Tag: philanthropy

Local Filmmaker Matthew Porterfield Needs $40,000 by Saturday


A panhandler asks you for some change outside the 7-Eleven, and you don’t give. If he offered you a walk-on role in a film he’s making, or if he promised to tattoo your initials on his arm, would you be more likely to donate to the cause? Or what if he’s trying to raise $6 for a sandwich, and you pledge $1, with the caveat that if he doesn’t meet his goal in an hour you get your money back?

It might be not be a viable strategy for the homeless and hungry, but on Kickstarter, a website for artists seeking to fund their projects, the incentive and money-back guarantee model has been working. Higher pledge amounts bring more exciting incentives, and potential donors know that if the entire amount is not raised (which would imply that the project cannot be completed) they are not charged.

Baltimore’s own Matt Porterfield is using the fundraising website to partially finance his upcoming film (set entirely in Maryland) I Used to Be Darker. The Sondheim Prize winner is asking for $40k, 40 percent of the film’s  total budget. Over $27,000 has already been pledged, but if he doesn’t make the difference by Saturday, then it’s all a bust.

For I Used to Be Darker, incentives range from a thank you credit in the film ($5 pledge) to a thank you credit tattooed on the writer-director’s arm ($10,000 pledge). Learn more about the film at the Kickstarter page.

The Most Brainless Way to Help Baltimore Artists


I seriously believe that Amazon can chalk up at least 25 percent of its profits to the ease of the online impulse buy — you know, the way clicking on a button is so easy it doesn’t feel like you’re actually spending money.

Instead of feeling guilty about online spending sprees, why not balance them out with a little bit of impulsive online philanthropy via Kickstarter? It feels better, and it’s sometimes tax deductible!

If you’re not familiar with the site, it’s basically a funding platform that helps musicians, artists, filmmakers, and other creative types collect small (or large) donations. The creators set a funding goal — say, one or three or five thousand dollars — and try their hardest to raise that amount of money in a set amount of time. If they do, all is well; if they can’t get enough pledges, however, the money goes back to the donors — so you don’t need to worry about donating money for a project that never goes anywhere.

Plenty of Baltimore artists have used the site to make things happen in recent months. The Copycat Theatre’s Rooms Play, one of the highlights of this year’s Transmodern Festival, raised $5,343 from 103 different backers. Some local projects that haven’t reached their goals yet include:

  • The Pleasure Collective plans to support young writers by printing a monthly lit mag and quarterly books

GiveCorps: For-Profit With a Heart


With today’s launch of GiveCorps, local philanthropy–like virtually every other aspect of life–finds its place on the internet.  GiveCorps is a new kind of business: it helps donors find local causes they really care about and makes it easy to donate online. Or as co-founder Beth Falcone, a former VP at Maryland National Bank, put it, it’s a “for-profit with a heart.” She and co-founder Jamie McDonald, a former managing director at Alex. Brown & Sons, recognized that small, local projects often fail to receive the support they need from a community, not because people aren’t willing to help, but because they don’t realize they can.  

“If causes can become authentic institutions of these Networked Neighborhoods,” McDonald wrote in an online post describing the site, “they will find a new group of supporters who will celebrate their successes and tackle their challenges.”  GiveCorps aims to make Baltimore one such “Networked Neighborhood.”

The process is relatively simple. An organization contacts GiveCorps with a cause and decides whether the project will be a “big give” feature project or a searchable listed project. GiveCorps charges a campaign development fee of about 1,000 dollars for feature projects and an additional twenty-nine dollars per month for ongoing listings. (Currently there is no development fee until GiveCorps reaches 10,000 subscribers.) The website gives feature projects space on the homepage and markets them through email outreach to other GiveCorps donors.  There is no development fee for listed projects, although the site charges 79 dollars per month for listing.  The projects do not have homepage space, but they do receive a cause page, as well as separate project pages, and are marketed via GiveCorps social media.  

Already, 27 Baltimore non-profits have signed with GiveCorps, among them Living Classrooms, WYPR, and Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.   The site will use three main methods of promotion. Each organization featured in a “big give” project will email its subscribers about its partnership with GiveCorps–all have the option of including a GiveCorps widget on their site.  Merchants on the GiveCorps site will email subscribers and both non-profits and merchants are encouraged to share their association to the site through Facebook and Twitter.  Finally, beginning this week, MissionTix will promote GiveCorps on its website and through e-newsletters.  The site’s logo will appear on the back of tickets through the fall.


And then people donate.  The suggested donation is 25 dollars, though donors can give any amount over 10 dollars.  Ninety percent of each donation goes directly to the cause, three percent covers transaction fees, and the remaining seven percent goes to GiveCorps.  The site hopes to attract about 550 donors per day, a goal that if met would mean five million dollars to charity in the first year.  GiveCorps launches in Baltimore this month and Philadelphia in the fall, but hopes to be in 12 cities around the country by next year.

This may seem ambitious, but GiveCorps feels confident that the incentive to donate is there. First, they target a demographic of younger adults who care about helping out in their community but don’t always know how.  These digital natives are comfortable conducting everyday affairs online.  Second, GiveCorps gives back.  Each week, the site offers multiple local deals, like 50 dollars off a 100 dollar purchase at Nelson Coleman Jewelers or admission to all four historic ships at the Inner Harbor for the price of one.  When a person makes a donation, he or she chooses up to five weekly deals as a reward. 

Not only are people rewarded for their contribution, but the site can track exactly how donations are used.  Instead of writing a check and mailing it off to some giant, amorphous organization, donors see how each dollar benefits each cause.  This type of interest-based charity also affords GiveCorps an opportunity to collect valuable data that could contribute to more productive philanthropy in the future.  Most importantly, GiveCorps reestablishes the sense of giving that has faded in the past few decades.  It is a new way to give and get back. 

Contest:  To celebrate the site’s launch this month, GiveCorps is holding a weekly contest to help build a subscriber base.  Subscribers simply have to “Like” GiveCorps on Facebook or Tweet a pre-composed message then enter their email address for a chance to win.  One winner will be selected every Tuesday and Friday through July 4, and each winner will receive a gift of 100 dollars to a charity of choice, as well as a dinner for two at Woodberry Kitchen, also valued at 100 dollars.