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.


Introducing the Feedback Series

Introducing the Feedback Series

Earlier this month, GlobalGiving announced the 2015 Feedback Fund, an opportunity to receive funding and technical support to collect feedback from your community. We are excited to use this opportunity to launch a blog series dedicated to feedback!

At GlobalGiving, we believe that in order for us to be a truly effective organization, you, our nonprofit partners, should help drive everything that we do. Your voices, opinions, and aspirations go into the design, implementation, and evaluation of our programs.

Through this series, we’ll share how GlobalGiving is experimenting with and learning from feedback loops. Over the next few weeks, you will hear insights from our own efforts to solicit and learn from feedback, as well as lessons that we have learned from being part of Feedback Labs, a consortium of like-minded organizations committed to making governments, NGOs and donors more responsive to the needs of their constituents.

What is a closed feedback loop?

But first, let’s talk about what we think it takes to use feedback effectively using an approach that we call the closed feedback loop.  We define a closed feedback loop as a system in which the voices of constituents or community members are heard by decision makers and in which feedback has a measurable impact on the programming, products, and services that affect those individuals. This kind of system ensures accountability, but it also positions constituents or community members as active co-creators with service providers and funders. Learn more about the five steps in a closed feedback loop here.

As a learning organization, GlobalGiving strives to close the feedback loop by collecting and analyzing feedback, engaging in dialogue around that feedback, making changes based on that dialogue, and finally communicating those changes to the community of nonprofits that we support. Our big bet is that utilizing closed feedback loops not only improves GlobalGiving’s effectiveness, but also helps you, our nonprofit partners, achieve your mission more effectively. And we’re not alone! The authors of this recent article argue that listening to the voices of the individuals that you seek to serve, even as a funding organization, allows you to tap into an invaluable set of insights about your organization’s effectiveness. Learn more here.

Like you, we are still learning how to best implement closed feedback loops with the individuals and organizations that we serve. In this series, we will share just some of the ways that GlobalGiving is experimenting with closed feedback loops and begin to report back on the ways that your feedback has already helped to grow and improve GlobalGiving. Stay tuned for more next week!

Apply to the 2015 Feedback Fund!

Through our 2015 Feedback Fund, GlobalGiving is offering technical support and up to $2,000 in funding to organizations working to improve their feedback practice. Learn more by watching this webinar or reading our blog post on the fund. Complete this application form and complete the Feedback Labs quiz by August 7th to apply. Please email with any questions!

Social Impact Academy: Learning from Failure

Social Impact Academy: Learning from Failure

Let’s be honest, we all fail. But it’s how we acknowledge and learn from failure that sets us apart. This week in the Social Impact Academy, we were joined by Kennedy Leavens, the Executive Director of Awamaki, and Marilyn Darling, a Partner at Fourth Quadrant Partners to discuss recognizing and responding to failure.

Session Recording:

Session Summary:

Kennedy Leavens, Executive Director, Awamaki

Awamaki provides training and market access to rural female artisans in Peru. Awamaki won GlobalGiving’s 2014 Fail Forward Contest, you can read its winning submission here.

Identifying Failure

  • Ask questions: Informal conversations among staff stimulate open, honest feedback without the pressure of formal meetings.
  • Strategic reviews: These involve formal staff meetings which discuss your organization’s past and future goals.
  • Match methods to your community: Women in Awamaki’s communities did not provide constructive criticism in formal settings. Awamaki worked within the culture of its rural communities and found that rumors and gossip are effective feedback methods (with proper discernment between truth and false gossip).
  • Mission-financial Axis Map: Awamaki uses this visual tool to have strategic discussions about how programs both contribute to the organization’s financial sustainability and relate to their mission.

