Arlington Academy of Hope: A GlobalGiving Success Story

Arlington Academy of Hope: A GlobalGiving Success Story

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Arlington Academy of Hope (AACase Study_AAH_Blog_3_Photo 1H) is a small, nonprofit located in Arlington, Virginia, that helps support  children living in the Bududa district of Eastern Uganda reach their full potential by providing them with access to quality education and health services. In 1995, the organization’s founders John and Joyce Wanda relocated to Arlington, Virginia. There, they witnessed the high level of education their children received in the public school system and were inspired to create the same experience for students in Uganda. In 1999, they began providing financial resources for education purposes to a handful of students in local schools, but they wanted to do more, so in 2004 they established a primary school in the village of Bumalukani, and in 2015 about 350 students are enrolled.


Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_Title 2Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_Photo 2AAH’s primary school grew rapidly, both in the number of students it was supporting and the number of graduating students eligible to attend secondary school. By 2006, 100% of AAH’s seventh graders were passing their national exams and qualifying for admission to secondary schools throughout Uganda. While the AAH team celebrated this milestone, they faced a new challenge. How could they ensure that their primary school graduates attended and completed secondary school? They badly wanted to support their students beyond primary school but found that they did not have the resources to do so. AAH has a solid base of donors and supporters in the United States, but the increasing number of students eligible for secondary school would require them to raise funds quickly and look outside their existing network.


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Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_Quote 1In order to grow their programs AAH’s Executive Director Maureen Dugan knew they needed to increase their visibility and find a broader donor base. Maureen searched for a crowdfunding platform that would help the organization grow their donor network and provide hands on customer support. For Maureen and her team, that platform is GlobalGiving. In 2012, AAH joined GlobalGiving’s September Open Challenge.“I had no prior experience with online fundraising; it was not a part of my skillset when I came to AAH,” explained Maureen. But she soon found that GlobalGiving specialized in working with organizations new to crowdfunding. “What’s great is that GlobalGiving works with organizations at all different levels.The GG staff is very approachable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and call in,” Maureen stated.

Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_Photo 4By explaining the potential of a partnership with GlobalGiving to their supporters,  the AAH team was able to get them behind their Open Challenge campaign, and they raised almost $7,000 during the Open Challenge. Due to more donors and increased funding, 100% of AAH primary school graduates have gone on to secondary schools since 2012! Rachel, who began as an AAH primary school student, is now entering her third year at university. She credits AAH for her success as a student: “Before AAH, I just assumed that after 7th grade, I would get married. That is what all my older sisters did. That was all I knew. Now, I am in university and will have a career helping others.”


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Maureen and the AAHCase Study_AAH_Blog_3_Quote 2 team are now crowdfunding experts! Due to their hard work and open communication with the GlobalGiving staff the AAH team quickly became a Superstar organization that actively participates in GlobalGiving’s programs. “GlobalGiving is making us a more effective organization because of what the team asks us to do and by the tools and information they share. GlobalGiving also increases the visibility of our organization, even though we are small”, Maureen said. Maureen has made learning from GlobalGiving’s tools and programs like the Online Fundraising Academy an investment  and priority. Maureen shared her experience with the Online Fundraising Academy, “GG has brought many new donors to us and enabled many youths to go to school as a result. I would say that the Fundraising Academy was an absolute lifesaver for us.”

Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_NumbersAs of July 2015, the team has raised more than $300,000 on the GlobalGiving platform, including $15,681 in GlobalGiving’s July Partner Rewards Bonus Day.  AAH’s crowdfunding success has allowed them to provide each of their students with a secondary education and the greater Bumwalukani community of schools with additional resources ensuring that students like Rachel will continue their education.



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All photo credit to AAH

Written in collaboration by Karis Ailabouni, Jenn Bell, and Emma Park, and Katherine  Sammons

Designed by Emma Park 

Feedback Series, Part Two: How should I ask for feedback?

Feedback Series, Part Two: How should I ask for feedback?

In the first part of the Feedback Series, we discussed the importance of feedback, but how should your organization gather this feedback? One inexpensive solution is to create and distribute a survey! At GlobalGiving, we regularly use surveys to determine what Project Leaders like you would like to see in the future, what is working currently, and what needs immediate attention. We even use surveys internally to evaluate how our staff feels about our environment and effectiveness. In this post, we will discuss five lessons that GlobalGiving has learned about collecting feedback from surveys and share some specific improvements that we are making to GlobalGiving as a result of your feedback!

