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.
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Honorable Mention: Zahana – “In participatory development requests from the community have priority, or it would not be participatory.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Honorable Mention: ColaLife – “Unless you are equally proud of your failures as your successes, no one will learn.”
- 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.”
- Honorable Mention: Expanding Opportunities – “State and restate what you can and cannot do clearly and often.”
- 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.