Respond, Communicate, Learn

  • Ex. English Classes: Awamaki had an English teaching program which it relied on financially. However, students in Awamaki’s communities didn’t come to class even after repeatedly varying the target population.
    • Response: An internal analysis found negative financial consequences of ending the program, but the dissatisfaction of volunteer teachers with empty classrooms carried unquantifiable repercussions. English classes were cancelled and Awamaki decided to find the finances elsewhere.
    • Communication: Awamaki was open when communicating with the community and volunteers about the situation. Volunteers were grateful because they did not want to be part of an ineffective program.
    • Learned: Even if a program is generating income, if it does not achieve the mission it should be cut. There is always instant improvement despite financial constraints.
  • Ex. Puente Inca knitters: Knitters received funding from the UN for capacity building. The women viewed the program as charity, not a business opportunity, and as a result, the quality of their work suffered and the co-op became dysfunctional.
    • Response: Awamaki fired half of the knitters, created and upheld quality standards, introduced financial penalties, and delegated responsibilities to workers.
    • Communication: All changes in expectation were clearly communicated to the women. This helped them understand their accountability to the program.
    • Learned: Tough decisions must be made. The women expected Awamaki to hold their hands because that’s what it was doing. The women now act as reliable, independent business owners.
  • Ex. Weaving Center: The man who donated land for the center intimidated the weavers, they believed that he was in charge of the center with Awamaki’s consent. This came as a surprise to Awamaki, which considers women’s empowerment to be at the center of all of the organization’s programs. Read the complete story here.
    • Response: Awamaki learned that the women did not understand their rights. Many are illiterate and could not read the weavers’ association’s by-laws to understand that this man was not in charge. Awamaki brought in a Quechua-speaking lawyer to meet with them and explain their options. Eventually, the women purchased land and built a new center of their own.
    • Communication: As Awamaki started processing this failure, it shared its problems to donors. Because donors knew about the situation before it was resolved, they responded positively when asked for donations to create a new center.
    • Learned: All new centers are built and owned by the women. Women are now exemplary leaders within the centers.

Create a culture that is healthy and risk-taking

  • Ask staff and beneficiaries how you can improve your program (use a feedback loop).
  • Don’t be afraid to confront failure head on; it will lead to deeper and unexpected impact, stronger donor and beneficiary relationships, and more staff buy-in.
  • Communicate honestly. Give your happy stories to donors but also let them know your struggles. This will help you gain their trust and make them feel like part of your team.

Marilyn Darling, Partner, Fourth Quadrant Partners, LLC

Fourth Quadrant Partners helps its partners achieve their desired outcomes with tools to produce better results in the future. It demonstrates how to acknowledge and learn from failure.

When is a lesson truly learned?

  1. When a group changes its choices and actions based on the lesson;
  2. When the change produces better results.

Keep going through learning cycles

  • Hypothesis: Use if/then statements, “IF we do this, THEN that will happen.”
  • Method: What do you need to do to reach your goal?
  • Results: How are your programs evolving and affecting your results?
  • Repeat! Refine your hypotheses, methods, and results.

Before and After Action Reviews

  • Ask your team a series of questions before and after an action or program to see if you accomplished what you set out to achieve.
  • This process can help you identify possible challenges or pinpoint program failures.
  • It is a visual organizer which shows the iterative process of getting better results.
  • Use for anything considered an important piece of work.
  • Keep it simple.


Social Impact Academy: Building Impact Measurement into Programs

Social Impact Academy: Building Impact Measurement into Programs

This week of the Social Impact Academy, we were joined by three panelists that shared insights into their organizations’ impact assessment methods. These organizations have built distinct impact measurement approaches into their programs in ways that meet the specific needs of the communities they serve.

Session Recording:

Session Summary:

Joining us on the panel were:

Sandeep Ahuja, Founder and CEO, Operation ASHA

Operation ASHA provides last-mile medical services in India and Cambodia by employing local community members to improve the health of disadvantaged patients. One of its strengths is using technology to reduce costs.

Emma Pfister, Global Communications and Marketing Manager, Water for People

Water for People works in Central America, South America, Africa, and India to provide safe and permanent water sources for communities. Their impact is measured over time by assessing the increase in access to water and the likelihood that access is sustainable.

Elizabeth Ross, Director, Kasiisi Project

Kasiisi Project operates in Kibale National Park, Uganda. It is a conservation and education program with 14 rural primary schools. Its fundraising partners are in the UK and US and it functions on a small budget.

