Hacking Philanthropy


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  Originally uploaded by andrewparker915.

We did our third annual Union Square Sessions event on Tuesday up at Columbia University. We brought together about 45 people who are working in the fields of web technology, philanthropy, and the convergence of the two fields to talk about how web technology offers the potential to "hack" philanthropy.

My partner Brad started off the day explaining that a hack in our minds is a wonderfully creative way to solve a difficult problem with a simple and efficient approach.

We believe that the web offers a tremendous platform to hack philanthropy and we came away from the event even more convinced of that.

We’ve posted our initial thoughts on the event on the Union Square Ventures blog. Photos of the event are on Flickr. And as we always do with Sessions events, we had a stenographer transcribe the discussion and we will post it in its entirety when its available in the next week or two.

I am no expert in this topic and many in the audience were. So it was mostly listening which is hard for me to do without engaging in the discussion.

Towards the end of the day though, I proposed that some of the standards we use on the web, like RSS for example, be adopted by the non-profit world. Shouldn’t every cause, every need, every grant be a post somewhere that can be distributed via RSS, crawled, filtered, rated, tracked, and measured so we can discover more of the wonderful things people are working on to create social action and change? I think so.