A community of micro-philanthropists
In grade school, we began learning the word “philanthropist” - a term usually tied to the Carnegies and Rockefellers of the world - the philanthropists who, through their generosity, helped build a nation. We grew up respecting these men and women, admiring them for their investments in their neighborhoods and communities.
So what does a philanthropist look like in the 21st century? There are certainly contemporary examples such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffett who give millions of dollars to causes each year. But at Citizinvestor, we don’t believe that you have to have millions of dollars to be a philanthropist in the 21st century. In fact, all you need is a few dollars.
We believe that “philanthropy” differentiates itself from other forms of giving in that it is big, public and tangible.
Traditional philanthropists built big things: libraries, universities and the U.N. Today’s micro-philanthropists are building big things too: bridges, a Nikola Tesla museum and, as Clay Shirky would point out, Wikipedia! Shirky says in his great book, Here Comes Everybody, “We have lived in this world where little things are done for love and big things for money. Now we have Wikipedia. Suddenly big things can be done for love.”
Dictionary.com defines philanthropy as “private initiatives for public good.” Both traditional and micro-philanthropists understand this well. Philanthropic gifts are meant to be for the good of all men, or in the case of Citizinvestor, for the good of all citizens. This is probably why the “city of brotherly love” was the first to post a project on Citizinvestor! The projects posted to Citizinvestor come from local government entities and are inherently public, thus attracting a community of micro-philanthropists who feel compelled to take initiative for public good.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was near impossible to do anything philanthropic that was truly tangible if you didn’t have millions of dollars. Today that is not the case. Our favorite example of this is Charity Water who does a fantastic job of making big gifts tangible even if you have only donated $5 to build a water well in Africa. With Citizinvestor, tangible outcomes are possible for the micro-philanthropist who only has a few dollars to spare to build a park, playground or plant a tree.
At Citizinvestor, we are creating a community of “micro-phlanthropists” where anyone can choose specific projects to fund in their neighborhoods and see that investment come to life to make their neighborhood a better place. In effect, we are democratizing philanthropy. So what do you say? Want to help us build a community of modern-day Carnegies and Rockefellers with just a few dollars? Check out this great project from Philadelphia or start a petition of your own!