Sprinting Towards Innovation

November 2021

In June, we hosted our first set of Better Giving Studio CoLab Sprints, where we brought together a diverse group of makers from across the giving ecosystem. Over the course of four very intense days, we brainstormed, bonded, and dreamed big (but tangible) solutions for evolving the giving space.

Five promising concepts came out of this whirlwind: Philanthro-Quiz, Giving Commons, YouTopia, A Simple Thank You and Warm Glow. Participants in the Sprints were then given the opportunity to apply for grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to take select concepts forward into the pilot phase, which is where a concept meets in-market testing. (Better Giving Studio is an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.) We’re excited about the projects that were chosen, and we hope you will be too.

What thinking shaped our choices?

Naturally we chose to fund concepts where we see potential to increase the quantity and quality of giving. We were interested in helping people give better, engaging small-dollar donors, and reducing the barriers to entry for new giving platforms. We prioritized small, nonprofit and for-profit organizations that lacked the resources to pilot the proposed concept on their own. Participants shared their specific learning goals and committed to sharing their learnings with the sector and the world. We focused on projects that were specific enough to be achievable, but also broad enough to bring value to a larger community.

And so…drumroll, please: Say hello to the new Better Giving Studio pilots!

Coin Up: The Quiz That Keeps on Giving

Research has shown that 85% of Millennials give and have strong feelings about social issues, and Gen Z has been called “Philanthroteens” because of their propensity for volunteering and activism. Coin Up recognizes that these are the donors of the future, and their goal over the next year is to figure out how to reach these young donors and get them more engaged. The concept Coin Up is pursuing, Philanthro-Quiz, is meant to reach potential new philanthropists at the very beginning of their giving journeys, help them determine their personal giving styles, and educate them about the different ways a person can be involved in giving back. While Coin Up’s primary goal is to convert potential donors into actual donors, through the pilot they are excited to learn about engagement levels, develop meaningful giving personas, provide education, and then to understand how these factors might influence the type, frequency, and amounts of giving by these next generations of philanthropists.

Every.org: Accelerate Innovation in Giving with the Charity API

As digital natives begin entering the giving space, they’re looking for user experiences that motivate and inspire them. Nonprofits are looking to create experiences that can take them to the next level. Enter the Giving Commons, the philanthropic brainchild of Every.org.The Giving Commons is an open-source toolkit that aims to make it easy to build giving experiences by offering, among other things, an embeddable donate button with copy/paste code, 501(c)3 search functionality, a digital user manual, and integrations with existing nonprofit technologies, all with self-service functionality. These free tools will accelerate innovation in giving by helping organizations, entrepreneurs, and creators of all stripes navigate operational hurdles more easily and efficiently and build their own exciting giving integrations.

Millie: Give Truly, Deeply, Madly

In the past 30 years, participation and interest in workplace giving initiatives have increased. Thanks to the game mechanics learnings from the Co-Lab Sprints, as well as insights from Sarah Welch of ideas42, Millie solidified an idea-in-progress into a month-long giving tournament that gamifies giving as a way to foster philanthropic cultures within organizations. Inspired by March Madness, Giving Madness is based on the hypothesis that there’s nothing like friendly competition to inspire participation. Where March Madness brackets feature basketball teams, Giving Madness features nonprofits. Companies – and their employees – seed the office bracket with funds, and employees vote on which nonprofits they’d most like to back. From there, the money gets pooled and disbursed proportionally across the bracketed nonprofits. Best of all, you don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy it!

RaisedbyUs: The Win Is a Better World

Research shows that individuals are more likely to act when they commit themselves to achieving a shared goal. RaisedBy.Us wants to explore this learning further by testing whether employees will be more motivated to participate if presented with a collective action group challenge. An example might include an “Office Olympics,” where employees are given a personal checklist of tasks to complete, and as they do so, their scores contribute to a combined score for their team or department or region. RaisedBy.Us’s hypothesis, which was inspired by the learnings from the YouTopia product concept, is that the gamification used by digital platforms to successfully influence behavior can achieve similar outcomes in real life. RaisedBy.Us posits that concepts such as set completion, collective action, and randomized incentives will better engage a largely untapped network of first-time and/or small-dollar donors.

What’s Next?

Each of the four organizations is now building a pilot of their concept, with stewardship from IDEO designers and network support from other participants in the CoLab sprint. Soon enough, each organization will start getting real-world feedback on these ideas, seeing what works and what doesn’t. They may have to course-correct. They may have the mind-blowing experience of creating things beyond their wildest dreams. They may discover the unexpected. There’s no way to know but we’re excited to find out! So stay tuned—we’ll be sharing their learnings and inspiration. We hope you’ll stick around to hear all about it.

You can see all of Better Giving Studios product concepts here

Are you interested in participating in a CoLab or learning more about the pilots? Email us.

Other News

February 2021

Dive into the Evidence

The Better Giving Studio aims to bridge the gap between research and real world innovation by getting better products into the hands of everyday givers. Contained in this post are evidence citations that support the concepts on this site.

Giving Multiplier was a finalist in the most recent Better Giving Studio OpenIDEO challenge. In this LA Times Op-Ed, two of the founders of Giving Multiplier -- Lucius Caviola and Joshua Greene -- break down some of the reasons that charitable giving isn't more evidence-based, and how digital products like Giving Multiplier are working to overcome this challenge.