Online philanthropy markets: From ’Feel-Good’ giving to effective social investing?’

Friday, February 22, 2008

Online platforms like GlobalGiving, Kiva, Network for Good, GiveIndia, HelpArgentina, and so many more – hold the potential to transform the quality and quantity of resources available for domestic and international development. But can they realise that potential? Can they really revolutionise philanthropy?

With support from the Aspen Institute’s Nonprofit Sector Research Fund, Keystone has undertaken a research project to answer these questions. Our breakthrough study ’ONLINE PHILANTHROPY MARKETS: FROM ?FEEL-GOOD’ GIVING TO EFFECTIVE SOCIAL INVESTING?’ examines the rapidly expanding phenomenon of online philanthropy markets and details the opportunity that they have to create the informational basis for results-oriented giving and serving as a lever for greater accountability and effectiveness of social purpose organisations.

The study finds that online philanthropy markets are relentless innovators. Some of their innovations are helping advance longstanding gaps in the performance of nonprofit organisations, such as accountability to beneficiaries and other constituents of their work.

Yet, there is a long way to go. Many of the markets still promote a traditional ?feel-good giving’ approach to philanthropy, while those that cultivate a social investment mentality among the users of their platforms remain a minority. One searches in vain for well-defined criteria for assessing the performance and impact of the organisations listed in the markets, and the information available to donors and other social investors for making their decisions falls far short of any acceptable standard of systemisation.

Through the analysis and recommendations of this study, Keystone aims to spark a field-wide dialogue about how to achieve the transformative potential of online philanthropy markets and about how to use innovative online tools to create the informational basis for effective social investments.

The publication is available for download here.

Source: Keystone Accountability (link opens in a new window)