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“The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy.”
                                      - Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

Our Story

Welcome. The philanthropist.org idea was sparked in 1998 as a loose concept when its founder Eric Melin was conducting research at Boston's Grantmakers library on behalf a stockbroker. At that time, the idea was to bring this wealth of grant-making and grant-seeking print resources to the web in digital format – the internet then still in its infancy.  The philanthropist.org domain name was purchased, some ideas put to paper in a rough business plan and soon forgotten.  Eric pursued a related venture in the socially responsible investing space, and then 5-years building an internet startup in the search engine marketing and search engine optimization space.  

In 2006, a team of seven technologically savvy and entrepreneurial founders was assembled to further pursue the philanthropist.org idea:  Dennis Behrman, Jeff Brewer, James Chen, Shelley Lau, Ben Lichtenwalner, Eric Melin, and Ali Yeyinmen; the business model was fleshed out and refined as a web-based application that unites small-scale grant seekers and charitable givers.  As technology started to “bridge the digital divide” with cell phones, low cost laptops, and other devices plugging into a real-time global communication network, the team saw an enormous disconnect in the traditional banking system and access to capital for small businesses.  Entrepreneurs had long been the engine powering economic growth and job creation in any economy, but a truly flat and global economy now allowed the average citizen investor/donor to become a financier and/or a philanthropist at dollar levels all could afford (average world-wide micro-finance loan is about $350 USD).     

In 2007 the philanthropist.org founding team wrote a new business plan and competed in the MIT IDEAS competition, the MIT $100K Business Plan Competition, and the Harvard Business School E-Idol Business Plan Competition. The venture was selected by a Harvard Business School professor to be the subject of a semester-long Entrepreneurial Marketing course, where three HBS students, Priyanka Nishar, Ani Gupta, and Harold Martin further helped refine and fine-tune the business model with extensive market research. 

In 2008, still undercapitalized, and still a part-time side-project kicked around by its founders, a clunky product demo was launched which blended venture philanthropy, charitable giving, and peer-to-peer lending.  Several similar services emerged proving the web as a brilliant marketplace excelling at connecting people and bridging the digital divide.  Peer-to-Peer Lending and Micro-Finance start to become household words.  

In 2009, with Social Lending and Micro-Finance being hot media topics, the team worked to add a field study tour and travel component to the model in which organizations can sponsor projects and groups directly, and donate the volunteering time of their employees.  A volunteer staff of “workerteers” was assembled, the organization officially incorporated (IRS 27-1380005), the first “profiles” where captured in the Dominican Republic, and the first loans were funded.

Here in 2010, the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform is beginning to take shape by providing a mechanism to encourage friendly competition the funding of micro-finance loans and micro-donations.  The web platform includes services for non-profits, fundraisers, and continues its intent to align social investors with a wide variety of causes. The net result is a fair and free marketplace with greater transparency and efficiency in the charitable giving and social investing process.

Please read our Newsletter for more recent monthly news, our Blog for up-to-the-minute news and Twitter for up-to-the-millisecond news! 

 

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



Lifecycle: 3614 days

Visitors: 12,310

Subscribers: 4,400

Loan Portfolio: $800

Members: 9,778

Entrepreneurs: 7,379

Philanthropists: 953

Online Now: 5311

Projects: 3

Fraud Complaints: 0

   
 
     
 
 
 
 

 
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