Finding Balance in the Online Marketplace for Giving
When markets are open, and new economic transparencies (like microlending websites) impact reputation, balancing the market between givers and receivers can be difficult.
More and more websites are born facing that challenge. Making any online exchange a productive and mutually beneficial one requires innovative vision and leadership. Ashoka Fellow Charles best has made it work. His organization, Donor’s Choose, was just chosen by Fast Company as one of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies because he built a balanced market.
Charles’ idea is simple. Here’s how it works:
1. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org (requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class)
2. Potential donors (this can be anyone) browse project requests on donorschoose.org and give ANY amount to the one that inspires them. Once a project reaches its funding goal, materials are delivered to the school.
His organization has attracted investments from large donors, and large donations from small-scale investors. Participants on the site itself have given anywhere from $1 to $1.3 Million to school projects.
Early on, Best was able to identify the strategic point, where the balance between giving and recieving was attainable, realistic & mutually valuable.