Who are the donors?
The Atlantic reports that in 2011, the wealthiest Americans who earn at the top 20% contributed 1.3 percent of their income, while those at the bottom 20 percent contributed 3.2 percent of their income. So it’s the poor people who give the most—not in amount, but in relation to their earnings.
The wealthy tend to support colleges and universities, arts organizations and museums, while the poor donate to religious organizations and social service charities., And the rich people who lived in rich neighborhoods gave less than the wealthy who lived in socioeconomically diverse settings. These findings support the notion that those who are closest to the problems and the people who need to be served are most empathic and motivated to donate – if not money, their time and energies. It is this fact that throws light on a philanthropic organization that is having impact in communities and countries around the world.
The Pollination Project (TPP) is an organization that awards seed money of $1000 to individuals and groups who have an idea or dream of meeting a need in those around them or of developing something they value and want to support and/or preserve. From January 1, 2013 on, TPP has awarded $1000 each day of the 365 days in a year.
The TPP fund recipients provide a rich, eye-opening pool of narrations on how that small amount catapulted them into projects, several who have since formed organizations that are winning awards from larger funding entities. There is an amazing variety of projects ranging from community development and environmental protection, to education, arts, music, dance, to protection of endangered animals, to children and adults with special needs. Poverty is alleviated, food provided, health improved, at risk youth saved, the indigenous empowered through income generation projects and prisoners assisted with education.
A number of awardees report that the grant had a life-changing effect in their lives. Grant receivers mention most often that they were empowered and motivated by the grant — that this organization believed in them and thought their ideas worthwhile. The grant and publicity through the Huffington Post TPP blog provided legitimacy and international publicity, and brought local and national support.
TPP does more than give out $1000 grants. It guides the applicant through the application process, which is to think through, organize and explain the project. Each application gets a personal touch and feedback, whether funded or not. The encouragement and support by TPP staff magnifies the effect of the monetary support it provides. As one recipient said, “It is not easy to take a creative idea and grow it into a sustainable organization. When a group like the Pollination Project believes in your vision, it is like fuel to the soul!” Other statements by recipients: “You have helped restore my faith that there are really systems of support that really work to help everyday people, who want to make extraordinary change!” “…it helped restore my hope and faith in what I am doing. It has provided me with the drive and fortitude to carry on at a time when I felt like all was lost.” ” You have made a vision a reality.”
TPP was founded by Ariel Nessel, a real estate developer, and his sister in law, Stephanie Klempner. They are joined by other Board members and staff, each of whom bring a unique background and experience, but all of whom share a passion for what they are doing. It is Ariel’s belief that “We don’t need more Mahatma Gandhi’s and Martin Luther Kings in the world. What we need is individuals–large amounts of people who are making small changes in and around their communities. I’ve seen that …individuals have that capability.”