Tactical Philanthropy Community Delivers

Kjerstin’s newest problem is prioritizing all her new resources. We’ve all been introduced to Louder Than Words and Consulting Within Reach who are live blogging the pro bono work they are doing for FORGE. But behind the scenes has been a flurry of additional activity. Offers of longer term consulting, foundation introductions, social media expertise, nonprofit financial analysis have all come pouring in. So have inquires regarding various levels of interest in donating (both large and small amounts) to FORGE.

Personally, I am going to make a donation to FORGE. A number of other people have told me they will too. Reader Tony Wang has suggested that The Point, a fundraising widget that allows people to pledge an amount that only gets released if a larger total amount is pledged be used in this effort. I think that donating to FORGE makes sense if we believe that 1) enough short term funds will be delivered in order to close the budget this year and 2) enough long term funds are delivered to build FORGE’s fundraising capacity to match their impact model so that we’re not having this discussion next year.

The Point offers a clever concept. As a donor without knowledge of how other donors are behaving, I might only be willing to make a small donation. But if I know that my pledge will only be release if the rest of FORGE’s donors step up and raise enough to hit the targets, I personally would give significantly more.

So let’s speculate for a minute. Let’s assume that FORGE needs $100,000 to close the budget and $100,000 to build fundraising capacity and maintain a reserve. Remember George Overholser’s concept of “Build vs. Buy”? The general idea is that some donors are customers who “buy” social good with their donations. Some donors are investors who give money to “build” a nonprofit so that it can become sustainable and deliver more social good in the future.

I imagine that there are foundations out there like Skoll (who runs Social Edge where Kjerstin blogs) and Case (which has been very involved in “citizen philanthropy” and online giving) and Hewlett (where president Paul Brest has written about the potential of a “online philanthropic information market”) and Meyer Memorial Trust (which wrote on their blog that the FORGE story “deserves the rapt attention all nonprofit organizations, foundations and donors”) who might possibly be interested in the story unfolding around FORGE. But no one wants to fund a dying nonprofit.

Ever been in a situation where nobody wants to go first, but once the first person moves everyone follows? What if various groups of donors stepped up with “buy” or “build” donations that were contingent on other “buyers” or “builders” playing their role? Could this really happen?

I think it could.

One Comment

  1. Rich Polt says:

    My comment is simple. The FORGE “story” WILL become a lot more interesting when someone does “step up” to the plate and makes a sizable gift (or when a lot of small gifts become significant). If ever there was a time to get off the fence, it’s now. If you want visibility because of your gift (and I would assert that there is nothing wrong with that), than this is an especially good time to step up to the plate. If you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, do it anonymously. Either way your gift may be much more than just the dollar amount. It will validate this experiment (at least in part), give the media story a bit more traction, and inspire others potentially to give.

    (Kjerstin… chalk me up for 2 more cents)