How To Measure Impact In 170 Countries (It’s Not What You Think)

GlobalGiving is accelerating the ability of small, nimble organizations around the world to create lasting change. GlobalGiving’s Alison Carlman explains how.


What would happen if you bridged two communities often overlooked in the international aid system?

This is the goal that inspired two former World Bank employees to launch GlobalGiving in 2002. They wanted to connect individual donors—people whose gifts are often seen as too small to be meaningful—with local nonprofit organizations, whose impact has historically been all too easy to ignore because of their size or remoteness of their work.

Fifteen years later, that funding bridge has turned into a global marketplace where anyone in the world can find and support projects they otherwise would never have known about. The GlobalGiving community has even become the preferred way for a growing number of companies to channel their giving.

Since its founding, more than 680,000 of people and more than 225 companies have provided more than $285 million to 17,000+ projects in 170 countries through GlobalGiving.

But being a fundraising bridge was only the beginning of what our team at GlobalGiving had in mind. We’re a 501(c)(3), too, and our mission is to democratize aid and philanthropy. How? By helping nonprofits from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe access information, ideas, and funding. The very same platform that revolutionized access to crowdfunding has also made it possible for us to collect and share information about nonprofit management, fundraising, marketing, technology, and feedback loops with nonprofits. We soon had amassed a suite of feedback tools and peer learning opportunities that dramatically improved both the quality of our partners’ fundraising and their impact in their communities. See our results here.

Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.

As we began to study the links between feedback, learning and effectiveness, it became clear that our nonprofit partners informally follow the kind of Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. behavior that defines the most successful entrepreneurial businesses. We follow the same cycle to fulfill our mission to democratize aid:


    —We help nonprofits access feedback from the people they serve, share best practices, and discover new ways to improve performance.


    —We provide training and one-to-one consulting to help each partner experiment and try new ways of working.


    —As partners try new ideas, we offer them feedback on how well it is working for the people and causes they serve.


    —Once they achieve the results they are hoping for, we help them integrate the new way of working into their operations, so the improvement is sustainable.

While many of our nonprofit partners join GlobalGiving for the access to financial resources, they stay and thrive because we provide something that is just as vital to their mission: access to information and ideas.

An “accelerator” for true progress

Until now, unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of nonprofits was more of a wish than a possibility. Today, we are building upon something that’s accelerating the ability of small, nimble organizations around the world to create lasting change. One project, one community at a time.

Through GG Rewards, the system we measure how our nonprofit partners Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat., we award Effectiveness Points to the nonprofits that demonstrate the greatest commitment to improvement. Through our search algorithms, marketing campaigns, and corporate partnerships, we drive more resources to the organizations that have the highest potential to do the most good.

More resources for more effective nonprofits

Since 2017, GlobalGiving has been producing an annual Top 10 List featuring the most promising nonprofits in our community. GlobalGiving’s “Top 10 Nonprofits Committed To Impact” list features organizations on our platform that have demonstrated the greatest commitment to impact by Listening, Acting, Learning, and Repeating. See the full list of winners here, which includes our Top 10 Effectiveness Point earners, and five honorable mentions whose impact stories inspired us.

We’re building a global movement around the belief that there must be a better way to do international development. We’re proving that community-driven development can be sustainable and effective, and we’re driving more resources to organizations that learn and improve the most. Please join us in celebrating the awe-inspiring nonprofits on this list!

Featured Photo by GlobalGiving

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