  1. Know Your Respondents to Determine the Best Delivery Method

Surveys can be created and distributed in a variety of ways. As an online crowdfunding community, we find that emailed surveys are the best method for us, as they are the most ubiquitous. But if you would like to evaluate your program’s effectiveness in a remote part of the world, an in-person survey, taken by your staff, may be the best method for your project. It is important to consider who you are not reaching through your chosen method and how this translates to how far you can extend your data. Both online and in-person surveys have advantages and disadvantages, so be sure that the potential response rates, biases, and costs align with the goal of your study.

Our Annual Project Leader survey was sent out via email in April 2015 and had a 21% response rate, which is higher than previous years but still not quite as high as we would like. We will be continuing to test delivery methods and other variables to increase the response rate.

For tips on how to create and administer the best survey for your organization, check out this Penn State presentation.

  1. Experiment with Different Question Types

Surveys often require a mix of question types to get the most actionable results. GlobalGiving is experimenting with using a variety of survey question types, to see which combinations both resonate most strongly with Project Leaders, as well as give us the most useful, concrete, actionable data. We are learning how to craft questions that make sense to respondents, and that help us most accurately align Project Leader priorities with our own mission.

  1. Ask Action-Oriented Questions to Create Priorities

We asked some very specific, action oriented multiple-choice questions. For example, we asked survey participants to indicate which of the following improvements to our website was of highest priority to their organization:

  • Add photos to thank you notes
  • Customize recurring donation options
  • Embed video in project reports
  • Customize project report templates
  • Invite my donors to opt-in to receive my organization’s newsletters

The results showed that 35.4% of respondents wanted an opt in option for newsletters— wow! With a whopping one-third of our partners requesting this feature, newsletter opt-ins has become a top priority.

In addition, 20% of respondents wanted photos added to thank you notes, and 17% wanted to customize recurring donation options. We receive regular requests for changes to the website and we struggle to determine how to best allocate our limited resources to meet the demands of our partners. This question helped us prioritize our technology requests, so that we can make the most desired changes within the next year.

  1. Use Data Analysis to Inform Long-Term Strategy

In our most recent survey to Project Leaders, we asked the following question:

“On a scale of 0 (disagree completely) to 10 (agree completely), how strongly do you agree with the following statement?

GlobalGiving makes my organization more effective overall.”

Project Leaders who took this survey gave, overall, a fairly low score to this question, which tells us that the majority of PLs strongly disagreed with the premise that GlobalGiving currently makes them a more effective organization overall.

However, we also asked the following question:

Which of the following long-term improvements to GlobalGiving’s services is the highest priority for your organization?

  • Website in my language
  • Transactions in my currency
  • More sophisticated tools to become a more effective organization
  • GlobalGiving office near me
  • Alternative payment methods (e.g. mobile payment
  • Other

The most frequently selected answer here was “More sophisticated tools to become a more effective organization.” This tells us that while Project Leaders do not currently think that GlobalGiving makes them more effective overall, they still place a high priority on GlobalGiving supplying effectiveness tools and training. We now know that we should allocate resources towards offering more effectiveness tools, and that we should continue to poll Project Leaders using that NPS question to ensure that we are improving. By pairing these two questions, GlobalGiving is able to use data to make decisions about resources, programming, and tool development that are aligned with PL priorities and perceptions of GlobalGiving services.

  1. Open Ended Questions Reveal New Needs and Ideas

The inclusion of open-ended questions within your survey can spark new ideas and thoughts that may not have been revealed otherwise. For instance, in our annual Project Leader Survey, we asked the question: “Is there anything else you would like us to know about your experience with GlobalGiving?”. By asking this question, we were able to learn just how important it was to our partners to have more donor data, such as donor’s gender or geographical location. As a result, we are now looking into what information GlobalGiving can and should provide in the future.

