This week is the one year anniversary of GG Rewards! During the past year, we’ve seen nonprofits that Listen, Act, Learn, and Repeat tend to be more effective and create more positive impact in their communities! To celebrate this anniversary, we wanted to share how one nonprofit earned points, gained Superstar status, and increased their donor visibility by telling us about their “most success initiative started to date” in GG Rewards.
Grassroots Uganda- Empowering African Women’s mission is to give their women a hand up, instead of a hand out, so that they can pull themselves out of poverty. Focused on supporting women’s’ groups in rural Ugandan villages, Grassroots Uganda- EAW empowers women through a variety of initiatives from small scale business training to teaching innovative farming techniques. But every initiative starts with asking the same question of the women they work with: What is your biggest need?
Founder of Grassroots Uganda- EAW, Lee Koelzer, asks this question because she believes in the power of listening to your community. “Our focus is to work with people on a grassroots level- taking on their values rather than your own,” said Lee. By listening to the communities of women, and acting based on their feedback, Grassroots Uganda- EAW has seen the women they are hoping to empower become champions for change and empower themselves.
GlobalGiving is excited to reward Grassroots Uganda-EAW for this approach through GG Rewards’ “Create-Your-Own” Cycle. Here is how they built a library and inspired a community by Listening, Acting, Learning, and Repeating.
Listen. In 2014, Grassroots Uganda- EAW received a $4,000 grant from Global Volunteer Network Foundation’s Eat So They Can (ESTC) initiative. Lee’s first instinct was to ask the group of women she was working with what they wanted to do with the grant money. Immediately, the women started brainstorming. There were ideas from fixing up a schoolhouse to a poultry project, but after a 15 to 3 vote they decided to build a library in Masese II, a slum just outside Jinja.
Act. The library soon became one of the most popular places for the community to gather. In the words of Lee, “it was instantly successful!”
The same women who originally voted on the idea are the ones who run the library and make the decisions—even when it comes to who to hire as their librarian. Soon after it was opened they began receiving donations from the community, including books, bibles, posters, sofas, and benches. Although it began as a place to inspire a love of reading, women’s bible studies and local groups began to utilize the space. It has even been used by the village’s local council as a neutral ground to settle disputes and hold meetings.
Learn. Since building the library, it has been used by hundreds of people in the community. Lee credits the library’s success to the women who came up with the idea. She knows it was the power of their voices that made the project possible.“If the women had not to decided to do it themselves, the community would have been less receptive. It’s women that live in the community and work in the community and their families are in the community,” Lee said. With one successful library built, the women started a second library in a community just a mile away.
But they didn’t stop with two.
Repeat. The women believed in the libraries so strongly, they decided they need another. Without another grant, they pooled their own money. A few months later, they revealed a third community library as a surprise to Grassroots Uganda-EAW! Through feeling empowered to have an impact with the original grant money, the women ended up empowering not only a community to read, but themselves as well.
At GlobalGiving, we want to reward organizations that are constantly learning how to be more effective. Grassroots Uganda-EAW increased their effectiveness by listening to their community and learning that the most impactful project ideas come straight from the community members themselves. Your nonprofit can have the same success! Tell us about how you are listening to feedback from your community and becoming more effective through GG Rewards’ Learning Cycles.
Check out your GG Rewards Dashboard, GG Rewards FAQs, and our Introduction Video to start learning and growing your impact today. If you have questions about how to become a more effective nonprofit and raise more money, schedule a one-on-one consultation with us by filling out this form. We are excited to see Grassroots Uganda-EAW and all of GlobalGiving nonprofit partners’ future success on GG Rewards!
Written by Sarah Taylor, a current Program Team Fellow on the GlobalGiving Team.