Philanthropedia – helping US donors focus their online giving where it makes the most impact

In response to the growing trend of savvy donors wanting more reassurance that their donations really will make a difference, an interesting new online initiative was launched last month called Philanthropedia.

Philanthropedia is essentially an online charity crowdfunding site – but one with a difference, in that it uses a team of 261 experts specialising in different social causes to evaluate the effectiveness of US non-profits. Their recommendations are then used to define ‘Expert Mutual Funds’ representing those they deem to be the best organisations to support doing work within specific cause areas.

For launch, the experts have defined three Mutual Funds that online donors can support – representing Climate Change, Education, and Bay Area Homelessness – with another eight apparently on the way.

So, if you are particularly interested in Climate Change you can select the Climate Change Mutual Fund and then choose one of the 15 non-profits assigned to that fund, or share your donation across the whole lot:

Funded by the Hewlett Foundation, Philanthropedia doesn’t take any share of donations made to its Funds – so all donations do go to the chosen organisations, net of a 2.9% PayPal credit card processing fee.

Of course, the heart of the whole Philanthropedia proposition is the quality of its selection criteria, and I have no doubt that there will be much debate around this as the site grows – particularly as the evaluation criteria used differ for each of the cause areas chosen.

However, overall it is certainly a novel response to individual donors’ growing desire to make more informed decisions when it comes to their giving. It’ll be interesting to watch the site over the next year to see just how attractive it proves to be to online US donors looking for more understanding as to where they should ‘invest’ their charitable giving.




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