Feedback Loops come in all sizes

Feedback Loops come in all sizes

Over the years GlobalGiving has become increasingly focused on helping organizations around the world better listen to the people we serve. We launched the Storytelling project in 2010 as one way to give communities a voice and get organizations to listen. We collected over 60,000 stories from East Africa and provided analysis tools to extract insights from what people talk about.

Now, GlobalGiving’s Feedback Fund is taking a different approach. We’re supporting 19 of our nonprofit partners as they build feedback loops with the people they serve. We held a webinar to introduce the Feedback Quiz (a self-diagnostic tool) and the Feedback Labs Toolkit – where hundreds of tools have been reviewed.

We thought, if each organization could create a customized feedback system, we might glean insights and lessons from these experiments that would benefit all GlobalGiving nonprofit partners.

This is the first in what will be a series of blog posts about what we’re learning. Here are some of our initial insights about how technology-aided feedback loops work for NGOs in practice:

Let’s Get Ready to (Online) Fundraise!

Let’s Get Ready to (Online) Fundraise!

Who raised over $5.7 million in December 2014? If you guessed GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners, then you’re right!

Each December, GlobalGiving runs its annual Year-End Campaign to support current nonprofit partners to raise money during the biggest giving season of the year. With October upon us, that means it’s time to start thinking about how to maximize your fundraising efforts and end your year with a financial bang.

According to Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report, nonprofits raise more in December than any other month of the year – almost 18% of all annual online giving!

GlobalGiving’s Year-End Campaign is Here!

GlobalGiving’s Year-End Campaign is Here!

It’s that time of year again – holiday fundraising and GlobalGiving’s Year-End Campaign!  The campaign begins at 00:00:01 EST on December 1st and runs through 23:59:59 pm EST on December 31st.

To sweeten this holiday season, GlobalGiving is putting up $10,000 in Bonus Grants to incentivize even more giving during December.

Check out these awesome bonus awards for the projects with the most money raised:

  • First place: $3,000
  • Second place: $2,000
  • Third place: $1,000
  • Fourth place: $1,000
  • Fifth place: $1,000
  • Sixth place: $500
  • Seventh place: $500
  • Eighth place: $500
  • Ninth place: $500

That’s a lot of chances to win.

Projects must raise at least $3,000 from 30 donors in order to qualify for a bonus award. Bonus awards will be given to organizations that have met the designated thresholds and raised the most funds respectively.

An organization can only win one of the Bonus Prizes. Therefore, organizations are only able to enter one project into the campaign this year.

The Year-End Campaign is designed to help you motivate your supporters to give throughout the month of December. When your donors are considering which organizations to support during the final weeks of the year, these bonus awards are a great incentive for your supporters to give to your project. They know that their donation will go a little further. And, the $3,000 and 30 donor thresholds encourage donors to give more and spread the word. Sign up here to join the campaign!

Terms and Conditions:

  • The Year-End Campaign will begin at 00:00:01 EST (midnight) on December 1, 2015 and last through 23:59:59 EST on December 31, 2015.
  • Projects will NOT be automatically enrolled in this campaign. Organizations must complete this simple online form by Friday, November 20 at 23:59:59 EST to participate in the Year-End Campaign.
  • Organizations can only have one project in the Year-End Campaign.
  • Donations made through cause-marketing campaigns and other corporate promotions are not eligible for the Year-End Campaign and will not be reflected on the leaderboard.
  • Projects participating in select corporate campaigns, such as the Safer World Fund, will be excluded from the Year-End Campaign. You will be notified via email before the campaign if your project is not eligible for the Year-End Campaign.
  • Projects must be approved and live on the website by Thursday, November 19th to participate.
  • Check donations must be received by December 23rd to qualify.
  • Gift card and text-to-give donations are not eligible for this campaign.
  • A project must raise at least $3,000 from at least 30 unique donors to qualify for a bonus award.
  • Should projects tie for the bonus awards, then the project that has the most unique donors will receive the bonus prize.
  • Only new recurring donations, initiated during the month of December, will count towards the $3,000 and 30 donor thresholds and the bonus prizes. All existing recurring donations, initiated before December 1, 2015 will not count.
  • 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 towards the thresholds.
  • Online donations made using PayPal or credit card must be made by the PayPal account or credit card holder.
  • All donations are final. GlobalGiving cannot change the time, date, or status of a donation after it is processed for any reason.
  • GlobalGiving will monitor and review all donations made through this campaign. GlobalGiving maintains the right to make a final decision on all matters concerning the allocation of bonus awards.
  • Donations made on or any GlobalGiving corporate sites (including Nike, Eli Lilly, Yourcause, etc) are NOT eligible for this campaign.
  • 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. The fee covers all transactional charges such as credit card fees and 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.
Feedback Series, Part Five: The Creation of a Town Hall

Feedback Series, Part Five: The Creation of a Town Hall

In the past few weeks, we have visited the idea of what feedback is and how you may consider garnering feedback within your organization. We have also taken a look at how GlobalGiving gathers and addresses feedback. We will continue in our series by extending this discussion with a look back at our first Town Hall held in January 2015. Our Town Hall invited all Project Leaders from our site to provide unsolicited feedback, while offering an opportunity to learn about what was in store for GlobalGiving in the coming year.

