Building an Online Marketplace for More Effective Philanthropy

Anne Sherman, Social Impact Exchange at Growth Philanthropy Network
Posted: August 13, 2012

In her recent blog post on PhilanTopic, Lisa Philp, VP for Strategic Philanthropy at the Foundation Center, talked about the invaluable service that the Foundation Registry i3 provided her in her previous role as philanthropic advisor to emerging philanthropists seeking to support meaningful education reform efforts. Lisa’s post is a great example of how ready access to high quality data eventually led to $5mm in new pooled funds, eventually leveraging $145mm in public funding. 

At the Social Impact Exchange, we are making a similar bet on the potential of an “online marketplace” to stimulate giving to evidence-based initiatives that seek to scale their impact.  A central premise underlying our work is that successful nonprofits cannot access the type of growth capital required to help thousands or millions of people (as opposed to dozens or hundreds).  To be clear, we don’t think all nonprofits should be in the business of scaling, but we want to help those that should. 

To do this, many things need to happen, chief among them is increasing funders’ access to good information about potential investments.  To this end, the Social Impact Exchange is getting ready to launch the S&I 100, an online platform featuring 100 U.S.-based organizations that will allow individual donors to contribute to nonprofits that have evidence of their success AND are growing to spread that impact.   The S&I 100 will provide individual donors comprehensive information and a simple way to identify and support the highest-performing nonprofits in the issues they are passionate about.       

We are also proud to launch the Social Innovation Fund Foundation Registry (SIF Registry).  The Social Innovation Fund, an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service, is intended to improve the lives of people in low-income communities by mobilizing public and private resources to grow promising, innovative community-based solutions that have evidence of compelling impact.  The SIF Registry facilitates this competitive grant program by aggregating information and sharing it with participating foundations.   Not only can funders use the database for targeted searches, but they can also share comments on the site to encourage collaborative funding opportunities to meet the match requirements. 

Both efforts are in their early stages, so we don’t know yet what the results will be.  However, we are excited by the potential demonstrated in the i3 example.   Please contact us with any comments about either the Contribution Center or the SIF Registry.