I had two ideas and, since I have a blog, I’m going to post them. I don’t have the time to realize them myself, at least not right now, but I think they’re good and there’s always the chance that someone else will see it and either follow that idea through themselves, or, as has happened, let me know that such a thing already exists.
So here are my two nonprofit-assistance ideas.
The Nonprofit Ad Exchange
A site/service in which high-traffic blogs and sites wanting to do a little cheap good sign up and offer blocks of online advertising to nonprofits, specifically small or incipient organizations.
Donors would sign on via a series of simple forms on which they would indicate who they were, what kind of a publication they had and offer demographic information. There would be additional fields for the donor sites to indicate how many units of online ad space they’re offering, what kind they’re offering (text, display), how large each unit is and how long they’ll entertain each ad. They would also have the option of declining certain types of organizations or indicating a special interest in certain types.
On the nonprofit side, small organizations would sign up, indicating their needs. Each nonprofit would have to be a credentialed nonprofit, being, for instance in the U.S., a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt corporation. Each participant organization would have to have an annual income of less than $5,000.00.
From either side, donor or nonprofit, once the organization fills out the relevant information and hits ‘search,’ they would be presented with a list of matches for their criteria.
The Social Entrepreneur-Social Angel Investor Conference
In an attempt to further alternatives to the calicified, top-down NGO donor model, I would love to see a conference that would brought together new, innovative aid groups with individuals and, possibly, institutional sponsors looking to support something different.
The current aid situation favors administrative behemoths with traditional hierarchies and a belief in the efficacy of clearly sputtering (and sometimes fantastically deleterious) models of aid delivery. A lot of aid, in cash or goods, goes into the hands of politically powerful in the destination countries, and that’s after a huge amount of it is already eaten up in administrative costs.
Only allowing new approaches to the problem, starting with getting rid of the notion of “aid” as a be-all and end-all. Charity is a virtue. Perpetuating it is not.
Update: Nonprofit Incubator
If “social entrepreneurship” is more than just a time-stamped and faddish notion, then it needs to be encouraged. So, in the same way that people looking to invest in early-phase companies have put together business incubators, I think philanthropists should pool their money into a Nonprofit Venture Fund.
Part of that social VC fund should go to setting up and maintaining the nonprofit/NGO 2.0 version of a business incubator. The incubator would provide desk space, administrative help, supplies, connectivity and top-shelf advice (salaries would be helpful as well) to social entrepreneurs with ideas that are innovative.