Adventures in New Giving Update

I’m getting some great contributions and feedback on my new project proposal and wanted to share an early update.  Big thanks to everyone who’s chimed in already.

First off, I’ve grabbed a new Twitter handle for the project @NewGiving and folks are starting to join the email list to track the project.

The big news…

…is that people are already donating key resources.  Just moments after I posted the proposal, Dave Chakrabarti offered to build a Drupal site for the project.

And today, Morgan Dusatko said he’d help me produce a video for the Kickstarter campaign.

On my own, the site would have been a run-of-the-mill WordPress install, and the video might have come from my web cam.  These early gifts are a big deal. Thank you!

A little help from my friends…

I also got some great resources from successful Kickstarter campaigner and filmmaker Sam Mayfield.  If you’re curious about the ins, outs, ups and downs of Kickstarter, here’s a guide that I found pretty useful and another story with insider insight into the Kickstarter team and the emotional fortitude it requires to run a campaign there.

More feedback and questions I’m working on…


Budget questions are going in two directions.

A couple of people asked how I’m using the money.  It’s a pretty simple breakdown:

  • $500 for equipment (camera, mic, tripod and cases)
  • $5000 for plains, trains and automobuses ($500/city, and I’ll be looking for hosts for sleeping)
  • $4500 keep-me-alive budget (or $50/day)

Honestly, it’s pretty slim, especially the keep-me-alive budget.  I’ll be doing this with a full-time focus, so I’m trying to avoid taking on client work during the Adventure.

And that was the other issue.  One very experienced friend said I should raise the goal to $15,000.  That way, I will have a cushion and can contract for technical support.  This would be brilliant, especially to have an editor catching footage via Dropbox and cutting it for the web.

But, as my mom pointed out, $15,000 just sounds like so much more than $10,000.  What to do?

I’d love to find a couple of key sponsors to come in at $2,500 and raise the rest from the crowd.  Any ideas for who would “get” the project and like to be have top billing on the site?

Other Questions and Comments (aka an FAQ-in-draft)

My good friend and colleague Vicky suggested that this story is special because it’s not about wealthy or famous people.  In our celebrity-obsessed culture, this is about everyday people organizing together, and I should focus on the everday-ness of it, the practical, DIY ingenuity that will show others that they can do it, too.

Collabforge wiz and former OneWedbay conspirator, Matt Cooperrider asks

What creative methods will you use to engage your supporters in the development of this new resource, or in making the project happen generally? For example, the way in which you collect and curate the stories could be open and collaborative. You could open it up to submissions beyond just those folks you interview.

To that I say, yes, yes and more yes.  I will be very interested in curating content from lots of people.  If you want to contribute content or have cool (Drupal-friendly) platform ideas for making sharing easy and engaging, please let me know.

My favorite philanthropy wonk, Lucy Bernholz asks

What are you going to do with the stuff when it’s done – where will it live? And suggests that I offer some sample video interviews to give people a feel for the project.

The material will be updated constantly to the new site throughout the project, not just when it’s “done,” so it will be a living, growing resource as the project develops.  When the project is done, I’ll be asking the community built around it what should happen next.

And I have time for at least one interview video sample before the Kickstarter campaign starts.

In the comments of the first post, old Mozilla pal Katie Guernsey asks

Do you have stakeholders and champions in each of the cities you have identified? Do they, themselves, feel part of this New Giving identity? If not, is that part of the how the tour will serve this community?

Yes and no.  I’ve tapped a bunch of folks in those cities, and they’re starting to chime in with interest and offers of support, but it’s a great idea to do a city-by-city campaign tactic.  Monday is DC Day, Tuesday is for NYC, etc.

“New Giving” is a new term, and part of this project is to test the parameters of what that identity can mean.  By and large, the people who I’ve talked to who are leading some kind of New Giving understand and feel a connection to the term.  I’m sure there will be dissenters.

Chickens and Eggs

The trouble with jump-starting a movement is that a lot of people aren’t familiar with what’s going on (hence the need for the jump-start) and some ask for a bunch of definitions and data up front that don’t exist yet.

Some people are concerned that a wide audience not already tuned into New Giving projects won’t understand and want me to make it simple.

Some people ask a ton of questions that don’t have answers yet and suggest that they wouldn’t contribute to the campaign if those questions aren’t answered.

Unfortunately, it can’t work both ways.  It’s got to be either simple and compelling or a PhD thesis that satisfies every particular curiosity, but is too immense for the campaign to work for web-sized attention spans.

So, let me lay this out as the basic premise and see how it flies:

Adventures in New Giving is about discovery, storytelling and community-building.

On the discovery side, this is a field research project. What is going on? Who are these New Givers? Why are they giving? And what can strengthen their impact?

I believe this is a compelling story. Why are people doing this in the depths of a recession? How can we help more people follow their lead?

On community: based on what I know, people are not networking beyond their particular New Giving project circles.  What we have now is an organic uprising of a self-organized giving communities and platforms for organizing crowds. How can we build a mutual aid network that can learn, share and enhance their impact together?

That’s the chicken, or more likely the egg.

Keep the feedback and questions coming.  They’re all very appreciated.  Thank you!


One Response to “Adventures in New Giving Update”

  1. Jill says:

    I really like the posts that you’ve been doing. I’m one of those unfamiliar with some of the ideas but I think you’re fleshing them out nicely. And I think the NewGiving website will be an incredible resource. I believe this is an exciting new trend-especially as folks are looking to get the most impact for their dollar. There is a beautiful clarity to smaller giving. You can see where each and every dollar is going. And you get an immediate sense of having contributed to your own micro-community. We’ll be sending along $500 with our love as soon as you tell me where ;)

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