Why Open Challenges?

As I stood in a conference room in Mali, brimming with eager and interested organizations, about halfway through my fifth GlobalGiving workshop in West Africa, I received a familiar onslaught of questions: what is the purpose of the Open Challenge? Why does my organization have to raise $5,000 from 40 donors?

I’ve thought about these questions quite a bit since returning to the GlobalGiving office in DC and I’ve noticed that despite the tremendous success we’ve seen from Open Challenges and the exciting stories we’ve heard from partner organizations, we rarely explain the premise behind the Open Challenge. Why are Open Challenges an integral part of GlobalGiving’s application process?

Well, we believe that the Open Challenge process provides organizations with the opportunity to:

1. Mobilize existing donors using the sense of urgency

Since 2008, GlobalGiving’s Open Challenge process has helped almost 1,000 organizations raise nearly $3.5 million from thousands of donors.  Some organizations have even been able to fund entire programs through GlobalGiving’s Open Challenge. Why? Because the Open Challenge provides organizations with a unique opportunity to reach out to donors.

The thresholds give organizations a specific goal and call to action – to raise $5,000 from at least 40 donors. And the one-month deadline creates a necessary sense of urgency that allows organizations to encourage donors to give now and persistently follow up.

2. Build Organizational Capacity around Online Fundraising

A large portion of the organizations that join GlobalGiving are new to online fundraising.  So, instead of posting a project on the site and sitting there, fingers crossed, in hopes of donors finding their project online, the Open Challenge provides a lot of organizations with the extra nudge they need to promote their new, online donation options.

Not only do we give organizations a reason to fundraise online, but we also use the Open Challenge as an opportunity to provide tips and suggestions about how to succeed in an online fundraising campaign.

3. Expand networks

The Open Challenge process is based on the premise of “crowdfunding”, meaning that participants should not only reach out to their existing donors, but also encourage their supporters to contact their own networks to spread the word on the organization’s behalf. As a result, the Open Challenge provides organizations with a great opportunity to expand their network.

4. Test out Online Fundraising and GlobalGiving’s Platform

We think online fundraising is great! But, we know that it is not right for every organization. So, the Open Challenge is, in a sense, a one-month trial version of online fundraising. We give organizations access to our online fundraising platform, complete with a donation manager, fundraising tools, trainings, and resources, and give them the chance to try it out. During those four weeks, organizations assess their networks, internet access, and the feasibility of maintaining an online fundraising strategy.

Time and time again we’ve proven that Open Challenges can be an incredible tool for raising funds online. But GlobalGiving also uses the Open Challenge as a mechanism of ensuring its sustainability. As you already know, GlobalGiving does not charge organizations to join GlobalGiving’s site and benefit from our fundraising tools, webinars, corporate partners and more. Instead, 15% of donations made through GlobalGiving are used to vet organizations, monitor funding, and provide for the maintenance and improvement of GlobalGiving’s fundraising platform.


Still not convinced about the Open Challenge? Well, don’t take our word for it, read success stories from past Open Challenge participants to see how the Open Challenge can help jump start an organization’s online fundraising.

Do you know an organization that might be interested in participating in an Open Challenge? Nominate it now!

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