it’s just pie

This problem of getting money to the right people, at the right time and under the right circumstances, continues to haunt me. With years of experience as a fund-raiser and a grant-maker, I am continually perplexed at how difficult it can be to get money into the hands of those doing the work. More frustrating to watch is what a struggle it is for agencies doing good work to get the money they need to operate successfully without stress and anxiety about how to keep the programs running next year, how to adequately compensate fabulous staff members and how to grow awareness of the issues they tackle day in and day out. The work is infinite, the pot of money is finite, and may the best pitch/proposal/auction win. This resource scarcity doesn’t support the work effectively and I find myself scheming about possible models that could increase the pie (and I’m not referring to increasing the individual nonprofit pie, as Mark Koenig discusses here, but a much more global definition: how to create more philanthropists, giving more money).

I’m intrigued with the exponential growth of crowdfunding sites, like Catapult and StartSomeGood, and the new potential they create. In an effort to remove layers of busy work and barriers to accomplishing the real ends, crowdfunding is a reasonable response, and I believe this is the movement that will take us to the next level in philanthropy. But I’m excited by an idea that goes further. I’m more interested in how to ignite philanthropy in the individual that goes beyond the ‘likes’ of slacktivism and the “give a little here, give a little there” to support a one-off project or friend’s pet cause. I’m thinking of a more engaged citizenry who commit to being philanthropists, using the broadest definition of the word. What could be created that would allow everyone into the system of grantmaking? How could individuals be encouraged and supported to step into their full giving potential?

It feels like an idea on the tip of my tongue, something I dreamed about once but can’t get access to now that I’m awake. I’m puzzling over something that resembles a nonprofit stock market: a combination of the Awesome Foundation and FlowFunding, with an IdeaScale platform, #givingTuesday marketing, and GiveGab social networking. How do you create a movement that promotes moving money where it needs to go, not letting it sit and stagnate but put to work for the good of humanity? How does this tie back into ideas of simplicity and intention? What might a larger pie look like?

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