Before I say anything else, I want to say this – a website is not a solution: it merely provides a way to scale and automate the delivery of your concept. In other words, whatever you new product or service purports to do, it needs to be able to create value “off-line” as well as “on-line”.
Also, if what you’re building doesn’t aim to change the status quo please start building something else or get involved in something that does.
Current State of Philanthropy
Generally speaking, philanthropy as currently done has two problems which we are looking at providing a solution for:
1) Much philanthropy is aimed at funding organizations and programs, while funding for individual community-driven projects and events is difficult to access quickly; and
2) Many programs and services are “top-down” driven which can create an environment which excludes innovation and citizen-centred and citizen-designed solutions.
What this means is that many potential donors/funders for community improvement and social activism projects are excluded from being able to participate in the current philanthropy system – not because they aren’t charitable, but because – for them – the current model is not able to serve their needs.
This also means that community organizations, and the communities themselves, are not able to, on the one hand, build on the ideas of their people – in particular their young people – and, on the other, improve their communities in ways that are additive to the traditional ways of addressing social issues and challenges (i.e. programs and services).
In short, by there not being a system and process in place that facilitates and encourages “grass-roots” innovation and solution design, as well as providing a funding and resourcing mechanism for these ideas, many citizens are unintentionally excluded.
Butterfly and Youth Engagement
In the first post on Butterfly (found here) I provided the broad-strokes for the platform, and who it was intended to serve.
Why we chose “youth” as the starting point for Butterfly is that they frequently have the most “pure” ideas as to how the world should be, and they are not weighed down – as many of us are – with the pragmatism and skepticism. Basically, if something new and innovative in community development is to work, it is of utmost importance that it work for our young people – they must be able to drive the change they want to see. If it works for them, it will work for the rest of us.
Also, as being constructed, Butterfly as a service cannot be structured as a “suggestion box website” or a place where youth deposit their ideas for their communities to implement; rather, and what we are currently building is a series of processes and activities which empower youth to drive their own projects, and utilize the website as a channel through which to raise funds and gather resources for their projects. In other words, Butterfly will develop tools for young people and their mentors to use to create viable ideas which can then be launched on the website for donors to fund and other volunteers to assist in bringing to life.
What This Means For Community Development
What this will mean for community development, youth, and people who work in both areas, is that there will be new methods developed and, more importantly, new skills acquired by people who want to improve their communities. This also means that additional funds will be available for projects and events inspired and driven by young people which will likely in turn provide other young people with the confidence to create their own initiatives, working with their communities.
Butterfly Website here.