kellis Posts

Giving Back.

As employees of GlobalGiving, we have the very fortunate and gratifying role of helping donors around the world give to thousands of incredible, innovative projects just like yours. Naturally, we’re big fans of giving, but most of what we do involves helping other people implement earth-changing ideas. This spring, we tried something a little different.

Five GlobalGivers, (Natalie, Justin, Marisa, Nahal, and me, KC), joined what we call the “A-Team,” a small group tasked to collaborate on human resources needs. Most organizations reward their staff with a pat on the back, a shout-out in a staff meeting, or maybe some brownies if you’re lucky.

And for us? Our group was rewarded with $2,500 in funds to distribute to projects on GlobalGiving.

We were all pretty floored, and genuinely humbled. Not only was our reward exceptionally generous, we were able to share our appreciation with the very people we’re privileged to work with every day.

How on earth would we distribute these funds? Did we want to choose one project together, or divvy it up among several projects? After much discussion, we decided that we would each pick one of our favorite projects, and then we would ask our tirelessly devoted interns to vote on how they thought the funds should be allocated.

Natalie chose “Educate Girls And Fight Poverty In Senegal,” which received 7% of the interns’ votes for $178.55.

Justin chose “Szadvar Castle Project And Youth Camp, Hungary,” receiving 29% of the votes for $714.33.

Marisa chose “Alternative Livelihoods & Elephant Rescue Thailand,” receiving 7% of the interns’ votes for $178.55.

Nahal chose to support the “Kinshasa Music School,” which received 36% of the votes, or $892.80.

And I chose “Sustainable Chicken Farm For Guatemalan Women,” which got the last 21% of our interns’ votes to receive $535.77.

These projects will be receiving their funds in the disbursement going out this week, and we’re excited to let you know about choosing these organizations for this donation.

We are so proud to support these very worthy projects. Every project on our site is so worthy, and the effort that each of you puts forth to change the world is inspiring. In spite of being all the way in Washington, DC, it helps us feel closer to all of the nonprofit partners we have around the world. Thank you so much for giving us the chance to be a part of the incredible work you do.

All my best,

KC Ellis
Champion for Customer Bliss

Starting Conversations with Twitter


On Wednesday, March 21, GlobalGiving hosted a webinar for our Project Leaders on how to effectively engage their audiences on Twitter. If you weren’t able to attend, you can listen to the recording here and find the slides here for Beginner and here for Intermediate. Check out a summary on our training below!

Twitter is a tool for individuals, organizations, and businesses to connect with each other through simple, 140-character messages called Tweets. Currently, there are over 100 million users who send over 250 million Tweets per day.

How do I join Twitter?

Why should I use Twitter?

Twitter offers a simple, easy way to connect with hundreds, if not thousands of users across the Twittersphere. Since there is no barrier to following users, you’re free to listen and engage in conversations with anyone you’d like. You don’t have to worry about joining the right group or being asked to help plant a row of vegetables in someone’s virtual garden; instead, you jump in and start participating in the conversation. Once you’ve established your Twitter account and after you’ve started following some of the users you’d like to hear, you’ll find that it’s a great way to get to know people. Since Twitter truly encourages authenticity, you’ll forge new connections and be able to bring existing relationships to a different platform.

What can Twitter do for my organization?

Twitter offers a variety of services of which organizations can take advantage. Because of its instantaneous nature, it provides a way to receive immediate feedback. Since users enjoy Twitter’s friendly way of delivering content, it also offers an avenue for driving traffic to your project, promoting details about your work, and raising awareness about specific campaigns. Once you find out who is engaging with you on Twitter, you can also glean more information about your target audience and direct more appropriate content towards them.

How is Twitter different than Facebook?

Simply having a Facebook account can seem overwhelming at times, especially with the onslaught of page changes that have occurred over the past several months. Twitter offers a more immediate way of communicating with your followers in a quick, pithy format. Since the lifespan of Tweets tend to be much shorter at under an hour than Facebook posts (24 – 48 hours), it’s beneficial to Tweet timely, up-to-date information about your organization and other relevant information about your field. It also serves as a great way to search for existing conversations about your organization, as well as involve you in other conversations in your area of expertise. For example, common hashtags and search functions include #philanthropy and #nonprofit, immediately introducing you to other people who care about the same issues you do.


  • Tweet: The name of the message you send out, 140 characters or less
  • Follower: A person who had chosen to read your tweets on an ongoing basis
  • Reply or @: The @ symbol means you’re talking to or about someone. If you start a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle, it only appears to your mutual followers.
  • Direct Message or DM: A private message between two users. You can only send DMs to users who are following you.
  • Retweet or RT: The act of repeating what someone else has tweeted so that your followers can see it
  • Hashtag or #: Start with the symbol “#”. It is a theme for the tweet that allows all similar tweets to be searched.
  • Links: Tweets are tight on space, so Twitter auto-shortens links. You can also use services like to shorten links and track clicks.

