Microphilanthrophy (MicroSolutions)

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Notes: 2/18/09

Micro-philanthropy, where donors make small gifts to a very specific cause or action, is emerging as a powerful force in charitable giving.

Implementing a micro-philanthropy model at the Monterey Institute, in addition to the more traditional personal and direct marketing models, will help MIIS to achieve its goal of increased alumni participation. Micro-philanthropy will also provide the Institute with an additional channel for sharing student and faculty stories, and therefore building its brand, while providing the financial support needed for special projects that are most often incremental to the Institute’s operating budget.

The traditional fundraising model of alumni giving to an institution because of affinity has not proven successful at MIIS. In FY 08, 122 alumni made gifts to the Institute. Excluding trustees and members of the Board of International Advisors, their giving accounted for only $20,050, or less than .4%, of total cash receipts. These poor results can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the understanding that alumni giving to graduate professional schools trends significantly lower than to undergraduate institutions, inconsistent fundraising and alumni relations efforts by the Institute throughout its history, and a significant international population whose understanding of educational philanthropy is minimal.

Rather than asking for alumni to support the Monterey Institute from relationship or affinity-based view, we will instead be asking our graduates – and others – to invest in projects that dovetail with their own personal interests.

The Institute’s micro-philanthropy model would focus specifically on projects that would help to advance the “square pyramid” model that is the hallmark of the Monterey Way 2.0, coupling the five areas of curricular focus with projects that would provide additional opportunities for building professional skills and experience, experiential learning and service, intercultural competence, innovation, and overall academic excellence at MIIS. Projects that would have a positive impact on the Peninsula community would also be considered.

Here is a helpful article on microphilanthropy.

Short-term objectives

  1. Identify possible platform for near-term implementation
  2. Design process for RFPs through Innovations Process
  3. Use DPMI consulting group as a strategic resource

Platform possibilities include:

  1. WordPress blog for presenting projects
  2. Embedded ChipIn widget


  1. Draw on resources, human and other
  2. How to best select and coordinate projects
  3. Internal/systems challenges (e.g finance and gift processing)
  4. What will happen if a project receives only partial funding through the micro-philanthropy model?
  5. How will donors receive reports on the return/impact of their investment? Do expectations with the recipient need to be built into the model? Who or what entity will manage the delivery of that content?
  6. Marketing – how to engage non-MIIS affiliates?