Stories of distant, weather-rocked communities, from Katerina to China, Thailand to Africa, are enough to make any news reader feel a little helpless. The problems are big, and the ways to support those trying to make a difference are often confusing. How do you choose what projects to support? How will you know your money is truly going to a beneficial, effective cause?
Helping to answer those questions is GlobalGiving Green, new philanthropy service helping to connect donors with community projects that support impoverished populations and reduce climate changing emissions.
The site is a sustainability focused spin-off of the already successful donation site GlobalGiving, a project created by two former World Bank executives (Editor's note: as Ben Block observed, the World Bank itself recently received poor internal reviews of its ability to prioritize sustainability projects.)
Like the original site, GlobalGiving Green also uses information and communication technology to allow users to search through a database of worldwide projects and donate to the one that speaks most strongly to their values and interests. GlobalGiving organizers hope that this strategy will strengthen the likelihood that people will give.
GlobalGiving Green showcases innovative projects that combat the intertwined problem of poverty and climate change. (Many traditional development projects actually increase greenhouse gas production, a sad irony because the natural disasters associated with climate change, like violent storms, flooding and drought, disproportionately affect impoverished communities.)
GlobalGiving Green visitors can choose which project they wish to donate to from four different categories: emissions reduction, reforestation, green technology and climate change education. Browsing each category by project takes visitors all over the world to see how their donation could support projects like sustainable agriculture in Indonesia, bring clean water systems to Mozambique, protect rainforests in Australia, or provide jobs and fuel efficient stoves in Honduras.
For example, donating to the 'Solar Electric Systems for 10 Low-Income Families', a volunteer-based program pictured below, 'helps make it affordable for low-income families to install solar energy systems on their homes, reducing energy costs and having a positive impact on the environment.'
GGG's "How You Can Help" allows donors to choose a level at which they're comfortable giving, and let's them know exactly what their money is going toward:
$50 - Purchases 25 energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.
$100 - Provides solar training for one volunteer.
$250 - Pays for permit fees associated with one solar electric installation.
GGG allows donors and community-project leaders to connect directly and exchange information on the site. All project leaders provide updates and write blogs tracking the progress of the projects, so that visitors can gauge the success of each one. Donors are also encouraged to participate in the conversation by commenting on why they chose the project or by giving feedback to project leaders.
A project makes it onto GGG if it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provides sustainable, positive economic growth, aids the culture and environment of a community, and/or helps educate future generations so they can take sustainable development into their own hands. GGG is partnering with scientific consulting firm Eco-Securities to help evaluate and review each projects’ benefits and impacts before it is given the 'green leaf' of approval.
The real strength of GGG, however, is not just that it allows the people wanting to help to choose for themselves how to do so, but also that it helps needy communities bypass outdated industrial models that would only further exacerbate their problems, and instead provides them with tools to let them pull themselves out of poverty, sustainably.
Photo description and credit: GlobalGiving Green.