October 7, 2013 | Tevis Spezia, Learning By Giving Foundation

The Results of World's First MOOC on Effective Charitable Giving

Today the Learning by Giving Foundation announced it has awarded $130,000 to 40 nonprofit organizations nominated, assessed, and voted on by students in Giving With Purpose, the world’s first massive open online course or MOOC on effective charitable giving.

“We are thrilled to recognize the work of these organizations,” said Alex Buffett Rozek, Chairman of the Learning by Giving Foundation. “Thousands of students in all 50 states and 111 countries participated in the MOOC. Their commitment to becoming effective givers enabled us to identify outstanding nonprofit organizations in communities across the nation.”

Giving With Purpose, created by the Learning by Giving Foundation and Rebecca Riccio, director of Northeastern University’s experiential philanthropy education program, was launched on July 15 with more than 10,000 registrants from 111 countries signing up to take the online class. Over the eight week course, students learned from philanthropic guest speakers Warren Buffett, Doris Buffett, Cal Ripken Jr., Thomas Werner, Soledad O’Brien, and Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield.

While MOOCs average a completion rate of 5-8%, more than 10% of GWP students completed the basic course. Of those students who chose to participate in the more demanding “Giver” track of the course requiring the nomination and review of potential grant recipient organizations, 42% completed the course material. Riccio observed, “We were excited to discover that the experiential component of the course appealed to so many people. The participation requirements for students who nominated a nonprofit organization for a grant were much higher, but that did not deter them from completing the course.”

Another innovation of the MOOC was to invite teams from the Red Sox Scholars and Google to collaborate in their grantmaking. Both teams decided to split the $10,000 allocated to each of them, resulting in four awards.

Mandy Miller, Google Team Lead, commented, “The Giving With Purpose MOOC provided Google participants the opportunity to not only learn the principles of effective philanthropic giving, but also enabled the Google team to engage with the material as a group.” She continued, “The interactive course content created a virtual dialogue amongst our Google team, as we discovered new ways to measure impactful giving. We are pleased the Learning By Giving Foundation expanded into the MOOC format and look forward to additional courses to come.”

Gena Borson, Interim Executive Director, Red Sox Foundation, also praised the MOOC, saying, “We are incredibly proud of all of our Red Sox Scholars who participated in the first-ever Giving with Purpose MOOC. The students who took part in the course are predominantly from the inner-city and represent some of Boston’s most underserved communities, so we take great pride in knowing that the same students who have been on the receiving end of philanthropy now have the power to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Seven hundred organizations were nominated by students in the more demanding Giver track and were then subjected to a rigorous peer review process. The 80 highest performing organizations advanced to a final round of voting to determine which would receive grants. The highest rated organizations, Umoja Student Development Corporation of Chicago, IL and Bread for the City of Washington, DC, were awarded $10,000 each. The complete list of grantees is available at the foundation’s web site: www.learningbygivingfoundation.org.

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