Donor Spotlight: GlobalGiving

Insights: 30 May 2023

GlobalGiving first partnered with FRRR in response to the Black Summer bushfires in 2019/20.

The organisation, now 21 years old, was founded “on the idea that good ideas can come from anyone anywhere at anytime” and tapped into the explosion of the internet and internet based tools in the early 2000s. Last year, they were the conduit for $150 million in support, across 170 countries, via several thousands of organisations.”

Jillian Kirwan-Lee, FRRR Partnerships Specialist, recently chatted with Chase Williams, Senior Project Manager from GlobalGiving’s disaster response team, about the incredible work they are doing across the globe.


Can you start by telling us a little about GlobalGiving?

As we look back on 2022, GlobalGiving sent out about $150 million worth in support of partners across the world – 170 countries overall. On a regular basis, we are connecting resources, both financial and otherwise, to several thousands of vetted organisations around the world and being a reliable place where individual donors and companies can come to ensure that their money and other types of resources are getting into the hands of local vetted organisations around the world.

Our mission is to transform aid and philanthropy to accelerate community-led change. So in that way, there is a lot of overlap between what GlobalGiving and FRRR want to see in the world, which is local community led organisations in the driver’s seat, where we are in the backseat, the passenger seat, whatever seat they want, as long as we are being a supportive, trusted partner such that they retain decision making power and flexibility to solve the issues in their community and serve the constituents and the communities where they work and where they serve. Because they are the ones closest to the issues at hand.

A big area of overlap between GlobalGiving and FRRR is around disaster response and disaster preparedness and just investing in local organisations so that they’re resilient in the face of future disasters. That’s also what brought us together as partners.

Our primary constituency is our non-profit partner network, of which we have about 6,000 or 7,000 vetted non-profits, and 170 countries that we work with on a regular basis in many different shapes and forms. And we also work closely, of course, with individual donors that come to us as a marketplace and companies that come to us for very much the same reasons to be connected with and to be able to get resources flexibly to these local organisations. So GlobalGiving sits in between all three of those groups. In and after times of disaster we’re able to activate all three of those groups to be able to quickly and over the long term get flexible funding into the hands of local organisations on the front lines of disaster response, both relief, recovery, preparedness, resilience, and all the rest.

That was very much the case after the 2019-2020 bushfires across Australia and so many different regions and parts of the country. And I think just to be candid and recognise at the time GlobalGiving’s non-profit partner network in Australia was not the strongest that it could have been in so many ways. So, while we made the decision to activate a response to the bush fires, it was also the case that we had a lot of work to do to build up a trusted network of organisations across Australia responding to the bushfires. GlobalGiving raised something like USD$6 million related to the bushfires through a variety of different channels. It gave us a lot of flexibility to identify and welcome new organisations, and new non-profit organisations based in Australia serving fire affected communities directly.

We were getting a lot of signals that FRRR was a trusted, reliable organisation very much in alignment with the value set of GlobalGiving, in the way that we think about responding to disasters in terms of resourcing local organisations that otherwise had been overlooked and excluded from some broader flows. Recognising there’s often the same core set of larger national organisations that really bring in the vast majority of funding and then it’s smaller local organisations that get the short shrift that at the end of the day. We heard a lot of good things from a variety of folks about how FRRR was responding in and after times of the fires, and so that brought us together. And I think more tactically, it led to a multi-year grant partnership that was bolstering and investing in the flexibility and support that FRRR was already driving out to its networks.

What is it that you look for in a not for profit that you that you partner with?

Over the lifetime of GlobalGiving, we have had an open application process for organisations that are interested in joining our community, especially on the crowdfunding side of things. So if you go to the website, if you didn’t know anything about GlobalGiving, you’d be like, this is a crowdfunding platform. But there’s so much more behind the scenes happening. We’re also working on telling that story, in terms of the corporate partnerships that we have and the grant making that we do through those partnerships, the advisory and influencing work that we do in this space, all the disaster response stuff.

One of our core values is Always Open. And that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. But we’ve always been open to welcoming organisations into our community that find use and find value in GlobalGiving’s tools, resources, and platform. Any registered organisation around the world can submit a due diligence application to GlobalGiving to take part in our crowdfunding and training program to learn how to crowdfund, how to make use of GlobalGiving’s universe of tools and resources, to raise resources through their own crowdfunding projects posted on our platform.

Sometimes over the years, we’ve promoted the GlobalGiving onboarding program in different places to try and bolster our network in certain places. And it’s also the case that many of them applied, but maybe didn’t have the registration that they needed or other things like that. So, we have a team that would try to help organisations as much as possible get through our vetting process so they can take part in our platform.

