Feedback Series, Part Three: Leadership Council Case Study

Feedback Series, Part Three: Leadership Council Case Study

In the third part of our Feedback Series, we’re excited to share a behind the scenes peek at GlobalGiving’s Project Leader Leadership Council.

Last week, we introduced our Annual Project Leader Survey as one way that we collect feedback from our nonprofit partners. The survey is a useful tool for checking the pulse of our community and understanding the general needs and priorities of a large portion of our partners.  But, the survey doesn’t allow us to engage respondents in a conversation, to ask clarifying questions, or to dive deeper into specifics. That’s where our Leadership Council comes in!

A Diverse Advisory Committee

The Council is an advisory committee made up of about 20 representatives from GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners, who meet to provide regular feedback and engage in discussions about new features on the site and ideas for future campaigns. Members represent GlobalGiving’s diverse group of partners: from old-timers, who have been on the site for years and seen how GlobalGiving has changed over time to some of GlobalGiving’s newest community members, who can bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to the group. Our Council members also vary widely in their geographic location, access to the internet, experience with online fundraising, and other identifying traits that tend to also make GlobalGiving organizations so unique.

Influencing Important Decisions

The Council meets via conference call at least twice a year to discuss important GlobalGiving decisions, and each member also provides ongoing feedback via email and the Leadership Council Facebook group. Because we believe that project leader voices and opinions should go into the design and implementation of all of our programs, we often present new programs or website features to our Leadership Council for testing and feedback before rolling them out to the entire GlobalGiving community. In addition, we often solicit new ideas or solutions to problems from our Leadership Council members.

For example, in 2014, GlobalGiving’s Bonus Days had skyrocketed in popularity and, consequently, matching funds began running out early in the day, resulting in unmatched donations and dissatisfied donors and Project Leaders. With limited matching funds available, we knew that we needed to begin exploring alternative Bonus Day structures, so we took this challenge to our Leadership Council. Several Council members presented their ideas for new Bonus Day structures to the group, which engaged in a productive conversation about which solution best met the needs of GlobalGiving’s diverse network of  nonprofit partners. From this conversation, several viable options emerged, two of which we have already tested in the past year! Thanks to our Leadership Council, we tested time-released matching funds in Microsoft YouthSpark’s #GivingTuesday Bonus Day in 2014 and a Pro-Rated Bonus Day in May 2015. Keep an eye out for more on our Pro-Rated Bonus Day later in our Feedback Series!

More recently, GlobalGiving invited our Leadership Council to share feedback on our new GG Rewards dashboard before it went live. We asked Council members to do some simple tasks on the new dashboard to test its usability, and we invited participants’ feedback on everything from the rationale and purpose for the new GG Rewards program to the look and feel of the actual webpage. This was one of many conversations that we’ve had over the years with our Leadership Council as GlobalGiving has moved in the direction of rewarding organizations not only for their fundraising activity but also for the ways in which they Listen, Act, and Learn on and off the GlobalGiving platform. This most recent conversation won’t be the last! We will continue to solicit input from the Leadership Council as this program evolves.

Proposing New Ideas

In 2014, after years of running our Annual Project Leader Survey and leading the Leadership Council, we were feeling pretty good about the way that we collect and act on feedback. I, for one, was starting to think we had this feedback thing nailed. And then we got a wakeup call. One of the Leadership Council members reached out individually to discuss her concerns that GlobalGiving was really steering the feedback conversation. We were determining the discussion topics and only reaching out when we needed input. As she pointed out, we weren’t inviting unsolicited feedback or entirely new ideas.

So, this year, we’ve made some changes, and we’re trying to take a step back and invite Leadership Council members to steer the conversation. For the first time, we invited Leadership Council members to submit one-page proposals to GlobalGiving about changes or improvements that GlobalGiving could make to enhance their organization’s experience. Last week, we invited five members to present their proposals. These proposals ranged from improvements to project reports to translating our website into multiple languages and offering donations in several currencies. Representatives from several GlobalGiving teams were present to listen and ask questions. We will be using the proposals and subsequent feedback on the proposals from other members of the Leadership Council, to inform future improvements to the website and our services. Stay tuned for more information about the proposed ideas in 2016!

We’re still learning the best way to solicit, collect, and act on feedback from the Leadership Council. If you would like to be a part of this journey with us, you are invited to apply for GlobalGiving’s 2016 Leadership Council. Applications will be available in early 2016.

Apply for One-on-One Technical Support

Apply for One-on-One Technical Support

GlobalGiving helps organizations access more than just money. Our mission is also to connect you with valuable information and ideas that can help you become a more effective organization and transform your work in the field.  So, this year we are offering three opportunities to apply to receive one-on-one, in-person support from  members of the GlobalGiving team. This is just one of many ways that we are helping our partners access important information.

