- Data on embedded giving (affiliate marketing, cause-related giving - whatever you want to call it) needs to be open and accessible. This would include how much each company "give at the cash register" effort raises, how much is donated, and to what organizations. These efforts should be tracked and revealed in common visible way.*
- How we give is rapidly changing. We need data systems, and open protocols for sharing info on:
- Text donations.
- Embedded giving is already the MOST COMMON form of giving (according to recent Convio report).
- Mobile phones will become the standard platform for organizing, volunteering, and giving - Ushahidi and The Extraordinaries are the tip of an iceberg for how we are shifting to P2P philanthropy (See Tim Ogden in March 2010 Alliance Magazine (subscription req'd)
- Giving in games and virtual worlds.
There are tax reporting implications from #2 above. Right now nonprofit organizations and tax forms from people who itemize and data streams from transaction processors are primary sources of giving information. This system has always missed real giving numbers from the long tail of donors who do not itemize on their taxes.
The complexity of these issues should not be underestimated. Donor privacy is important, subject to multiple levels of oversight, and not an easy thing to protect on the internet. But giving data is just one piece of the data streams about public good that we, as the public subsidizing these gifts, have both a right to and a use for. This is why The Public Online Information Act is a critical piece to this puzzle. As philanthropy, social enterprise, corporate social responsibility and impact investing all blend together and public/private partnerships grow, we should be considering ways to share data and protect privacy within the larger context of public and private norms and goods, rather than creating (or worse, not creating) a parallel system for philanthropy.
*Laura Starita of Philanthropy Action has more detailed thoughts on this. Check them out.