Twitter etiquette:

Not only does Twitter have its own vocabulary, it has a specific set of guidelines of etiquette to encourage positive, constructive interactions:

  • Try to keep your tweets at 120 characters or fewer: Since Tweets are limited to 140 characters, this will encourage more retweets if users don’t have to edit down your content to share.
  • Don’t only tweet about yourself: It’s like showing up to a party and listening to someone talk only about themselves; it doesn’t make for very good conversation, right? On Twitter, it’s helpful to share updates about your peers, about key information in your field, and about details that share valuable insight into who you are as an organization.
  • Don’t just be in it for the numbers: While it may be intimidating to start out with just a few followers, active engagement and good conversation will keep them coming. You would rather have 250 highly engaged followers than 1,000 followers who never tweet back at you.
  • Be consistent and be part of the conversation: Social media can seem to be a very time consuming activity! If you only have five hours a week you can spend on social media, you should instead spend an hour a day staying involved on Twitter instead of lumping the five hours on one day. It will be easier for you to monitor mentions of your organization, encourage conversation about your organization, and stay on top of timely news and current subjects.
  • Be proud of yourself, but be proud of other people too: Congratulations! Did something great just happen for your organization? Shout it from the rooftops, and tweet proudly about your accomplishment! By the same token, share accolades freely about your peers or similar organizations who do something great too. It feels good when others share your successes, so be sure to do the same thing for others. It will also make them more likely to share your successes when it’s your time to shine.
  • Don’t spam your followers or other users: A no-spam policy is a healthy approach to all forms of online interaction. People don’t want to feel like they’re being used, and it’s an easy way to break down trust between users.
  • Be authentic!: You are unique and you are wonderful in your individuality. Figure out what makes you “you,” and share that with the world. People will respond better when they feel like you’re being genuine, so shine on and be authentic.

Maximizing your Twitter account:

Now that you have a Twitter account, make the most of it. Tweet frequently, between five and ten times a day, and stick to a routine. This will help establish a stronger presence for your account. You’ll also want to consider the type of information you’re going to share. The Twittersphere responds better to quality information, like project updates, timely organizational news, photos, and articles. These types of tweets tend to be retweeted more often, and they’re likely to engage your followers more strongly. You should also tweet with purpose. This means using calls to action strategically to avoid fatigue, but Twitter users do enjoy having their opinion counting. Ask questions of your audience – poll them for thoughts and use it as an opportunity to gain quick feedback from your base. You should also follow key players in your field, and retweet accordingly. This will help show your thought leadership and promote engagement with other organizations and users you respect.

Develop a strategy:

While it’s easy to sit down at your laptop at start tweeting, it helps to have a framework in mind before you go at it. Figure out what it is you want to accomplish, and set goals accordingly. Make sure you consider your target audience and who it is you want to reach when making these decisions. Decide which staff members or volunteers will be Tweeting from your account and monitoring your online presence so you aren’t left wondering who is paying attention. It’s also helpful to try and figure out how you’ll respond to feedback ahead of time to avoid scrambling when someone may have some constructive criticism for your organization.

But what about fundraising?

Being on Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean people will donate to your project, but it does mean that you have a new tool to start a relationship with potential donors. Twitter is as simple as having a conversation. The more you authentically connect with other users, the more people will listen to you. The more people listen to you, the more people will trust you, and this is what leads to donations. Not only will you be a part of the conversation, you’ll be helping drive it.

Have any questions?

Let us know! We’d be happy to hear from you.

Twitter: @GlobalGiving
Email:  KC Ellis at
Phone: 202-330-4042

Can nonprofits use Pinterest to change the world?

“Oh, you’re not on Pinterest? If you’re planning a wedding, you’re practically required to be on Pinterest,” quipped my wedding dress designer shortly after I got engaged early last year. I sighed, adding another line to my ‘wedding to-do’s’ list, but I eventually requested an invitation and joined in July 2011. My designer was right; it is an unbelievably useful tool to create blissful moodboards for your special day.

endless wedding daydream.

Besides inspiring DIY fantasies, what can Pinterest do for your nonprofit? Well, a lot. It can help connect you, your voice, and your organization with hundreds, if not thousands, of content-hungry users. Pinterest is not to be ignored. While many other social media tools skew toward the college-age male, the Pinterest audience is, well, me: female, age 25 to 44, with an appetite for gorgeous imagery and on-trend advice.  You know what else this audience does? They give.

Simply by looking at GlobalGiving’s Facebook Insights, we were able to determine that 60% of our fans already fall within Pinterest’s base. Facebook’s constantly changing interface seems to have made it more and more difficult to reach our fans, so we’re experimenting with Pinterest’s curated audience of our target demographic.

