A Micro Validation of sCNN
Tom Munnecke has posted his ideas on Micro Philanthropy at Omidyar.net, to get "more and more people discovering their own power to make good things happen" for several years. Notice that sCNN is already embodying what Tom is proposing.
Here are some goals:
- Involving many more people in the philanthropic activity by efficiently supporting smaller interaction. Any act of giving has uplift value, not necessarily proportional to the size of a gift. An inner city impoverished mother in Chicago who can help a woman lift herself out of poverty in Nepal with $25 may find this far more personally rewarding than a rich donor giving $1 million to the same cause. Creating the opportunity for 40,000 people to help has a much greater net value to society.
- Exploit the power of our network technology to allow greater interactivity and communication.
- Develop a web of trust mechanism, by people and activities can thrive by "trustraising" as an alternative to today's fundraising model.
- Develop a continuous process by which we learn from our activities - successful or unsucessful. The more we uplift patterns we try, and the more we learn from their use, the smarter the network grows.
- Create a scalable means of growing the network. Success should breed success. The more people participate in the process, the more valuable it becomes for everyone else in the network, and the greater our diversity and knowledge of what works.
- Give people with limited time or resources the ability to feel that they are doing something to make the world a better place.
- Focus on activities, not organizations, as the building blocks of the model. As we trying more and more activities and get feedback from what's working, we are able to adapt our organizations to doing more of those activities.
- Reward cooperation. If an organization successfully teams with another, that cooperation should attract more attention. In the current fundraising model, cooperation can damage the organization's ability to attract resources.
- Be self-organizing. Rather than having an authority controlling the allocation scheme, the community would self-organize around a social network model based on reputation.
- Amplify people's contributions The micro philanthropists contribute something themselves as a way of attracting attention to their chosen opportunities. Other funders amplify this contribution, empowering the individual donor as well as leveraging the overall effectiveness of the philanthropic network.
The basic premise of micro philanthropy will seem disruptive to the existing non-profit organizations which are based on the fundraising model. On the other hand, it will be liberating to those seeking innovative models of uplift, or who wish to participate more meaningfully in the philanthropic process than just writing checks in response to fundraising solicitations.
The process might also appear to be chaotic and out of control, letting a huge number of people make many small gifts. This situation is analogous to the beginning days of the web. Tim Berners-Lee created a chaotic mess of URLs with no search engine, experts to approve web content or control duplicate entries. Over time, however, search engines emerged... out of this "chaotic mess" emerged Google, which offers greater meaningful access than any previous library or classification scheme.
sCNN is an invitation to use the blogosphere as network, technorati.com as search engine, individual commitment to action and blog-based documentation as social capital, the aggregated wallets of all potential givers as social venture fund, inbound links as reputation points, and wide open self-organized, self-selected blogroll sharing, in order to focus more attention, energy and resources in the direction of activities and actors, instead of organizations.
Given Tom's years of work on these ideas, I'm taking his list as a real validation of sCNN's invitation to Micro Philanthropy. Question of the moment: Is it enough to invite the ideas or does this space need to be able to claim that $xyz have been donated because of postings here. Would it be enough simply to return our focus to human-scale, everyday giving here?