Tips and Tricks to Implementing Strong Surveys

  1. Administering surveys periodically over the length of a program provides valuable data on longitudinal trends; you can see over time how changes in your programming are being received by the community.
  2. Make sure that you communicate what changes you are making and how you are incorporating feedback, so that your respondents feel heard and continue to be actively engaged.
  3. Answer feedback as quickly as possible. The longer that you push off addressing the feedback, the less relevant the feedback will be to your operations.

While surveys offer a great option for your organization to collect and review feedback, it may not always be the best fit for you. Stayed tuned in the Feedback series for details on other methods of feedback and our experiences with these tools.

Apply to the 2015 Feedback Fund!

Don’t forget that you still have time to apply for the Feedback Fund! GlobalGiving is offering technical support and up to $2,000 in funding to organizations working to improve their feedback practice (this could include using surveys!). Learn more by watching this webinar or reading our blog post on the fund. Complete this application form and the Feedback Labs quiz by August 7th to apply. Please email with any questions!

This post was written in collaboration with Tia Donjon, Program Team Fellow.

September 16, 2015 Bonus Day

September 16, 2015 Bonus Day

The final Bonus Day of 2015 is here!

So far, GlobalGiving has hosted a 30%  Bonus Day in March, a Pro-Rated Bonus Day in May where every online donation got matched at 25.9%, and a Partner Rewards Bonus Day in July which was our largest GlobalGiving Bonus Day ever!!

Wrapping up an exciting year of matching campaign, we will be hosting our final Bonus Day on September 16th.

Starting at 9am EDT on September 16th,  GlobalGiving will be matching online donations at 30% until the $70,000 in matching runs out or until 23:59:59 p.m. EDT.

Of course we need to spice it up a little! Not only will there be $70,000 in matching, but GlobalGiving has tripled the amount of Bonus Award money available. Our typical $2,000 in bonuses awards has ballooned up to $6,000!

Here is the prize structure:

  • $1,500 for the project with the most funds raised
  • $1,000 for the project with the second most funds raised
  • $500 for the project with the third most funds raised
  • $1,500 for the project with the most unique donors
  • $1,000 for the project with the second most unique donors
  • $500 for the project with the third most unique donors

To maximize the number of organizations benefiting, an organization can only win ONE of the six prizes, even if it has multiple projects near the top of the Leaderboard.

Also in response to feedback we have gotten from our nonprofit partners, GlobalGiving is changing our donation cap for each donor. The new maximum to be matched is $1,000 per unique donor per organization. This means that your donors can only give $1,000 total that will be matched on Bonus Day, no matter how many projects you have available. If a donor gives $1,000 to multiple of your projects, only the first $1,000 will be matched.

As usual, GlobalGiving will be hosting a webinar to help you prepare for the Bonus Day and to learn more about the new terms and conditions.

Join us on August 26th at either 9am EDT or 3pm EDT.

Terms and Conditions:

