share. If there is nothing engaging at the moment, then do not post. You run the risk of exhausting your followers.

With each of these platforms, make sure that you keep track of the number of followers that you have gained and lost and whether or not this correlates to the frequency in which you post or the content of your posts. Qualitative feedback is also important to gather from each of your audiences. If your Facebook followers are telling you that you post too much, then, perhaps, you need to reconsider your strategy on Facebook.

  1. Making the most of your tweets is cheaper and easier than you think.

Twitter is an extremely interactive social media platform that offers the chance to start a conversation amongst your followers and ignite a social movement. While Twitter is the most restrictive when it comes to the length of your posts, you can also acceptably post more frequently, so you have a greater chance of more views. With that said, do not pay for followers. You will not gain anything by paying for these followers, as they are not likely to be people who will share your content and get more involved with your organization. Also, do not tweet at people unless you have a relationship or a presumed relationship with that person. However, if you do have a relationship, then definitely involve them! For example, if we post about one of our partners, we will do our best to tag that organization’s Twitter account in the post.

Make use of tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer that  allow you to schedule tweets so you do not have to ensure that you have staff available to post on weekends and times that are inconvenient for your organization. You can also schedule tweets for times that you feel will garner more views amongst your followers, especially if a large amount of your followers are in other time zones.

  1. Make sure that your hashtag has a purpose to ensure that it is beneficial.

Hashtags are everywhere these days, so creating catchy and productive hashtags has become crucial to the success of your social media campaign. In our own experiments, we found that using trending hashtags did not draw more attention to our posts. As a rule, we prefer to only use hashtags that are relevant to our mission, act as search terms, or are part of an ongoing conversation between all applicable parties. When we began to tweet about the Syrian crisis, we made sure to look at what other outlets were using in terms of hashtags to better hashtag our own posts. If you want to quickly gauge the popularity of a hashtag you’re thinking of using in a post, you can look it up on a site like to see how frequently it’s been used in the last 24 hours.

As for the number of hashtags to use, this too depends on that platform you are using. Using 5-7 hashtags on Instagram is perfectly acceptable, since there is not a character limit, and increasing the number of hashtags does not decrease engagement. For an example, see our Instagram post below. We hashtagged a number of related words, and we also hashtag locations, so that these posts will show up on any searches for these places. On the other hand, if we had posted this on Twitter, we would have used a much lower number of hashtags. Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet, and research shows that using more than two hashtags can decrease audience engagement.

  1. Never forget that social media is a tool to tell your story.

When posting on social media, the number one question to ask yourself is “Does this create a sense of urgency for my followers to want to tell someone else about my post?” If the answer is yes, then you have crafted your message in the best possible way. You want your post to offer a learning experience to your followers that pushes them to take a specific action. Break apart your stories so that they are digestible in a fast-paced, character-limited platform, but never lose sight of the goal of creating impact on your audience.

  1. Measure your social media impact.

Twitter and Facebook each have free analytics suites available to help you assess what’s working and what’s not for your audience, and there are a number of free options for Instagram analytics as well. You’ll quickly find an avalanche of data to pour over, but may find yourself wondering just what numbers are important. GlobalGiving’s Alison Carlman shared her thinking in a post called Simplifying Social Media Metrics, which is a great guide for getting started measuring the numbers that are actually important (spoiler: your follower count isn’t likely to be one of them).

We can’t wait to see how all of our Project Leaders integrate our experiences with their own to create a stronger social media presence. Don’t forget that you can also share your projects on social media by clicking on the share tab on your project page.


If you have any questions about the above tips or about your social media presence, then please do not hesitate to contact us at We are always happy to help!