Advancing Compassion Project Launches New Model of Charitable Giving

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California-based nonprofit fosters innovation within community-based organizations and enables donors to play a more active role in promoting change.

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Most people want to make a difference in their communities and appreciate the need to 'think globally and act locally.' By bringing hearts and minds together for change, Advancing Compassion Project helps put those words into action.

Advancing Compassion Project (ACP) announces the launch of "ProPhilanthropy," an initiative designed to raise awareness and support for innovative projects addressing human, societal or environmental issues, and help donors make contributions having more strategic and lasting value. Moving beyond charitable giving as a "transactional" process in which individuals are asked to write checks to various causes with little if any control over how funds are spent, ProPhilanthropy presents a more transformational approach in which supporters foster novel solutions to proactively address the issues they care most about.

ACP and ProPhilanthropy represent a melding of venture philanthropy and charitable giving – and reflect an emerging trend toward increased donor involvement and a focus on sustained impact. A newly released book that has now become a New York Times Bestseller by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, founder of Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, frames the issue as follows:

"Every day millions of ordinary people exhibit extraordinary generosity. Regardless of age, income, religion, and beliefs, we want to touch the lives of others. Yet philanthropy is often reactive – we write checks when natural disasters strike, we give to our schools and places of worship, or we support friends running a marathon for a cure. How can we transform these occasional acts of giving into consistent generosity that creates enduring impact?" Giving 2.0 – Transform Your Giving and Our World (Wiley, January 2012)

Advancing Compassion Project presents one answer to Arrillaga-Andreessen's question: a more proactive and strategic model of community-based giving. Programs of interest are evaluated through in-depth interactions between ACP's contributors, advisors and charitable organizations. Ongoing or proposed projects need to be:

  •     Innovative - the project must represent a novel or improved approach that more effectively addresses problems through prevention or earlier intervention;
  •     Efficient - the program must be able to demonstrate the improvement in a way that does not require substantial new overhead or non-program expenses; and
  •     Transformational - the organization must be capable of translating project success into additional support needed to make it a model for sustainable change.

Promoting improvements within existing organizations allows ACP, which comprises volunteers and pro bono advisors, to operate without significant overhead. It also enables contributors to directly interact with programs, which increases awareness of needs and potential solutions and facilitates support going beyond the financial. In particular, bringing together diverse people who share an interest in solving a problem can lead to additional contributions such as relevant experience or connections, potential access to grants, supplies or services, and other assets that help charitable organizations better accomplish their objectives.

Similarly, ACP enables donors to play a greater role in promoting change. Compared to event-based fundraising such as walks, runs and rides, ACP encourages participants to influence and assist projects rather than simply hearing about them. Like some church or civic groups, ACP addresses issues at a community level, but it focuses on novel solutions that allow supporters to maximize the value and longer-term impact of their contributions.

"Unlike a traditional nonprofit, ACP operates more like a high-tech angel investor or early-stage venture fund, focused on spurring innovations that effectively increase our and our donors' returns on contributions," says Tyler Dylan-Hyde, president and chief executive officer of Advancing Compassion Project. "Treating these investments like any entrepreneurial venture, there will be active involvement with the partner program and support will generally be staged or 'tranched' based on achieving agreed upon milestones."

Dylan-Hyde, a San Diego entrepreneur who has successfully advanced several healthcare ventures and has been a supporter and volunteer in a number of humanitarian programs adds that, "Most people want to make a difference in their communities and appreciate the need to 'think globally and act locally.' By bringing hearts and minds together for change, Advancing Compassion Project helps put those words into action."

Projects currently being evaluated include those addressing youth homelessness. For example, a proactive outreach effort to help kids either find their way off the streets or become more aware of health and other risks represents a far better solution than treating HIV and other diseases spread through survival sex, or managing the downstream effects of drug abuse. ACP intends to focus on these and other projects that can help individuals at risk and at the same time increase awareness and support for improved solutions to problems affecting our communities.

An affiliated "communitarian" service program that will connect ACP volunteers to both targeted projects and other activities is to be launched on Valentine's Day.

Advancing Compassion Project welcomes donors, supporters and volunteers interested in making a greater difference with their contributions, and solicits proposals from innovative projects having a demonstrable model for promoting change. More information on ACP can be found on the web at http://www.AdvancingCompassion.org, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AdvancingCompassion, and on Twitter at @HelpLoveGrow.

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