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“Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

              - Margaret Mead


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Philanthropist.org?
A: Philanthropist.org is an online exchange that joins charitable donors with volunteers. Philanthropists find, filter, and fund worthy charitable causes through this discreet and secure online exchange. Volunteers can easily secure monetary resources in the form of monetary donations or, on a custom basis, parts, supplies, or other excess production capacity.

When was Philanthropist.org Created?
What is the Philanthropist.org mission?
Are my donations tax-deductable?
How is Philanthropist.org adding value?
How is Philanthropist.org funded?
How much money has Philanthropist.org made?
Who works at Philanthropist.org?
How can I work for Philanthropist.org itself?
Can I get my money back if a workerteer does not work?
I’m an active volunteer with plenty of options, why should I use Philanthropist.org?
Why should I donate via philanthropist.org over 1000's of other charities?
Can I be both a philanthropist and workerteer?
What is the maximum I can receive as a loan/grant?
What incentives do workerteer have to pay back social investments?
Does philanthropist.org take away money from charity?
Who can post projects?
Is my contribution tax-deductible?
How do I know that a posted project is not a scam?
What are some other benefits of Philanthropist.org?
Does Philanthropist.org make money off of its members’ socially-minded endeavors?

Q: I actively donate to charitable causes and use traditional donation channels. Why should I use Philanthropist.org?
A: From the perspective of social causes, many traditional channels are not adequate for serving the interests of many small-scale social causes. Many respected non-profits are in fact large bureaucracies that often spend one-third or more of their charitable contributions soliciting for more contributions. Large bureaucracies are efficient at serving the needs of large-scale social causes, but they are simply not structured to address the millions of small opportunities to affect positive social change. In addition, bureaucracies tend to be far less transparent than smaller, more efficient organizational systems. This means that a donor rarely sees the direct impact of his or her contribution.
By using a more efficient system that addresses small-scale social causes, generous philanthropists can not only see with their own two eyes the fruits of their donation, but in the grand scheme waste less money fueling an ongoing bureaucracy while accomplishing the same amount of social good.

Q: I’m an active volunteer. Why should I use Philanthropist.org?
A: As an active volunteer, you regularly commit your valuable time and skills to a cause that is greater than yourself. But there are often practical limitations beyond your control that do not permit you to optimize your contributions. The biggest limitation is often money and financial resources. You may be willing perform more charitable work, but you need to make a living in the meantime. It may be difficult to find the optimal application of your skills or interests in the world of social causes. Some efforts require sheer manpower, some require specialized skills (legal, technical, artistic). You may also be constrained by organizational or administrative requirements; it may take as much time organizing, promoting, and funding a small-scale social-cause project than you currently have available. Philanthropist.org allows you to efficiently organize, promote, and fund a social cause suited to your skills and time constraints or even to easily fill a specific role on an existing effort.

Q: Who can post projects?
A: Any Philanthropist.org member (both philanthropists and volunteers) can post projects using Philanthropist.org’s intuitive web-based application. Members should note that the posted projects which demonstrate clear benefits, thorough plans, and accurate estimates will naturally attract more resources (either volunteer commitments or philanthropist funding). Also note that both philanthropists and volunteers with high approval ratings, past performance assessments, and peer endorsements (tracked through member feedback), will naturally have a competitive edge over lower-rated members.

Q: How is using Philanthropist.org different from participating in the traditional non-profit or charitable channels?
A: There are many ways that Philanthropist.org is different from traditional social-cause channels.

The most obvious difference is that those making the sacrifice – donors and volunteers – determine what gets done, rather than an ivory-tower non-profit executive. Anytime a Philanthropist.org member identifies a need for change in the interest of societal benefit, that need can be easily served. The need can be simple, such as cleaning up a community park, filling a sand box, or delivering supplies. Or the need can be intricate or involved, such as providing licensed pro-bono business, legal, medical, or technical services.

Another difference of interest to philanthropists is transparency. When you donate small amounts to a large non-profit, your contribution is pulled through an inefficient process. Administrative and overhead costs can reduce the net effect of your contribution by up to 40%. Plus, many popular non-profits make it a practice of holding and pooling donations. For example, when you give $100 to the United Way, the United Way may not immediately pass that contribution on to a worthy cause.

Finally, Philanthropist.org allows both donors and volunteers to establish mutually-beneficial, ongoing relationships where common interests meet. While a philanthropist’s relationship with a bureaucratic non-profit might entail nothing more than occasional solicitations for money to be directed to a general fund, Philanthropist.org facilitates partnerships and networks of do-gooders. Trusted resource relationships that are focused on specific causes and efforts is the most effective implementation of the old adage “Think Globally, Act Locallyâ€. Except thanks to the internet, “locally†could be anywhere.

