New Ways of Giving/Living
The Excelsior Initiative
Given what appears to be a unique opportunity to bring our massively disruptive technology/innovation to the world market, we have decided to look for equally unique ways to design and build the Seaphantom enterprise in a program we call The Excelsior Initiative.
Inspired in part by the dramatic sustainability initiatives by Walmart to leverage their global power into creating a better world, we hope to follow suit by teaming up with like-minded philanthropic organizations and corporations such as the Clinton Global Initiative, Warren Buffet’s “giving Pledge”, Forbes 400 Summit On Philanthropy, Singularity University etc.
As governments around the world pull back, the philanthropic sector will be a critical force in meeting global needs. In what is called the “Giving Pledge” 81 billionaires have committed to give more than half of their wealth to charitable organizations. This level of philanthropy, over $37 billion by Warren Buffett alone, is historically unprecedented.
Warren Buffett most lasting contribution will not be his money; rather that he has successfully leveraged his social network and the media to inspire other billionaires to give extraordinary wealth for charitable good. He is reshaping the way the rich think about money and giving.
In the same way Warren Buffett has used media to get other billionaires to pledge their fortune to charity, people all over the world have used social media to raise money and inspire their network to join them in giving. While philanthropy has always been “social,” social media tools have made it easy for people to share their impact with their network online and creating a more, connected fundraising model. Social media has accelerated individuals’ ability to raise money for cause and broadened the reach of nonprofits.
It is often seen in run, walk, birthday fundraisers or host committee members who bring friends to expensive charitable galas. Indeed, According to Blackbaud, people are 200 times more likely to donate to a cause if their friends ask them to support a charity, in comparison to receiving an e-mail solicitation from the organization.
This is part of a distinct cultural shift – you no longer have to be a professional to be a fundraiser. We are beginning to leave behind the idea that giving should be a private action taken between the giver and receiver and moving towards the idea that donations should be shared online to inspire friends to give. Seventy percent of Millennials ages 20-35 report they prefer to give online, making online giving as the #1 preferred method of giving. Sharing of giving on social networks will only accelerate. With the rise in connected giving will come the use of social data for fundraising: big data for good.
Venture philanthropy takes concepts and techniques from venture capital finance and high technology business management and applies them to achieving philanthropic goals.
Venture Philanthropy is characterized by:
(1) Willingness to experiment and “try new approaches”.
(2) Focus on measurable results: donors and grantees assess progress based on mutually determined benchmarks.
(3) Readiness to shift funds between organizations and goals based on tracking those measurable results.
(6) Giving financial, intellectual, and human capital.
(7) Funding on a multi-year basis – typically a minimum of 3 years, on average 5-7 years.
Focus on capacity building, instead of programs or general operating expenses.
(8) High involvement by donors with their grantees. For example, some donors will take positions on the boards of the non-profits they fund.
There are three models for engaging in venture philanthropy:
The first model is best exemplified by the traditional foundations practicing high-engagement grantmaking.
The second model consists of organizations funded by individuals but with all engagement done by professional staff. Good examples of this type of venture philanthropy are the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City and Tipping Point Community in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The third model is illustrated by partnerships in which partner investors both donate the financial capital and engage with the grantees. Most of these are pass-through funds (i.e. they do not have an endowment, but rather grant out all the money they are given annually). Examples of this model are the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund in San Jose, California and Full Circle Fund in San Francisco, California.