Alexis Nadin Posts

Thank you and farewell for now!

Thank you and farewell for now!

I am sad to share that after seven incredible years with GlobalGiving, I am leaving this Friday, September 11th to pursue my Master’s of Business Administration at the University of Cape Town. In the time that I have been at GlobalGiving, I have been in absolute awe of you, our nonprofit partners. You have inspired and challenged me and you have taught me lessons that I will never forget. Please let me take this opportunity to say thank you.

You inspired me.

When I first joined GlobalGiving as an intern in 2008, I was a firm believer in local solutions to local problems but, to be honest, I was skeptical about what small, community-based organizations could really accomplish. That year, GlobalGiving launched our first-ever Open Challenge, in which organizations were challenged to raise $3,000 from 75 individual donors to gain long-term access to the website. As I wrote in this 2012 blog post, I thought there was no way that grassroots organizations in developing countries could really mobilize that many donors or raise that much money. But you proved me wrong. That first Open Challenge was a huge success. Twenty organizations from places like Nepal, Madagascar, Philippines, and Sierra Leone secured a spot on GlobalGiving. To date, hundreds of organizations like yours have raised millions of dollars through Open Challenges on GlobalGiving.

Since then, you have continued to blow my expectations out of the water and inspire me with your commitment and drive to make change happen in this world. I have had the privilege to visit many of your projects in more than a dozen countries; and in that time, I have encountered leaders who have brought together their entire communities to find solutions to local challenges. I have met project leaders who are maintaining several part-time jobs to fund their nonprofit’s missions. I have personally spoken with hundreds of people around the globe whose lives have been changed because of you: young women who have found their voice and that are going to college because of you, families that have access to high-quality healthcare because of you, school children who drink clean water because of you, and so many more. And in my time here at GlobalGiving, you have become my role models. You are the people I want to be someday. Thank you for your inspiration!

You challenged me.

When I started full-time in the summer of 2010, I was given the task of working with Britt Lake, our Sr. Director of Programs, to improve the services that we offer our current partners. So, in addition to creating resources like the Project Leader Manual and our annual Campaign Calendar, we set out to collect your feedback about ways that we could make GlobalGiving better for you. And since then, you have challenged me and the GlobalGiving team to be better, to get creative and think outside the box so that we could help you raise much needed funds and become a more effective organization to support the communities you serve.

You told us that it wasn’t enough to be able to see your donations, you wanted a way to learn from your activity on the GlobalGiving website and to be able to interact with your donors. You made it clear that you wanted training and support but our monthly webinars weren’t cutting it, so you challenged us to create our two-month Academies on online fundraising and social impact. And you said money wasn’t enough, so  you challenged us to find ways to help your organization become more effective.

You taught me.

That August when I started my new full-time job at GlobalGiving, I knew that I would be running webinars, writing blog posts, and hosting one-on-one fundraising consultations, and I thought I had to know it all so that I could teach you. But, just like so many times before, you proved me wrong again. It quickly became apparent that you know this stuff so much better than I do. I learned that we, at GlobalGiving, are really just here to facilitate a conversation between our brilliant partners. So, when I set out to create GlobalGiving’s first-ever Online Fundraising Academy in 2012, I turned to you, our nonprofit partners for help. You led sessions on campaign fundraising and donor retention. You taught one another (and me) how to identify and support donor captains and how to develop an effective Facebook strategy. And this year, when it was time to create our new Social Impact Academy, I returned to you for important information on how to define, measure, and talk about your social impact.

In addition to the ins and outs of online fundraising and how to articulate and measure an organization’s impact, you’ve also taught me about the importance of building personal, human relationships. You’ve shown me the value of listening to and engaging your constituents in a conversation. And you’ve given me a glimpse of what it takes to run a successful organization.

In fact, I would say that whether or not you knew it, you were investing in me all along. But don’t worry. Just because I’m leaving, doesn’t mean that your investment is going to waste. I feel confident that with even more knowledge and skills in my toolbox, I’ll be a more valuable resource for the nonprofit sector.

EmmaAnd, the good news is that you will have the opportunity to work with our incredible new Sr. Program Manager, Emma Hersh, who comes to us with years of experience providing training and support to help organizations become more effective. She has a slew of ideas about how to make the services that we provide you, our nonprofit partners, even better and she’s ready to jump right in. Please be sure to welcome her to the GlobalGiving community!

So, with that, I would like to say my final thank you. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with you and I hope that our paths will cross again someday soon. I’ll see you later, Project Leaders!

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.

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.