Q: Is my contribution tax-deductible?
A: A philanthropist’s contribution is only tax deductible if the volunteer is a certified 501(c)3 entity.

Q: How do I know that a posted project is not a scam?
A: Philanthropist.org is implementing a robust trust infrastructure that leverages third-party identity verification and fraud screening services and the feedback of Philanthropist.org members. We urge members to fully investigate any counterparty’s credentials and understand the risks associated with dealing in an online exchange. You should take the same precautions using the Philanthropist.org system that you would when using popular online auction sites such as eBay, Guru.com, or eLance.com. We also strongly urge every member to use the full complement of Philanthropist.org feedback capabilities. By using these features of the system, trust throughout that system is fortified.

Q: What are some other benefits of Philanthropist.org?

Q: Does Philanthropist.org make money off of its members’ socially-minded endeavors?
A: Yes. Philanthropist.org imparts an extremely modest 3% facilitation fee on all transactions. 3% facilitation fee is a standard amount in the non-profit and social causes industry. That being said, please keep in mind that if the 3% facilitation fee does not “pay our billsâ€, then the company loses money. Just like members must find a way to make their endeavors economically feasible, Philanthropist.org itself must continually find ways to make our endeavor economically feasible.
However, in the interest of social causes, Philanthropist.org was established with a self-cannibalizing profit structure, meaning the bigger the company gets, the fewer profits its shareholders make. Please see our charter and mission statement (insert link) to understand why profit and social responsibility are entirely compatible in the Philanthropist.org business model.

Q: Why should I donate via philanthropist.org over 1000's of other charities?
A: Philanthropist.org is an online marketplace that matches volunteers and philanthropists. It encourages middle-class philanthropists to donate dollars to the world’s charitable & volunteering communities by providing a venue for “Micro-Philanthropy†and allowing knowledge workers to support what they've determined to be altruistic causes, either through volunteering their own time, or on employer time. We believe your donation will be more efficiently utilized through our system, and we welcome opportunities to improve our own platform efficiencies - this is the basis for "compete to give" - meaning giving should the basis for competition in the world. We welcome other entities to develop a more efficient system, and publish our efficiency scores and financials publically for full transparency. Social Capitalism and Charity have common ground.

Q: Can I be both a philanthropist and workerteer?
A: YES! The system is unique in that philanthropists are not simply donors or grantmakers. They actually become active *benefactors* providing small amounts of funds to volunteers wishing to perform altruistic acts. The philanthropist has the incentive to see the volunteer complete his or her project to the satisfaction of the philanthropist. The volunteer can also be sponsored in subsequent projects when s/he meets expectations. We hope for a global marketplace where people can connect time, money and resources with the help of technology to allign themselves with common causes.

Q: What is the maximum I can receive as a loan/grant?
A: Projects range in size from $5 to $5000, but not more, as there are plenty of options for larger scale humanitarian groups for a dedicated volunteer to join who has more than a weekend of free time. Bidding usually will start at $10 or $20, as the assumption is that Volunteers would be performing this act, regardless of philanthropist involvement. Generally, we believe the low end of the market has the greatest need & inneficiency, whereas plenty of social structures exist which can service the needs of a larger grants & investments.

Q: What incentives do workerteer have to pay back social investments?
A: Although the philanthropist pre-pays the volunteer the winning bid amount, the volunteer has the incentive to complete the project to the benefactor’s satisfaction, and provide detailed explanations and photographs, or other deliverables, so as to assure a high feedback score, and qualify for future work. Using the tagline “compete to give†the marketplace is designed specifically to encourage philanthropists to compete amongst themselves for the "privilege" to financially support the efforts of a volunteer.

Q: Does philanthropist.org take away money from charity?
A: Our nation’s 501(c)3 groups and charities are filled with wonderful people with deep passions, however Philanthropist.org believes market-driven competition is the only force that will drive charities and their dedicated volunteers to provide efficient return on charitable giving dollars. Both the donations of the philanthropist and the time donated by the volunteer may qualify for tax deductions, but the compensation system is designed to operate without governmental tax incentives.

Q: What can I invest?
A: Ultimately, people have only two things to invest: time & money. Philanthropist.org is a value-driven marketplace that provides lower-than-market rates to high-value activities that would otherwise go under-funded. Similar to PriceLine.com® the system is a reverse auction of Fund Raising. Highest bidder earns the honor of donating money to a Volunteer and directly participates in the project (when desired) as well. The intent is to provide Volunteers with funds to complete for small “weekend†type projects they otherwise may not perform. This means they can afford to buy a can of paint, some food for a shelter, building materials, and other matter. It also allows for a nominal compensation for time. Maximum of US government determined minimum hourly wage.

