Social Philanthropy in Alaska
Tallyfunder.com provides a new way to support Alaskan non-profit organizations. It is the first crowdfunding site from Alaska, and begins funding October 14. Crowdfunding is very much what it sounds like, a crowd of different people coming together to fund something they care about. At Tallyfunder the crowd comes together to fund non-profits, but there are three characteristics that set this crowdfunding site apart from all others.
First, Tallyfunder is not a platform for raising specific dollar amounts for specific goals. That is standard model crowdfunding, and there are hundreds of other sites offering it. The funding at Tallyfunder is open-ended, and flows from social interaction and information sharing. Each participating organization has its own forum. Before users decide to fund an organization, they can talk with its personnel to better understand who they are supporting. “We call it social philanthropy,” says Ambler Stephenson, the site’s founder. “We’re big fans of proactive, informed giving. A lot of value, apart from financial contributions, comes from reaching out and getting involved. Connection is the first step.”
Second, everyone gives the same amount: just one dollar. Why one dollar? Because Tallyfunding is by design a community effort, and is meant to be affordable and available for anyone with a dollar to give. So what exactly is being tallied? Tallyfunder tallies votes. Users temporarily turn their dollars into votes. Then they can vote a dollar for an organization they want to support.
Third, every participating organization is guaranteed funding. Each week Tallyfunder looks at different causes, and for each cause they feature three organizations. Users can vote a dollar for one of those three organizations. All the votes, and their corresponding dollars, are then tallied up and divided among the three organizations according to vote count: the most voted for gets 45%, next most gets 35%, next most gets 20%. The Tallyfunder community raises funds together and disperses them democratically, in a way that leaves no one out.
Crowdfunding has been alive and evolving for some time. One of the first American beneficiaries of crowdfunding was the Statue of Liberty. In 1884 the American Committee for the Statue of Liberty ran out of funds for the statue’s pedestal, so the New York World ran an ad asking for public support. Over 125,000 people responded and helped raise over $100,000. Many of these people donated $1 or less. Now let’s skip to the present, and fire up our computers. In 2012, crowdfunding websites raised over $2.5 billion for groups and individuals. It is a raging phenomenon that has saved lives, financed businesses, sent people to college, and on and on.
Tallyfunder wants to keep this momentum going in the non-profit sphere, and they are keeping it social. Starting October 14, if you want to know what the Alaska Center for the Environment is doing to protect Alaskan rivers, log in to Tallyfunder and start that conversation with them. If you want to know how much work goes into keeping Anchorage’s homeless population from starving or freezing, go to Tallyfunder and ask the people at Bean’s Café. If you would like to know why an Alaskan pilot is installing solar panels in Afghan villages, he’ll be on Tallyfunder to talk with you about the Afghan Child Project.
The site’s founder, Ambler Stephenson, is a life-long Alaskan originally from Ester, just north of Fairbanks. He currently lives with his family in Girdwood, and enjoys the Alaskan outdoors year round. He also co-founded the new scholastic chess program Kings and Queens, debuting at Sand Lake Elementary. “The idea behind Tallyfunder is about 7 years old. My original vision revolved around many people giving just one dollar. I thought there was great potential in that. I hadn’t even heard of crowdfunding, but I knew the internet would play a crucial role. At the time I had to file the idea away under too complicated, too expensive. Then last summer I ran out of excuses and patience. I compelled myself to get the job done, and I’ve stayed true to my original vision. Tallyfunder enables anyone with a dollar to help raise thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes they care about.”
The first organizations arrive on Tallyfunder October 14, and hail from Sitka up to Fairbanks. There will be three organizations in each of the following categories: Education, Arts, S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math), and Conservation and Sustainability. Tallyfunder offers affordable, community based support for the organizations that do so much for Alaska. Get involved at Tallyfunder.com.