People ask us often why we focus on projects on GlobalGiving, instead of just letting people give to organizations, which is the traditional way that fundraising and giving is done to nonprofits worldwide. We also recognize that it can sometimes be a hassle, and there are many NGOs that don’t join our community because their strategy is to seek funding for their organization, not for discrete projects.
We insist on projects for two reasons. One, we’re asking people to consider giving beyond their boundaries—by far the majority of donations on our site involve resources being moved from one country to another. In that context, providing a clear statement of what the money will be used for is, I think, an important way for people to become comfortable about going “out of the box.” So that’s on the donor side. But even if it didn’t necessarily make people more comfortable giving beyond their boundaries, I still think it would be worth doing. And I believe it would be worth doing because at the end of the day, GlobalGiving is dedicated to increasing transparency and accountability. And although projects can strike people as being an awkward construct, in some ways (perhaps in not the most sophisticated ways) it is a way for organizations to put a stake in the ground about their own theory of change. By outlining a specific activity, they are putting the organization on the line that “this” is what they believe will make a difference, and when the funding is provided and the activities carried out, we can 1) ascertain whether the activities were carried out, yes or no; and 2) in the longer run, see if it lead to the outcomes the organization set out to affect. We’re so young we still are focused on 1—were the activities carried out, yes or no, and if not, why. And crude as that is, it DOES reflect on the organization’s and project leader’s accountability. We wouldn’t even be able to capture that measure of accountability if we didn’t insist on projects. It's not perfect, but it’s measurable. And that’s integral to the way we think of GlobalGiving.