What methods do you use to assess your impact? What systems do you use to streamline the measurement process?


  • Use technology to streamline the process.

    • Akvo FLOW: We want measurement and analysis to be quick! Akvo FLOW is an app for handheld devices that are used in the field and collects information from surveys and automatically computes analytics.
    • Everyone Forever Tracker: We want a way to share it! The EF Tracker transforms our analyzed data and shows it in a consumer friendly way. The analytics become visually appealing and easy for any type of donor to understand.
    • Reflection Sessions: All of our offices do annual in-country conferences to reflect on the past year. We use this as a building platform to learn and move forward.


  • What gets measured gets done.Measurement of outcomes is an integral part of our methodology. Our management information systems include continuous monitoring and rigorous reporting.
  • Technology: Operation ASHA uses technology to improve performance, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Use of technology reduces the cost of paper, labor, and statistical analysis.


  • Use available data. Our major goal is to improve academic performance. We measure academic performance using government administered primary leaving exams. We collect this data every year for our schools and evaluate it through comparison to other schools.
  • Use pre and post questionnaires. For our outside-of-school programs we use questionnaires with pre and post intervention. Changes in knowledge and attitude are noted through simple methods such as counting a show of hands after a question.
  • Use one evaluation for multiple grants to avoid survey fatigue because every grant we receive requires evaluations. We also keep the same questions for multiple years so that we can keep records for long-term comparison results.

What metrics and indicators do you measure? How did you decide to use these indicators?


  • Incorporate measurement from the start. Our program and measurement have never been considered two separate activities. We go to the beneficiaries, ask what they want, and develop a set of measureable indicators based on their answers.
  • Data analysis. Our medical electronic recording system allows us to see analytics from year to year to measure if we are making a difference. We track number of TB symptomatics found, the number of people served, and treatment success.


  • Match your indicators to your organization’s goals. Our indicators address issues concerning clean water for everyone forever within a community. Example metrics include water service level, frequency of pipe damages, and ability of community committees to pay for repairs on the water systems.


  • Match your evaluations to the community you serve. For example, we use the children’s drawings as evaluations. We want to make activities fun so children stay engaged in the evaluation process, especially since they are run outside of school.
  • Note what kind of analysis you want to perform in the future. We tend to use true/false questions with various programs because we want numbers for statistical assessment.

What staff and financial resources are necessary to measure impact?


  • Improving our measurement is seen as investment. Measurement can’t be separated from performance, it is part of our process. We do not spend more than 10% of our operating budget on measurement.
  • Technology. We realized that we could not run our program efficiently and at a low cost unless we used technology. We put together a software requirement specification proposal and sent it to Microsoft Research. Microsoft provided us with a free medical electronic recording system.


  • Get monitoring embedded in local institutions. Your organization, the community, and the local government should all be part of the reporting process. This allows you to see where gaps occur in your effectiveness.
  • Track how much you and your partners spend on monitoring so that you can accurately forecast your costs.


  • Use employees. We only use our permanent staff for measuring impact. We design our evaluations with staff. This ensures that teachers can appropriately explain the evaluation so that the children understand them. You must have experienced people to understand children’s answers as well. We have low costs by way of materials, but about 10-15% of our budget is spent on monitoring and evaluation.

How do you involve the community you serve in the process of measuring your impact?


  • Involving the community ensures quality results. We measure parameters that are the most important to our patients and communities and those who deliver the outreach program are from within the community. Our program is flexible to move according to the needs of patients, technology, and realities on the ground.
  • External monitoring. Auditors visit health centers at random and ask patients of those centers questions about the quality of their care. This ensures that the community is a part of our measurement process.


  • Reflection sessions. After data is analyzed from the annual Akvo FLOW surveys, partners, governments, NGOs, and the community come together to reflect on the data. We discuss the problems and plan for the future together.


  • We involve the community from the start. We ask what parents want their children to know and what area authorities think kids should learn about. The community helps to write evaluation sheets.
  • Share the results. We present our findings to teachers, with parents, at churches, etc.