As you know, Cartoloji donates 10% of every sale from its website to charity projects specific to the map of the country purchased, through GlobalGiving.

So what exactly is GlobalGiving and how does it work?

GlobalGiving is a non-profit organization that connects donors with doers (over 1,000 pre-screened grassroots charity projects around the world). It's an efficient, transparent way to make an impact with giving. GlobalGiving begins with the dedicated, tenacious individuals who are driving change in their communities. From running orphanages and schools, to helping survivors of natural disasters, these people are do-gooders to the core. GlobalGiving connects these "good idea people" with the "generous giver people" and help projects of all sizes receive donations of all sizes. Individuals can browse the GlobalGiving website, research grassroots charity projects by topic or location, and pick the ones that match their interests and passions.

Recently, Cartoloji had a chance to visit the lovely people of GlobalGiving at their headquarters here in Washington DC. We chatted with Nicole Kukowski, Business Partnerships Manager, about GlobalGiving and what makes it unique. Nicole holds an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Arizona.

Nicole Kukowski (left) with Bhaval Shah Bell

Nicole Kukowski (left) with Bhaval Shah Bell

Hi Nicole, it’s wonderful to meet you and learn a little more about GlobalGiving. What is your role here?

I manage our corporate partnerships. It’s a great team to be part of and a dynamic role, as each of our partnerships are so different. For example, some corporate partners work with us on international giving, and others use our gift card programs for their employees, clients, and customers. Others work with us on internationally focused cause marketing campaigns. We’ve always prided ourselves for our values – we’re always open

and we are happy to work with any company. When Cartoloji called and said, “do we have to be a big company”, we were thrilled to be selected as your partner. Our philosophy is that if our partner companies really want to do become more involved in international giving, we’ll help them figure out how to do it!

How did GlobalGiving come about?

Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle left the World Bank on 2002 to start GlobalGiving. At the World Bank they saw that the traditional forms of making grants and international development was leaving out the sector of the small grassroots organizations. So they spearheaded a 1-day event at the World Bank where they invited organizations to come to the Bank – basically a 1-day open market place. They were approached by an NGO who asked, “how come we can’t have this all the time?”.  That got them thinking….they realized that wow, we could use technology and put it together. So they left the World Bank and launched GlobalGiving. Mari is the president now and Dennis sits on our Board of Directors.

How many grassroots charities do you work with?

Right now we work with charities in about 120 countries. The numbers are always shifting as we have new organizations join. We are currently working with about 1500 different projects in those countries.

So how do you vet non-profit organizations that want to be part of GlobalGiving?

When any organization wants to be on GlobalGiving they need to first complete our due diligence process. We review their program materials, budgets, and screen against 30+ security databases. We look for corruption, issues of risk, and if they pass they public support test. Sometimes organizations don’t pass our due diligence and for some organizations, GlobalGiving might just not be the right fit right now. We don’t want to turn organizations away but we also want to make sure that the organizations are active and engaged partners. 

How do you find these grassroots charities?

Every quarter we hold an Open Challenge where non-profits are invited to try to earn a permanent place on GlobalGiving.org. We provide free support on how to raise $4000 from 50 unique donors. They in turn run their own online fundraising campaign using all our tools and systems we have in place for them. If they demonstrate that they can use our platforms, they stay on for as long as they would like. Then, every quarter they provide an update and report out on how they are using donor funds. The other portion (about a third) come to us through corporate partnerships.  Some corporate partners will already be working with certain non-profit organizations, and some partner with our existing community. It’s a really a combination.

How do organizations get to know about the “Open Challenge”? How do you publicize it?

We publicize it through some of our institutional partners. We have relationships with the World Bank, USAid, Gates Foundation, and also through our current partners. Every time an Open Challenge begins we let our Project Leaders know, and they push it out within their networks. We also do site visits and workshops in new countries. Our current partners will invite colleagues and contacts in that country. They will learn about us while we are there on the ground, usually with a translator. They can ask their questions at that time. A lot of them will also participate in the next Open Challenge after they learn more.

What has one of your most successful projects been?

We have tons of projects and great non-profit organizations. One that definitely comes to mind is the More Than Me Foundation that provides scholarships for girls in Liberia. Their project leader is Katie Meyler; she really knows how to effectively use GlobalGiving.org and how to mobilize users. She’s always on the lookout for online social media contests and she’s always trying to drive visibility to her organization. This past year she raised enough funds to allow enough scholarships for 100 girls to go to school for a year in Liberia. She’s one of our Superstar organizations because they are always mobilizing, always participating.

In terms of countries, what kind of challenges do different countries present?

In certain parts of the world the charity sector is better developed. For example, we have a lot of charities in Kenya and India. We also work with many organizations throughout Latin America because the sector has been growing there.  We’re starting to see an emerging sector in China, and in Eastern Europe, the NGO sector is growing. But there are language and cultural issues around donations, NGOs, and giving.  Our concept of giving in the US isn’t the same everywhere. In some cultures there a view of “we take care of our own”. We don’t discriminate by region. Every organization regardless of where they are goes through the same process, same type of paperwork and the same steps. We really want to be fair and it’s the same whether they are a small startup organization or if they’ve been around for 15-20 years.

Do you have future developments on the technology side?

This year we started a mobile text-to-give feature for US donors. Donors can donate via text and give as little as a $10 donation. We are always trying to think about how to make the site more user friendly ensure that the content is useful and changing. We encourage Project Leaders to post new photos and new reports, so donors, when they come back, receive current information and promote more engaged giving.

What’s the one main thing people should know about GlobalGiving?

It’s very easy to use. Come and use the site, and learn about the tremendous grassroots charities we work with. We have donation options on causes and in locations for just about everybody. If you want to give and you have a desire, we probably have a project for you!

To find out more about GlobalGiving and the different grassroots charity projects available, please visit www.globalgiving.org.