What We’ve Learned About Accelerating Community-Led Change

We have welcomed thousands of nonprofits to the GlobalGiving community through our flagship onboarding program. But becoming a more equitable platform with a greater impact means rethinking the process.


More than a decade ago, GlobalGiving had a problem. Hundreds (and later thousands) of nonprofit organizations were eager to join the GlobalGiving community, and we didn’t have the resources to vet and support them all. Our organization was established to give every changemaker in the world a chance to raise the money they need to help their community—a belief codified in our core values as Always Open. How could we live up to these aspirations in a sustainable way?

A breakthrough idea came in the form of issuing a “challenge” to interested nonprofits: to join the GlobalGiving community, organizations would be required to not only pass our rigorous application and due diligence process but also raise a certain amount of funds in a limited time. This approach solved several problems. First, it ensured that future partners would be well-positioned to take advantage of one of our core offerings—a crowdfunding marketplace. Second, it further demonstrated the social connections (and by extension, the legitimacy) of potential partners. And finally, by setting a fundraising threshold required to join and retaining fees based on the funds raised, the program helped offset the costs of vetting and onboarding new partners.

The Open Challenge program, which in 2016 evolved into the GlobalGiving Accelerator, has been a core part of GlobalGiving. More than 11,000 organizations have participated, and 60% of the organizations you can donate to today on GlobalGiving joined our community through these programs.

However, GlobalGiving (and the world around us) has changed since the Open Challenge launched. Today, we no longer believe that this model is the best way to engage new partners in the GlobalGiving community.

Last July, we committed to evaluating our programing for opportunities to increase equitable outcomes for our diverse global community. The Accelerator program’s current design recognizes and rewards connections to traditional power structures, namely, prior connections to individual donors with credit cards, sufficient technical savvy, and English language ability to navigate the donation platform. Our own data has shown us that basing membership in the GlobalGiving community primarily on fundraising success means only organizations that already had connections with donors can join and that US-based organizations succeed at a rate nearly double that of organizations based elsewhere.

So what’s next?

We plan to design, in an iterative fashion, a new way to surface, select, and onboard new nonprofit partners. We hope to do so in a way that addresses the needs of community-led organizations and prioritizes the inclusion of organizations from historically marginalized, excluded, or underrepresented groups—those that are often blocked from traditional funding sources.

We also want to retain what was wonderful about the Accelerator program: a shared experience for new partners, and a thoughtful welcome and orientation to the GlobalGiving community.

There are plenty of unanswered questions about how we get there, but I’m excited to start the process. I’m so grateful to GlobalGiving’s community of staff, donors, and most importantly, nonprofit partners, for all of the energy and enthusiasm invested into the Accelerator program. I am immensely proud of what the program has accomplished. I think we can take what we’ve learned, imagine the world we want to build, and create something truly worthy of our mission to accelerate community-led change.

Want to know more about how we’re rethinking our onboarding process? Watch GlobalGiving’s Senior Director of Evidence, Learning, and Innovation Alison Carlman explain at Feedback Labs’ 2022 Feedback Summit.

Featured Photo: Donate trees to help impoverished families in Peru by Pachamama Raymi
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