96 Mahtomedi Ave
Mahtomedi, MN 55115
Foundations and corporations have a disproportionate impact on the direction of social sector work to the resources they contribute. Individual donors don’t yet change the direction of nonprofit work, but they could if they knew their own power.
Nonprofits know the drill. Foundations or large corporate funders go into a new strategic planning session and come out with the announcement: We are now going to fund X! All our support will help solve the problem of X! Charities then immediately begin the chorus “We solve X! We are the best at solving X!”
Even if that means recasting years of work trying to solve Y.
Social good organizations chase large dollars because it seems like the majority of small donors don’t have a collective voice at the table, so institutional philanthropy becomes the loudest sound about problems to solve. The vast majority of donated supported comes from individuals (http://givingusa.org/giving-usa-2016/) but those people aren’t seen as a collective voice with collective power, but rather as scattered, reactive voices.
That can change.
We now have tools to anonymize, collect, aggregate and understand the power of crowds, and it may be that institutional philanthropy will end up assuming a degree of influence commensurate with their financial support. It requires a willingness for charities to embrace the idea that their donors are worth this trust, and to learn how to share power with them.
There are steps necessary for local communities to begin emerging the voices of collective philanthropy, including:
1. Understanding their own data collection and anonymizing practices
2. Selecting emerging standards for sharing data about organizations, such as BRIDGE.
3. Uniting data across giving, including efforts such as #GivingTuesday.
4. Empowering both charities and donors to contribute to evaluation efforts and transparency, uniting both support and outcomes.