Technology is transforming the world of philanthropy in ways that should ultimately give a voice to those people whom the charities aim to help, said Mari Kuraishi, co-founder and president of GlobalGiving, a 10-year-old nonprofit that connects donors with groups that manage charitable projects via the web. In a keynote speech at the recent Wharton Social Impact Conference, Kuraishi outlined the ways in which organizations are becoming more effective, and shared insights from the sometimes tough lessons she has learned along the way.
According to Kuraishi, the new model in philanthropy includes moves toward micro-donations and the ability to track how small projects are performing in the field. She had some advice for students who are on the path to becoming social entrepreneurs: Remain flexible. "The most important thing to me at least ten years down the road is that we have been able to adapt. By all means be passionate about the overall objective. But be really careful not to get too wedded to one strategy or another, or one particular manifestation of your product ... because that will actually get in the way of pursuing the big, hairy, audacious goal that you have set for yourself."
Founded in 2000 by Kuraishi and fellow World Bank veteran Dennis Whittle, GlobalGiving allows individual donors to use its website to find a project they would like to fund. Options include everything from helping to educate girls in Senegal to providing clean water to flood victims in Pakistan. Donations can be as little as $10 and donors get feedback from the people running those projects on how the money was used. The organization has collected $33 million from more than 120,000 donors and passed it along to 3,200 projects in 110 countries.
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