After spending three months with nonprofit leaders in Indonesia and Australia, a GlobalGiving field traveler reflects on donor best practices that will accelerate community-led change.
GlobalGiving is a nonprofit on a mission to transform aid and philanthropy and accelerate community-led change. That means an important question propels our work: How can we help nonprofits be more effective?
Answering this question has led GlobalGiving to develop a suite of tools, trainings, and resources that enable nonprofits to expand their organizational capacity, engage with a wider network of donors, and listen to the people they serve. As a field traveler with GlobalGiving, I spent three months in Indonesia and Australia. I learned firsthand how important this work is while visiting dozens of GlobalGiving nonprofit partners. My experiences also underscored the importance of finding ways to help donors listen to nonprofits.
Here are six donor best practices that I believe will help donors become more effective givers and supporters of community-led development:
1. Give consistently for an extended period of time.
Contrary to popular belief, individual donations make up the large majority of money distributed via philanthropy. This means organizations, both on and off GlobalGiving, need donations! With that said, my first principle for supporting community-led organizations is to give consistently. Find organizations you like and give to them often and consistently. Big gifts are always nice, but they are unpredictable. Giving monthly or annually allows NGOs to realistically think about their budget and plan for the future. Next time you give, rather than giving one big donation, consider spreading it out and committing to a group for an extended period of time. Nonprofits are combating complex and entrenched problems, which will not go away without your long-lasting support.
2. Spread the word.
Once you decide where and when to give, spread the word! GlobalGiving’s crowdfunding model of fundraising is based on relationships. One of the best ways you can support an NGO is to share their story with your own community. At GlobalGiving, this is called being a “Network or Fundraising Advocate.” Many groups rely on their own networks to raise funds, which means the amount they raised depends on the size of their network. Often, smaller groups struggle to reach outside their immediate communities. One of the best ways to support a group after you’ve donated is to help them build their network. As an advocate, you can throw a house party to introduce friends to the NGO, share their story on social media, or set up a booth at an event.
3. Get involved.
Don’t be afraid to develop a deeper relationship with a nonprofit, beyond a one-time or monthly donation. One common way to support a nonprofit is through volunteering—and it doesn’t always have to happen in-person. Learn more about the future of micro-volunteering.
4. Support community-led groups.
Community-led organizations are accountable to the vision and priorities set by the community. They have local voices in the lead and implement adaptable, feedback-driven decision making. They celebrate and mobilize local assets, and they collaborate and share knowledge with others to achieve systemic change. At GlobalGiving, we partner with thousands of nonprofits in 170+ countries because we believe that local, community-led organizations are best positioned to solve issues in their communities, yet they’re consistently overlooked and underfunded. That can change, with your help!
5. Give unrestricted.
Trust is a central part of any relationship—and the relationship between donors and nonprofits is no different. Think of your donation to an organization as an investment in someone’s vision and a community’s future. It is important that you trust that they will make the best decision for how that money should be used. Needs are constantly in flux, and nonprofit leaders ideally have the freedom to respond to fluid conditions. Learn more about the importance of unrestricted funding.
6. Never stop learning and growing.
As donors, it’s crucial that we continue to learn and grow through the process of giving. Ask yourself why you give to the organizations you do. Challenge yourself to learn more about the issues you support, to make giving a central part of your life, and to be invested in solving global issues through community-led efforts.
Above all, remember that without you, a better world isn’t possible.
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Featured Photo: Help 60 Rwandan Students Fight Poverty with Trees by World Resources Institute