Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Pizza Hut story

Here's a heartwarming story whose moral is that giving doesn't need to be overly complicated. If we as individuals and families keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to people in our own social networks in need... Well.. Read the story, you'll see what I'm getting at.

On another note, Peter Deitz held a "webinar" on "group fundraising solutions" today. He lumped together what I'll call "vertical micro-philanthropy sites" such as ModestNeeds, GlobalGiving, Kiva, DonorsChoose with "horizontal group fundraising sites" like FirstGiving, SixDegrees.org and GiveMeaning.

GiveMeaning is unique in that it's both a micro-philanthropy site AND a horizontal group fundraising site but as it applies to most of the other organizations in online fundraising and philanthropy, the two concepts are exclusive of one another.

Let me explain: ModestNeeds allows people to fund specific individuals who have applied for funding for specific personal needs. DonorsChoose allows donors to donate to appeals made by teachers asking for funding for specific school-related projects. All of these sites offer great "catalog's" of giving options all around one specific cause. These vertical sites are generally donor-based but augmented through tools that facilitate spreading awareness about specific projects on that site via word-of-mouth.

Horizontal group fundraising sites are first and foremost "fundraiser centric." This means that without a specific fundraiser instigating traffic to their own fundraising page, (little to) no donations will occur. A horizontal group fundraising platform gives a motivated individual the ability to become a fundraiser for any charity. Group fundraising platforms allow motivated "evangelists" of an organization to fundraise within their own social network (thus also augmenting awareness of the org amongst that network). Very few true strangers are going to donate to a personal fundraising page.

GiveMeaning is unique in that we are fundraiser-centric but because most every fundraising page at GiveMeaning articulates a specific project. Projects can be very specific like this one or more broad and focused really on raising money for an existing program of a charity like this one.

Peter Deitz has done an amazing job and provided a great service in comparing various online giving and fundraising sites but I think it's important to create greater distinction when making comparisons about services that in many cases are comparing "apples to lugnuts."

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Hey Tom, Thanks for attending and blogging about the webinar. Below are some comments on your post.

First though, here's the link to slides from my Group Fundraising webinar.

I agree with you that we need to identify the differences among the group fundraising platforms, so that donors and initiators know where to go when the inspiration to do something hits them.

For example, it would be a shame if someone who wanted to start a group fundraising campaign for a project in Africa showed up at GlobalGiving. The name suggests that the person would be in the right place -- but since GlobalGiving works exclusively with field partners, the individual would not be able to post a fundraising project. But they could donate to one. In this case, the initiator would have been better off heading to GiveMeaning.

I'm not sure I agree with your characterization of 'vertical group fundraising sites' as being more donor-centric. All group fundraising web sites put donors at the center of the decision of whether or not to help a campaign reach its fundraising goal. The name “DonorsChoose” is a case in point.

The difference that I think you're highlighting between DonorsChoose, GlobalGiving, and Kiva.org on the one hand, and GiveMeaning, SixDegrees, FirstGiving, and ChipIn on the other has more to do with whether the sites are 'initiator-centric'. The second cohort of group fundraising platforms are tailored to both donors and initiators, whereas the first cohort (the horizontal group fundraising sites) are geared more to donors only.

Would you agree?
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom, I re-read your post and realize now that we're saying the same thing.

What you call 'fundraiser-centric' I'm calling 'initiator-centric'.
Potatoh-Potato, eh? ;)

I prefer the term fundraiser-centric since it's a more direct description of the primary activity.
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