Are we asking the right question?

Monday, 15 October @ 10:31 AM

I love the dialogue that follows an introduction to Philanthropegie – mostly because it gives me a chance to highlight some of the amazing things people are doing to support philanthropic efforts.

Quite often these conversations also include questions like:

  • “What led you to do this?”
  • “Who built the site for you?”
  • “What’s your business model?” or
  • “How are you going to make money?”

It’s the last question that made me wonder, are we asking the right question?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think questions about how mission-based organizations make money is a bad question.  For people who are used to dealing with the challenges of funding their mission, this is both an obvious and important question.  Funding is often the number one issue for mission-based organizations.

So what’s my point?  I just wonder how different the world would be if we were as quick to ask an organization that is committed to making money how they help others… as we are to ask organizations that are committed to helping others how they will make money?

Thankfully, there are many fine organizations committed to making money that are also committed to helping others. And the number is growing. There are many ways in which these organizations are helping:

  • Organizing volunteer efforts for their team members;
  • Offering matching funds for donations by team members;
  • Contributing a percentage of sales or profits to causes;
  • Donating a product to those in need for every product they sell;
  • Donating equipment and supplies to mission-driven organizations;
  • Donating their organization’s expertise to support an important cause-related project;
  • Using their visibility to bring attention to important causes.

I’m happy to say, the list of ways in which profit-driven organizations give back goes on and on.  To help people find organizations that are working hard to make a difference, we added sections to Philanthropegie such as “corporate social responsibility” and “spend with impact.”

We hope that, by helping people find organizations that are committed to making a difference, we can help to reward these organizations and influence others.

Now, as to the question of how Philanthropegie makes money?  My first response is always that we didn’t create Philanthropegie to make money, we created it to make a difference. Of course, we do need money to fund what we do…but not much. We were careful to design Philanthropegie to have maximum impact with minimal ongoing expense.

At this point, we are more focused on increasing our reach and impact than on generating income.

As for the question about how for-profit organizations help others? I believe that as we see it become a bigger part of our dialogue we will also see a tremendous improvement in the availability of resources to support mission-driven organizations.

When this happens, mission-based organizations could turn more of their attention and resources to their causes and we could all make giving back a bigger part of our every day lives.


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