Salsa Scoop> Make It Your Own: Case Foundation's Experiment in Citizen-Centric Philanthropy

Make It Your Own: Case Foundation's Experiment in Citizen-Centric Philanthropy

The Case Foundation yesterday opened a summer application window for its "Make It Your Own" awards. A few months on from the controversial Net2 funding scrum, Case revisits similar philosophical ground with very different execution. To begin with, it's a multi-staged process of "managed democracy" -- you know, like we have in the political sphere, except with some democracy -- instead of the free-for-all registration-and-voting process that drew heat for Net2. The pluses and minuses of filtering by both the expert panels and the public electorate can probably be well-imagined, but one compensation appropriate to a managed democracy is a wider distribution of awards: a door prize for every applicant just for showing up; a Benjamin to the 100 quasi-finalists for their time, and nothing-to-sneeze-at $10k grants for 20 finalists even before the winners are picked. Also of note here is that it's very distinctly an "award" as opposed to a "grant" despite the sponsorship of a Foundation. There's not the slightest language about tax status or fiscal sponsorship to dissuade a civic-minded high schooler who ran across this page from firing off an application, a welcome fact which Case hopes will inspire virality, as evidenced by their MySpace and Facebook presence. Despite the institutional capacity of most funders to insulate themselves from experimental grantmaking, we're sure to see more forays like this in the years ahead, if only on an experimental basis.* (In fact, the Grey Lady's treatment of Case's launch notes several already in the offing). It'll be intriguing to see how this process unfolds and what kind of ongoing relationship the sponsoring entities forge with whomever applies ... which would seem like the right play if they do indeed get traction among the social network set. Did I mention the funding angle?
We recognize that improving our communities takes ongoing commitment and persistent action. That’s why we’re funding people who join together to create innovative ideas and solutions that can lay the groundwork for long-term social change.
Well, not everything can be revolutionary all at once. If that rap sounds like you, the application deadline is September August 8. * - Update: "experimental ... experimental"? gah!


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