Tag Archives: Charities

Speeding Innovation to Africa

I came across an interesting crowdfunding site called The 1% Club. What makes it interesting it that is designed to help launch improvement projects in Africa that will make it cleaner, safer, and/or friendlier through a partnership between charity (Dutch National Postcode Lottery) and the general public. Here is a video that describes itself:

The way that it works is that if the general public contributes the first 30% to back an idea (crowdfunding) in 30 days, then the Cheetah Fund will contribute the rest to fully fund the idea and launch it in Africa.

For an example of one of the projects, check out:

The Maternal Portal Project

The Maternal Portal project is a mobile health technology intervention that seeks to reduce maternal deaths, by using localized voice technology to reach out to expectant mothers in their local languages with relevant information pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth. The localized voice messages will educate women on basic malaria prevention, proper nutrition routines, and how, when and where to seek for medical assistance.

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Improving Education for 20 Cents a Student

I love examples of simple, inexpensive solutions that solve important problems. Solutions like the water bottle light, the gravity light, etc., and Mike Freeston was kind enough to send this most recent example that I will share with you today. Thank you Mike!

The video details the work of a Non-Governmental Organization (aka NGO), that was created as a Community Service Center for marginalized families in rural areas an urban slums. It’s called Aarambh, and they wanted to help students who don’t even have the basic facilities, to be more comfortable and productive at school.

Most schools in rural India have two basic problems:

  1. Schools don’t have proper desks, which leads to poor eyesight, bad posture and bad writing.
  2. Students don’t have school bags.

Aarambh came up with a solution which tackled both these problems with a single, thoughtful design.

Aarambh came up with a design for portable desks made using discarded cardboard boxes (aka cartons). This choice for raw materials is both economical, and easily available. The stencil design, when cut and folded, creates a desk suitable for use by students whom must sit on the floor AND it also can serve as a school bag.


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Charitable Innovation – Disrupting for Good

Charitable Innovation - Disrupting for GoodThe operational model for charities in this country is an ideal candidate for disruptive innovation. It strikes me as odd that charities, the organizations that really have the least to spend on marketing, spend such inordinate amounts of money and time on marketing to raise money. Does spending lots of money on fundraising actually work?

Let’s stop for a moment and look at how AIP defines acceptable charity performance:

  • Spending 60% or more of a charity’s budget on programs, and spending $35 or less to raise $100 in public support

Groups included on AIP’s Top-Rated list generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, and spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support.

Unfortunately, many charities don’t even meet the acceptable charity performance definition:

  • “It is sad that cancer charities, one of the most serious and popular giving categories, perform so poorly – half of the cancer charities that AIP rates in this Charity Rating Guide receive a D or F grade and only 37% receive an A or B.”

If we look across charity organizations as a whole, it is not a stretch to imagine that the aggregate reality is probably somewhere around spending 50% or less of their budgets on programs, and spending $50 or more to raise $100 in public support.

What greater positive benefit could we have on society as business innovators than to help create a disruptive business model for charities? What if we could stand the traditional, and hugely inefficient, model of list rental, telemarketing, direct mail, and list saturation on its head and instead imagine something different?

There has to be a better business model that we could collectively create as a gift to society that would increase the percentage of charitable revenue that actually goes towards the charities’ intended missions. If we created a new best practice that could be adopted across the industry, think about the impact we could have (equivalent of up to a doubling of monies raised).

I think we can distill the disruptive possibilities down to the following five key principles:

  1. Give consumers a way to offset negative side effects with a positive action
  2. Link fundraising efforts more closely to the benefit delivered
  3. Reduce fundraising friction
  4. Maximize existing communication channels to highlight benefits that others provide
  5. Improve Efficiency

Please download and read the white paper to look at the disruptive possibilities and charitable innovation opportunities each one presents.

And, if you would like to help evolve the ideas in the white paper, please post a comment with your thoughts, additions, or refinements, or join our Innovation Excellence group on LinkedIn and contribute to the discussion there.

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