But first, a little background on why we did a Town Hall

Transparency into decision-making processes and a return of data back to survey respondents has long been associated with better programmatic outcomes. Feedback from beneficiary groups, when collected, analyzed, and incorporated well, can make a huge difference in an organization’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of the community.

But a couple of key questions arise from this assertion: what data, or information, is useful in achieving better outcomes? What count as “feedback”? And who uses it?

The discussion of what counts as feedback is one we’re having with Feedback Labs, and we hope to come out with some more clarity on our position soon. One study informing that discussion comes from the World Bank, led Damien de Walque, called Information is Power. You can read more about the study here. The crux of their argument is that while local citizen are in fact the best monitors of a project, as they are the closest and most affected, their engagement, and consequently the program’s impact, can be improved by providing those citizens with performance information. In the case of the Information is Power study referenced above, citizens were given information regarding the performance of their local health clinic, and then asked for feedback on how the clinic could improve. Budget information, including information on constraints; stats on doctor and staff attendance; and information regarding health outcomes were all given to patients before they were engaged in a structured feedback session. The result? Citizens not only created new evaluations (scorecards) for the clinic based on deficits they learned about via the information provided, but they also added measurements and came up to solutions to problems that they themselves could implement. This is called beneficiary control: “informed users are more likely to identify and challenge (mis)behavior by providers and as a result turn their focus to issues that they can manage locally”1. Over the course of a year, patients at the clinic saw significant improvements in health outcomes, as well as satisfaction with the clinic (as compared with a control group who did not receive the same kind of performance information, and were asked only for feedback.)

So, performance information coupled with beneficiary feedback can empower an affected group to more effectively monitor a service, and can position that group be an active part of improving the impact. Here at GlobalGiving, we decided to take these lessons and see how they might apply to our context.

Town Halls Allow Project Leaders to Lead the Conversation

Much like our Leadership Council Proposals, which we discussed in our last post, the Town Hall stemmed from a request for Project Leaders to be able to express ideas and concerns without GlobalGiving providing the firm topics of discussion. GlobalGiving UK had previously held a Town Hall on an annual basis, and the team in DC decided this could be a good platform for us to let Project Leaders steer the conversation. So, we invited our partners to join us in person in our Washington, DC office or remotely via webinar for a panel discussion hosted by GlobalGiving staff, including members of our leadership team. Registrants were asked to submit one question or piece of feedback prior to the Town Hall, so that we could ensure the proper staff members were present to address these questions and concerns.

GlobalGiving Town Hall Provides Unexpected Feedback

We kicked off the Town Hall with a 15-minute update on the upcoming year, in an effort to be transparent about our plans for 2015 and to set  expectations for the coming months. In fact, our Town Hall was the first place that we formally announced our plans for the recently-launched GG Rewards.

Following the 2015 update, we opened the floor to those online and in person to ask any questions that they may have had about GlobalGiving, so that we could further inform our decisions over the course of 2015. Members of our Program, Tech, Marketing & Communications, and Operations Teams were on hand, including several representatives from our Executive Team, to field these questions and comments for about one hour and forty-five minutes.

While our team fielded more questions than pieces of feedback, the sort of questions asked gave our staff feedback about our activities in and of themselves. For instance, one Project Leader asked how GlobalGiving can better support smaller organizations. Our Program Team often hears this question but rarely does the rest of the staff. One Executive Team member was surprised by the question. She felt that GlobalGiving’s mission heavily emphasizes the need to support small organizations with big ideas. Questions such as this allowed for our Senior staff members to better connect to Project Leaders and hear, firsthand, feedback about what GlobalGiving may be lacking and what perceptions may exist. Our staff left the Town Hall more informed on the most pressing issues in the minds of our Project Leaders.

Town Hall Shapes Future Feedback Decisions

While a great deal of what we learned from the Town Hall centered on fully informing all of our staff, we also learned again about the priorities of Project Leaders. In our previous posts, we discussed how strongly Project Leaders felt about adding the option for donors to opt-in to nonprofit newsletter communications at checkout. This idea actually originated from the Town Hall! Following this suggestion which emerged from the Town Hall discussion, we added this to our Project Leader Survey. We never would have known to include this option on the Project Leader Survey, if we had not held the Town Hall. When the same feedback continuously emerges, it helps our staff identify priorities for future decision-making and tech team time allocations.

Feedback About Getting Feedback is Equally Important

We learned a great deal about our Project Leaders’ thoughts and questions during the Town Hall, but some of our strongest pieces of feedback came in after the Town Hall. When we sent a follow-up form to Project Leaders, we learned about just how many technical problems participants encountered during this webinar.  Many remote participants really wanted to see off-camera speakers. Additionally, many remote participants expressed frustration with sharing their questions and comments via the webinar chat box, which was monitored by one staff member.  Consequently, we will be making some substantial  improvements to the webinar experience in future Town Hall events.  