  • Bonus Day begins at 09:00:00 a.m. EDT on September 16, 2015 and ends at 23:59:59 EDT on September 16, 2015.
  • There is $70,000 in matching funds available. Once funds run out, donations will no longer be matched.
  • Online donations are eligible to be matched at 30%,  up to a total of $1,000 per individual donor per organization across all projects and microprojects. So for example a donation of $1,500 will receive a $300 match.
  • Bonus Prizes:
    • All bonus prizes will be determined at 23:59:59 p.m. EDT on September 16, 2015 pending GlobalGiving approval.
    • The project/microproject that raises the most donations on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,500 from GlobalGiving.
    • The project/microproject that raises the second most donations on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving.
    • The project/microproject that raises the third most donations on Bonus Day will receive an additional $500 from GlobalGiving
    • The project/microproject that has the most unique donors on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,500 from GlobalGiving.
    • The project/microproject that has the second most unique donors on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving.
    • The project/microproject that has the third most unique donors on Bonus Day will receive an additional $500 from GlobalGiving.
    • An organization can only win ONE bonus prize. In the event that an organization could win more than one, the highest value prize will be allocated to the organization.
      • If the organization would win the same value Bonus for unique donors and most funds raised, the organization will win the prize for most funds raised and not win a prize for most donors.
      • An organization cannot win multiple prizes on multiple projects. Therefore, if one of the organization’s projects has the most funds and another of their projects has the second most funds, the organization will only be awarded one prize of $1,500.
      • If projects/microprojects tie for any of the most donations raised prizes than the project that has more unique donors will receive the bonus prize.
      • If projects/microprojects tie for any of the most unique donors prizes than the project that has more donations raised will receive the bonus prize.
  • Projects must be approved and live on the website by September 14, 2015 to be eligible.
  • Only donations made by unique donors per project will be matched. Unique donors are determined using numerous criteria, including name, email address, credit card number, mailing address, and IP address. We are monitoring these and other parameters in our system to ensure that only unique, distinct donors are counted.
  • Only online donations made by credit card, PayPal, or a GlobalGiving official gift card are eligible for matching. Donations made by check or text-to-give are not eligible.
  • Donations made on or any GlobalGiving corporate sites including Benevity are not eligible for matching.
  • GlobalGiving funds, such as the Ebola Fund and Girl Effect are not eligible for matching.
  • We encourage you to get donations in early, because matching funds will likely run out before the end of the day.
  • Please note that GlobalGiving will monitor and review all donations made through this matching offer.
  • Online donations made using PayPal or credit card must be made by the PayPal account or credit card holder.
  • GlobalGiving maintains the right to make a final decision on all matters concerning the allocation of matching funds.
  • Please note that all donations are final. GlobalGiving cannot change the time, date, or status of a donation after it is processed for any reason.
  • GlobalGiving is a registered nonprofit in the United States. Donations made on can only be claimed as a tax deductible contributions on United States tax returns.
  • Fulfillment fee for donations: GlobalGiving charges a 15% fulfillment fee on donations but works to keep the fees you pay as low as possible while providing you great services and resources. During the September 16th, 2015 Bonus Day the fulfillment fee only applies to the initial donation. The fulfillment fee does not apply to the match. The fee covers all transactional charges such as credit card fees, as well as helps cover the costs we incur to promote organizations and projects, provide them with fundraising training and tools, and maintain and improve our online technology in order to keep you connecting with new donors. With our add-on option, we also offer the donor the opportunity to make an additional donation to cover the fee.

Please feel free to contact us at if you have any questions.

Introducing GG Rewards!


Notice something different about GlobalGiving? This is a week of big changes! We’ve launched a new look and feel on that will make it easier and faster for donors to find and give to your organization. The improvements made to will allow the site to load much more quickly and will look great on tablets and phones. The new homepage, header and footer are just the beginning of the visual changes you’ll see over the next several months. Stay tuned for more, and please let us know what you think along the way!

Even more exciting for our nonprofit community is the launch of our new GG Rewards Program. GG Rewards is the product of a culmination of feedback we’ve collected from our nonprofit community—folks like you—over the past three years about how you’d like GlobalGiving to better work with and reward your organization.

You told us you wanted:

  • A Rewards system based on more than just your ability to fundraise on GlobalGiving
  • A more flexible way to move from Partner to Leader and Leader to Superstar
  • Better visualizations and an easier way to understand your fundraising and progress
  • GlobalGiving help as you raise more funds for your work, and help to have a greater impact with those funds.

Our Partner Rewards program, launched in 2011, ranked organizations as Partner, Leader, and Superstar. The higher an organization rises through these rankings, the more visibility it receives from donors through corporate recommendations and social media attention. In 2014, we experimented with the Effectiveness Dashboard as a first step in being able to track and reward your organization for not just fundraising on GlobalGiving, but also your efforts to learn and improve. You’ve given us invaluable feedback over the last year on this initial experiment with tracking effectiveness, and that feedback has been used to shape our new program which launched today, called GG Rewards.

This week, we’re proud to announce GG Rewards—a combination of Partner Rewards and the Effectiveness Dashboard—that provides a more streamlined, helpful, and easy way for you to track your organization’s performance and to continue to grow both your fundraising and your organizational effectiveness.


If you liked the old Partner Rewards system and you’re not interested in exploring any of the effectiveness tools we provide, that’s not a problem. You can choose to focus on fundraising and earn points exclusively for fundraising-related activities on GlobalGiving. But, if you’re like many of the organizations that we’ve heard from in the past three years and you want GlobalGiving to provide more flexibility in how you can grow from Partner to Leader to Superstar, the new GG Rewards program provides just that flexibility.

