Independent artists, makers, renters, and other suppliers donate items or experiences to a high-visibility marketplace/auction platform. All revenue goes toward causes of the supplier’s choosing.
This concept is the result of a three-week validation sprint by an IDEO team with collaboration from ideas42, a nonprofit organization that uses behavioral science insights to address complex social problems. For more information about the context and background of this work, read this blog post.
Why BGS is Excited About This Concept
This concept combines multiple trends and behaviors visible today — from Instagram auctions to independent, cause-based campaigns initiated by celebrities, artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs.
Add up all the creators, sellers, and renters on platforms like Etsy, Ebay, Airbnb, Society 6, and there’s an abundant amount of potential “stuff” to be donated; this platform would provide a single place where all of this charitable giving could occur.
Although several digital fundraising and auction platforms currently make it possible for companies and celebrities to donate goods and services (for example, Omaze), this concept democratizes that ability and allows anyone to submit an item for donation.
The following is a representative user scenario based upon our IDEO team’s interviews with real people:
Jamila designs jewelry and decorative metal work as a hobby, and has built a successful Etsy shop selling her work over the years. After discovering this indie auction block from a fellow artist on social media, she decides to donate five pieces of excess inventory to raise money to a local arts program in Houston where she volunteers. The previously unsold items from her store wind up raising $650 for the nonprofit.
If people have inventory they can’t sell, they’re going to donate it anyway, why not donate to this new platform you’re talking about?
Creator / Seller on a multi-sided marketplace
Traditional charity auctions depend on individual nonprofits to organize them, often leading to expensive overhead. Newer digital auction platforms tend to only feature gifts from celebrities or companies. In both scenarios, donations for those events tend to come from a limited pool of well-connected donors or corporations. There’s an opportunity to democratize the experience, and streamline the access.
With the right collection of donors, each designating a unique cause that’s important to them, one can imagine a younger, modernized auction block featuring art, jewelry, travel experiences, memorabilia, concert tickets, and more; all of it generating millions of dollars a year for a wide variety of organizations. This new auction block would be designed for (and by) a new generation of emerging donors on the platforms more likely to engage them.
From the buyer’s experience, a single site and/or social media feed would feature a weekly rotation of items and experiences to bid on. The one-of-a-kind offerings paired with confidence that all the money goes to support a cause could build a tremendously popular brand.
Requires creating a brand and building an audience for this auction platform; this task would be easier if an existing social media platform could be enlisted to help promote this new charity platform
Keeping the auction block well stocked with medium-to-high value offerings from (hopefully influential) creators / sellers
I’d be more likely to buy something if the money went to a good cause.
Potential platform user
I want to benefit my community … if I got to pick where the money goes, I’d definitely donate a two or three night stay.
What Do You Think?
Are you working on something similar? Have feedback to give us or insights that we should know about related to this exploratory concept? We’d love to hear from you! Please write us a note at [email protected]
Some additional thinking from the IDEO team on how this concept might plug into the existing value chain.