GlobalGiving Collects Stories at the Source


GlobalGiving, a charity fundraising website, launched the Storytelling Project in Kenya to collect feedback "straight from the source"--from the nonprofits and social entrepreneurs that benefit their communities from the generous donations of their supporters. While GlobalGiving is staffed by 25 people in Washington, D.C., it has created a network of more than 1,000 organizations implementing small projects in more than 100 countries, dealing with everything from climate change to technology.

Community members are asked to answer a simple question: "tell us about a time when a person or an organization tried to change something in your community." So far, local scribes have collected 19,620 stories from more than 5,000 participants, first in Kenya, and then spreading out to Uganda. (View a map of the stories here, thanks to the Ushahidi platform, which easily crowdsources information using multiple channels, including SMS, email, Twitter and the web.)

With support from the Rockefeller Foundation and independent consultant Irene Guijt, the GlobalGiving team analyzed the stories using the SenseMaker® methodology developed by Cognitive Edge. The storytellers "tag" their stories and indicate how much each story has to do with social relations, physical well-being or economic opportunity.  Here's the offline version of the contextual questions associated with each story:

The "feedback loops" that are generated from the submissions to the crowdsourced project help GlobalGiving achieve the following goals:

  • develop an evaluation tool to improve its monitoring and evaluation capability
  • increase its accountability to donors
  • recognize social change and impact that have resulted from its projects
  • improve organizational performance
  • share the methodology and lessons learned with the broader not-for-profit community

See the Storytelling Project in action here:

"Listening to stories may seem simple, but turning this into a method for monitoring development work has meant drawing on fields as diverse as complexity theory, behavioral psychology, and technology," the Stanford Social Innovation Review writes about the project.

GlobalGiving co-founder Dennis Whittle says crowdsourcing technology is fundamentally changing the way development programs works:

The old style of aid is for experts to study the situation and decide what people need.  It is tempting to say that we should simply reverse this and let the people decide.  Exciting new technologies will enable beneficiaries to have a far greater voice in the coming years, and that is long overdue.  But the best system will likely  provide a balance of the two.

GlobalGiving's ultimate goal is to create a "complete online DIY community feedback toolkit that can be used by any organization that wants to collect and analyze community feedback."

If you're interested in supporting the project, donate here:

Learn more about Cognitive Edge's SenseMaker® methodology: