We reached 100%!

In less than 28 days, we reached 100% of the $2,500 fundraising goal with donations and pledges! Thank you so much to everyone who supported my project with a donation, with love and with positive energy. I sincerely could not have done this without you, and we are just getting started. Tonight, I’m flying out to Manila, and will spend the next three weeks working with Gawad Kalinga. I’m really excited to head back there to work on this fascinating project, and it’s really great to know I’ve got a ton of support from you.

I’ve been reading a lot about “crowdfunding” (kind of like crowdsourcing, but projects are financed rather than just talked about by the crowd), and this truly was an interesting experiment in crowdfunding (read more about it here). Here are some fascinating data from the fundraising (minimal amount of quant skills used!):

  • Total amount fundraised: $2,500
  • Total # of contributors: 70!
  • Minimum contribution: $5
  • Maximum contribution: $150
  • Average contribution: $35.21
  • Standard deviation: 30.16
  • # of clicks on the paypal link: 127 => More than 50% clickthrough rate

All quant stuff aside, this goal has been a fun foray into the world of fundraising! Well, I’ve got to pack my bags now for the three-week trip. I’ll update as much as I can in the Philippines!

Thank you, thank you, thank you again.

Book List: Giving

Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World by Bill Clinton

Just finished reading Ex-President Bill Clinton’s latest book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World. I appreciated that he attempted to shed light on the topic of everyday philanthropy, and it comes in a very timely manner. With billionaire Bill Gates shifting his focus full-time in the social sector and new President Barack Obama renewing the meaning of public service for America, the seeds of service have been planted. Many Americans are starting to wonder how they too can get involved in making the world a better place, and Clinton’s book provides an inspirational “how-to.”

However, for people who are already involved in the social sector, the book reads more like a refresher of sorts. I found myself several times throughout the book thinking, “Oh, I’ve heard of this organization,” or “I’ve already read a lot about this cause.” Additionally, the book was almost too jam-packed with information. It read more like a series of blog posts with absolutely no transitions.

While I appreciate everything that the Clinton Global Foundation is doing and everything that all of the highlighted organizations are doing to eradicate some of the world’s most pressing social problems, the book also sounded more like Bill bragging about his foundation’s work and the work of his best buddies’s organizations.

I suppose that’s fine, but for those of you really looking to read a substantive book about social change causes and organizations, this is not that book. The most he devoted to an organization/cause is probably about 3-5 pages, and the least was one paragraph.

Bottomline: It still is an inspirational read especially for the “beginners” to the social sector and those who are interested in learning about how to give (time, money, talent, etc.). Those who are more seasoned in the social sector may find this book too fluffy, flat, and full of name-dropping.

Hit the jump for some excerpts:

Continue reading Book List: Giving

NYTimes Article: Surge in nonprofit courses at universities around the country

When do people know that they want to enter the nonprofit sector? Ask any sixth grader what he wants to be when he grows up, and he’ll tell you he wants to be a firefighter, doctor or lawyer. But he probably won’t say that he wants to be a program manager at a nonprofit organization.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that my path was leading me towards the nonprofit sector–to the chagrin of my dad who wanted me to be in the business sector. Although I enjoyed business and love entrepreneurship, running Troy Camp for the kids of inner city Los Angeles was what really lit my fire. For the longest time I tried to deny that, but my path is clear, and has been for quite some time now–otherwise I wouldn’t be so happy at BUILD, now would I? And this is the very reason why we are starting Level 5 (www.levefive.org), so that young people who have heart and passion can also be equipped with the leadership and communications skills necessary to affect change in the nonprofit sector.

Amber was kind enough to send me this interesting article about how there has been a surge in nonprofit leadership and management courses at universities across the country. Read a few choice excerpts below, or check out the full article here:

KORBI ADAMS says she learned about nonprofit work from her high school clarinet teacher, who also directed her youth orchestra and would include Ms. Adams in her fund-raising activities.

“The community engagement stuff — it lit my fire,� said Ms. Adams, now 22. “I thought that was what I wanted to do: to combine arts and an outreach in nonprofit management.�

Ms. Adams decided to attend Arizona State University, where she majored in music and received a certificate for courses she took under the American Humanics program, which was founded in 1948 to encourage community work, including nonprofit administration, and is available at colleges around the country.

A 2008 graduate, she is now in what she calls her dream job, an education assistant at Childsplay, a nonprofit theater in Tempe, Ariz., where she works in arts education. “I’m learning how to very carefully mind the budget,� she said, noting that working with grant money requires carefully hewing to the bottom line.

The do-good desires of Ms. Adams and many members of her “Gen Y� cohort have sparked a surge in nonprofit management and leadership courses at colleges and universities, building on the example of the American Humanics certification program. More than 230 colleges and universities across the United States offer courses in those areas, up from 179 a decade ago, a 2007 study at Seton Hall University found.

Click here for the full article.

Launching a New Social Venture

My friends and I are on a mission to level the playing field in the leadership of the nonprofit sector, and we need your help.

Over tea at a cafe, my friend Karla and I lamented the lack of development opportunities for young professionals of color in the nonprofit sector. We witnessed our friends leave nonprofit to pursue careers in the for-profit sector because of this very reason.

And then we saw the severe lack of leadership diversity in the nonprofit sector. Did you know that people of color lead just 16% of nonprofit organizations nationwide? Sixteen percent! We instinctively thought that in order for nonprofit organizations to level the playing field for their clients, they first need to level the playing field in the leadership of their organizations.

There is a large pool of talented and motivated young people of color that want to make a difference in their communities. But high barriers to entry such as noncompetitive wages, limited career advancement, and few professional development opportunities continue to deter young people of color from pursuing careers in nonprofit. This untapped talent pool holds the key to making a lasting impact in the diverse communities that nonprofits serve.

Because we are tired of waiting for change to happen, we are choosing instead to make change ourselves. Thus, we created the Level 5 Project to increase diversity in the nonprofit sector by developing and empowering a corps of young professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Our flagship project will be the Level 5 Fellowship, which will provide young professionals of color with challenging leadership training, including an intensive curriculum and dynamic hands-on mentoring. We will award up to six fellowships to motivated, driven students from diverse backgrounds to join the charter cohort by spring 2009.

We’re starting this social venture with optimism, and although we are starting relatively small, our sights are set on systematic sector-wide impact.

Do you work on a college campus in the Bay Area?
If you do, we’d love to set up info sessions and/or workshops to advertise our opportunity.

Do you know any awesome current college juniors? We are looking for current college students who represent diverse backgrounds and are passionate about a career in the nonprofit sector. Please pass on this email to your contacts.


As a small start-up social venture, we’re always looking for donations of expertise (PR,  finance, design, leadership), funding, and time (interested in volunteering or maybe being a mentor?). Let’s make this a community effort!

Check out the info sheet and application attached to this email or download them at joinus.levelfive.org. Applications are due on Dec 1, 2008!

Friends, we are on a mission, and you can read more about it at www.levelfive.org. Join our social change movement to empower next generation’s changemakers!

Thank you in advance for your support!

Rey Faustino
Level 5 Project   |   Empowering Next Generation’s Changemakers
415 704 4880   |   rey@levelfive.org   |   www.levelfive.org

Download the info sheet here.

Download the application here.

Trendspotting: Philanthropic Weddings

I’m going to four weddings in the next nine weeks. As Karla told me, we are coming to that age when many of our friends from high school and college are getting hitched.

I’m really looking forward to Mike and Alex’s wedding this upcoming Sunday because 1) Alex is one of my best friends and we go all the way back to the elementary school days, and 2) they’re employing what I think is a pretty neat philanthropic idea at their wedding.

You know how at the end of weddings, they give out those (usually) tacky wedding favors? Generally it’s a piece of plastic crap that has the couple’s names and the date of the wedding on it. Or perhaps it’s a food-related favor like a bag of cookies or packaged cupcakes. Alex’s idea was rather than paying $3-4 per person for a random wedding favor, she would instead donate the cost of the favors per person to a nonprofit organization that she and Mike valued. She  asked me to help her choose a nonprofit organization or charity that aligned with their values, and after some research, I sent her a list of 17 recommendations, and my opinions of each. The list included some of my favorite orgs like College Summit, Ashoka, and Green for All.

She recently told me that she and Mike chose BUILD (I swear I didn’t twist her arm or anything) as the recipient for the donation, and each guest at the wedding will receive, in lieu of a wedding favor, a little piece of paper describing the organization.

In two weeks, I’m attending Erwin and Coy’s wedding–Erwin is my chorus brother and their wedding will be my first gay one (Go California!)–and they are also employing philanthropy at their wedding. On the back of their invitation, they’ve written:

Because we already have more things than we need, in lieu of gifts we ask for donations to help continue the right of GLBT folks to marry. We encourage gifts to Equality California at www.eqca.org/wedding.

It’s hard not to be cynical at weddings, but given that both of these weddings have the underlying theme of giving back, I think they might turn out to be fun after all.

The Importance of Collaboration to Endure the Economic Downturn

I attended the first in a set of free quarterly workshops/discussions for non-profit organizations called “Power of Partnership,” co-presented by Craigslist Foundation, The Foundation Center, and Northern California Grantmakers. Tonight they had three panelists discussing the importance of collaboration between non-profits in the face of the state and nation’s budget crises.

A few highlights from the panelists:

Jacob Harold, Program Officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation said some very insightful things about the current state of the nation and world in regards to philanthropy: Foundations, from the non-profit’s point of view, look like big entities that wield a lot of power. Jacob argued that they are bit players in the change game. He said that the Hewlett Foundation invests about $20 million per year to improve the California community college system, but the aggregate budget for the whole community college system is over $6 billion per year!

He also said several times that “the world is in flux,” and the basis of power is moving from organizations to networks that have the ability to mobilize quickly, accomplish their goal, and then disperse quickly. And despite the fact that the amount of money/funding is going down, social need is going up. How are these needs being met? With more efficient networks of people, and not clunky, bureaucratic organizations.

Sherry Simmons from the Northern California Community Loan Fund decrees that in order for organizations to successfully collaborate they need: 1) to have a clear goal, 2) to clarify the shared measures of success, and 3) to bring the right people together.

She also shared the story of how a coalition led by the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits worked together to fight proposed budget cuts in Santa Clara County–and they won by banding together, instead of getting picked off one-by-one.

Steve Fields from S.F. Human Services Network facetiously recounted former SF Mayor Willie Brown’s take on collaboration: “The definition of collaboration is what you think the other guy should be doing to further your agenda.” Obviously he disagrees, but it painted a picture of how government views collaboration with the non-profit sector (e.g. it doesn’t really exists).

Biggest Take-aways

  1. Collaboration is difficult because non-profits get really stuck in their own proprietary silos
  2. Multi-organization collaboration is a necessity, not just for funding, sharing resources, or sharing best practices, but more importantly for survival. As we face an economy and world in flux, more often than not, the non-profit sector is the first to lose funding. We must make it a priority to band together, realize that we are not competing with each other, and understanding that we are all providing unique services for the betterment of the entire community.

Who said anything worthwhile was easy? Are you currently collaborating in meaningful ways with other organizations?