Q: How is the leadership of philanthropist.org structured?
A: The philanthropist.org business venture aims to be a truly unique offering in the marketplace, and such requires diverse skill sets and backgrounds from its leadership to drive toward success. The founders are seasoned and successful technology entrepreneurs, product and technology strategists, Wall Street investment bankers, analysts, computer programmers, non-profit executives, and consultants. The first step in forming a highly successful partnership is to accept that differences in opinions are inevitable. Over the course of human history, many of the world’s greatest thinkers and their ideas were products of the synthesis of previous ideas. No thesis, nor its antithesis, is bound to be stronger than a well-reasoned synthesis. By striving to reach the synthesis in divergent viewpoints, the philanthropist.org founders have always been able to take advantage of independent viewpoints.

Q: How can the problem & our solution be summarized?
A: “In the most recent Economist, HBS professor and world renowned strategist Michael Porter said there will be huge opportunities in the next 20 years to fix the billions of dollars lost each year in inefficient philanthropy. Philanthropist.org is uniquely positioned to meet the most fundamental requirement to resolve this issue, specifically, creating the infrastructure for an open market, micro-philanthropic method of valuing widely differentiated social needs. We have the website already posted and the proprietary rating and security technology to empower a new generation of micro-philanthropists while saving traditional non-profit organizations major percentages of their fundraising overhead, all while providing our investors a socially beneficial and profitable return.â€

Q: How was philanthropist.org conceived?
A: Philanthropist.org was conceived in 1999 while conducting equities research in a grant-makers library. It was formalized in 2005 as the web proved to be an effective tool to unite small-scale grant-seekers and charitable givers. In 2006-2007 we became serious about the idea, and began building a professional team to bring a platform to market. The driving force behind the idea is to test the theory that ego and true charitable desire alone can still drive charitable giving when tax incentives are removed.
With tax-incentives stripped, we are curious if grantmakers and charitable givers will still donate money directly to the hands of those willing to work for a cause of interest to them. What are the forces preventing a person from supporting a cause they support? When people decide to give a donation to charity, do they first decide on a cause, or a dollar amount? This study indirectly attempts to better understand the true nature of man.
While respecting and honoring those that give truly altruistically, we would like to provide a mechanism to encourage competition in the giving process. Our motto, “Compete to Give†implies that both Volunteers and Philanthropists should be subject to the same competitive paradigm that drives American markets.

Q: Does the global marketplace have a need for our organization?
A: Giving USA provides extensive statistics regarding US charitable giving trends and patterns, including over the internet. Over $248 billion is donated each year to charitable causes, amounting to roughly 2% of gross domestic product. Over 67 million households (63% of total) gave over $187 billion in 2004 -- roughly 75% of all charitable donations that year.
In 2004, online donations grew by over 17% versus the prior year and amounted to roughly $3.76 billion (source: Giving USA). Yet we believe that philanthropic giving over the internet has only begun to emerge en force. While the internet is proving to be an efficient means for individual donors to affect positive change, much more can be done to harness the power of the web.
In 2004, the total available market for online charitable contributions facilitated through such a value-added service amounted to over $112 million and is expected to grow to $315 million by 2010. Extrapolating these giving patterns, Philanthropist.org estimates that its target user segment, “power giversâ€, donated over $237 million, potentially representing over $7 million in available market for this prime early-adopter segment. Through aggressive target marketing and a compelling array of services, Philanthropist.org believes that significant Year 3 and Year 4 adoption will result in $7.4 million of revenue by 2010.

Q: How does philanthropist.org contribute to social change?
A: The process of contributing to social change, in may ways, parallels the process of written communication across long distances. Before the age of the internet, huge and expensive infrastructures were required to transmit a written communication. Entire industries sprung up around the production of paper and pens, trucks to transport letters, fuel to power the trucks. The process involved hundreds of thousands of human resources and unfathomable logistics – all in the effort of allowing me to send a written communication to you. By leveraging technology, the process eventually became so efficient that paper, pens, trucks, fuel, and even most of the people were not necessary. Today we have email which obviates the need for so much paper and so many pens, trucks, and people.
The same can be said of social change. In order to make steps toward feeding the homeless, cleaning up a dilapidated public park, educating the third world about AIDS prevention, or organizing relief efforts after a natural disaster, and of course funding those efforts, required huge bureaucracies of hundred of thousands of people and loads of infrastructure. In fact, the infrastructure previously required to accomplish any of those objectives often accounted for most of the operating budget of those initiatives.
Philanthropist.org presents a better way of facilitating social change. Donors can now specify or select from among the initiatives they would like to fund, while “workateers†get to specify or select the initiatives that they would like to participate in. Obviously, initiatives with an under-supply of workateers will require more funding from the philanthropist(s) to succeed than those with an abundant supply of committed workateer resources.
Milton Friedman best described the problem philanthropist.org attempts to solve: "The two ideas of human freedom and economic freedom working together came to their greatest fruition in the United States. Those ideas are still very much with us. We are all of us imbued with them. They are part of the very fabric of our being. But we have been straying from them. We have been forgetting the basic truth that the greatest threat to human freedom is the concentration of power, whether in the hands of government or anyone else...â€

