Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
The historic average of philanthropic giving in Germany is roughly 2.2 billion Euros each year. Almost 50 percent of the German population does not feel inclined to donate, which leaves the portion of the population that donates regularly at about 40 percent. Germany has great potential to develop the philanthropic potential of target groups (especially younger, lower income classes). Major hurdles impede Germany’s ability to do so: (1) Germany’s tradition as a strong social welfare state fosters a mindset of seeing social change for the better as a state responsibility – not an individual one. Many people do not feel responsible or feel like they could and should take an active part in change; (2) there is a widespread view that donating small amounts has little impact; (3) there is also the view that there is a risk that money will not be spent well; and (4) strategies to raise donations often focus on getting people to give out of a feeling of guilt or bad conscience, spreading a bad connotation of giving rather than activating a positive one.
The majority of donations in Germany go to large and well established organizations. This is partially because donors want to feel as safe as possible giving away their money. A well-known brand provided by a large social organization is perceived to offer this safety. And it is also because these organizations can afford the overhead to spend time and money on marketing activities. The result of this is that many organizations spend up to a third of what they raise for fundraising activities. Thus, smaller organizations lack the means and the expertise for marketing, and thus struggle to raise enough funds. This causes a problem as the success of fundraising is very rarely linked to the impact an organization creates, i.e. its ability to most efficiently and sustainably solve a social problem.
Also, there is a lack of focus on social impact as a basis for donors choosing the recipients of their funds. The amount of overhead spent for fundraising is often not even made transparent to donors. Many small social organizations have fewer chances to compete with the larger organizations with more resources, which inhibit their social impact. There is a clear need to mobilize those who do not currently participate in giving, while at the same time changing the paradigm for giving as a whole.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Christian is changing the current norms around citizen engagement in the social sector, in particular relating to one’s engagement with and likelihood of donating to good causes. Even though everyone can donate to a cause if they wish to, only half of Germany’s population currently does on a regular basis. In addition, monetary giving is rarely aligned with the social impact it achieves. Christian is introducing a mindset in which everyone can and should become active in achieving impact-driven social change, even in small amounts. In order to do so, he transformed and launched a major “rounding up” scheme at retailers in Germany. He is actively engaging every player along the chain of selling products, from the consumer, to the cashier, to the in-store employees, to the management of retail companies, to the cashier company management, to media and marketing people, to the organizations that will receive the funds. The scheme allows him to reach into the 50 million people who go shopping on a daily basis. He engages competing retailers, major pro-bono support, and smaller citizen sector organizations to advance his mission.
Christian envisions a world in which social change is a common pursuit benefiting all target groups it touches. Focusing on citizen sector organizations with proven positive impact on society yet who lack marketing opportunities and visibility, “Deutschland rundet auf” (“DRA”) gives a platform to promote these organizations and their solutions broadly. Christian bridges the existing gaps within these organizations to help them raise funding to scale. On the customer side, he is proving that giving is not only for the rich but can be easy, painless and even fun – instead of focusing on creating a bad conscience. On the retailer side, he pulls in all companies who might engage, despite intra-retail sector competition. He brings all of these groups together with a shared vision of changing the country for the better by supporting the solutions to social problems that work.