People give to people: meet the global intermediaries

One of the disincentives to making donations to big charities tackling big problems is you don’t know where your money goes. There’s seldom a clear link between the human stories presented in the appeal, and the people who may benefit from your assistance.

Today launches an online system which changes that:

… enabling individuals to give directly to hundreds of well-vetted grassroots charity projects in over 70 countries, mostly in the developing world. Donors can also tangibly see the impact of their donations on the communities concerned through regular progress updates from project leaders. Projects range from providing clean water to villages in Morocco, enabling Guatemalan women to set up small-scale businesses, or helping Nepalis produce pedal-generated light as an alternative to dirty kerosene lamps.

If it seems I may just be quoting the press release, well, I am because after meeting the people behind the site I’m impressed both by the system and their evident commitment. Here’s the press release, and above you can see an impromptu video I shot with chief executive Sharath Jeevan and his colleagues Rachel Smith and Svetlana Gitman. I went along because an email from Svetlana was a model of how an organisation can reach out to bloggers. (In contrast, Beth Kanter has some warnings here on how NOT to pitch to bloggers). After explaining Globalgiving Svetlana wrote:

I was wondering if you were interested in learning more about us and maybe featuring us on your blog or offering us ideas about how to improve our social media avenues? Steven Blyth, Steve Bridger, and Beth Kanter all spoke very highly about you and and recommended that I contact you directly. I was hoping you would be interested in learning more about us, featuring us on your blog or offering suggestions on how we can broaden our marketing approach through the incorporation of social media. I know you met our chief executive Sharath Jeevan, at an event a few months ago, and as a team we would like to stay in contact with you.

How could I refuse? The Globalgiving model is personal – and their promotional activity is too.

There’s a more formal launch this evening, when Minister for International Development Shahid Malik MP becomes the site’s first official UK supporter, and makes an online donation to a project providing radios to educate orphaned Rwandan children on health and livestock issues, run by the Freeplay Foundation. You can see it here.

I was also attracted to Globalgiving because, as I wrote here, I recently came upon the book If the World Were a Village. That brings global issues down to understandable neighbourhood level. But once you’ve understood better, how can you follow through and do something smallscale, personal and significant? Globalgiving offers one route. The old adage about fundraising is that people give to people. If your gift is global you may need some personable intermediaries.

If you are interested in this new approach to fundraising here’s a few related links:

I’m going to look around for a project to support among the many here.


  • Jenny Hickey
    September 15, 2008 - 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rachel!
    Yey! This is amazing! Well done!

    I was back in Nepal in July. I went to take a bag of clothes to the Esther Benjamins Trust Refuge at Godawari. They rescue Nepalese girls and young children unwittingly sold by their parents to traffickers and then into bonded slavery in India. If you Google EBTrust you’ll get them.

    I often think of that wonderful trip “…looking down on eagles…” in the high hills – hope to do it again someday.

    I’ll pass the word about Globalgiving to all and sundry.
    Take Care,
    Love to you and Sue
    Jenny xx

  • September 16, 2008 - 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Great piece! Thanks for doing this. I was delighted to see one of my favorite charities in Cambodia now listed in the UK Global Giving

  • September 16, 2008 - 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi Beth – I’ve been wondering which projets to support – now I know one to back 🙂

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