Alison Carlman Posts

You Could be Named to GlobalGiving’s 2018 Top Ten!

You Could be Named to GlobalGiving’s 2018 Top Ten!

Last year we launched our first Top 10 List celebrating organizations in the GlobalGiving community that have demonstrated the greatest commitment to learning and effectiveness. As you probably know, GlobalGiving believes people and organizations that Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. are the most effective, and we measure your learning and effectiveness through GG Rewards. This November, we’ll launch our second annual Top 10 List of organizations.

Simplifying Social Media Metrics

This is a photo I found on GlobalGiving of four women holding four buckets. Cheeky, right? Find out the real story behind the photo here:

This is a photo I found on GlobalGiving of four women holding four buckets. Why the buckets? Read below. Or find out the real story behind the photo here:

For as many social media platforms as there are out there, (hundreds,) there are equally as many social media metrics you could track to figure out if your content works.  How do you break it all down so that you’re only keeping track of the most important stuff (ehemmeasuring what matters)? I’ve found that most important metrics for the content we create can fall into four buckets:

  • APPLAUSE: do people like the content of your post?  
    • Examples: Users click on a URL in your post to read an article, or they like your photo on Instagram.
  • AMPLIFICATION: do your followers share your content with their personal networks?
    • Examples: Twitter users re-tweet your content, Facebook users share.
  • CONVERSATION: does your content spark engagement through back-and-forth conversation?
    • Examples: Twitter users reply to a tweet or Facebook users comment on your post.
  • CONVERSION: does your content move people to act, ultimately helping you meet your objective?
    • Examples: Readers donate, purchase, or sign up as a result of seeing your content.

These four buckets help me make sure I’m looking at the whole picture when measuring the success of my social outreach. Sometimes I just want to focus on one element, amplification, for example, if I’m just trying to get my message seen by as many people as possible. If success seems heavily weighted in one of the buckets, (if I got a lot of likes for example, but no donations) it’s an easy way to see whether I’m meeting my overall goals or not.

The interesting thing about the two middle buckets (amplification and conversation) is that while it’s easiest to track quantitative measuresthe number of likes, or re-tweets, for exampleit’s harder and more interesting to track the quality of the amplification or the conversation. We all know that a thoughtful, engaging reply is worth a lot more to your brand than someone’s cut-and-paste self-promotion on your Facebook wall, (or even a negative reaction to your content) but each response simply counts as one comment if you’re only tracking engagement rates. That’s why I recommend keeping a record of engagement quality with your content using a tool like Storify that can provide color to your numbers.

And one last thing. There’s actually an important fifth bucket that I also use that’s almost purely qualitative. You could call it Brand, or if you’re a nonprofit, perhaps you’d call it Alignment. It’s about how well your content reflects your overall mission. Don’t forget to keep track of qualitative feedbackor even your own gut feelings about how well your content reinforces your ultimate purpose. Did you create a hilarious .gif that virtually went viral, but makes some of your staff feel kind of icky inside? Or are your metrics driving you to create generic inspirational quotes that distract from your mission or doesn’t reflect your organization’s voice? That question is important to consider, too, when determining whether your content is working. So don’t forget to ask for feedback from your own team to make sure that doing what works is still doing what’s best for the people you serve, helping move them and your organization forward.

Failing Forward: 10 Lessons Learned in 2014


Photo by Awamaki, the First Place $1000 winner in GlobalGiving’s Fail Forward contest

There were many incredible things that happened in 2014, but some of the stories we’re most proud of are your failures. You read that right: we’re glad to see how our nonprofit partners are talking about failure (we’re talking about it, too!) because we’re thrilled that we’re all learning and improving.

As you may recall, GlobalGiving held a Fail Forward contest at the end of 2014, offering prizes to nonprofits that submitted project reports telling a story of a failure and what learning came from the failure. We’re proud to announce the winners here! Click on any link to read the Fail Forward story, and follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds for the next several weeks to see how we’re featuring these stories.

