It's worth a look.
Make your Gift Work Twice
by Roger Eaton, December 2011

There is a powerful fundraising angle to the Voices of Humanity project.  While electing a message from the grass roots to represent humanity is all to the good, the fact is that participation in the process is not that easy to obtain. Things global seem so remote to people and they don't see a payoff. 

To incentivize them, new grant and donor money could be funneled through the participants to the organization of their choice, say five dollars if they write a message that lands in the top 5% and a dime for each vote they cast, something on that order. To be clear, this would be money not for the participants themselves, but for the civil society organization of their choice.

We go to the grant makers and to the participating organizations and ask for dual-purpose donations which will 1) help get the whole world on one page and 2) promote their local organization. 

Now this is a bit complicated, but it is not really a ponzi scheme! It is more like a water pump and we need some money to prime the pump.  So let's assume we can find five or ten thousand dollars to get started.  The flow of the money can be controlled so as to guarantee that a minimum percent of donations end up going to the organization of the donor's choice, say 66%. Donors would receive a detailed breakdown of where their money went.  

It seems a good bet that organizations that have memberships will encourage their members to participate and steer the money to the organization.  But to keep the money flowing, the members need to become donors as well.

A clear eyed view suggests that the organizations will not go to their members and ask them to become donors unless they are guaranteed to receive 100+% of the donation, not just 66%.  It is very possible that the "Make your gift work twice!" appeal will bring in new money that would never have been donated, but until we have more experience, the only safe bet is to guarantee at least 100% of donations being returned to the organization that appeals to its membership.

Therefore we will need foundations and large scale global networks to make up the missing 33%. The incentives for these large scale organizations are first that all the money will go to organizations that they are comfortable supporting and second that the result is to increase the online buzz for their issue.  These global networks will make matching grants to the organizations they are comfortable with, so for every three dollars local donors give, the matching grant puts in one dollar, thus increasing the income to the organization to 100% of donations.  The math is simple.  Local donors give three dollars two thirds of which is guaranteed to go to the local organization.  A third dollar is kicked in by the global network/foundation so now for every three dollars given locally, three dollars are guaranteed to come to the local organization.  The fourth dollar will also be distributed, so it is quite possible that a local organization will receive more than their local donors gave.  

With this kind of set up, the local organizations will want to ask their members both to donate and to participate, so the process becomes self-reinforcing. A "Make your gift work twice!" campaign will increase membership online participation and help in the rejuvenation of the older established organizations, since it is the younger generation that is most likely to be motivated this way. Increased participation and the possibility of raising new money make the prospect attractive to the local organization.  Overall, the NGO movements should receive a good boost, which will also result in increased donations to the global networks and foundations which have kickstarted the process.  

That's the theory.  The question now is whether it can be made to work in the real world. 
Last changed December 13, 2011.
page maintained by Roger Eaton
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