Dan Morrison understands the power of face time. While traveling through India in 2006, he met a woman who said her earthquake-ravaged community needed a well but didn’t have the $5,000 required to build it. Back home in Washington, D.C., he sent out a card pledging $2,500 and asking acquaintances to join him. Within days, $500 checks started arriving—from a friend, a former roommate, and Morrison’s high school English teacher, among others. A lightbulb went off. “I realized that with fundraising, it’s critical to have a specific project people can wrap their minds around,” says Morrison. “That the request was coming from someone they knew made it that much more effective.”
Organization: Citizen Effect. Bright Idea: Donations with Destinations.
In December 2008, Morrison created 1Well, a nonprofit that helped people make investments in high-need areas around the world. Soon after, he quit his job as a consultant on Middle East policy to focus on 1Well full-time. In 2009, spurred by a $300,000 grant from Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, and his wife, Wendy, the group morphed into Citizen Effect, an online fundraising platform that connects citizen philanthropists with vetted, small-scale projects around the world. Budding do-gooders visit the website and choose a country, a fundraising goal, and a focus area (food security, education). In 2011, the group raised close to $500,000, funding 339 projects to date.