Giving Community

flickr credit: redverse
flickr credit: redverse

The holiday season is one in which we reflect on our place in the world how we live our own lives, how we interact in our communities, how to make the world a better place.

Ive been reading Digital Giving: How Technology is Changing Charity by Richard C. McPherson, thanks to a tip from e-Jewish Philanthropys Dan Brown. Digital Giving is a good, quick read chockfull of ideas and case studies. What Im realizing is that its not just a book about philanthropy and creating change in a Web 2.0 world. Its about community.

How can organizations tap into their extended communities?

Allow your supporters to contribute not just funding, but their energy to the cause. McPherson cites the example of Kiva, a person-person microlending site. In addition to its focus on matching lenders with projects, Kiva provides benefactors with the opportunity to create lending teams, send emails to friends and family who might want to support a personally meaningful project, and resources for learning more about microfinancing to become better informed about the theory behind the practice. Help supporters identify with your organization by making it easy to embed a badge or logo on their own sites. Create ways for supporters to educate themselves, act, be heard, and share in community building. Remember the tag line from the Syms clothing store: An educated consumer is our best customer.

Part of that community ethos is transparency and accountability.

GlobalGiving is another project that connects donors with projects. McPherson notes how they present a project and its funding goals. Once those goals are met, donors are directed to similar projects that are in need of support. Users can subscribe to updates and monitor the projects progress. Reports from the field are expected and shared online. In addition, each project includes contact information to connect directly with the project sponsors.

These ideas and other lessons learned in Digital Giving can be applied to more local organizations to help our communities help themselves and each other. Who makes up your community? How do you respond to their desire to become more active supporters? What opportunities can you create together?