Today we are excited to announce the details of this year’s third and final professional support opportunity. Apply now for the opportunity to receive technical support from Nick Violi, GlobalGiving’s Senior Software Engineer for Good, and Scott Williams, our Project Manager for Good. The deadline to apply is Friday, September 11.

About the Opportunity

This unique program will support one organization through the process of defining a technical challenge, understanding the tools, techniques, and resources that are available to tackle that challenge, creating a comprehensive outline of actionable steps to achieve your technical goals, and working together to make improvements to a tool or platform. In addition to several hours of remote preparation, Nick and Scott will spend 2-4 days in-person with the organization bringing together organizational stakeholders (staff, board members, etc.) to offer technical training and one-on-one website support.

What is a technical challenge?

A technical challenge is a problem related to your organization’s website, blog, or online presence that requires a multi-step plan and cannot be solved with a one-step solution. The plan involves:  identifying goals, barriers and opportunities, evaluating alternative strategies for addressing the challenge, gathering requirements, identifying resource needs, and implementing the best possible solution.

Here are just a few examples of the types of challenges that your organization may want to address:

  • Technical Training
    • “Our team has the basic skills needed to manage our website but we don’t have the technical know-how necessary to implement an upcoming website improvement project. What skills do we need to update our website?”
    • “Our team is familiar with basic web development but we need help catching up on the latest trends. How do we make our site more mobile friendly? How do we reduce page load times?”
  • Website Development & Improvement
    • “The content on our website hasn’t been updated in years. We have a lot of great new content but we’re not sure how to share it with our supporters and constituents. How should we present this information? Should we restructure our website or start a blog?”
    • “We have the skills and content we need to create a website but we feel overwhelmed by what it takes to get started. What are the first steps in creating a nonprofit website?”
  • Web Analytics Collection & Application
    • “We have a website but we don’t know who is visiting it or what parts of the site are most frequented. As a result, we’re not sure how to best allocate staff time towards improving the site. How can we collect and use analytics to improve our website?”
    • “We love our website but it doesn’t seem to drive much activity. How can we design an experiment to test changes to the site that drive greater activity?”

The purpose of this opportunity is to provide your organization with the framework, knowledge, and technical support that you need to excel! Although Nick and Scott are available to offer training, support, and temporary website development, they are not responsible for the ongoing maintenance of your website. In addition, this exciting opportunity is not directly tied to additional fundraising resources or corporate partnership opportunities; the team will not connect you with funders as a result of this opportunity.

Meet Nick and Scott

nickvNick Violi – Senior Software Engineer for Good

Nick channels his passion for new technology and user-centered design into making the GlobalGiving website easier to use, prettier, and hopefully more fun. Nick holds an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, and a B.S. in Math from Bates College. He spends as much of his spare time as possible being outdoors – biking, rock climbing, hiking – and traveling. Before joining the GlobalGiving team, Nick and his wife climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, stuffed their faces with street food in Hanoi, drove across South Africa, and skied in Patagonia during an around-the-world trip of 21 countries in one year.

scottScott Williams – Project Manager for Good

Scott works with GlobalGiving team members to define and execute brilliant ideas that enhance the donor, nonprofit, and corporate partner experiences on In his former life, Scott was a 6 Sigma green belt at Caterpillar, an implementation manager for an enterprise software solutions company, and the digital media manager for a management ethics nonprofit. He holds an MBA-GM from Thunderbird School of Global Management, a B.S. in International Business and Marketing from Illinois State University, and is actively pursuing his PMP certification. Outside of work, Scott can be found making a mess in the kitchen, on his mat in downward dog, or expertly packing a bag for a weekend getaway.

The Application Process

Only GlobalGiving Partners, Leaders, and Superstars are eligible to apply for this opportunity. Apply online here by Friday, September 11. Finalists will be selected to participate in an interview process in September. One organization will be selected to receive in-person support.

Social Impact Academy: How to Grow Your Impact

Social Impact Academy: How to Grow Your Impact

In the final session of the Social Impact Academy, Segal Family Foundation’s Executive Director, Andy Bryant, shared different approaches that organizations can use to grow their impact—either more broadly to reach a larger population or more deeply by providing additional and improved services. He also offered valuable tips to secure funding for growth from impact-focused funders.

Article: What’s Your Endgame? (Gugelev and Stern)

This article, which was used as the foundation for Andy’s presentation, discusses how to develop scale strategies for small and medium sized organizations. “Endgame,” refers to the specific role that organizations play to confront their communities’ challenges. Unfortunately, the social problems that nonprofits take on are often larger than their organization can entirely address. For that reason, nonprofit leaders should shift their focus from the scale of their organization to the impact that their organization can help achieve. Gugelev and Stern found that nonprofits that define their endgames early tend to make better use of resources during their initial stages of growth. The article outlines six approaches to scale:

  1. Open source your model: This endgame involves refining a new idea or intervention and spreading it for other organizations to draw knowledge.
  2. Replication: A nonprofit with a replication endgame seeks to expand usage of its model by demonstrating the effectiveness of its approach and then finding other organizations that will replicate the model.
  3. Government adoption: In the government adoption endgame, a nonprofit provides a public good/service which can be delivered at a significant scale through funding and implementation by the government.
  4. Commercial adoption: A nonprofit with a commercial adoption endgame aims to alleviate either a market failure or a market inefficiency, such lack of information.
  5. Mission achievement: The mission achievement endgame has a well-defined and achievable goal which helps align short-term activities with long-term strategies.
  6. Sustained service: This model is only used when a nonprofit is needed to address an enduring social problem that the commercial and public sectors do not satisfy.

