Bryan Miller, author of the blog Giving in a digital world, recently had some interesting thoughts about DiscoverScholars.org. Here are some highlights from his post, “Discover Scholars: Taking online fundraising to a more personal level?:”
They’re an interesting non-profit organisation that awards scholarships to students across the US – but with all their funding coming from individual donors who use the Discover Scholars website to select the type of student they want to help with their education…
This transparent funding approach is very much in-line with the growing demand from donors for more understanding of exactly how their money is being used and the desire to feel closer to what they’re funding. Recognition of which has led to a growing range of nonprofits – like Global Giving and Donors Choose – using the web to let donors select the specific project they want to fund.
However, the difference here is the framing of the offer to the donor – introduced on the homepage with the line… “Wish there were a scholarship foundation that supported the students you would choose to support yourself? With Discover Scholars.org, now there is…” – which is very much focused on the individual being funded rather than a class of students or a study-related project.
The only other organisation I can think of that takes the funding transparency down to the individual level is micro-investment organisation Kiva. But Kiva and Discover Scholars are very different in the way they actually offer donor choice…
From the amount of detailed background available on the site the need for such funding has clearly been very well thought through by its founders. However, I fear that this could be a case of a great personalised core donor proposition being significantly weakened because of the need to change the way it is implemented and that this will seriously impact their ability to attract significant volumes of donors in the way other online fundraising startups have. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.
Rest assured, we’re doing everything we can to ensure that Bryan’s hope comes true.