Open Fundraising

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When we launched our site we asked people what they wanted from a brand new all singing all dancing fundraising agency that reflects this 21st century world. Well guess what they said…

Cheap appeals!
So much for all this Web 2.0 nonsense. I’m off to learn Quark Express and buy some very thin paper.
Tim
PS: Look out for my next blog entry: How charities must drive down costs to survive the recession!
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I read a very interesting book earlier in the year. It’s called Here Comes Everybody and it’s by Clay Shirky. Buy or borrow it. It’s great.

One of the ideas it put forward is that success in the world of Web 2.0 is driven by repeated failure. Here’s a quote that sums it up nicely:

“…the market expresses its judgment not in cash but in expenditure of energy. Failure is free, high quality research, offering direct evidence of what works and what doesn’t. Groups that people want to join are sorted from groups that people don’t want to join every day.”

If you’re trying to ‘create’ social networks that sounds pretty depressing – and it looks even more depressing when you see the Power Law Graph that this phenomenon creates (if you want to know about the maths then you probably need the book).

But, as Shirky points out, the fact that so many people are trying means that spectacular successes will inevitably result. Wikipedia for example.

So I guess the message here is ‘prepare for failure but keep trying’.

With this in mind, I built an Open Fundraising Forum last night. It took an hour and a half and I think it works pretty well considering. You could do the same thing for your supporters or just for your friends using the free software and hosting you find on Yuku.

I will now, in all probability, have to watch the digital equivalent of tumbleweed blow across my creation. But I might not – especially if you go there and post a comment. And even if I do, what the hell? I tried. And there are plenty more things worth trying.

James

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I was waxing lyrical the other day about the benefits of Kiva and other such fundraising platforms. I was well into my rant about ‘the free market and letting the donors choose’ when a thought struck me. When did I start believing that free markets and donor choice was such a great thing for the beneficiary?

Why am I signing up to a system that effectively boycotts the integrity and expertise of the well-established NGO for a charity e-bay?
A system where we as donors (sorry I mean investors) are asked to make long-term funding decisions, on the basis of ‘personal choice’ influenced by a photo and a short funding application.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Kiva and I love being an investor. Being placed on the ‘inside track’ with the transparency, control and feedback I get is great. I like the social networking side of it and its fresh and straight-talking approach. And you just can’t beat that direct-link with the beneficiary.
But I am not an expert on development issues and my needs shouldn’t outweigh the needs of the beneficiary. I know that supporting an international NGO’s advocacy programme to improve working rights and conditions will prove a better long-term investment than my funding a young farmer in Bosnia to set up her own business.
But despite that I did and I’m hooked, and unless charities listen to their donors and answer these needs the right programmes might struggle to find that long-term partner.
Tim