I had an interesting conversation today with David Karp of firstgiving.com a US based social fundraising community. firstgiving.com connects normal people who are fundraising (walk-a-thons, bike-a-thons, anything-a-thons) with their charities and those that would sponsor them. Firstgiving.com facilitates the logistics of some on-line marketing of your fundraising effort, signing up sponsors, and collecting money. Check it out. It’s easy. Our conversation was interesting on a few fronts.
First is that enteprises can learn a great deal from firstgiving.com about leverage. Leverage is a major if not the major benefit of social applications. By engaging the community and delegating what is best done by the community to the community you can get tremendous leverage. So what kind of leverage are we talking about here? According to David and their site they have about 1.4M people and 1500 charities and have facilitated fundraising of almost $74,000,000 since 2003. David says they are growing at a rate of about 50% year over year. They started in the UK as www.justgiving.comin 2001 where they now have over 6M people, 5000 charities and have assisted in raising over £348,000,000. This ain’t peanuts. Firstgiving.com delivers the capability with a dozen employees. The UK’s www.justgiving.com whose community is about 3 times larger and fundraising about a magnitude bigger has about 30 employees. Exponential leverage is the goal. In mass collaboration, mass matters!
Second, I beat the dead horse of purpose for a reason. This is a great example of the best of both worlds. They have a nicely restricted scope in community fundraising but almost limitless scale potential. Limited scope and unlimited scale is the key to getting transformational, game changing leverage.
Finally, this is another good example of new business models arising out of the social Web movement. Using mass collaboration technologies they have found a way to a win-win. Charities get easier access to more fundraising and www.firstgiving.com gets about a 5% cut for facilitating the transaction (I don’t know for sure but would imaging that this transaction cost is a good bit cheaper than the non-Web based manual effort.
I’m collecting examples of mass collaboration leverage and would love to hear of more good examples. Bring them on!