Q: How do we visualize specific programs that deliver long-term outcomes?
A: Philanthropist.org is an online exchange that joins charitable donors with volunteers. The web provides an extensive network of social entrepreneurs are ideally matched to help execute this vision. Philanthropists find, filter, and fund worthy charitable causes through this discreet and secure online exchange. Due to its unique, efficient, market-based approach and in-depth orientation, Philanthropist.org will attract serious philanthropists rc;€“ the “power users†of the charity world. Philanthropists will choose Philanthropist.org because of their sense of deep social responsibility, compassion , and need for in-depth, hands-on charitable solutions. These are users who wish to make a real difference and are not satisfied with the “shopping cart†method of charitable donations: where a megalithic charity charges their credit card and is never heard from again. This method offers no ability to see their money making a direct impact.
Accordingly, the market for Philanthropist.org consists of those philanthropists who are heavy internet users. The typical user of the Philanthropist.org service will make several contributions per year – and all of them will be made over the internet following research and a consideration of the true value of their donation. In 2004, this select group of philanthropists numbered just over two million and contributed a total of $237 million, for an average donation of about $116. Philanthropist.org believes that this segment will grow considerably the same way early E-bay, Guru.com, and Monster.com users realized the efficiency of the service. An industry-standard 3% per donation commission will be charged to the philanthropist to use the service.

Q: What is our long-term desired outcomes? How will we measure progress toward these outcomes?
A: In "The Law" Frederick Bastiat spoke of Philanthropic Tyranny as "While society is struggling toward liberty, these famous men who put themselves at its head are filled with the spirit of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They think only of subjecting mankind to the philanthropic tyranny of their own social inventions. Like Rousseau, they desire to force mankind docilely to bear this yoke of the public welfare that they have dreamed up in their own imaginations."
The success of philanthropist.org business venture will be held to the strictest standards of transparency, accountability, and efficiency. The organization will function in an “Aquarium†environment as quoted in Business Ethics Magazine: "The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad .... A business should be run like an aquarium, where everybody can see what's going on -- what's going in, what's moving around, what's coming out. That's the only way to make sure people understand what you're doing, and why, and have some input into deciding where you are going. Then, when the unexpected happens, they know how to react and react quickly." -- Jack Stack, The Great Game of Business.
Innovation is important to Echoing Green. Explain how your idea is truly innovative. Identify other organizations that are addressing this issue and how your approach is different and has the potential to be more effective.
While there are many organizations using the internet to revolutionize business models and promote social change, few are delivering on the vision to align the incentives of charitable donors and volunteers through an efficient exchange of resources.
Idealist.org, Kiva.org, Prosper.com, and Zopa.com all appear to be somewhat comparable in terms of using Web-based applications to facilitate the exchange of resources. Idealist.org is essentially a bulletin board-type listing service for non-profit jobs and projects, but obviously lacks the ability to exchange resources in a marketplace setting. Kiva.org facilitates loans to those in developing countries, but still employs a traditional fund-raising approach across that narrow niche. Prosper.com and Zopa.com are essentially peer-to-peer lending networks that do little beyond facilitate the transaction.
Philanthropist.org is a true marketplace that allows individuals and groups to enact dramatic change wherever they see fit to do so. The entire process of philanthropy, from concept to execution, is facilitated by the Philanthropist.org web-based service. To our knowledge, there is no organization prepared to deliver this vision.

Q: How much money have you fundraised to date?
A: Philanthropist.org is NOT a typical non-profit which will require fundraising to be sustainable; in fact, the business is based on the idea that we can blend new organizational structures to be a “not-non-profitâ€. The 7 founders have self-funded to date and are currently discussing the venture with one of Boston top law firms, and considering either a B-Corporation® or a Low Profit Limited Liability Company (L3C) as the corporate structure. The L3C* is a new form of limited liability company which combines the best features of a for-profit LLC with the socially beneficial aspects of a nonprofit. It is the for-profit with a nonprofit soul.
The L3C was created specifically to comply with IRS regulations regarding Program Related Investments (PRIs). We intend to function as a non-profit with a social mission, but maintain a non-control pool of equity available for outside investors.

 
   Operating Statistics ................
 
 



Lifecycle: 3525 days

Visitors: 12,310

Subscribers: 4,400

Loan Portfolio: $800

Members: 8,058

Entrepreneurs: 5,662

Philanthropists: 950

Online Now: 4336

Projects: 2

Fraud Complaints: 0

   
 
     
 
 
 
 

 
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