We’re lucky to have a wealth of technical expertise in Seattle and I’m happy that the newest and best practices are being applied to disrupt some of the world’s worst problems. All three of my favorites are built around directed giving, which is when donors can pick the exact person they want to help after reading their stories and seeing their faces online. Like most people, when I donate I want to know who is benefiting from my gift and how it will be used. These three also all use crowdfunding to build many small donations into big solutions for people in need. And, by doing so, they build our sense of community because they create bridges between donors and people receiving help.
My first pick is Vittana because their mission is education. They are committed to making student loans possible for ambitious students in developing nations. http://www.vittana.org/ Now in their 5th year, they have more than 20 partners in 13 countries, launched a $10 million Education Fun, and started an application site directed towards students.
I’m also excited about Jolkona. They search the world for socially innovative programs that are highly efficient and making a positive change in their communities. Jolkona is also building a community of micro-donors who are actively engaged in funding projects around the world. The word jol-kona means a drop of water in Bengali and they believe that small drops can add up to make an ocean of change. They were launched in 2009.
Survive the Streets is the newest of these efforts and the one closest to my heart as we just launched this new way to prevent homelessness in the United States. Our organization gets items and services directly to individuals and families who are on the edge of homelessness. Like my other favorites, it combines directed giving with crowdfunding to solve a big problem. Working in close collaboration with existing nonprofits, requests featured on Survive the Streets have been identified as an immediate obstacle that when eliminated could help prevent another person from becoming homeless. Donors get to read real stories on the site and choose someone to help with as little as a $10 donation. They can leave words of encouragement and receive updates about how their gifts have helped. To bring this kind of super support to more communities, Survive the Streets has also launched a campaign on Razoo.
It’s heartwarming to know that Seattle nonprofits are using technology as a force multiplier.