After I attended Catalyzing the Sharing Economy conference (the sharing economy is defined as the use of networked, mobile, information technology to share goods and services), I shared a post with some notes and ideas about why I think it is the next generation of networked social change. Lucy Bernholz, who has been thinking about the sharing economy and social change for longer than anyone, share her conference notes, asking “Where is the Public Good?” TechSoup’s Lewis Haidt shared a post that challenges to think about how we can all participate with a greater emphasis on the sharing and less on the IPO.
Now that we’ve had some time to reflect, I am wondering about how the Sharing Economy will catalyze new forms of philanthropy and CSR?
1. Data Philanthropy
This is where a company or other entities donates it data for a social good cause. I first heard this term about year ago and wrote it about here. Lucy Bernholz wrote a reflection post Share Conference called “Sharing Data.” She points out Sharing companies with robust digital platforms have potentially valuable digital data that could be of use to those interested in social change including researchers, policy makers and government officials. She offers a few opportunities:
Want information on current transporation patterns (Lyft, Uber, Car share, bikeshare)? Want information on tourism patterns (Airbnb, Homeaway)? Want to look at structural racism, affordable housing or daycare, or gender and safety issues? (analyze use patterns from any of the aforementioned). Will these companies hold the data back and fight subpoenas from AGs offices? Will they negotiate with users to release data for public use? Are these data sets part of the “public benefit” potential of these companies and will they argue such when the inevitable battles between nonprofit and for-profit versions of home or car sharing services arise? Can cities and sharing companies strike pro-active data sharing deals that protect users privacy, inform public policy, and benefit communities – without going to court?
2. Alternative Currency Donations
Jeremiah Owyang has a framework that describes the sub-sectors of the Share (or collaborative) economy and lists different companies. One sector is “Money” which includes crowdfunding, micro lending, and crypto currencies. We’ve witnessed how crowdfunding and micro lending has been a huge trend in the nonprofit sector – think Kiva for micro-lending, GivingTuesday, Give Local America, and the many nonprofit crowd funding platforms. But could cypto currencies, like bitcoin, be used for donations, even major gifts? Read about that in “How nonprofits are cashing in on the crytocurrency trend” and this interview from David Neff.
3. Share Companies and CSR
We have read reports about start ups in the share economy are making big dollars. AIRbnb for example has an estimated worth of 10 billion. But as my colleague, Lucy Bernholz, likes to ask, “Where is the Public Benefit?” Will these companies have a traditional “Corporate Social Responsibility” department or initiatives? What do we see emerging? Here’s one small example. In March, Airbnb announced a plan “Shared City,” a multi-faceted collaboration designed to give back to the communities it serves — beginning with the city of Portland, Ore. and expected to be rolled out to cities around the world. As part of this, they are focusing on safety and offering homes free smoke detectors and information.
How do you see the sharing economy disrupting corporate philanthropy and giving in general?