Pathways to Scale

Andy shared several case studies about Segal Family Foundation grantees that have successfully scaled their work. Some methods are included in the Endgamearticle and others are entirely unique.

Lwala Community Alliance

Direct Service Provision:  Lwala is a healthcare provider that operates in a remote part of western Kenya. Lwala found that it had to take a holistic approach in community involvement to meet its healthcare-oriented mission because there are no other service providers in its communities. In addition to healthcare services, Lwala scaled its program to provide direct services in classrooms and fields.

Spark Microgrants

Community Adoption: Community adoption is a platform for stakeholders to design their own visions of scale. Spark makes small grants to communities to enable project implementation for social good in education, health, and food sustainability. Stakeholders are encouraged to become proactive planners, implementers, and advocates for their development through microgrants.

Last Mile Health

Government Adoption: Last Mile Health is committed to saving lives in rural and remote villages in Africa. During the 2014 ebola outbreak, the Liberian government recognized the proficiency of Last Mile Health’s program. Last Mile Health is now helping overhaul the failing national health system in Liberia. It will implement a nationwide community health worker program by building, refining, and subsequently transferring the system to the government.


Open Source: Educate! provides social entrepreneurship curricula to provide business skills to young people in Uganda. This creates new opportunities for Ugandans to start their own businesses and community development initiatives. By open sourcing their material, Educate!’s national entrepreneurship curriculum is used throughout all of Uganda and its model has been adopted in nearly every secondary school. Other NGOs have also adopted portions of Educates!’s model.

One Acre Fund

Sustained Service: One Acre Fund works with small farmers across Africa and provides microloans, farming inputs, and market access. It has grown from a budget of 4.8 million to over 55 million. This is possible because $35-40 million of its budget come from repayments on loans. This means that One Acre’s model is financially sustainable and able to expand. This has a great value proposition for donors because when they invest in one acre, the repayment on that loan pays for another person’s acre.

What does it take to scale?

  • Vision: You must have a mission, diligence, and passion to achieve it.
  • Desire: You must learn how to best achieve your mission with the help of peers and tools.
  • Commitment to measurement: You and your team should be driven by an internal desire to learn, improve, and demonstrate impact.
  • Clear path: Figure out which pathway to scale works best for you; identify systems and people get on the correct path.
  • Institutional funders: You will probably need funders like Segal Family, and they require reporting, accountability, and measurable results.

Fundraising Tips for gaining institutional funders


  • Be clear in your intentions: Have transparency in your motives. When you engage donors let them know upfront if you are going to make an ask.
  • Have a few KPIs that are well-measured: Having hundreds of performance indicators is confusing and suggests that you are measuring too many things with sub-standard procedures. Provide examples of a few well-measured, well-defined indicators that really show your impact.
  • Have up-to-date financials: Know your most recent numbers, and know them well. Have a hard copy of financials with you and provide projections for the future.
  • Ask your current donors for referrals: Donors value the opinion of other donors more than that of potential grant seekers. Get referrals from your current donors so that you can present them in meetings with future donors.
  • Treat possible donors as human beings: Be empathetic to donors’ needs and objectives. They, too, are human and subject to “off” days.


  • Get frustrated: This is a marathon not a sprint. Donor relationships might take years to build but continue to have patience and keep trying.
  • Chase money: You have a mission and vision, do not deviate from them for money.
  • Lose sight of your vision: You have something incredible to offer, remain wedded to your organization’s vision! Do not bend to whims of your funders.
  • Make excuses: Be patient and diligent while connecting with institutional funders.

Service providers

  • Catchafire: Connects NGOs to pro bono service providers.
  • Vera Solutions: Helps people design Salesforce-backed data systems.
  • Lex Mundi: Does pro bono legal work on behalf of NGOs.
  • Foundation Center: Has a great database of funders that Segal provides to its partners free of charge.
  • Tact: A Salesforce customization service.

Access the database of service providers from Segal Family Foundation:

This post was written by Kennan Howlett, Program Team Intern.

Arlington Academy of Hope: A GlobalGiving Success Story

Arlington Academy of Hope: A GlobalGiving Success Story

Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_Title 1

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.


Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_Title 3

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.”


Case Study_AAH_Blog_4_Title 4

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.



Case Study_AAH_Blog_3_Quote 3


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.