If you're in the business of making the world a better place — and aren't we all? — you need to squeeze every drop of impact out of each dollar your organization is able to raise or earn. If your organization leaks money, your mission becomes less impactful. Save dollars, and you will save more lives.
At GlobalMedic, we’re acutely aware how quickly funding must be turned into action. We mobilize and deploy paramedics, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and other skilled first responders within hours of a disaster. We also take longer-term action, such as delivering pre-hospital emergency medical care training packages. Funding emergency aid and long-term community empowerment might sound like divergent activities, but in truth, the same best practices let us maximize our impact in both. And because collaboration is a cornerstone of our organization, we are able to mobilize and effectively act at a moment's notice, ensuring that no funding dollar goes to waste.
Lives Won't Wait
Last December, GlobalMedic launched the Iraq Winterization Response campaign, providing displaced families in northern Iraq with basic necessities to support their health, hygiene, and warmth through the cold winter months. We simultaneously drafted multiple funding proposals, shared feedback from potential donors and field teams, and tweaked project proposals. After landing several grants, we developed them into programs, optimizing as needed. Through the program, our team distributed 1,057 customized winterization kits, effectively supporting 7,400 people. Over time, we rapidly re-designed the kits to better serve families' long-term needs.
We couldn't have collaborated as quickly as we did, however, without a virtual central dispatch. We have donors, funding agencies, volunteers, contractors, and field teams around the world. Proposals take days to finalize when you collaborate on them individually by email. Add a slow wi-fi connection in a remote location to the mix, and the rate at which funds are awarded slows to a trickle. That is not what GlobalMedic is about.
We use Dropbox to assemble teams, funding, and resources at the drop of a hat. Everyone has access to and collaborates on the same information. This allows us to quickly secure funding from multiple sources and coordinate our grant writing efforts across the globe. Remote locations are no longer a factor, because files automatically sync whenever wi-fi is available. At headquarters, instead of taking the time and effort to share knowledge one-on-one, staff who are deployed can point to the knowledge base in Dropbox and quickly pass on their responsibilities to those remaining behind.
It's an intuitive tool. As paramedics, we learn from an algorithm-based program and are taught to respond in a certain way when presented with a certain set of facts. This shared knowledge and training makes us more effective when we are trying to save a life. Medics who have never worked together can transition into their roles during a cardiac arrest or a hot call because they know exactly what their role is. Typically, this requires years of learning and the development of a rigorous training system. With Dropbox, our response mechanism is enhanced because each responder can access their assignment and particular role while being able to see how it fits into the bigger aid delivery picture.
As fieldwork continues, we share our progress with donors, helping them see the impact of their contributions. Thanks to Dropbox, files too large to attach to an email — photos, videos, beneficiary interviews, GPS locations, and beneficiary lists, to name a few — can be shared with all our donors at once. This helps keep donors involved in the progress of our projects and boosts our accountability and transparency. In turn, increased donor confidence helps us secure additional funding, increasing the impact and reach of our programs and reducing the time it takes us to respond to a disaster.
At this point, we’ve developed enough of a consistent funding stream to be able to provide aid to those in need without having to wait for reimbursements. Grants take a while to be revised and signed (rightfully so), but people whose lives are in jeopardy cannot wait. When Typhoon Hagupit ravaged the Philippines in December 2014, GlobalMedic immediately deployed household water purification units to families in desperate need of safe drinking water. Because we had gained the confidence of donors, we were able to launch our response knowing that the money to support our efforts would arrive in a timely fashion. In other words, we harnessed our collective brainpower to secure the funding we needed while using our limited manpower to save lives.
Although we've grown a lot in recent years, tools like Dropbox enable us to coordinate our efforts with speed and efficiency while helping bridge the divide between the macro strategic view and our actual on-the-ground response. We take pride in being able to say we deliver the maximum amount of aid with minimal operating costs. Open communications and virtual coordination tools help us do that, improving our workflow while opening up new opportunities for funding and growth. They can do the same for your organization.
Rahul Singh founded the David McAntony Gibson Foundation (GlobalMedic) in 1999 to honor the memory of his best friend, who tragically lost his life in 1998. In just sixteen years, Singh's efforts have resulted in an innovative, globally recognized organization, and Singh himself has personally led more than thirty GlobalMedic missions around the world.