  1. First Place $1000 winner: Awamaki – “It’s so important for the women we work with to fully understand their constitution and bylaws, and that they take strong leadership in their own cooperative business.”
  2. Second Place $600 winner: Mother’s Heart – “To our inexperienced minds, $300 was a small amount to pay if it meant Jana could have the life she wanted as a new mom. However, our haste was our downfall. Our eagerness brought failure. Our good intentions blinded us to the reality of Jana’s situation. We neglected to ask the right questions.”
  3. Third Place $400 winner: Center for Amazon Community Ecology –  “A system used by a similar organization seemed like a great way to empower our artisans to improve the consistency and quality of their crafts for the export market, but it didn’t work in this setting. Our jobs are to respect and support their organic process, culture and vision.”
  4. Honorable Mention: Zahana – “In participatory development requests from the community have priority, or it would not be participatory.”
  5. Honorable Mention: Global Emergency Care Collaborative – “A program that was dependent on one (foreign) individual was in no way  sustainable… so we had to rethink our mission and vision to design a program that is successful, replicable, scalable, and affordable.”
  6.  Honorable Mention: Aasraa Trust – “Battered and  abused children need persistent counseling alone and with the families. The family exerts enormous pressure on the child and cannot be ignored.”
  7. Honorable Mention: ColaLife – “Unless you are equally proud of your failures as your successes, no one will learn.”
  8. Honorable Mention: Days for Girls – “Only an informed design process focused on collaboration, and responsiveness to local feedback will get a result that is culturally, environmentally and physically relevant.”
  9. Honorable Mention: Expanding Opportunities – “State and restate what you can and cannot do clearly and often.”
  10. Honorable Mention: Aravind Eye Foundation — “Free can still be expensive: address all the barriers that people might face in accessing your services.”

The  Fail Forward celebration doesn’t just end just with our nonprofit partners’ learning, we also want to share a bit about what GlobalGiving learned from the contest:

Failure can feel good (eventually). Some of our nonprofit partners talked about how failure could feel good if you’re open and honest about it. Jane Berry from Cola Life said this: “…this change of direction could have been a huge embarrassment. But amazingly, by ‘coming clean’ straight away about the failure, we have won more praise, more friends, and more understanding. One of our award-givers even asked us back to the prestigious event we had won the year before, to hear more about our failure.”

Some of our partners even even attributed their current success to their initial failures. “Had we not learned from this failure, our organization would not have learned the importance of building local capacity through education, and the 25,000 patients that have been treated in the past several years would not have received the life-saving care they desperately needed,” said Tom Neill from Global Emergency Care Collaborative.

Infographic: GlobalGiving’s Bet on Improving Effectiveness

Infographic: GlobalGiving's Bet on EffectivenessYou may remember that in April we launched a beta version of our Effectiveness Dashboard.  We gathered feedback from  more than 200 of our partners about how we could make it better, and today we’re unveiling version 2.0 of that Dashboard. See yours here!

But perhaps you’re still wondering why we have this growing emphasis on our project partners’ effectiveness? To answer that question, we created a new infographic to explain our trajectory. Please check it out!

We’re still working hard to improve the GlobalGiving platform so you’ll get more funding for your project. But we’re also working to measure and reward all the gains you’re making to gather feedback, learn, and improve the work you’re doing on the ground. Simply because we’ve seen (and you, our project partners have told us!) that GlobalGiving network is not just a marketplace for money; its also an accelerator for learning and improvement in the nonprofit sector.

Have you tested out something you learned from the GlobalGiving community that made a difference in the way you deliver programs and services? Share your learning with us (and you’ll get points in your Effectiveness Dashboard!)

Facebook: To Promote or Not to Promote? (…and Is That The Question?)

GlobalGiving’s Experiment With Promoted Posts
by Alison Carlman and Oscar Norsworthy

This case study was originally posted on Beth Kanter’s blog as an example of an experiment with social media measurement. We hope you’ll find it useful as you think through your strategy for Facebook.

Promoting a post on Facebook

Listen. Post. Learn. Repeat.

On the Unmarketing team at GlobalGiving, we put a lot of effort into figuring out how to use Facebook to support the thousands of charity projects on our website. The more we learn, the better able we are to advise our nonprofit partners. One of the newest features on Facebook is the “Promoted Post.” Promoted Posts are pictures, links, videos, or text that administrators can pay to appear on more Facebook users’ news feeds. (Did you know that only an average of about 15% of your fans see your posts in their news feeds?) We conducted a month-long experiment to see if Promoted Posts make sense for our strategy.

First Thing First: What’s our Goal?

We wanted to see whether or not Promoted Posts help us reach our goals on Facebook. One way to explain our Facebook strategy is the social funnel. People interact with us on Facebook at all levels of this funnel. While ultimately we’d love to see every fan make a donation to a project on our website, our goal on Facebook is first and foremost to develop an active community of fans around the topics of philanthropy and social change. We wanted to see how well Promoted Posts reach our fans on all levels.

Here’s what success – or a positive return on investment (ROI) – at each of the levels would look like for us:

The Social Funnel
Awareness: Getting our messages into the news feeds of people who haven’t heard from us in a while – or never have before. Key metric: reach
Engagement: Inspiring interactions (clicks, likes, comments and shares) from people who don’t usually interact with us. This helps the content spread to their networks.Key metric: clicks
Donations: Telling a story that is compelling enough that people give to a project on (Ideally donations exceed the cost of the post!)Key metric: donations; net dollars after the cost of the post.


