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GlobalGiving Rewards Curiosity

September 10, 2015

Globalgiving_pict_originalI recently read A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer, Academy Award-winning movie producer and self-professed curious person. In recounting a lifetime of asking interesting people all kinds of questions, Grazer shares his philosophy about the power of curiosity:

[Curiosity is] democratic. Anyone, anywhere, or any age or education level, can use it....For it to be effective, curiosity needs to be harnessed to at least two other traits. First, the ability to pay attention to the answers to your questions....The second trait is the willingness to act....Curiosity is the tool that sparks creativity. Curiosity is the technique that gets an innovation....

The power of curiosity is a good thing to consider in the quest for social impact. Many organizations – big and small, new and old, well-resourced or not – are working on a wide range of issues – environmental conservation, education, food security, health, the arts – out of a desire to make things better. Because of this diversity, it's hard to agree on an approach that is universally useful.

Maybe that's because we've been looking too hard.

Simple curiosity is at the heart of understanding how to fix every problem. Curiosity fuels each theory of change, social impact assessment, continuous quality improvement cycle, and participatory inquiry survey. Curiosity is also at the heart of a new program at GlobalGiving.

GlobalGiving has a big goal to catalyze a global market for ideas, information, and money that democratizes aid and philanthropy. For community-based organizations around the world, GlobalGiving offers an online crowdfunding platform that can help them  expand their donor networks and provides access to resources they can use to develop better fundraising strategies.

A new effort– GG Rewards – makes the connection between organizational effectiveness and those donations. But instead of rewarding organizations that are already doing the very best work, GG Rewards prioritizes progress and improvement above excellence.

There are lots of reasons to reward organizations that are trying – and succeeding – to get better in the work they do. In the spirit of creative destruction, one reason is that the best solutions today won't necessarily be the best solutions tomorrow. From a social equity perspective, resources and capacity are not necessarily evenly distributed across communities, and directing resources where they have always gone historically tends to reinforce such patterns. And frankly, making progress toward being more effective is part of GlobalGiving's DNA.

With a core value of Listen. Act. Learn. Repeat, it's hard for GlobalGiving not to reward organizations experimenting with new approaches and showing real progress as a result. The folks at GlobalGiving know first-hand what this approach can do. In GlobalGiving's case, it has enabled almost 480,000 donors to channel $190 million to nearly 13,000 projects in 165 countries in just 13 years.

As Brian Grazer says, "Curiosity isn't just impertinent, it's insurgent. It's revolutionary...."

Laura Callanan is a board member at GlobalGiving and a past contributor to PhilanTopic. As a consultant in the Social Innovation Practice, Callanan led McKinsey & Company's Learning for Social Impact initiative.


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