Crowdfunding pioneer gives companies more reach, security
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In 2002, two former World Bank executives saw a new way to connect those with money to those in need. Years before internet fundraising became popular, Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle created GlobalGiving, the world's first crowdfunding platform.
Today, GlobalGiving ranks as the largest worldwide crowdfunding community, playing matchmaker for nonprofits, donors and companies. GlobalGiving helps donors make safe and easy U.S. tax-deductible donations to vetted, locally-driven organizations around the world. In addition, the organization provides the tools, training and support that nonprofits need to be more effective. GlobalGiving has helped raise more than $432 million for some 25,000 community service projects in 170 countries.
"GlobalGiving's mission is to transform the world of philanthropy by accelerating community-led change," said Donna Callejon, chief business officer of Business Partnerships and director of GlobalGiving's Disaster Relief Network. "Consumers are increasingly focused on how companies engage with their broad stakeholder groups and today's global corporate footprints can make that same community and employee focus more challenging."
GlobalGiving's role took on more importance in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Private foundations based in the United States cannot legally give to foreign organizations due to U.S. tax laws and IRS guidelines implemented through the Patriot Act. That means Ford Fund and other corporate foundations need grant-making help when reaching out across borders to provide disaster relief assistance, invest in community programs or develop sustainable initiatives.
"GlobalGiving is invaluable to our global programming and we wouldn't be in over 60 countries around the world if it wasn't for this partnership," said Benna Deese, manager, Ford Fund Global Development. "GlobalGiving provides the expertise to help navigate the various nuances of global grantmaking from vetting potential partners to collecting program data for impact evaluation, among others."
Here's how GlobalGiving works. Based in Washington, D.C. with a staff of 55 people, the organization has offices in the U.S., UK and China. Employees come from a variety of backgrounds—technology, engineering, business and nonprofits. Field teams provide the organization an on-the-ground presence, vetting nonprofits and tracking projects in locations as remote as the Amazon.
At 11 a.m. each Wednesday, team members convene for a weekly staff meeting where teams share new projects they are working on, celebrating successes and providing suggestions on what can be improved. Since GlobalGiving began, its teams have conducted more than 2,000 site visits and 470 training workshops in over 90 countries.
Meantime, GlobalGiving has helped more than 300 companies, such as Ford, Google, Microsoft and Nike, expand their philanthropic reach through grantmaking, employee engagement and recognition programs, charitable gift cards and digital campaigns. Examples include:• Facebook's Crisis Donate button is activated during natural disasters to enable people to quickly and easily give money to nonprofits.
• Zola, the wedding registry website, offers couples the opportunity to register for GlobalGiving gift cards, which are purchased by guests and redeemed by the newlyweds on charitable projects.
• When Hurricane Maria hit St. Croix, the home island of Cruzan Rum, the brand pledged $10 million to rebuild communities through the Island Spirit Fund with GlobalGiving.
• GlobalGiving also helped Riot Games' League of Legends brand with its Dark Star campaign, raising $5.5 million from players for 32 nonprofits in 21 countries.
• The GlobalGiving Accelerator is a virtual training program and crowdfunding campaign that helps hundreds of nonprofits boost their fundraising each year.
Disaster response is one area where GlobalGiving plays a pivotal role for Ford Fund by recommending local organizations that are providing direct help on the ground and setting up a fundraising platform for Ford employee and dealer contributions almost immediately after disaster strikes. Most recently, through the Ford/GlobalGiving disaster relief page, Ford Fund was able to donate funds and set up a matching campaign for the devastating wildfires in Australia within 72 hours of hearing from local employees.
"GlobalGiving helps leadership companies like Ford extend their generosity in a truly global way," explained Callejon. "Ford's strategy of working closely with local, community-based nonprofits in its global markets aligns perfectly, and propels us further, faster."
At the core of GlobalGiving's work with Ford are annual grants to about 250 Ford Fund local partners in countries where Ford has business operations. Ford has representatives in markets around the world who work with local nonprofits to determine community needs, evaluate funding and explore other resources. GlobalGiving then works with the organization on defining the grant project, screening the organization to ensure it is a trusted and effective charity, facilitates the payment and then monitors the grant for implementation. Grantees are also invited to provide an impact report at the end of their grant cycle, and in case after case the impact is inspirational.
Since 2011, GlobalGiving has distributed more than $60 million to over 1,000 grantees in 64 countries in collaboration with Ford Fund. Among the signature Ford Fund programs with GlobalGiving support are the Ford Resource and Engagement Centers in Romania, South Africa and Thailand, Ford Operation Better World grassroots community initiatives, Ford Driving Skills for Life and the annual Ford Global Caring Month volunteer effort in September.
"We have always been impressed with Ford Fund's approach to trust-based grantmaking, and investing in local organizations for the long term," said Nicole Morrissey, senior manager, Corporate Partnerships, GlobalGiving. "We envision these local relationships growing even stronger and scaling to meet even more needs."
Added Deese: "We rely on GlobalGiving to do the heavy lifting that we don't have the capacity to do within Ford Fund. And we provide value to them as well. For example, when a natural disaster happens our employees recommend local nonprofits that GlobalGiving would not otherwise know and those organizations can then tap into the crowdfunding platform that GlobalGiving provides, so they are able to fundraise to a larger audience."
"Ford Fund and GlobalGiving is truly a partnership," said Deese. "We all feel we are working together toward a greater cause—to make this world a better place."