…Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. We continually experiment. We fail quickly and productively. We use data and feedback to guide our course.
For someone who wants to set aside money to establish a Philanthropic Foundation or Fund, what does it take to make sure your resources are being impactful and truly effective? In this interview series, called “How To Create Philanthropy That Leaves a Lasting Legacy” we are visiting with founders of Philanthropic Foundations, Charitable Organizations, and Non Profit Organizations, to talk about the steps they took to create sustainable success.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alix Guerrier.
Alix Guerrier is the CEO of GlobalGiving. He is a co-founder of the education technology company LearnZillion and previously served as its president prior to joining GlobalGiving. He’s also been a consultant in McKinsey & Company’s Education Practice, a middle and high school math teacher, and worked in the public finance department at Citigroup. He currently serves on the boards of LearnZillion, Capital City Public Charter School, and GuideStar USA. Alix has a Masters in Education from the Stanford University School of Education and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He graduated from Harvard University with an AB in physics and is a proud product of New Haven Public Schools. A first-generation American and child of parents from Haiti and rural Brazil, he lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two daughters.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about a ‘top of mind’ topic. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
As CEO of GlobalGiving, I’m shaped every day by the incredible partners that we work with around the globe. As an organization, we keep learning and growing every day. We are constantly looking for ways to offer more support and stability to our community.
A bit about me: I’m a first-generation American, with my parents coming from Haiti and rural Brazil. I’ve been a middle and high school math teacher. I’m passionate about the causes that GlobalGiving partners around the globe address every day: education, gender equality, racial justice, climate action, and food security, among many others.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? We would love to hear a few stories or examples.
At GlobalGiving, we’re really focused on leading with empathy. That’s a core value for me, and for our entire team. GlobalGiving originally launched as a crowdfunding platform — but now we’re so much more than that. As a nonprofit organization with thousands of projects in 170+ countries around the world, our mission is to support community-led change. So, our focus is on those changemakers who are embedded in their communities, who know best what is going on in their own area, making positive differences in the lives of people around them.
What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made since you started leading your organization?
We’ve discovered quite a few things, one of which is the power of tech to fuel innovation. Many people think of charity as simply donating dollars to a nonprofit. But it can be so much more nuanced than that. The local leaders in the GlobalGiving community are embracing technology like crowdsourced mapping to design ingenious solutions and training communities to transform the economy. They’re working tirelessly to bring relief to people who survive the worst disasters. They’re working toward a truly equitable society.
Can you please tell our readers more about how you or your organization intends to make a significant social impact?
GlobalGiving is a nonprofit that supports other nonprofits by connecting them to donors and companies. Since 2002, we’ve helped trusted, community-led organizations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe (and hundreds of places in between) access the tools, training, and support they need to make our world a better place.
Since 2002, we’ve helped raise more than 618M dollars from over a million people who’ve supported over 30,000 projects in more than 170 countries. Through the courage of our community-led partners in countries around the world, we are seeing significant social impact.
What makes you feel passionate about this cause more than any other?
At GlobalGiving, we are fortunate enough to partner with nonprofits all over the world, addressing such crucial issues as racial justice, gender equality, and food security. Being passionate about the work of GlobalGiving means believing in the power of our partners — courageous, community leaders who are tackling injustice in their own areas, and making an impact.
Without naming names, could you share a story about an individual who benefitted from your initiatives?
As we look around the world, we see the impact of community-led organizations around the world. We see the impact of courageous leaders. I’m incredibly inspired by our 2021 Girl Fund nominees — incredible nonprofit leaders in Nepal, Nigeria, Argentina, Greece, and Jordan. Each of them is tackling gender equality initiatives with tremendous vision and grace. One of our amazing nominees is a professional female athlete in Jordan who is empowering girls and women to find their inner fire (and confidence!) through sports.
We all want to help and to live a life of purpose. What are three actions anyone could take to help address the root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve?
The minimum donation on our site is 10 dollars. That’s the price of a coffee and croissant, which many of us buy every day. It’s easy to make a one time donation to a cause you care about. It doesn’t need to be 100 dollars or 1,000 dollars. Every cent counts and we give you the power to choose where your money goes, when you can afford to donate.
- Join our project of the month club.
With so many worthy projects to choose from, we know that picking just one to support can be difficult. As a Project of the Month Club member, you don’t have to choose! Each month we will direct your donation to a different high-impact project automatically. It’s simple: you set up a monthly donation to the Club in any amount, every month we send your donation to a different high-impact project and then you receive a monthly email about the impact made by that month’s project. Over the past 12 years, 3,250 Project of the Month Club members have raised more than 1.7M dollars for 139 projects in 48 countries.
- Start a fundraiser through GlobalGiving.
It’s easy to create a general fundraiser, create an event based fundraiser or create a wedding registry fundraiser.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Create A Successful & Effective Nonprofit That Leaves A Lasting Legacy?” Please share a story or example for each.
First and foremost, GlobalGiving’s mission is to transform aid and philanthropy to accelerate community-led change. Our ultimate vision is unleashed potential of people to make positive change happen.
At GlobalGiving, we have four core values that are more than just buzzwords! They’re at the center of our office culture and drive our daily work. They impact everything we do:
- Always Open
We believe in the power of great ideas and that these ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, at any time.
- Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.
We continually experiment. We fail quickly and productively. We use data and feedback to guide our course.
- Never Settle
We have an obligation to question the rules, change them for the better, raise the bar, play a different game, and play it better than anyone thinks is possible.
- Committed to WOW
We act promptly, enthusiastically, and professionally so people are WOW-ed by their interactions with us.
How has the pandemic changed your definition of success?
In some ways the pandemic devastated us — and in other ways it galvanized us. We certainly saw a new level of generosity unleashed.
From the individuals who gave the extra they had in their pocket to the corporations that contributed to a grant program, we witnessed an outpouring of support as the pandemic worsened. Those donors helped our nonprofit partners continue their critical work on the front lines as they continued their fight for the causes closest to their hearts, such as gender equality, wildlife conservation, and human rights. Their generosity added up to 105 million dollars for vital work by our nonprofit partners in 2020 — a number that defied all of our expectations.
From a technology standpoint, many things have changed. Like many organizations, we were compelled to work remotely. We’ve pivoted again and again throughout the pandemic to find creative ways to stay connected with our colleagues and partners all around the world. From video calls to virtual events to internal systems, we are continually evolving. We rely heavily on tools like Slack to make asynchronous work possible for our staff. We are conducting virtual visits with partners and we are excited to see progress developing on this front.
How do you get inspired after an inevitable setback?
Setbacks are indeed inevitable, as we look at the massive challenges around the globe. But our partners inspire me every day.
After two massive earthquakes hit Mexico in 2017, local communities and their leaders came together to rebuild in the midst of mass devastation. Now, four years later, we’re seeing the incredible long-term impact of their work, and specifically, their collaboration. Homes have been rebuilt and restored. Access to drinking water has been obtained. I look at the resilience of these incredible communities, and I am inspired.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world who you would like to talk to, to share the idea behind your non-profit? He, she, or they might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
We’re grateful for the celebrities and influencers who elevate our work at GlobalGiving. We recently took a staff poll on who folks would love to see mention GlobalGiving. The consensus was that we would love to see Oprah talk about GlobalGiving!
You’re doing important work. How can our readers follow your progress online?
First, visit GlobalGiving.org. Make a gift, or buy a GlobalGiving Gift Card for someone in your life this holiday season. And, please follow us on social media!
Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.