As of this week, the Wall Street Journal has started to report on micro-philanthropy websites such as Change.org, Project Apage, SixDegrees, and DonorsChoose. Check out this interview with Ben Ratray of Change.org and this article, A New Generation Reinvents Philanthropy.
What term best captures this new form of giving: Peer to peer philanthropy, micro-philanthropy, crowd sourcing of philanthropy, grassroots giving, democratic giving online, philanthro-populism? So far it seems in its infancy, more "feel good" than "get real," but if we can begin to pool token amounts maybe we could take on issues that entrenched foundations can't or won't for fear of embarrassing their well-connected boards. Ford, Pew, Soros, Rockefeller, Omidyar, name any big foundation, are fine with the gutting of our Constitution. No problem. Nothing said. All fine with them. If we are going to put both parties back inside a Constitutional container, serving us, not money, it will have to start with we the people. We need to fix a whole lot of things that most wealthy givers won't even look at. (I wish this were not true, but I get it on good authority as well as from experience. Philanthropy is an inside job. To change it we need to involve many more people from the bottom up, not just giving to feel good charities, nor supporting party A or party B, but giving for fundamental social change, right where it hurts entrenched interests most. We are not there yet, not even started, but maybe there is hope.)