The second way that organisations come to GlobalGiving is through the corporate partnerships that we maintain and manage. GlobalGiving is also a grant making intermediary in a lot of ways, and we partner with large multinational companies, many of them based in the US, and we help to manage and coordinate the charitable grant making that these companies are interested in doing. As an example, we’ve worked with Ford Motor Company, for the last 12 or 15 years, and we are their partner to do all their grant making outside of the United States. That’s about $15 million a year in grant making that GlobalGiving does in partnership with Ford. It’s often the case where they have regional employees make recommendations for organisations in their communities that they’re passionate about, and the CSR office of Ford make recommendations to GlobalGiving, and they have the option of taking part in our platform in crowdfunding should they so wish, as a tool in their toolbox. Some of them do, some of them don’t. And then the last big avenue by which organisations come to GlobalGiving is through direct acquisition through our disaster response team. That is very much how we came to be in partnership with FRRR.

Back to your question, what we look for are organisations that are either led by or serving communities that have traditionally been excluded or marginalised or overlooked for funding or support. And at the same time, we’re also listening to our local partners and trying to understand what the funding gaps are and listening to and being receptive of trusted organisation recommendations that fit in those spaces. And that informs the organisations that we bring in, which I think in a way, is connected to how we have this focus on community-led organisations, even though it can be quite tricky to define what community led is. Because we’re working across so many different contexts across the world, and so maybe what’s community-led in one place isn’t what it means to be community-led in another.

We also have this recognition that it doesn’t make sense to connect with and welcome every single local organisation in the world into our community. So where does it make sense for GlobalGiving to form strategic partnerships with ecosystem local organisations who have a similar mindset and values orientation to GlobalGiving, and who already have trusted long term relationships with local organisations? It doesn’t make sense for us to go into a context and recreate the wheel.

What do you see as the value of partnering with community-led organisations?

I think the GlobalGiving team has been pretty heartened by the trend in the last few years where, in philanthropy in general, there is this broader recognition that local organisations and localisation writ large is the direction that we should all be heading in as quickly as possible, at the same time recognizing not much progress has been made.

I think there’s a lot of hope in and after the pandemic about what that meant for this growing wave and focus on localisation to try to move away from just funding the same organisations over and over again. Not to say that the larger international agencies are not doing great work, but it’s just that we are continuing to exclude those closest to the issues and those are the people that are going to be there for the long term.

So, I think what we’ve seen on the GlobalGiving side is a big appetite from our corporate partners to direct resources to local organisations. In large part, that’s why a lot of companies seek GlobalGiving out because we do provide that bridge and that connection to local organisations and countries. But what I would say is that it’s not always the case that they’re universally eager to support local organisations. Sometimes there is, of course, this natural inclination to just go with what you know.

GlobalGiving has what we call our growth team, or business partnerships team. Half of that team is focused on prospecting and engaging with new organisations, new companies and new corporate partners outside of our network. And then we have another half of the team that’s focused on maintaining and building relationships with existing corporate partners. I think we have about 200, or 300, different corporate partners that engage with us in different shapes and forms. What we see that works best, especially in the disaster side of things, is being able to affirm and demonstrate to our corporate donors that these local organisations are the ones that are often first on the scene, and they’re the ones that understand that context the best. And so, by virtue of GlobalGiving already having existing relationships with these organisations, we’re able to demonstrate that we’re able to get resources to them quickly and over the long term.

As an example, in the case of the February earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, we have several dozen local organisations working in and across Türkiye. And the earthquakes happened on a Monday, and we were able to award our first round of grants that same Friday. So, we’re able to move quickly and get good resources to those Turkish registered and Turkish banked organisations who are already on the front lines of response. Many of them tragically lost staff members in the earthquakes. So, they were not only grappling with that, but also just already in the action, responding in so many ways. And so, I think that elevating those moments, and elevating the importance of how they’re well positioned helps to appeal to companies that are, oftentimes wanting to notify their employees of how quickly they’ve activated a response and different things like that.

Another strategy that we take is just like elevating the voices and stories of our local partners, which can often be much more engaging and compelling. For example, after the underwater volcano and tsunami in Tonga at the beginning of last year, the year before, one of our partners was the Civil Society Forum of Tonga. And, of course, in the middle of the pandemic, Tonga was in lockdown and not accepting or receiving international volunteers or visitors. So, we were able to elevate the perspective and voice of our local partner on working across many of the islands of Tonga that our other NGO partners did not have, because they were prevented from going.

And it is part of our mission to transform philanthropy. How can we build deeper relationships and have dedicated conversations to keep pushing that focus forward? We’re happy to see that corporate partners are receptive, but they’re not always. But we keep trying anyway.

What you’re saying about having those trusted relationships on the ground is so important. Huge kudos to you and the GlobalGiving team for all that you do, with an incredible breadth of organisations that you support.