GlobalGiving Town Hall 2016

GlobalGiving’s 2015 Town Hall may not have always been exactly what we expected, but we still highly value the information and questions that stemmed from this discussion. As a result, we have decided to make this an annual event. Stay tuned for more information on the GlobalGiving 2016 Town Hall.

If you are interested in watching our 2015 webinar, you can do so here: We welcome any further comments or questions on it at


Thank you and farewell for now!

Thank you and farewell for now!

I am sad to share that after seven incredible years with GlobalGiving, I am leaving this Friday, September 11th to pursue my Master’s of Business Administration at the University of Cape Town. In the time that I have been at GlobalGiving, I have been in absolute awe of you, our nonprofit partners. You have inspired and challenged me and you have taught me lessons that I will never forget. Please let me take this opportunity to say thank you.

You inspired me.

When I first joined GlobalGiving as an intern in 2008, I was a firm believer in local solutions to local problems but, to be honest, I was skeptical about what small, community-based organizations could really accomplish. That year, GlobalGiving launched our first-ever Open Challenge, in which organizations were challenged to raise $3,000 from 75 individual donors to gain long-term access to the website. As I wrote in this 2012 blog post, I thought there was no way that grassroots organizations in developing countries could really mobilize that many donors or raise that much money. But you proved me wrong. That first Open Challenge was a huge success. Twenty organizations from places like Nepal, Madagascar, Philippines, and Sierra Leone secured a spot on GlobalGiving. To date, hundreds of organizations like yours have raised millions of dollars through Open Challenges on GlobalGiving.

Since then, you have continued to blow my expectations out of the water and inspire me with your commitment and drive to make change happen in this world. I have had the privilege to visit many of your projects in more than a dozen countries; and in that time, I have encountered leaders who have brought together their entire communities to find solutions to local challenges. I have met project leaders who are maintaining several part-time jobs to fund their nonprofit’s missions. I have personally spoken with hundreds of people around the globe whose lives have been changed because of you: young women who have found their voice and that are going to college because of you, families that have access to high-quality healthcare because of you, school children who drink clean water because of you, and so many more. And in my time here at GlobalGiving, you have become my role models. You are the people I want to be someday. Thank you for your inspiration!

You challenged me.

When I started full-time in the summer of 2010, I was given the task of working with Britt Lake, our Sr. Director of Programs, to improve the services that we offer our current partners. So, in addition to creating resources like the Project Leader Manual and our annual Campaign Calendar, we set out to collect your feedback about ways that we could make GlobalGiving better for you. And since then, you have challenged me and the GlobalGiving team to be better, to get creative and think outside the box so that we could help you raise much needed funds and become a more effective organization to support the communities you serve.

You told us that it wasn’t enough to be able to see your donations, you wanted a way to learn from your activity on the GlobalGiving website and to be able to interact with your donors. You made it clear that you wanted training and support but our monthly webinars weren’t cutting it, so you challenged us to create our two-month Academies on online fundraising and social impact. And you said money wasn’t enough, so  you challenged us to find ways to help your organization become more effective.

You taught me.

That August when I started my new full-time job at GlobalGiving, I knew that I would be running webinars, writing blog posts, and hosting one-on-one fundraising consultations, and I thought I had to know it all so that I could teach you. But, just like so many times before, you proved me wrong again. It quickly became apparent that you know this stuff so much better than I do. I learned that we, at GlobalGiving, are really just here to facilitate a conversation between our brilliant partners. So, when I set out to create GlobalGiving’s first-ever Online Fundraising Academy in 2012, I turned to you, our nonprofit partners for help. You led sessions on campaign fundraising and donor retention. You taught one another (and me) how to identify and support donor captains and how to develop an effective Facebook strategy. And this year, when it was time to create our new Social Impact Academy, I returned to you for important information on how to define, measure, and talk about your social impact.

In addition to the ins and outs of online fundraising and how to articulate and measure an organization’s impact, you’ve also taught me about the importance of building personal, human relationships. You’ve shown me the value of listening to and engaging your constituents in a conversation. And you’ve given me a glimpse of what it takes to run a successful organization.

In fact, I would say that whether or not you knew it, you were investing in me all along. But don’t worry. Just because I’m leaving, doesn’t mean that your investment is going to waste. I feel confident that with even more knowledge and skills in my toolbox, I’ll be a more valuable resource for the nonprofit sector.

EmmaAnd, the good news is that you will have the opportunity to work with our incredible new Sr. Program Manager, Emma Hersh, who comes to us with years of experience providing training and support to help organizations become more effective. She has a slew of ideas about how to make the services that we provide you, our nonprofit partners, even better and she’s ready to jump right in. Please be sure to welcome her to the GlobalGiving community!

So, with that, I would like to say my final thank you. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with you and I hope that our paths will cross again someday soon. I’ll see you later, Project Leaders!