PagerDuty Blog

GlobalGiving: Delivering Philanthropic Change at Scale

It’s estimated that over 10 million nonprofit organizations (NPOs) exist globally today. In the United States alone, there are just north of 1.5 million NPOs. That number represents over 10% of the American workforce, which makes the nonprofit sector the third largest workforce in the U.S. behind retail and manufacturing.1

That’s a lot of people—and a lot of causes—to support. And while tens of millions of people donate their time, money, and energy to NPOs each year, there’s always going to be room for more: more growth in the community, more efficiency, more opportunities to support a cause, and more change to see around the world.

To help amplify and support the global cause of giving to grassroots charitable projects, enter GlobalGiving, an NPO that supports other NPOs by connecting them to companies and donors around the world. Since 2002, GlobalGiving, a PagerDuty Impact Pricing customer, has helped raise over $500 million for over 25,000 projects in 180 countries—all via their digital crowdfunding platform.

Design With Human Principles in Mind

Kevin Conroy, the Chief Product Officer at GlobalGiving, is responsible for the development, product management, graphic design, and data science teams who build the products, tools and services GlobalGiving offers to donors and nonprofits. His team works to build products that transform accessibility to aid and philanthropy, and accelerate community-led change. “Our team applies human-centric design principles through the development stages to ensure we’re building products that will better serve the needs of our communities,” he shared.

While product design is a key component to GlobalGiving’s service offering, it’s just as important that its digital services are accessible in communities all over the world, including Africa and Asia where bandwidth can be limited. In addition to a high level of service availability and reliability, this type of global reach requires a substantial digital transformation. “The question for us is always: ‘How can we take a program that we’ve been offering for years at one scale and take it to the next scale?’” Conroy explained. “How can we find tools to support our team that are easy to use and have the guidance and access to those technology resources to make that transformation a reality?”

Reliability as a Service

As GlobalGiving continued to scale to meet the needs of their growing user base of NPOs, it realized its business hours transcended time zones—its website, crowdfunding platform, and other digital services need to be online and available to users around the clock, no matter what. And with a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.9% uptime, it’s critical that incidents and events are acknowledged and worked on by the right team as soon as possible. “Our SLAs were becoming more important as we quickly became a critical piece of infrastructure for NPOs all over the world. We are the primary source of funding for a number of community-led NPOs on our site, so it’s important that we are alerted if our site is falling short of this mission-critical reliability as this impacts fundraising for these groups,” explained Conroy.

It became clear that Conroy’s team needed a digital operations management solution that didn’t require the “eyes on glass” approach of watching screens and manually monitoring the health of their digital services. To combat these challenges, Conroy and his team implemented PagerDuty. Within a couple months, his team had a fully operational incident management process, including tiered response levels based on the criticality of certain services, automated and cascading escalations, and even nicknames like the “upkeep ninja”—the person who is designated on call for their weekly “tour of duty.”

“PagerDuty notified us about a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack and helped us kick off a response within minutes of it starting. We were able to completely rearchitect our cloud infrastructure and end the attack, as well as provide remediation steps to other organizations the attackers were targeting. If it weren’t for PagerDuty, it would’ve been much worse.”

Kevin Conroy, Chief Product Officer, GlobalGiving

GlobalGiving also has the ability to leverage its existing toolstack within the PagerDuty platform using PagerDuty’s ecosystem of over 350+ integrations, which includes integrations with Slack and Datadog, as well as the email integration to ensure communication channels are always open and available. “By having everyone take turns being on call, we were able to develop empathy as a team, not only for each employee’s own code, but for the greater code base. It was that notion of ‘we’re all in this together’ that really drove home the value for our team,” shared Conroy.

And with everyone still working remotely due to the ongoing pandemic, PagerDuty has helped ensure a smooth transition into a fully digital incident response management process. “PagerDuty helps us support our staff while they juggle the challenges of a remote work-life balance—we can easily swap in people who are available when someone needs extra support,” explained Conroy.

The Future of Giving

As GlobalGiving continues to scale their digital services, they hope to expand their use of PagerDuty beyond the DevOps team. “PagerDuty is what lets the team truly keep our promises on our SLAs. It allows us to quickly scale our on-call abilities across new team members and form incident response teams with ease,” shared Conroy.

Nonprofits and social enterprises globally are eligible for free licenses through PagerDuty’s Impact Pricing. To learn more about GlobalGiving’s mission and how you can donate to a cause you care about, visit their website and help make a difference in the world.