Thursday, October 09, 2008

Online Giving Marketplaces

Raw notes from the SSIR conference on Online Giving Marketplaces. I'll (try to) make sense of these for my JustMeans post on Friday.

  • Online giving marketplaces (OGMs) operate in the ecommerce space - these sites (eBay, Amazon, etc) have an average 3% conversion rate (percentage of site visitors that make a purchase). This conversion rate applies to OGMs - that means a lot of traffic needed.
  • Kiva's web 2.0 principles (addictive user experience, radical transparency, crowdsource against constraints, increasing returns on data, reach the long tail)
  • Today the global commercial capital markets (credit and debt availability) are beginning to look the way nonprofit capital markets have looked for years - very hard to access, in disarray, and almost impenetrable.
  • OGMs in emerging economies are building cultures of giving; OGMs in established economies are trying to change those cultures
  • Some OGMs see themselves as "exit strategies for large funders." Others hope to put themselves out of business because they will have helped everyone be a fundraiser
  • OGMs: not just about the financial resources and whether or not pie is bigger or redistributed, they are trying to change donor and nonprofit expectations about information, transparency, and access.
  • OGMs contribution to sustainable funding may lie in building sustainable networks of supporters - if they can build these, and not just lots of one-off gifts.
  • Reputational capital is complicated for OGMs - reputations of users, NGOs, the sites themselves all interact
  • Some OGMs are measuring engagement (numbers of users, numbers of "evangelists," repeat users) - not just dollars moved (though this matters to most)
  • If KIVA is successful in becoming an alternative public credit bureau for global entreprenuers, isn't that systemic change? without direct advocacy?
  • OGMs differ in their opinions (and architecture for) demand and supply. What is demand and what is supply, donors and NGOs/entrepreneurs?
  • All of the OGMs represented are still desktop-bound (OK, wifi laptop bound.) None have incorporated mobile or text giving. (Somewhat ironic, as RTPS was demonstrated at the opening session and got lots of oohs and aahs).
And from my notes on what OGMs have in common:
  • Donor choice
  • 1:1 transactions between donor/lender and NGO/entrepreneur
  • Transparency
  • Feedback loops
  • Donor choice
  • Aggregating individual transactions (sometimes for intelligence)
  • Two flows in the markets - financial resources and information
  • Financial transactions are based on trusted information
OGMs presenting demos at the conference:
I also know that representatives were present from Social Actions (US), CanadaHelps, I DO Foundation, Give2Asia, and YouthGive. I learned about two others while at the conference - Ammado (Ireland) and Givology (China). Give me a shout (comment or lucy (at) blueprintrd (dot) com) if your OGM was represented and is not noted on this list.

I also learned that two of the five finalists in the American Express Members Project are OGMs represented at this conference. Here is a quiz: Match the description below (from the Amex MembersProject website) with the OGM from the conference:

A) "Help 100,000 children thrive in the classroom!: In urban and rural communities around the country, family income often determines a child's educational opportunities. This project can provide 100,000 children in low-income communities with books, art supplies, technology and other materials for a rigorous education."
B) "Loans That Change Lives: This project is an internet-based platform that allows everyday people to become 'social investors.' With $25, a credit card and an internet connection, anybody can invest in the life of a deserving entrepreneur. Lenders can sort pre-screened businesses by region, culture, or business category; and see a photo and profile of the person they are supporting."

Quiz Answers:
A = DonorsChoose, B = Kiva


Anonymous said...

Thank you Lucy for this excellent summary! I was at the conference and thought that you did a great job balancing and synthesizing the perspectives on the panel.

Barbara Kelly said...

Hi Lucy: I just learned of this conference from Social Actions last week and so sorry we/ammado missed it! But you are tremendous to give us a mention in this post. One important request: the link doesn't go to ammado--should be Thanks for making this correction and I am glad to fill you on our vision, directions at any time. Best wishes, Barbara Kelly,