A new app could revolutionize the future of humanitarian funding.
DonorSee is a crowdfunding platform start-up looking to provide a direct donation service where individuals can give to global aid workers. The platform would disregard the traditional practice of fundraising money funneling through well-established international aid organizations with plenty of oversight. Instead, people would directly donate money to people without organizational supervision. Though the Editorial Board admires the spirit of this app, we believe it is risky to give away money without knowing where it’s going.
The Peace Corps, an international aid organization, has banned its volunteers from raising money via DonorSee. The decision excluded about 7,000 potential fundraising volunteers.
Before any potential project could get off the ground, Peace Corps headquarters was quick to cut itself off from DonorSee. A partnership would be incompatible with traditional funding policies, according to a Peace Corps statement.
Peace Corps volunteers are only allowed to fund projects via the Peace Corps Partnership Program. External sources of funding such as those through online websites or platforms may not be solicited or accepted. DonorSee immediately retaliated against the ban, arguing that components of the platform would serve as accountability benefits to the Peace Corps’ slow bureaucratic system.
There are reasons for the Peace Corps to be exceedingly cautious even when taking into account the ingenuity of DonorSee. The Peace Corps is a 55-year-old tried-and-true organization that has earned its reputation for accountable funding. Earned accountability isn’t anything an organization, governmental or non-governmental, will be quick to sacrifice partnerships. The required management for overseeing volunteer funding each year is frankly unrealistic.
However, in the natural evolution of previous collective efforts in humanitarian-like projects on general platforms to an exclusively international-aid funding platform such as DonorSee, the Peace Corps didn’t necessarily make the optimal decision to ensure the most amount of funding to the most amount of projects. Heartwarming stories of GoFundMe and Kickstarter projects motivated by humanitarian efforts show that a crowdfunding platform would bring copious financial resources for international projects. A lot of people are ready to lend just a few dollars.
This seems to be the primary reason Gret Glyer, founder of DonorSee, had to create the platform, especially after seeing the inefficacy of big international aid organizations while teaching math in Malawi.
“I saw the potential of what can happen if people circumvent the traditional way of getting funding to people,” he told Technically, a technology news outlet based in Washington, D.C.
Time may tell whether Peace Corps was right. A consensus between the organization and the platform may only be reached once all concerns of funding accountability have passed through the bureaucratic system or may come naturally once government programs further integrate new technology for effective work.
This technology shows promise, but people ultimately need to know where their charity money is going.