Thank you to all the members who put so much thought and care into our first comprehensive member survey! Your responses and ideas were front and center last month when the Board of Directors met in Chicago for our annual strategy meeting.
You were very good about identifying the things you like, and we’ll do our best to keep those features in place as we move forward. You also gave us terrific, constructive input about what we could do differently. So in the next six months, we’ll be rolling out some changes we hope you’ll like — including a big one I’d like to announce right now.
We’ve heard that it’s often hard for members to get familiar with our slate of ten charities each quarter before a new quarter is upon us. It’s also been hard for us to effectively tell the stories of so many great organizations in a three-month span. That makes deep engagement a real challenge.
We’ve also heard a desire to have a greater financial impact on each charity. Though we’ve increased our average grants from $1,200 to $3,300 since launch, we’d like to make an even bigger difference in the work of our beneficiaries.
The Board discussed several different ways we might change our model to address these needs, finally hitting on a solution that I think is elegant and effective — reducing our ten cause categories to five, thereby doubling our average grant to over $6,500 and making real engagement more feasible.
This had to be done thoughtfully. The humanistic vision of many of our members is deeply connected to one or more of our cause areas, so we knew we couldn’t simply make entire categories vanish. The answer that emerged was combining categories that already have a clear affinity. Animal Protection and Environment are so inextricable that many of their beneficiaries to-date could have been in either category. Same with Poverty and Health, or Peace and Human Rights. And nearly every Education and Poverty charity we’ve featured has benefitted Children first and foremost. (Because it features organizations in non-secular worldviews, Challenge the Gap is our one uncombinable category.)
Beginning Jan 1, 2012, our charitable giving program will feature five categories:
THE NATURAL WORLD—organizations working to protect and preserve the environment, ecosystems, and the diversity of life on Earth;
POVERTY and HEALTH—organizations improving the conditions of human life for those living on the margins;
EDUCATION—organizations dedicated to improving access for all to the best of human knowledge;
HUMAN RIGHTS—organizations working for a more equitable and just world;
CHALLENGE THE GAP—non-proselytizing, progressive religious charities working for the common good.
The Foundation itself will no longer be a category as such. Instead, a field on your distribution page will give members the option of designating a percentage of their donations to FBB if they so choose.
Members will have the entire first quarter to redesignate their distributions, and we’ll send several reminders. In the meantime, please drop me a note with any questions or comments about the new structure. Thanks!