There are plenty of ways to do it, too. This year’s digital darling, Groupon, has teamed up with crowdfunded microfinance pioneer Kiva to make your philanthropy dollars go further: 40% further. The coupon site is selling $25 donations for $15, with Groupon and its sponsors making up the $10 difference up to $500,000, Kiva isn’t out a dime. The deal ends, along with 2010, on December 31.
Groupon competitor, Living Social, has a somewhat more complicated offer going with Global Giving, involving percentages of sales, a processing fee, benefiting five charities in Canada, the U.K. and Australia. Today it the last day, so we should know son how well it worked out.
No matter how you send in your dollars (credit card, text, check or “old timey“* coin in a kettle), be sure to use Charity Navigator to make sure an organization is as worthy as its cause.
There are plenty of worthy causes, too. But if you’re stuck, New York Times columnistNicholas Kristof has a few suggestions for lesser-known groups that could use some help (btw, no holiday required—give early, give often…).
“Philanthrocapitalism” co-author Mark Bishop predicts 2011 will be “a year when aid is privatized more than we’ve ever seen it before.” Whether that turns out to be good or not remains to be seen. But the trend got a big boost with Warren Buffet and Bill & Melinda Gates’ “Giving Pledge,” a clever non-binding bit of billionaire peer-pressure designed to buck the “tax breaks for the wealthiest 2%” mentality of Washington D.C. Although the pledge calls for the mega-rich to donate half their wealth during their lifetimes, or immediately thereafter, the realities of how much actual cash that boils down to on an annual basis and where the money goes may prove disappointing to some.
Meanwhile, continued global economic gloom, coupled with a pricey uptick in natural disasters, means that governments slashing domestic budgets will have less available for foreign aid just as the need has never been greater. This is already a huge problem. UN appeals often fall short of their goals. In 2010, the UN asked for a record $5 billion for natural disasters, but received only 60%, a still record $3 billion (the Haitian earthquake and Pakistan flood were each billion dollar-plus catastrophes). A few country-specific appeals failed to generate any donor-country response at all.
Consultant Lucy Bernholz turns her crystal ball on the next decade. Along with the consensus favorites—text-giving will replace credit card donations, better coordination for disaster relief and a shift toward “impact investing”—she sees data analysis and visualization becoming key skills for philanthropists, while gaming and game pedagogy become a mainstream tool for problem solving.
AN IDEA COMES OF AGE
In only 9 years, Acumen Fund has gone from a glimmer in CEO Jacqueline Novogratz’ eye to a social enterprise powerhouse: $50 million-plus worth of “slow capital” invested in companies based in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The “leverage” effect tops $200 million. Tens of thousands of new jobs have been created, along with new business sectors serving millions of people. The learning curve has been as steep as the growth curve, with Acumen literally writing the book on how this sort of thing is done. Today, there are nearly 200 social enterprise funds, by Novogratz’ count.
In 2011, the U.S. State department will host SOCAP@State, a conference described as “the Clinton Global Initiative meets It Takes a Village.” Clearly, social enterprise is an approach whose time is now.
- The 2010 Cone Cause Marketing study (video & report / free registration required)
- “‘Cause Related Marketing’: Why Social Change and Corporate Profits Don’t Mix,” by Inger Stole, PRWatch
- “File Under ‘Favorite Things’: Toys! Libraries! Play!,” by J.A. Ginsburg,vizlearning (child-focused philanthropy link)
- and more!