GOOD Maker Crowdsources Solutions And Provides Means for Implementation
Picture a marriage between the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and OpenIDEO, a platform where a community of users proposes solutions real-world design challenges and ultimately selects a winner. Their baby would be GOOD Maker, a recently-launched platform that links organizations with specific problems or tasks and allows users to vote on who receives funding to tackle those problems or tasks.
The social-good multi-media platform GOOD created GOOD Maker as a way to leverage their networking power to facilitate real action. Rather than being a one-size-fits-all deal, Maker is context-specific, providing unique opportunities for organizations and individuals to get funding or support for their social-good projects. Both nonprofit and for-profit entities can participate.
Jen Chiou, GOOD Maker’s General Manager, highlights the flexibility of the platform as one of its assets. “Nonprofits come in applying for a challenge that’s sponsored by someone else. Or, an organization might be interested in getting ideas from the public, and we would talk them through the question of what reward might be necessary. If they want something specific, we could talk to them about finding sponsorship,” she told Dowser. Organizations interested in participating can send an email through the Maker website.
An example of a current Maker challenge is “The Brookside Foods Giving Back Challenge,” which offers $5000 to any nonprofit that is doing community-based social work. There is also an opportunity to create a winning logo for Occupy Design, which GOOD will then produce and help disseminate. Another, more high-profile example, is the United States Agency for International Development’s FWD (Famine, War, Drought) challenge. FWD is a recently-launched program geared toward raising awareness about the East Horn famine crisis and bringing in small donations to mitigate it. On Maker, FWD is looking to give $5000 to the best plan to raise awareness about the crisis in a community.Chiou is looking forward to seeing the site expand beyond its current beta phase. Over the next six months, Maker will be focused on “attracting partners through special perks and offers of support from GOOD,” she said. “In 2010 GOOD Maker will become much more expanded, open, and paid platform. There will be less moderation from the site creators, and more organizations will be involved – and larger organizations, that have more money. There will be full-scale contests around larger campaigns.”
But Chiou is also aware of the potential limitations of Maker’s reach, especially in cases like the East Horn famine, which has affected around 13 million people to date – and which USAID, who sponsors FWD, predicted as long ago as August 2010, according to journalist Samuel Loewenberg’s recent op-ed in the New York Times. She is, however, optimistic about Maker’s contribution to solving such a complex, large-scale problem: “It will require a multi-pronged solution, and this challenge focuses on a little piece of that: raising local awareness. And for any change to happen, this is a foundational element.”
For Chiou, Maker’s main role is to raise awareness about contemporary problems, and by offering incentives, the platform goes beyond the OpenIDEO model, which crowdsources ideas but provides no funding for implementation. Another thing that sets Maker apart from OpenIDEO is the relatively quick turnaround time for its challenges: a couple of weeks for submissions, a couple of weeks for voting, and fairly immediate implementation for most projects.
Maker’s potential for supporting social change has to do largely with the fact that it is, as Chiou says, “part of the larger GOOD ecosystem”: it draws on the many connections GOOD as a media platform can foster between organizations and individuals. And it’s significant that, unlike with Kickstarter, Maker has the money already in place for specific challenges. With all the existing platforms out there, it’s exciting to imagine how Maker might use the Web to facilitate social change. It’s also likely to create greater engagement by linking individuals to important current challenges and empowering people to become involved in issues they care about in a direct manner.