Carla Dearing comments on a Chronicle of Philanthropy article, "Direct-giving Web sites rely on fees to help cover costs." The mystery is why don't millions of donors just key in gift after gift as they avidly scan scads of worthy causes on line? Maybe because giving is not driven by consumer demand. Giving, maybe, is, like life insurance sales, driven by the person who gets the money chasing the person who has the money down the alley and across the street. Maybe giving like life insurance sales is driven by face to face rapport building, an active sales process, or better yet by a planning process based on the client's vision, goals, dreams, and ideals. Gifts, folks, are sold, or at least planned, inspired, or elicited. Am I wrong about this?
Beautiful Foundation, as described here, is "a nonprofit that, relying almost entirely on tiny Internet donations, is helping rekindle a sense of philanthropy among South Koreans." They raised over $11 million in 2007 mostly in very small online donations.
Gen Y and The Changing Leadership in Philanthropy, Reflections on a Conversation with Sharna Goldseker
A few days ago I had interviewed a remarkable woman, Sharna Goldseker. Rather than posting my thoughts I have been mulling over her remarks. Here is something she wrote at age 26, the beginning of her life story as a wealthy heir within the Jewish tradition of love and justice. Here is a piece about her one year later. Here is where she works now, at age 33. And here. And here is a recent piece she wrote about generations of Jewish giving. What have I learned from Sharna?
- There is hope, if Sharna and friends are any indication.
- A prior generation made much of the dark side of money, and the baleful effect of inheritances. The literature of sorrow on that score is vast, but Sharna seems to bear no such resentment towards her forbears. She speaks for a generation (Gen Y) that is online, connected, alert, and not given to secrets, privacy, and safe places. She is out there.
- When I work around major money I try to ask, thinking of advisors, clients, and nonprofits, "Who leads and who follows in the dance?" Sharna has taught me to ask that question of the heirs as well. In the inter-generational wealth transfer process, thinking now of grandparents, parents, and grown children, who leads in the conversation about giving? About social responsibility? About all the money? (Not just the charitable budget or foundation money.)
- Increasingly, I am hearing that it is the Gen Y heirs who are stepping forward to say, "Mom and Dad, please, why the secrecy? I Googled you when I was 12. I know more about the family finances that you may think. Let's talk about our money, the future of our family, where and how to make a positive difference."
- Along with Sharna's network I would also instance Resource Generation, and I am sure there are others, in which Gen Y heirs connect as peers, raise their own awareness and prepare to enter the family conversation and family traditions of giving.
- Since age-mates have more influence on children than do parents in those critical years from puberty through early adulthood, it makes sense for wealthy parents to find a healthy and engaged peer network for the rising generation. Sharna tells me that this is getting easier, since the up and coming generation is networked online. So, national conferences and local meet ups are good, but less necessary than in the past.
One further line of thought. As an aging Boomer who has been online now for almost 10 years, I find I have two networks of close colleagues and friends. One is work related and my age, more or less. The other is online-related and Sharna's age, more or less. Connecting these generational networks and conversations may be critical for the health of our society. If Sharna's networks are online they have a stake in the all these emerging technology based communities we see springing up from Facebook, dating sites, to Ning, Civicspace, Razoo, and many others. How will the new funders collaborate with their equally talented but resource starved peers to create a better and more just, a more truly "flat" networked world? Who will lead in the generational dance, as Boomers become inheritors, while simultaneously planning their own legacies? Will Gen Y stakeholders insist on entering the space in which all the family money is planned, not just the philanthropic money? Will they be active in helping set the family vision of what a great inheritance and legacy might be? I hope as I age that the Gen Y world-changers, including my own children, will wheel me into their circle and let me listen, babble a little, and dribble on my bib. If they need a token elder to murmur a secular blessing, I volunteer. Would a beard long and white add gravitas?
8) Community-initiated and directed
7) Community-initiated, shared decisions with institution
6) Institution-initiated, shared decisions with community
5) Consulted and informed
4) Assigned but informed
I am sorry to say this pretty well nails it. The closest thing I know in philanthropy to level 8 is the theory and practice of Social Change Philanthropy as espoused by Tracy Gary, and embodied in, say, Changemakers, or Foundation Exchange and their history over years. Turns out not to be so easy to give the disenfranchised a seat at the decision making table when the giver's dollars are allocated. P2P philanthropy may be a new model, but how inclusive? Will the participants all be educated, literate, online types? That might seem diverse (race, class, gender), but techno-literarcy is a big hurdle all the same. How will the techo-illiterate be included as stakeholders?
Very interesting and important and influential work by Trebor Scholz on Web 2.0 as a locus for civil society. Giving is mentioned only once or twice, but sociability, conviviality, conversation, activism, and ownership are key themes. As we live more and more online who will own the platforms and own what we create so passionately? Can we give and give in online communities only to find that someone else has walked off with a three billion dollar check? Or that the owner is shutting our community down? Are we creating a new commons, or a new Mall of America? Will our online lives remake our society, or just offer us an escape, a surrogate, or simulacrum, for an active life in community with others? Are we dreaming?
Via email from Brittany at First Giving:
Over the past few weeks, our developers have been working tirelessly on creating a fundraising application for Facebook; and we will be releasing it within the next few weeks! Our goal is to create the most user-friendly and far-reaching fundraising applications possible. As soon as the Facebook API was ready, so were we, because we know that our fundraisers are already using Facebook as an important platform for communicating with their online community.
So, how will it work?
For those that have a Firstgiving page, all you have to do is enter your page address when prompted. Your profile will then display your fundraising total and your friends will be able to donate from there. Donations your friends make are represented on your page and once the donations are mailed (or electronically transferred) they are attributed to you, so your nonprofit will know what you’re doing for them! Creating a page takes less than 5 minutes, so if you don’t already have one, go get one!
Your friends can also help you by using the app to promote your page on their Facebook profile. The donation process is totally secure and we transfer the funds directly to the charity. We accept credit cards from anywhere in the world.