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Crowdsourced Philanthropy: Is It Worth the Risk?

Crowdsourced Philanthropy: Is It Worth the Risk?

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Published by Crowdsourcing.org

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Mar 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/03/2013

 
Kellie Clapper is an assistant vice president of  public affairs at State Farm Insurance. She ishelping State Farm launchCause An Effect  ,the
company’s first crowdsourced philanthropy
 program, which gives people a chance to bringhome one of 40 $25,000 grants to their neighborhood.
 
As brands look for ways to moreactively engage with consumers, many companies both large and smallhave turned to crowdsourced philanthropy
 – 
effectively turning over keyelements of their philanthropic giving to consumers.By asking consumers what matters most to them and allowing thosechoices to influence company giving, the business is able to strengthenits relationship with consumers, have a positive impact and build itsbrand.Gmail developer Paul Buchheitwrote 
in 2009, “I’m going to donate a
bunch of money, but I want random people on the Internet to decide
where it goes.” His public request for ideas is a textbook 
example of crowdsourced philanthropy.
 
But as organizations have discovered, crowdsourced philanthropy is notwithout risk. Companies considering this approach should ask themselves several questions.Are we willing to give up that control?Can we live with whatever choices consumers make?
How can we ensure we don’t put additional strain on already
stretched non-profits?How do we guarantee the selection process is fair and free of fraud?Will we have an impact?Is crowdsourced philanthropy a short-lived trend, and has theenthusiasm worn off?By learning from past programs and sticking to a core set of principles,companies can minimize risk and maximize impact. The following set of principles can help put a crowdsourced philanthropic program on thepath to success.
Provide as much flexibility as possible to encourage creativity andinnovation.
 
When you’re talking about local communities, local citizens
and non-profits are the experts. Take advantage of that expertise bylistening and remaining open.
Transparency is key.
The official rules must be clear, concise andreadily available. And the company needs to be prepared to monitor andenforce the rules to ensure the program is fraud-free and does not simplyfavor size or a vocal majority.
Think simple.
The submission process should be easy to understand,user-friendly and available to a very broad audience.

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