[uf-new] hGive: Microformats and Microphilanthropy

Michael Everett-Lane michael at donorschoose.org
Fri Feb 16 08:45:56 PST 2007

Hi, my name is Mike Everett-Lane and I work for DonorsChoose, a
nonprofit philanthropic marketplace that benefits the public schools in
the US. I recently joined this group (and have been learning about
microformats) because I think microformats could greatly benefit
microphilanthropy sites. 

This is building off of the "hGrant" idea which Eugene proposed some
time ago. I mentioned the idea of expanding it to a more general "hGive"
on the regular microformats list, but now that there's "-new" I thought
I'd repropose it. I've written up some thoughts on my blog and also
reproduce them below. I would really appreciate your help in figuring
out how to proceed with standards and implementation.


DonorsChoose (where I work) both gives grants (to teachers) and receives
them (from the public). We have thousands of proposals that public
school teachers have posted on our site, and individuals can give
directly to those projects. Similar microphilanthropy sites include
Kiva, Modest Needs, Global Giving, and GiveMeaning. All are essentially
philanthropic marketplaces that bring together givers and recipients.
And thus all could benefit from opening our data in a way that would
make them accessible beyond our own websites.

Picture the following mashup possibilities:

    * Phil has just moved to Brooklyn, and wants to get involved with
his new community. He enters his address into a Philanthropic Mashup
site (made with Yahoo Pipes?) which aggregates local funding needs. He
can filter those needs by cost, by type of program, and by demographics
of the recipients. He decides to fund a classroom project at
DonorsChoose and make a Back-to-Work Grant to a local family through
Modest Needs.

    * Jennifer has an old computer monitor she wants to donate to a
local school. She calls a few schools but no one needs a monitor. She is
able to search for local organizations that are seeking computer
monitors, and finds a nearby women's shelter that is in need, so gives
it there instead.

    * Ashley is teaching her fifth grade class about water quality. They
go to the Philanthropic Mashup site and find water quality projects all
over the world. They decide to raise funds for one of those projects in
Burkina Faso, sponsored by Global Giving. Later they follow up by
looking for other projects in the same village, and find a Kiva loan for
a new small business there.

    * John is a programmer in Topeka who wants to help out literacy
organizations, a special passion of his. He posts an offer of services
his blog, with details of the hours he wants to commit and the types of
services he offers. A literacy program in Saskatchewan has need of his
skills, and is able to find John through Google because he has marked up
his offer with the proper microformats.

    * The Bailey Foundation wants to improve its outreach and reach more
nonprofits with its Animal population control grants program. It posts
data on its grant program (available amount, application deadline, etc.)
on its site. An animal shelter that has never heard of the Bailey
Foundation is able to find them and get funding for its Spay Day

These are the kinds of things that microformats could make possible. We
at DonorsChoose have been talking about applying microformats to our
proposals (each has its own page) to make them semantic, but none of the
existing microformats seem to fit what we're doing. I also recently
talked with Tom Williams at GiveMeaning who is also interested. I'm
posting this here as what I hope will be part of a larger conversation
about microformatting microphilanthropy.

Ideally we would have a microformat "hGive". This would allow
organizations that are seeking contributions / in-kind donations /
volunteers to use it, as well as organizations/people who are looking to
volunteer, donate, etc. (I'm thinking of online volunteer clearinghouses
such as New York Cares which exist in most US cities I believe.)

Here are some of the potential parameters:

    * direction: seeking or offering?
    * medium: cash or items or volunteers?
    * cost: (perhaps other pricing data like minimum donation, payment
types accepted -- not sure what the standards are for price data among
other microformats). Also, loan or grant? (For example, Kiva and
ModestNeeds give loans, DonorsChoose and Global Giving give grants).
There also could be total cost vs. cost remaining, interest rate data
for loans, etc.
    * date: for expiration dates, volunteer event dates, application
deadline dates, etc. Cf. hCalendar standards.
    * demographic: some kind of data about the recipients -- avg
income?, number of people the project will serve, etc.
    * geotag: where is it?
    * guarantor: is there an organization that guarantees this request?
This would separate an individual asking for help (I need a loan) from
an organization asking for help on behalf of an individual (Modest Needs
will provide a loan to the individual whose identity and need they have
    * keyword tags: ("education," "Shakespeare," "clean water" etc.) The
Foundation Center's Foundation Directory has a list of Foundation Fields
of Interest which could be the basis for a standard Program Type list.
    * description: The executive summary. 

I'm sure there are other possibilities / desiderata, especially around
volunteer projects (one time vs ongoing, group vs individual, etc) but
this is what comes to mind.

If there were an implementable standard, I'm pretty sure I could get
DonorsChoose to start using it in the nearish future. And then, of
course, Utopia Ensues. 

Thanks for your help with this.

-- Mike

Mike Everett-Lane
Executive Director, DonorsChoose New York
347 West 36th Street, Suite 503, New York, NY 10018
212-239-3615 ext 204
michael at donorschoose.org

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