The reality is that the $2 trillion of World Bank aid that has been disbursed since 1950 has failed to make significant progress, if any. Fortunately, however, our technological world has figured out how to skirt innovation bottlenecks—the “elite” aid institutions—using online social networks. Crowdsourcing has long been at the heart of corporate social responsibility; American Express, GiveMN, Chase, Google, and Sam’s Club have used crowdsourcing to allocate philanthropic dollars.
Whittle has been a pioneer in this trend since 1997, when he and Mari Kuraishi founded the World Bank Development Marketplace, one of the first such platforms in which innovators competed for World Bank funds. Whittle and Kuraishi eventually left the World Bank to found GlobalGiving.
They have experimented with pure crowdsourcing (e.g., voting-only models like America’s Giving Challenge and the current Pepsi Refresh Project) as well as what Whittle calls “crowdfunding”—e.g., GlobalGiving’s ongoing Global Open Challenges, which requires interested organizations to raise $4,000 from more than 50 donors in order to secure a spot on the GlobalGiving platform.
Crowds, however, do have their shortcomings—Whittle emphasizes the “importance of avoiding ‘knowledge cocoons’ and herd mentalities that can lead to poor choices.” In order to avoid this, the Pepsi Refresh project hired GOOD to ensure that grantees receive support in feedback loops and impact assessment.
Teamwork makes the dream work!