A commenter on Guy Kawasaki’s blog made a good point about non-profits trying to work from the same funding pie. Non-profits continue to emerge and grow while the pie stays relatively constant. We will have to cut into the larger and more established non-profits funding streams though this isn’t quite the Herculean task that it once was.
As the previous post emphasizes, most of the resources and tools needed to grow are not only decentralized, but they’re mainly free or incredibly cheap. The biggest problem we face is grabbing eyeballs, and with eyeballs come dollars. So now our tiny non-profit has to figure out how to grab attention and bring in grant money, easier than in the past but still no small feat.
FROG, Ning and Facebook
While serving my post back in 2004, I realized that the idea of connecting all volunteers globally to much needed (and locally unavailable) project resources was only a few mouse clicks away. A number of people were astounded to hear that all of Guyana was wired to the internet, from Georgetown to Letham, volunteers did and do have access to the global community. I wanted to take advantage of this.
Combine the needs of the local community, the craftiness of you average Peace Corps volunteer and the enthusiasm the words “Peace Corps” bring to many, much good could be accomplished using the internet. I ran across Ning at about the same time as this epiphany and it struck me that their platform was perfect for matching volunteer project requests with those willing to help. From donated materials and tools to services and skills (Peace Corps policy frowns upon straight cash donations from outside of friends and family), it became clear that the Ning platform could meet the needs of our projects.
And the potential was huge, unfortunately the few developers that had signed on to help (I’m a useless coder) didn’t have as much free time as the project required. It went belly up.
Skipping to a few years later, I ran across Arrington’s post on Ning’s Facebook app builder last night. Our FROG profile on Facebook has been a definate boon to our organization and brought much needed attention to our upcoming launch in Queens. I had been thinking about a FROG app on Facebook, but had no idea what it would do. The Techcrunch post brought back my earlier idea of connecting volunteers with donors and the light bulb went off. Build the Ning network again, brand it as FROG project and spin it toward the Facebook community. It’ll be great to get the attention for sure but it also takes advantage of a very viral platform and closes a serious gap volunteers find in starting and/or finishing projects.
That’s doable, but…
Great idea but I’m still not a developer and we still have little funding. So what do I do now? The obvious first step was to post a note at the top of the earlier post that’s bringing in a lot of traffic, secondly I went back to an old post on Metafilter on this very subject, third I could post the request all over the web, Craigslist, various forums and so on (not quite as helpful) and lastly, I could shell out a couple hunred dollars (probably way less) and outsource it through Rentacoder.
Wish me luck and keep watching. If you’re a developer and want to help, you can reach me at sstadum [at] guyfrog [dot] org. [Disclaimer: Of course all of this needs to be cleared by our board, but in the meantime I’d like to develop this as a personal project.]