By Melissa Jane Kronfeld
On Tuesday, June 19, AllianceBernstein & Charidy had the privilege of co-hosting an intimate evening at their New York headquarters where we held a discussion on, The Power of the Crowd: Leveraging Large Gifts to Inspire Micro-Giving. The once-in-a-lifetime event featured a range of philanthropic experts including AllianceBernstein client advisor Richard Murray, Charidy founder Yehuda Gurwitz, Chinedu Echeruo of MindMeet, Patrick Gage of the Scalabrini International Migration Network, and Clare Golla the Head of Endowment and Foundation Advisory Services for AllianceBernstein.
Richard kicked off the evening by telling the close to 100 assembled guests that, “no one is here serendipitously. You are all here for a reason, you’re all adding value, you all have a perspective on the conversation. And that conversation is on the power of the crowd – you guys – the people – large donors, small donors, those with economic, those with social capital, all of us working together to make the world a better place.”
He went on to point out that the partnership between Charidy and AllianceBernstein makes sense because like our crowdfunding team, AllianceBernstein has a deep commitment to making the world a better place at the corporate, client and employee level: “we’re not just talking – we’re capable of action and that’s what important to me,” Richard said.
Charidy founder and CEO Yehuda Gurwitz concurred. Taking to the stage before the panel started, Yehuda told the crowd, “when it comes to damaging something, as the old saying goes, we’re all on the same boat. And if someone drills a little hole, we’re all going to drown. But when it comes to building something, taking care of a problem, a lot of us, we’re not always sure.
“But at Charidy we are sure. We are sure that every action, even the smallest actions that one can do, will take care of a problem,” adding that, “we are so sure that people with small actions will take care of problems, our entire business is based on that.”
But Yehuda also believes that big donors should not only want to give, but should want that gift to inspire others to give – no matter what level of gift they can give at. He asked, “how do you get people to realize that their actions matter?” answering that, “we believe that the power of people to get people to give lies with major donors. To get people to understand that they can solve a problem – that duty is on the major donors.”
And this is achieved, Yehuda noted, by creating, “an interdependency between the major donor and the mico donor” – the critical factor in our 99 percent success rate over more than 2,100 campaigns for over 1,400 organizations in just five years.
Today, we all live in an increasingly interconnected, fast-paced world with instant global communication. Charitable and philanthropic endeavors are having to adjust to new technologies and distribution models, not unlike other industries including retail, agriculture, publishing and advertising – even government – which not only change the nature of how one operates a business or program but also who can operate in any given sector, by lowering the barriers to competition – and cooperation.
In her remarks, Clare noted that the Giving Market, “has changed dramatically in the past 25 years,” adding that “one of the major changes speaks to what Charidy is doing. And that is the democratization of philanthropy. A few decades ago when you would use the world philanthropist you would think of Rockefeller.”
But today, Clare added, “anyone can be a philanthropist because technology has been a big part of that.”
She went on to note that, there are, “so many ways for people to give easily. And there is so much access to information people are prepared to give in a different way. And matching has been a huge winning strategy for organizations.”
This makes giving, “ addictive… infectious,” Clare added, “and that’s a good addiction.”
One such organization who has found Charidy to be a winning strategy for its needs is the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN), where Patrick serves as Development Director, and which hosted a successful $80,000 raise in 2017 (check out their Charidy campaign here).
During the panel, Patrick spoke about his efforts addressing migrant flows and the refugee crisis in Latin America, in the context of the immediate and critical need for access to fast-moving capital and responsive fundraising capabilities, particularly for faith-based organizations like his own (which is affiliated with the Catholic Church). This is especially pertinent in light of how faith-based organizations tend to receive, on average, less foundational, family, grant or individual large gift donations then secular organizations.
“With Charidy we were able to take some donors who are a bit slow on their own and kick them in the butt,” Patrick told the guests, “and say we are doing this campaign in six weeks and you got to step up to the plate. And they did. And it was wonderful.”
He added that “I can’t sing Charidy’s praises enough in helping us both energize the slower donors, but also get us a larger reach.”
And that’s really what Charidy is all about – inspiring the mega-donors to inspire the micro-donors and create that critical interdependency Yehuda spoke of as being the pivotal factors in Charidy’s sustained, successful model
Because, as Chinedu noted in his final remarks, “when you share an idea with someone else, when you inspire someone else they can go out and do so much more.”
Check out pictures from the event on our Facebook page!
Additional reporting by Christopher Conry.