Leveraged Philanthropy & Social Networks

Nick Geisinger at Washington Grantmakers Daily draws our attention to an interesting new venture with the working name Project-Agape:

Project-Agape is Sean Parker’s attempt to bring viral principles to nonprofit fundraising and volunteer recruiting. (Parker is the guy who co-founded Napster and Plaxo, and was the founding president of Facebook.)

What’s Parker trying to do with this new project? From Techcrunch:

New sites like Change.org and dotherightthing and Six Degrees help people talk about issues online, but they don’t go far enough in using virality to get new users and get them actually doing things. Parker wants the kind of activity around these organizations that Facebook sees – tens of thousands of new daily users and hours and hours of social interactions. The result, he says, will be a much more efficient engine for organizations to get volunteers and raise money.

Drawing from another thread, super reader Bruce Trachtenberg (why doesn’t he have his own blog?) sends me this note:

We tried an experiment at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) when I was there. We offered to share our research, make connections, and even create co-investment opportunities for wealthy individuals who shared interests in the same areas as the foundation. Unfortunately, we lacked the right connections and platform to make inroads into the philo-investor communities. I know for sure that EMCF is still as eager as ever to make these kinds of connections and forge working co-investment relationships with high net worth donors. I do think there is an opportunity for foundations and individual donors to pool knowledge and resources and get the job done.

I’ve been pounding the table on the benefits to foundations of being transparent. I can imagine Project-Agape as a swirling mess of people hitting up their friends to sponsor their walk-a-thon… and I can imagine Project-Agape as a catalyst for foundations to openly share their research and leverage the massive giving power of the Project-Agape user base. When you include bequests, individual donors are responsible for 83.6% of all giving. Foundation giving is just 11.6% of the total. That means that if foundations can find ways to expose donors to the best giving opportunities, they can leverage their current giving by more than 7 to 1.

Nick Geisinger continues:

I asked Randall (from Project-Agape) how nonprofits can get involved while it’s still in development, and he said:

Organizations can just send me an email if they want to sign up, and you can post my address on the blog: randall@project-agape.com …. just send an email with the heading “NONPROFIT SIGN UP” with following information: organization name, administrative contact name, and email address.

Why couldn’t the major foundations have a presence on Project-Agape? I would definitely join the network and become a member of groups sponsored by the likes of the Hewlett, McConnell Clark, Irvine and Robert Wood Johnson foundations.