A unique charity that gives out $1,000 every day to seed new ideas throughout the world is making waves in philanthropy and inspiring nonprofits in San Diego.
“We call what we do pollination philanthropy. It’s about planting and nurturing seeds,” said Alissa Hauser, executive director of The Pollination Project.
Since its inception Jan. 1, 2013, with funding from real estate developer Ariel Nessel, the Bay Area-based organization has funded more than 700 individuals in 53 countries with grants of just $1,000. Grants are made every day of the year.
“Our real interest is in investing in the right people at the right time,” said Hauser. “Every single person who applies to us is a person with a dream. I’m 100 percent confidant that we have MacArthur geniuses in our midst.”
Hauser spoke at San Diego Grantmakers‘ 12th annual conference in Balboa Park. The event drew speakers from top charitable organizations across the United States.
The Pollination Project has received criticism that $1,000 isn’t enough to make a difference, but Hauser said, “We see it as a part of a continuum. Somebody has to get behind that social change leader.”
She said the organization has three guiding principles:
- Invest in applicants: “An individual who has an idea who just needs someone to get behind them.”
- Timing matters: “If someone has a business plan and staff, they’re too late for us.”
- Push power to the edges, because applicants usually know more about a social problem than grant administrators.
The organization’s website tells stories of dozens of recipients, from Bikes 4 Orphans in Los Angeles to the Family Forever Animal Foundation in Florida to the Kids Reading Room in Texas. Recipients in San Diego include Kill the Cup, which seeks to convince college students to stop using disposable cups, and Physical Therapy for All.
San Diego Grantmakers is a leading resource for organized philanthropy in the San Diego region, with members representing foundations and corporate giving departments. President and CEO Nancy Jamison said nearly 200 people registered for the conference.
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