New Site Aims to Be YouTube for Charities
A recently launched Web site is billing itself as the YouTube for nonprofits. World Flix, a 501(c)(3) public-benefit corporation, empowers activists from across the world to bring attention to global issues through video.
The site hosts videos of social programs from across the globe and allows donors to pool their resources with other donors to help programs that otherwise would lack significant economic support. After a video raises its target amount, the site will continue to host updated video clips showing how the money raised is helping a given cause so that donors can see their contributions at work.
The Santa Cruz, Calif.-based site was founded by Laika Grant Mann, who worked as a family law attorney both in private practice and at the California Superior Court of Santa Cruz before attending Georgetown University to get her Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate, where she came up with the idea. We had a chance to catch up with Mann to find out more about the new site.
FundRaising Success: How did this idea come about?
Laika Grant Mann: I had been looking into moving into the nonprofit world from working at the courthouse, and when I was at Georgetown there was just an informal discussion of what would be your fantasy nonprofit job, and I said I had always wanted to be a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, thinking everyone would laugh. And then everyone said, 'Yeah, I totally want to do that. I mean, everyone would like to be a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to bring causes to life that no one really knows about.'
And someone else said they'd like to be a philanthropist, a Bill Gates or someone like that. That was just always in the back of my mind, and then a couple of months after I got back from Georgetown, when I saw my kids creating video clips and uploading them to YouTube, it just all kind of came together with that. You could be a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, you could be a philanthropist through all of the new technology right now. So the common man, the ordinary citizen could do just fantastic things in the world by pooling their resources.
FS: What is the intent of the site?
LGM: The intent is to be a portal for all of these grassroots causes around the world. In the nonprofit world it's very difficult to get grants and funding, especially for small projects, $4,000 to $5,000. It's very labor intensive for these people to try to find money. What I'm hoping is that people will come to the Web site and maybe donate $10 to three different projects and then they can watch the progress.
Bwindi Community Hospital right now has the most money. So once all the money is sent to Bwindi Community Hospital, the site will show video of Bwindi Hospital purchasing, delivering and setting up the mosquito nets. Tibet Vision Project will have video of the delivery, set-up and use of the microscope. And we will have video of Haiti Water delivering and installing the chlorinators to provide clean water. So that you can actually see where your donation went. It's very transparent. It's not like donating to some big organization and you don't know how the money is used.
FS: Can only nonprofits post videos?
LGM: We're calling it YouTube meets the U.N. Goodwill Ambassador program. So if you're traveling and you see that a village needs a well, that people are walking 10 miles a day to find water, you can send us a video of that, and we will try to match it with a nonprofit that can dig wells in that area. So it's not just limited to nonprofits who already have projects. We're trying to make it very open. We call it for the people, by the people so that anyone can see a need and we'll see if we can't match it up.
FS: What advice can you share with nonprofits for how to use the site?
LGM: Make a very concise video clip. I would do it in two or three minutes. I wouldn't do just photographs sliced together with music in the background. Have it be actual video. Make sure it fits within the guidelines of basic needs which is sanitation, health care, food, shelter; and I would have it fit within the money guidelines of $5,000 or less. And it has to be something tangible that can be filmed. A workshop is not going to work. [For example,] we were sent one [from] these people [who] build homes in Mexico for $5,000 or less. That's a great project. You can actually watch them building the home. So I would say it has to be tangible, [and something] that can be filmed, cause the whole point is you can see it.
FS: What is your vision for the site a few years down the road?
LGM: My vision for the site three to five years from now is that it will be the YouTube of philanthropy. Anyone who is thinking of donating will come to World Flix to view all of the new projects, check the status of projects they have already donated to and view archives of previously completed projects.
I also envision a thriving college internship program, where students are learning development, marketing and technology and also traveling around the world filming projects and teaching grassroots nonprofits how to film and upload video clips for themselves. Hopefully, those students will go on to work in philanthropy, or at the very least, remember to donate once they have gone on to be successful.
Organizations with projects that provide food, water, shelter, sanitation and/or health care and can be filmed and sustained with a microgrant of $5,000 or less are encouraged to submit a Video Project Proposal for consideration.