In her book, Giving 2.0: Transforming Your Giving and Our World (Jossey-Bass, 2012), Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen gives us a guided tour of the 21st-century philanthropic landscape. Arrillaga-Andreessen does not focus on “traditional” giving models associated with large foundations where the underlying assumptions revolve around experts who choose funding areas, distribute funds to selected grantees, and monitor implementation. Rather, she envisions multiple variations of philanthropy that encourage individual participation through a myriad of case studies and explanations, which include innovative uses of technology, cutting-edge social entrepreneurship, collaborative practices, and organizational suggestions for idea incubation leading to the potential creation of a 501(c)(3).

Social media and new technologies that harness the power of the Internet have opened the door to “online philanthropy.” This type of philanthropy emphasizes connectivity, transparency that is inclusive, and offers opportunities for participation from local to global levels. Givezooks (Givezooks.com) links individuals to non-profits that promote their fundraising efforts online. Crowdwise (Crowd-wise.org) offers individuals and organizations the opportunity to create a webpage to explain their cause and solicit funds. Razoo (Razoo.com, Razoofoundation.org) connects donors to non-profit organizations. Social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, are vehicles by which individuals can share information, impact data, and volunteer opportunities.

Arrillaga-Andreessen emphasizes that Internet utilization is key in reaching young people who will be philanthropic leaders of the 21st century. A June 2012 survey of 6500 young people conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy underlines her point. According to the survey, 65 percent of young people said they learn about a non-profit through its website. Only 17 percent were interested in face-to-face conversations. And when young people look at websites, they have clear goals in mind. They look first for proof that their donations are making a difference (43 percent) and they look for volunteer opportunities (41 percent). The interest of young people in doing good – both in their local communities and throughout the world – has changed the landscape of traditional philanthropy through the innovative practice of social entrepreneurship.

Coined by Bill Drayton (former McKinsey consultant and founder of Ashoka) more than two decades ago, social entrepreneurship rests on the foundation that business people can build sustainable enterprises that provide long-lasting solutions to global problems. The creation of new goods and services are not only for profit, but also for “the good of all.” Social entrepreneurs “treat the communities they serve as customers, not victims.” Arrillaga-Andreessen explores how philanthropists can support social entrepreneurs as an innovative new way of giving that has global impact.

Social entrepreneurship offers people the ability to earn an income that will sustain them through the continued growth of the innovation after the life of the grant. She sees great potential in social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs understand that people don’t want handouts. They want to make their own decisions; they want to solve their own problems, “… and by engaging with them, we create more dignity, for us and for them.” Ashoka identifies and invests in social entrepreneurs around the world with a particular focus on innovations that have a proven track record of success, exhibit organizational and financial sustainability, and “have the potential to be scaled up and replicated in many communities.” The ability for replication and scale-up is essential as it illustrates that market-based models of development can have a measurable social impact.

Jeff Skoll, the co-founder of e-Bay and founder of the Skoll Foundation, has formalized the field of social entrepreneurship. The resources of the Foundation support social entrepreneurs who offer “game-changing solutions that reinvent methods of delivering essential services that can be replicated.” Skoll believes that social transformation can happen when poor people get the tools that can change their lives. Skoll Foundation grantees build the infrastructure that gives communities a sustainable income. The work of Ashoka and the Skoll Foundation offers an innovative approach to grantmaking that utilizes best business practices for replicable products and services to improve lives. The work of social entrepreneurs is not to give a fish, nor to teach one person how to fish. As Bill Draper says, it is to “build new and better fishing industries.

While extolling the exciting potential of social entrepreneurship, especially among young people in their 20s and 30s, Arrillaga-Andreessen reminds the reader of the grassroots and collaborative nature of inclusive philanthropy through the innovative practice of “giving circles.” A giving circle is a collaborative group of donors who pool their funds, share knowledge on issues, teach themselves about effective forms of philanthropy, and then decide collectively how to allocate their money. Giving circle donations span from a few dollars to thousands of dollars and donors leverage their donations to support causes and solve social problems.

Giving circles offer a way for groups ranging from several close friends, members of a local community, collaborators believing in a common goal, to global partners to pool their funds and donate to causes about which they care and in which they believe. Arrillaga-Andreessen presents several case studies of successful giving circles. One, Impact Austin, offers a replicable model for any community foundation where giving circles can put particular emphasis and additional monies to address concerns outside the community foundation budget. Another, Global Philanthropy Partners, based in northern California, offers partnerships to those who donate specific amounts of money to learn about global problems and decide upon ways they can address problems to make an impact through their funds.

This article is written by Justin, and published on Knowledge Without Borders

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