The National Philanthropic Trust calculates $316 billion in U.S. individual and family charitable giving took place in 2012. Their study finds that 88% of households give to charity, with the average annual household contribution reaching $2,213 (while the mean is $870). And the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that in 2010, 140 of the largest charities reported receiving $1.2 billion in online donations, compared to the $887 million received in 2009. At the same time, there were approximately 1,080,130 charitable organizations in the United States in 2011, a 15.6% decrease from 2010.
While total philanthropic contributions have risen, it’s, at the same time, been harder for charitable organizations to stay afloat. There are two notable inferences that can be made from all this. First, the rise of social, mobile, and the phenomena of “crowdfunding” has helped create simpler and more convenient ways to donate. And second, that launching a charitable organization isn’t the topic of a whole lot of business start-up proposals as of late. At least not in the traditional sense, that is.
San Francisco social innovation and social entrepreneurship startup SunnyKarma aims to disrupt the charity giving sector by creating an online social fundraising platform that allows professionals and businesses to auction off unique experiences and others to bid to obtain them, with proceeds going to a good cause. Experiences range from donations of lessons, mentorships, exclusive events and engagements, to limited edition material goods. I learned more about SunnyKarma’s ambitions and focus in a written interview with the company’s founder and CEO, Elina Elek.
Andre Bourque: What industry challenge are you addressing?
Elina Elek: Charitable giving in the US had been at 2% of national GDP for the last 40. Moreover, in recent years non-profits are hurting for funding with the recent budget cuts and economic conditions. Most people are not too eager to donate to good causes because they do not receive anything of value in return. Most people and organizations have limited ways of raising funds.
We provide technological breakthrough by creating a marketplace and a platform for people to do what they love – share awesome experiences, hobbies and passions, socialize, make meaningful connections, all while raising funds for a good cause. We want to give people more value from a charitable donation than just a tax write-off.
Bourque: What makes your solution unique?
Elek: We combine philanthropy, for-profit business savvy and cutting edge technology to make a huge difference in the social sector. We allow small businesses and professionals who did not support charitable causes to participate in charitable giving, while promoting their business and expertise. On the other hand, people who do donate, now can receive something of value in return.
Businesses and professionals can thus advertise their unique capabilities and bidders receive valuable experiences, all while helping making this world a better place. We are the only platform that does that and it’s creating a win-win for everyone!
Bourque: Tonight you have this Alice in Wonderland shin-dig I’m very much looking forward to. Give us some other projects currently available for competitive, philathropic participation.
Elek: We’ve kicked off some really unique auctions we’d love the Technorati community to participate in.
- A flight on a private plane over SF/Bay Area on a four-seater plane, that will be raffled off at the Alice in Wonderland Ball at Drake Lounge on Sept 12th
- Two day ride in a new Jaguar, that will be promoted at and raffled off two days after the Enigma Session event in Redwood Room on Sept 18th
- Tsunami Glass Wave Sculpture by renowned artist, David Wight
And we’re constantly working with worthy organizations and causes, launching new auctions.
Bourque: Any last parting thoughts?
Elek: There is so much injustice in the world we all live in. If we all try just a little bit to help each other, this world might become a better place, I hope.
At SunnyKarma we try to do just that.
Bourque: Well I, for one, am happy to have discovered your platform and hope to try a little salsa dancing with my $100 bid to the Alliance Foundation for the Adult Stem Cell Therapy and Research auction.