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The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund

by GlobalGiving
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
The GlobalGiving Innovation Fund
10 successes and 20 mixed outcomes per 1 failure
10 successes and 20 mixed outcomes per 1 failure

The Pulling for the Underdog Fund you support focuses on helping the "underdogs" - small, community-based grassroots projects. We want their voices heard and their ideas funded.

I have been with GlobalGiving for 4 years, and since 2010, I’ve been helping to give communities a voice in one very tangible way – through the GlobalGiving Storytelling Project ( In Kenya and Uganda, our network of partner organizations has helped us find young people who want to interview others in their community. We train these ‘scribes’ to ask others to talk about a time when a person or organization tried to help someone or changing something in the community, and then they write down what happened.

We think that communities are full of experts on what the community needs, and that the world would run a little better if there was someone out there helping these experts provide context and perspective on what is happening all around them back to community leaders. Some day aid will act like democracy, and this is version 0.01 of that.

We’ve collected over 43,000 stories! Here is an example:

“Violet is a student who is schooling abroad. She get her Scholarship while in High School. She excelled in High School and joined Nairobi University. After finishing her course at the University of Nairobi, She went to work abroad as well as continuing learning. She has sponsored students in high School and she caters for their education herself. This is inspiring because she now has the capacity to help others. She is now actually a doctor. These students are therefore able to pursue their Secondary School education through Violet. Thanks to her and God for enabling her to reach where she is now.”

We encourage you to click the link below and read more stories, but as this is an update on the progress we’ve made, here are some of our lessons from this big feedback experiment:

  • For every 10 positive stories we collected, we got 1 story about failure, but 20 stories with mixed outcomes. These mixed-outcome stories are encouraging because they can provide organizations with a deeper, nuanced narrative to learn from than the typical feedback with a strong positive bias.
  • In 13,000 stories about education, school fees and the lack of opportunities after graduation are common themes.
  • Job training and business skills programs were seldom mentioned – even by people telling stories where these skills could have prevented failure.
  • People often talk about basic needs but don’t ask for food, water, or shelter. Poverty is just the context. They often talk about what would truly empower them beyond handouts. One thing they agree upon is having a steady income.

I’d like to show you through pictures what these stories have in common (see the images below). The blue dots represent words from 15 thousand Ugandan stories, while the red dots represent words from 224 GlobalGiving projects in Uganda. The pink/purple words overlaps between stories and projects. In the full view were too many words to print, but if we had to describe the one thing that matters most to Ugandans from among the things GlobalGiving partners do there, it would be INCOME generation. 

So in the second wordtree map I've "drilled down" on the subject of income in Uganda. Pink words overlap between stories that mention income and Ugandan organizations that focus on it. You can see all the words that each group uses frequently in their stories. We hope this kind of information will facilitate more discussion about what matters to the people in each community.

Our goal is to improve upon these methods until our partner organizations are seeing the world more clearly, and perhaps making decisions that are better informed by community feedback. Please spread the word, share your ideas, and if you like – donate to this fund to help continue this experiment.

I'd also like to thank the Rockefeller Foundation for grants over the last three years to develop this new method for continuous community feedback. What we're working on now are better visualization tools to help partner organizations learn from these stories, and simpler tools for collecting them.

Orange: where stories came from. Green: projects
Orange: where stories came from. Green: projects
Describing Income Red: Ugandan orgs. Blue: stories
Describing Income Red: Ugandan orgs. Blue: stories
Blue: stories Red: Ugandan orgs Purple: overlap
Blue: stories Red: Ugandan orgs Purple: overlap


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Japan disaster relief has been a day and night job for us since March 11. Just over a month later, more than 44,000 individual donors have given over $4.1 million through our Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund, and an additional $975,000 is expected to head our way soon, in part from our corporate partners. These contributions are from existing partners like Gap (who unprecedentedly has been running GG banner ads on *every* web page of theirs) and eBay (where over 11,000 auction listings include us as a beneficiary of part or all of the sale proceeds) to new partners like Fandango, Hilton Worldwide, LinkedIn, Rosetta Stone and Travelocity. Here are our latest reports on the funds we have wired over to date from our Relief Fund, and a blogpost explaining our rationale (

We've received a fair amount of media around this, ranging from the US State Department, NPR, and Fox News. Over 80 people are using our fundraiser tool, the two most successful being Anime Fans Give Back to Japan, and Cheap Ass Gamer. I know these examples are a little comical, but they are also incredibly poignant for me. As I explained on our blog, I've been on the receiving end of such gratitude from Japanese friends, family, and Twitter followers who have all pointed out that it means a great deal to them to know that so many people the world over are coming together to help.

This disaster response exceeds anything we have seen at GlobalGiving for Haiti, China, Katrina, or the South Asia Tsunami. So it has required everyone on our team to put in nights and weekends to keep up--from the project team who have been staying up late or getting up at 4am to get in touch with organizations in Japan, to the tech team who have been fiddling with our servers to make sure that they didn't crash. We saw some of the highest traffic ever at GlobalGiving during this time (40,000-55,000 visits a day 6-8x traffic preceding the disaster).

And we did this all without our marketing manager on hand--Alison McQuade had just left to join the League of Women Voters before the earthquake (although she was kind enough to take over our Twitter feed at 2am on Friday morning when Kevin went to sleep)--so we were running an intense social media campaign to replace her. It started with a targetted Facebook Ad, and elicited unprecedented responses from candidates. Another candidate leveraged her online presence to have her friends recommend them on Twitter using the #IwillLoveThisJob hashtag (it actually caused it to become a trending topic in Orlando, FL.)   The approach got us out of the business of reviewing a pile of resumes and quickly showed us who was passionate and capable of doing the job. And it got us our newest Unmarketing Manager, Alison Carlman.

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Organization Information


Location: Washington, D.C. - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @GlobalGiving
Project Leader:
Mari Kuraishi
Washington, DC United States
$1,311,549 raised of $2,000,000 goal
3,575 donations
$688,451 to go
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