What happens when former World Bank employees ditch money for philanthropy? GlobalGiving, the world’s largest crowdfunding community, on how an off-site helped them brainstorm ideas for the next iteration of their site.

Tell us about your mandate.

GlobalGiving believes that great ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, at anytime. As the first and largest crowdfunding community in the world, we connect nonprofits, donors, and companies in over 165 countries with the funding, tools, training, and one-on-one support they need to make the world a better place.

Why was GlobalGiving founded?

In 1997, World Bank executives Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle were asked to develop innovative ways to combat poverty. They created the World Bank’s Development Marketplace, a first-of-its-kind event where people from around the world competed for World Bank funds. The event’s success unveiled the enormous potential of a global marketplace for philanthropy, and participants asked for a real marketplace that was open year-round and operated virtually. Mari and Dennis saw the brilliance of this idea, and left the World Bank to launch GlobalGiving. (Watch these TEDx Talks from co-founders Dennis and Mari to learn more.)

Tell us about the goal of the off-site you did in our DC location.

GlobalGiving and its partners generate enormous amounts of content every day—from reports for donors to analysis on giving trends to resources for impact in the social sector. We recently won a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a new section of our website to share this content with the world.
A blank slate is a beautiful thing, but it’s also daunting! We needed a quiet, off-site space where we could roll up our sleeves and strategize in a cross-department environment.

How did you tackle such a large undertaking?

There’s nothing that professionals dread more than a long, boring meeting. We wanted our retreat to result in actionable findings and next steps for our project, so we carefully planned the day. We started with a delicious lunch from Plum Relish. Then, we segmented the day into three activities: customer journey mapping, a brainwriting exercise, and an open reflection session. During the customer journey mapping exercise, we broke into small groups to think about what our stakeholders need to see, feel, and do on our website. For our brainwriting exercise (if you haven’t heard the term, check out this helpful article), we asked retreat attendants to write down ideas for content categories and topics on index cards. We added a time limit to keep things fun, and attendants shared and voted on their favorite ideas at the end of the exercise. Before we wrapped up, we had about 10 minutes for an open reflection session, and some of our best ideas and next steps came from this unstructured period of the retreat.

What do you hope is the result of this new resource on

Ultimately, we want this new resource on our website to be a catalyst for the exchange of ideas and information in the social sector. We believe that information and idea-sharing will improve the sector’s overall effectiveness and make the world a better place.

If people want to help/get involved with GlobalGiving’s projects where should they start?

You can find thousands of local projects to support from vetted, high-impact nonprofits on GlobalGiving. We partner with more than 3,000 nonprofits from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe (and hundreds of countries in between) that are working to educate children, feed the hungry, preserve our environment, build houses, train women (and men) with job skills, and do hundreds of other amazing things. Visit our website to find a project that inspires you. You can search by location, theme, or keyword.

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