Instead of having to fulfill every requirement in a rigid way, your organization can now earn points in any category it finds the most helpful in order to achieve Superstar status. Earning 18 points from either Effectiveness and/or Engagement activities bumps your organization up to the Leader level. Once your organization earns 36 points in any combination of those two categories, you’ve reached Superstar Status! (Want to know how we came up with these point levels? Check out this blog for all the details details.)


Engagement and Effectiveness
Since 2011, GlobalGiving has been rewarding organizations for engagement with the GlobalGiving platform – fundraising, reporting, and attracting new donors, among other activities. Those activities are still being tracked under the “Engagement” section of GG Rewards, but now we’ve added a way for you to get credit for your organization’s commitment to learning and improving as well.

Here at GlobalGiving we believe that in order for a nonprofit (including GlobalGiving itself!) to improve, it needs to listen to the people it serves, act on what it hears by testing new ideas, and learn faster and more efficiently. We call this the Cycle of Progress: Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. CycleOfProgressThe “Effectiveness” section allows your organization to earn points by demonstrating a commitment to learning and improving the work you do on the ground. You can receive points for using different tools available online and completing the Listen, Act, and Learn components for each tool. If you listen, act, or learn from your community outside of GlobalGiving, you can add a tool using the “Create-Your-Own cycle” to receive credit.


We’ve provided a few options to get you started on your learning journey – options like the Feedback Labs Toolkit to help you listen to feedback from your community and the DIY Toolkit to help spur innovation in your programming.

We recognize you may already be using some amazing tools that help your organization learn. You can easily register those in the Create-Your-Own cycle to get points toward your Superstar status. No one knows your organization better than you do, so we want to empower you to identify the priority areas for your organization, and we want to reward you for doing the things that help you improve the most – whether your priority area is fundraising, listening to your community, strengthening your monitoring and evaluation activities, or anything else that you’ve identified as an area for growth. Don’t know where to start? Our staff is happy to set up a one-on-one consultation to help identify what tools could be the most useful to help your unique organization improve.

Learn more and give us feedback
You can now take a look at your organization’s GG Rewards Status by logging in to GlobalGiving. We are also sending out personalized emails to every organization about their GG Rewards Status, how it may change, and what benefits you can expect, so check your inbox!

Still have questions? Start by checking out the GG Rewards FAQ page. We also put together a video tutorial to help you learn how to navigate your new GG Rewards dashboard. As always, we’d love for you to contact a member of our Program Team at for general questions, and also take advantage of our one-on-one consultations by signing up here for a more in-depth conversation about your GG Rewards status. We will also be holding a webinar on Wednesday, August 5 at 9am EDT (sign up here) and 3pm EDT (sign up here).

We can only improve if you tell us what you want! Your feedback is vital to us at all stages of this process, so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts. They’ll help us improve! Let us know what you think here. We’ll to continue to listen, act, learn, and repeat with this new tool so we can continue to get closer to driving more dollars to more effective organizations every day.

Social Impact Academy: How to Tell Your Impact Story

Social Impact Academy: How to Tell Your Impact Story

Alison Carlman, Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at GlobalGiving, joined us for the eighth session of the Social Impact Academy to talk about the power of social impact stories.  The stories you tell don’t only describe the impact you are having (helping you galvanize support), but meaningful narratives can also create impact themselves. See below for a summary of her session about the communicator’s “triple bottom line.”

Session Recording:

Session Summary:

What needs to change in the way we’re telling stories?

Nonprofit communicators often use visuals and stories that are sad or upsetting–those that elicit pity– because they seem to generate more money. Pity-based appeals may help nonprofits raise money in the short-term, but recent research demonstrates that the technique is not sustainable. Constant exposure to depressing images decrease donors’ sense of hope and leads to what some call “compassion fatigue.” Stories that separate “us” (donors) from “them” (people portrayed in their suffering) also perpetuate stereotypes about the people we intend to help.

In the private sector, there’s much talk about the triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit. Instead of just focusing on profit, businesses need to consider their impact on the people affected by their work, and their impact on the environment. Alison suggests that nonprofit communicators should also consider a triple bottom line when communicating about impact: Cause, Community, Cash.