So what does this mean for nonprofits? We already know that users on Pinterest might be inclined to give to your cause, but how do you make them do it?  Well that’s just it. We’d like to suggest that you might set Pinning objectives to include many types of engagement; not just donations. Before giving, your audience wants to engage and see, quite literally, who you are: Kate Spade’s VP/Ecommerce, Johanna Murphy (while no, not a nonprofit) explains:
“We think that if you look at every social media channel and your ultimate goal is to drive immediate commerce out of it, you don’t get it. Again, it’s kind of the fuel for the overall fire to the brand that will then ultimately drive sales.”

Pinterest, through their heavily visual interface, is a great way to show your audience who you are, but  that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all about showing what your cause is. For example, one of the great things about our office is our “must love food” attitude, so we’re cultivating a list of recipes our staff has tried and adored (if you’re interested, my slow-cooker macaroni and cheese recipe won an office wide contest). We’re also curating Pinboards based on our motto of “a million little earth-changing ideas,” which translates to “earth-changing people,” “earth-changing style,” and “earth-changing words,” as well as a board called “earth-changing projects.” It’s only in this last board where we actually get into the work we do, but we do it in a way that’s easily digestible and friendly. No one there is necessarily asking you to do anything, but instead they’re saying “hey, look at this project where you can help save a baby cheetah.” Believe me, after six months of Pinning, I can honestly tell you that people love a baby cheetah.

We also added a “Pin it” button to all of your project pages to let our users add to their boards, and we’ve seen its use grow exponentially since we launched it. Our brand fits with Pinterest’s audience, feel, and market, and it’s an exciting way of introducing GlobalGiving to a new group of people who is already inclined to like us.

This doesn’t mean that all nonprofits are suited to put their brand on Pinterest. First, if you’re just barely trying to get your Facebook or Twitter presence organized, then we recommend you work on those and try to do them well. Second, make sure that the person who’s taking on Pinterest for your nonprofit ‘gets it;’ make sure that they’re a user first!  Pinterest users are already worried that a heavy brand presence on Pinterest will “pollute it,” so if you feel inauthentic, you’ll have done more harm than good anyway.  Finally, commit to at least trying it out with a few good experiments from which you can learn.

The secret of Pinterest success isn’t just creating another flood of mini press releases: it’s about figuring out who you really are, and allowing your supporters to find the many ways that your work connects, inspires, and engages them. This also means that you have to venture outside of your organization’s content (although I’m sure it’s wonderful) and find additional pins that can tie back to your larger story and vision. Repin your followers and the people you admire. You’ll be surprised how much users will want to engage with you if you do.

For example, if you’re an environmentally-focused nonprofit, you could start a board that pins natural and organic products for the home. If you’re an animal-focused nonprofit, create a board that shares adorable photos of pets.

So you want to get started? We recommend that before jumping in and addictively pinning, first think about how you’d define and measure success on Pinterest. It only makes sense to use Pinterest (or any new medium) if it’s going to help you meet your organization’s goals.

We’re walking through these steps from Katie Paine’s Measure What Matters to plan out our Pinterest experiment:

  • Use Your Mission to Define Your Objectives: Is Pinterest going to help you meet your organization’s goals? That depends! One of your objectives may actually involve reaching new audiences by demonstrating your brand’s personality. In that case, Pinterest might be a great fit.  If your objectives are solely to drive people to act or donate on your site, then you’ll need to make sure you know how to measure whether it’s working (so ultimately you can decide whether it’s worth the time).
  • Establish a Benchmark and Pick your Metrics: If your objectives are to engage new people, then Pinterest’s handy weekly emails might give you some good metrics on engagement: repins, new followers, likes, comments, and pins you’ve added.  If your objectives are more conversion-oriented, then you’ll need to identify what exactly you want people to do when they see your pins.
  • Pick a Measurement Tool: Pinterest’s weekly activity update might give you information you’ll need to measure engagement.  If you add a “Pin it” button to your own site, you’ll want to use Google Analytics to track how many people are adding your pins to their boards without you even knowing. (These people are your new favorite people.) If you have more robust conversion goals then you’ll need to use Google Analytics to measure the donations driven by Pinterest users.
  • Analyze Results and Make Changes: One of our core values is Listen.Act.Learn.Repeat. We encourage you to watch your metrics and make changes based on what you learn! If no one is repinning even your most helpful DIY tip,  sit back and look at why that might not be working.  Whatever changes you make, keep returning to your objectives.

As someone who has watched Pinterest grow wildly in the last six months, I am thrilled to see it take off. The content is getting richer, and more and more interesting people are adding to its wealth. Women have proved that we’re more than capable of dominating a social media platform, and I’m glad to see that this is the direction it’s taking. We are driving cause marketing in a stronger way than ever, and I’m proud we are a part of it.

We’ll keep you updated on our experiment, please tell us about yours!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Are you using Pinterest for your own organization? Do you have any tips? Who do you think is using Pinterest well?  

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a recipe for this week’s chili cook-off. Got recommendations? Tag “@GlobalGiving Foundation” in your pin and the chili recipe I choose to make will get a $25 GlobalGiving gift card. It better be good, my crock pot mac and cheese is a tough act to follow.