Our Promoted Posts Experiment

During the summer we promoted three posts, each about a different topic. We spent less than $100 on each post, and we only promoted the posts to our fans. We also posted regular (non-promoted) links and photo posts related to each of the three topics so that we could compare the performance of regular posts versus paid posts. While we couldn’t control all variables, we did our best to aim for consistency with as much as possible, including the time of day we posted and the content of the post, so that we could draw better conclusions when comparing our results.

Below are the nine updates (under three topics) that we posted this summer as part of the experiment, and how they fared in terms of reach (views), engagement (clicks), and donations (dollars). You can see that the promoted posts were the only ones that drove donations, and they drove significantly higher view and click rates.

ROI: Reach, Engagement, and Donations
From Regular and Promoted Posts on Facebook

Post Topic: Natural Disasters
(Promoted Post net revenue= $667)

Link 4,035 views; 62 clicks
Photo 5,483 views; 66 clicks
Promoted 20,282 views; 218 clicks; $750 donations

Post Topic: Everyday Project Stories
(Promoted Post net revenue= -$30)

Link 3,311 views, 24 clicks
Photo 6,347 views; 58 clicks
Promoted 22,498 views; 301 clicks; $30 donations

Post Topic: Special Campaign
(Promoted Post net revenue= $550)

Link 4,204 views; 51 clicks
Photo 4,975 views; 45 clicks
Promoted 31,510 views; 363 clicks; $600 donations

What we learned

We learned two main things from our experiment. First, as you can see above, promoted posts did drive more engagement at all levels of the social funnel. On average, our promoted posts had five times higher reach and seven times higher click rate (!) compared to posts that weren’t promoted. The financial return, however, varied greatly based on the content of the post. We found that promoting general, ‘everyday’ project stories didn’t drive many donations (in fact, it lead to a negative net financial return), but promoting very timely stories or unique campaigns resulted in a significant uptick in donations (netting approximately $600 per post).

Perhaps the most interesting thing we learned actually happened while we were designing the experiment. When figuring out whether to promote links or photos, we found that photo posts drove more Facebook interaction, achieving a higher reach and better overall engagement (the middle of the funnel!). On the other hand, posting links sometimes led to higher click-through rates to our website, generally driving more donations (the bottom of the funnel!). When we looked back in our Facebook Insights data, we found that this pattern seemed consistent with other posts over the past several months. This information is useful to us whether or not we’re talking about promoted posts.

What does this mean for our strategy?

We found that Facebook’s Promoted Posts can get the job done, successfully driving both engagement and donations. It’s important to note though that we’re still not planning to rely on Promoted Posts to push all our fans through the social funnel.

At GlobalGiving we have an “unmarketing” approach to engagement. This means that we believe there’s inherent value in developing authentic, meaningful, and helpful relationships with our audience through social media to help tell our story. In short, it’s not all about driving dollars. Engagement is important to us.

We’ve concluded that an ongoing Facebook strategy based primarily on Promoted Posts wouldn’t be savvy or sustainable, (remember how the ‘everyday’ project stories posts actually ended up costing us money?) but we’ve decided that we will continue to promote posts when they are particularly timely, relevant, or important for our key audiences. We should also be sure to note that we’ll never be promoting content that would otherwise have been unsuccessful on Facebook in general. As you can imagine, the last thing we want to do is bring irrelevant content to the attention of people who rarely hear from us anyway!

What does this mean for you?

If you can find the budget to experiment with Promoted Posts, it’s important to think through how you’ll measure your return on your investment. Can you put a dollar value on message views, click-throughs to your website, or goal conversions (donations, petition signatures, etc.)? If you’re spending advertising dollars on other media, you may find that Facebook Promoted Posts can also help you meet your goals, so it would be worth comparing your results.

Our fans told us emphatically on Facebook, they don’t love the idea of nonprofits paying for a spot on their news feeds. (The irony, of course, was that we didn’t see a single pushback to the promoted posts when we did them without pointing it out, so peoples’ behaviors didn’t exactly match how they said they would react. But that’s a whole different social psychology experiment, right?) If you do choose to promote Facebook posts, you’ll need to do strategically. You should only promote content that you’re proud of, and it would be wise to measure the results carefully so that you can prove that your dollars are helping you meet your overall goals!

If you don’t have any budget for Promoted Posts, you could still look into your Facebook Insights data to see the different types of engagement that photo posts drive for you compared to link posts. Does your data lead you to the same conclusions that ours did?

Do you have thoughts about whether links or photos get you results on Facebook? Have you experimented yet with Promoted Posts?