Innovative Web Technologies: P2P Philanthropy

Here’s a re-posting of an article originally posted April 11, 2007, on the Forum One UX&D blog for the benefit of my Korean readers.

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During the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise 2007 conference I went to a session with Charles Best of Donors Choose, which is a site that allows individual donors to fund small projects proposed by public school teachers. Lately I have been coming across a quite few of these, where a site links private donations with those who need financial support. I had lacked a term to call these types of sites, but of course the smart people I met at NTEN already had a term for these. Some of the terms that were discussed were eBay philanthropies, philanthropic marketplace… but my favorite was one that David Weinberger blogged following his plenary at NTEN: P2P philanthropy where P2P can mean peer to peer or better yet person to person (whether or not he coined it I don’t know).

Here’s a round up of some Person to Person Philanthropies I have come across lately:

  • DonorsChoose: As mentioned above.
  • DonorsCamp: Attesting to the fact that good social entrepreneurial ideas are contagious and subject to replication, CJ Foundation (CJ is one of many Samsung affiliates) in Korea lifted (interestingly, with willing consultation from DonorsChoose) the DonorsChoose model and transplanted it in Korea. The twist is that DonorsCamp actually matches one-for-one every donation that comes through the site.
  • Kiva links facilitates micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, “empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty.” The payback rate to date on the loans are apparently 100% according to their FAQs.
  • GlobalGiving: According to their site: “GlobalGiving connects you with grassroots charity projects around the world. We ensure that 85-90% of your donation gets to local project leaders within 60 days. It’s a direct connection.”
  • Modest Needs: I heard Charles from DonorsChoose mention this site at the NTEN conference. According to the site, “Modest Needs is a registered charity that works to stop the cycle of poverty before it starts for low-income workers struggling to afford emergency expenses like those we’ve all encountered before: the unexpected auto repair, the unanticipated trip to the doctor, the unusually large winter heating bill.”
  • Where there are philanthropic and non-profit needs, there will also be for-profit needs. is where you can submit a business proposal and have you loan funded in whole or in part by many private lenders, which end up being a lower interest rate and/or larger amount than you would typically get from a bank.
  • Cytogether: Cyworld is a wildly successful social networking site in Korea. It has a philanthropic counterpart where you can donate Cyworld’s currency, “acorns”, to your favorite philanthropic organization. The site is a little more than a P2P philanthropy in that it also is a community and links volunteer needs and opportunties. From what I can tell, most of the prominent non-profits operating in Korea seem to have a profile page on the site.

Interestingly (or maybe obviously) DonorsChoose, Global Giving, Modest Needs and all have investments from eBay founder Pierre Omidya‘s foundation – Omidya Network. Their portfolio page is a very interesting list, more like a who’s who in web/technology innovation, which include many organization I have a personal interest in – Ashoka, KaBOOM! and Linden Labs (aka makers of Second Life).