Donna Callejon with kids in village in Guatemala - the houses, latrines, etc are being built partly with Global Giving support.
This week, as BlogHer, launched a special campaign with GlobalGiving to raise money for lifesaving programs for women around the world, here is an interview with Donna Callejon who is the Chief Operating Officer of Global Giving.
1. Tell me about you - how did you end up working in global philanthropy? Do you have a foundation background?
I am a corporate refugee. During my 17 + years in the financial services world I was always engaged in "philanthropy" as a volunteer in many "do gooder" opportunities. Before GlobalGiving I spent a few years helping to build the Washington Area Women's Foundation - and that's when I started becoming a "student' of philanthropy. I met Dennis Whittle, Global Giving's co-founder, at a social entrepreneurship conference in Geneva. When we both got back to DC we got together , and he and Mari needed some help with some business development support. So I started working 3 days a week with them in 2003.
2. What is your job at Global Giving? Why do you think Global Giving is unique and does fabulous work?
My job now at GlobalGiving is to make sure that everything we are doing, and everyone who is working on donor-facing activities (business development, marketing, tech) is organized in some sort of recognizable formation. GlobalGiving is very much a social enterprise - we run it like a company with monthly goals and metrics - all with the goal of attracting as many donors to support great projects around the world. Dennis and Mari are truly spectacular visionaries - and positioned us as the first and most successful player in this project-specific, global philanthropy space. The true uniqueness, though, is the network of amazing vetted project leaders and project organizations we have been able to build, and can access for large and small donors alike.
3. I recently noticed that you had a project from New Orleans, can you tell me about it? Do you typically fund American projects?
I think we have about 40 projects on the site right now that are based in the US, and that represents about 8-9% of all the projects. The US projects are an interesting mix - several in the gulf coast as a result of Hurricane Katrina. We find that donors who are familiar with us, and corporate donors, increasingly want to support a specific project, not just send their money into what can feel like the black hole of the Red Cross or other big NGOs. So school or library-specific projects were and continue to be attractive to donors. In addition, we have a partnership with Pandora.com, the only radio service, and for them we've added a few US based music projects. And then finally one of our project sponsoring organizations is the Tech Museum Awards in San Jose, so there are several US based Tech Laureates who have posted projects.
4. Can you highlight a few of the amazing projects on Global Giving that support women?
We have found, since the beginning, that projects focused on women and girls do very well on GlobalGiving. The international giving community understands better than the US philanthropic community that investing in girls education is one of the single biggest drivers of community health and sustainability. And women are the backbone of most low-income communities, around the world and in the US. Two of my favorite projects, both of which hit on several key issues at once:
Rescuing Young Girls from Bonded Labor in Nepal - this project buys a family in Nepal a pig to generate income so that they don't have to sell their daughter into servitude to pay for family expenses. It also requires, and pays for, the girls to go to school.
Build Skills and Income by Training Guatemalan Women - This is an economic development project, a self esteem project and a human rights project all in one. for $35 an indigenous woman in Guatemala will get quality training on weaving, allowing her to then participate in the global markets for crafts.
We are really excited about our new partnership with BlogHers Act. Both the writers and readers of blogs on BlogHer are an engaged, active community, and it's terrific to see them coming together to raise funds for projects that will help ensure that babies and mothers have the best possible chance of being physically and emotionally healthy. They selected a great group of projects to support, and within the first 72 hours of the campaign have raised over $1,000. I hope as we get closer to Mother's Day people will make contribution in honor of the women in their lives and send them free, eco-friendly e-cards via GlobalGiving.
5. Global Giving recently partnered with the Case Foundation for the America's Giving Challenge and you've done other competitions before -- any lessons learned you want to share with people who might want to champion a cause in future contests?
The America's Giving Challenge was by far the largest of these contests we've run or helped run - generating almost $400,000 to projects on GlobalGiving. Some have rewarded projects for attracting the largest amount of money, and some for the largest number of donors. We think that a combination of the two is best - fundraises need to hit a threshold number of both to make the contest meaningful. One thing that holds through across all the contests is that it's often one person - either on the staff or board, or just an evangelist for the organization - who really drives the successful fundraisers - as you have done now twice for the Sharing Foundation. It's always someone with a strong vested interest in the success of the organization, and it always comes down to the wire. So, to win you have to really commit yourself, inspire your networks to spread the word, and stay focused until the end.
6. I've been working on something called the "cute dog theory" of social media and nonprofit adoption. I couldn't help but notice that you're a dog lover - I saw your dogbook on Facebook. Can you tell me about your dogs?
We have three dogs in the house right now. Dillon is the oldest - he's a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and loves to play ball. Hailey is a yellow lab, and we have a song we made up about her that starts with "Hail-Bop" (like the comet). It goes on to describe her, um, proclivity to lie around and be bossy. She is the alpha for sure. And then there is Dixon, who is a 2.5 yr old Westie. He weighs 1/3 what the other two do, but he thinks he's a big dog. He's a true terrier - patrols our backyard for wayward birds, squirrels, and anything else that dares to climb the fence!
Beth Kanter, BlogHer CE for Nonprofits and Social Change, also writes Beth's Blog.