3 GivingCity stories I wish I could do…

I just don’t have the time. And I’d be happy to assign them but I just don’t have the money. So instead, these stories sit and wait. Would you believe I mentally sketch out GivingCity stories all the time? Very frustrating.

1. Giving Circles

Reportedly, giving circles are on the rise and proving to be very popular among donors. Examples of giving circles include groups like Impact Austin and the recently formed Futuro Fund.

But while they’re a great way to empower the giver and pool individual donations to make a bigger impact, the size of the donations limits the nonprofits the giving circle could consider. Impact Austin, for example, awarded five grants of $102,000 each. In order for a nonprofit to handle that amount of money, it needs to have the infrastructure in place, and apparently that takes a pretty sophisticated and established organization.

Does this matter? I think only if more donors join giving circles than choose to give as individuals. But I’m not sure. To write this story I’d start with Rebecca Powers who founded Impact Austin and who advises other giving circles.  From there I’d talk to development professionals of large and small nonprofits. The point would be to help you decide whether to join a giving circle and, for you nonprofit pros, how to win the grant.

2. Slacktivism

Another trend that bothers me, though I can’t figure out why. I’m not against them but I also can’t quite support them. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done this myself. Examples of slacktivism include

  • RT a Tweet from a nonprofit seeking volunteers or donations.
  • Attending a Tweet-up or Charity Bash-type function where your intentions are really just to party
  • Joining a Cause on Facebook
  • 26 Miles for 26 Charities (maybe)

I’m all for people engaging in their community at any level, but I worry these simple, non-committal acts are a replacement for real engagement. For this story I’d interview some of the beneficiaries of these “party for charity” events, some development people on how much work it takes to create and manage a Facebook cause – and whether the return is worth it – and some of the organizers of these event to find out if they feel they’re achieving their goals.

I’d want to reader to come away with permission to engage in these activities but I’d want to make sure they understood the real impact of their action.

3. Social Entrepreneurship

What the hell is it? I’m reading, learning, talking, linking and just overall trying to soak in as much information as I can about this emerging trend. Apparently, the concept of genuine social entrepreneurship is still new to Austin, but there are lots of folks trying to create a bottom  line of social impact.

From what I understand, social entrepreneurs identify a social need first, devise a solution, then worry how to pay for it. Their bottom line measures social impact. As opposed to entrepreneurs who identify a market, create a product or service for that market, then worry about how to pay for it. Their bottom line measure profit. I think.

The point of the story would be to explain all this, offer some examples of social entrepreneurship here in Central Texas, offer some kind of five-step how-to become a social entrepreneur sidebar and explain why it’s so difficult to “sell” this concept to the nonprofit world and to consumers.

So many stories, so little time.

4 Responses

  1. I am very pleased to have found this site, your articles are insightful and yet easy to read.

    I’d like to share a new movie I watched recently- ”The YES Movie” The film producer Louis Lautman interviewed today’s young entrepreneurs and tell their urban success stories.


  2. Monica, I love all of these ideas!

    I had never heard ‘slactivism’ before. I had always called it ‘pop social justice’. I too love the folks who get all dressed up, buy some new clothing accessory and then pay $20 at the door for some swag, a night out, and a party.

    It also drives me nuts to see people accept the ‘badge of honor’ that they joined a Facebook cause, yet don’t give. I tire of seeing causes with 5,000 members and $27 donated.

    And i love the social entrepreneur domain. I have recently considered a degree or at least continuing education in that area. Check out: http://www.fourthsector.net or google ‘for benefit’ for more info. Of course, you may already know about those. Heck, I may have heard about it first from GC!

    Hope you get a chance to write these articles!

  3. Well, maybe someday we’ll get to write them. They’re interesting to me, at least. But I’m turning into a kind of nonprofit geek. Or rather, a “consumer of nonprofits” geek.

    My approach to a story for GivingCity is, “What do volunteers and donors need to know about this? How can we help them figure out this issue? How can we inspire them to do something?”

    As a former nonprofit employee myself, I also like addressing the npo pros and their information needs. If we can help them look around at what else is going on in Central Texas nonprofits, we might inspire them, too.

  4. […] who coined the term “slacktivism” in the first place … well, I mean, I used it on this blog about a year ago, before it was cool. (Is it cool, […]

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