  • Cause: the people at the heart of our mission; those we intend to help
  • Community: the nonprofit ecosystem (donors, peers, and long-term public opinion about our cause)
  • Cash: our fundraising goals

So how do we tell stories that promote the triple bottom line? We Listen, Act, Learn, Repeat, to find out what works to promote our cause, our community, and to drive cash (or funding).


Listen to researchers, peers and stakeholders. Have: “No data without stories and no stories without data” (Jennifer Lentfer). Stories provide context for your data and evoke emotion; this is key to driving both connection and action.

How do we tell a good story that “works” for fundraising?

Research: The Stories Worth Telling Report (Julie Dixon) This guide explains how to tell a good story with a focus on five main points.

  1. An Effective Character: Have a single, compelling character that is relatable through memories and shared experiences.
  2. Trajectory: There should be some action told as an experience, a journey, a transformation, or a discovery.
  3. Authenticity: Show a character’s transformation rather than tell about it. Do this by incorporating details and by using the character’s own voice.
  4. Action-oriented Emotions: Convey emotions to motivate donors to act.
  5. A Hook: Capture the audience’s attention immediately to keep them engaged.

How does considering voice “work” to promote our cause?

Research: The Development Element (Jennifer Lentfer) This reference shares insights for creating impactful stories with the correct use of voice.

  1. Show people’s sense of agency: Use stories to root out stereotypes, generalizations, and victimization of those you work with.
  2. Bridge the “us vs. them” divide: Don’t focus on the “otherness” of those in need by portraying how sad their situation is. Create an opportunity for people to connect on a human level without emphasis on pity, guilt, or shame.
  3. Convey the complexity of social change: Invite people to think deeper about the root cause of problems. Emphasis on giving donations as a solution to complex problems gives a false representation of the challenges your communities face.
  4. Portray people with dignity and respect: Those we help should not be portrayed as helpless.
  5. Let people speak for themselves: Do not only hear about the people in need, hear from them.

How do we understand our audience, and what works to build long-term community around our goals?

Research: The Narrative Project (Gates Foundation) This was an effort by major nonprofits to identify narratives that mobilize people to support global development. This study explores the long-term effects of nonprofit communications. It’s an alternative to pity-based appeals. This study was developed by conducting an exhaustive study of nonprofit communications,  conducting focus groups, and online interviews in the US, UK, France and Germany to determine what story lines actually motivate people to become supporters of global development. Main findings:

  • Core Themes in a narrative should be:
    • Independence. The most compelling stories explore how you help people become more self-sufficient and independent.
    • Shared values. Find ways to relate the human experience across cultures by describing shared hopes and values. This creates empathy and understanding.
    • Partnership. Show that the people you help are contributing to your work in a significant way. It is not an us to them operation but a partnership.
  • Supporting theme: Progress. Problems should be presented as solvable tasks.


Test new ideas by gathering data. Use the qualitative and quantitative tools provided in past Academy sessions to make action plans.

How do we test our communications?

  • Use quantitative data to find out what ‘works’ for fundraising.
    • Perform experiments such as A/B Testing to find out what works.
      • Examples: Through experimentation, GlobalGiving has found these methods “work” to drive fundraising.
        • Use photos of one person (or animal) making eye contact, looking hopeful.
        • Use a clear call-to-action, tell supporters to do what you want them to do.
        • Personalize whatever possible, i.e. add the recipient’s name in the opening line.
        • Use a staff person’s name in the send field, recipients tend to open more mail from people rather than organizations.
  • Use qualitative data to find out what ‘works’ for promoting your cause and building community.
    • Get feedback from stakeholders:
      • When you write a story, follow up with a few supporters to see how it made them feel. Ask for adjectives they would use to describe your report. Look for words such as “hopeful, ““inspiring,” or “proud.”
      • Involve the person your story is about. Ask how they feel about how you have portrayed them. Use their own words.


After analyzing data, draw some conclusions about what works for promoting progress to EACH of the three bottom lines:

  • Learn from your experiments to find out what works; don’t just stick to what raises more money.
  • Consider your long-term goals
  • Be willing to change and grow based on what you learn
  • Don’t be afraid to fail!


Growth isn’t a linear path, it is cyclical. Be willing to try things multiple times as you continue to listen, act, and learn.