Virtual giving takes a big step this week

February 20, 2012
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A new global philanthropic concept has its virtual launch set for Wednesday, and its lofty goal is to have giving go viral.

Everyone Gives is a social giving effort that proposes to change the world by encouraging thousands of people across the planet to make a small donation to a charity of their choice, and then multiply their contributions by inviting their friends and colleagues to do the same.

The idea for this social network-based method of helping others came from Colliers International Global CEO Doug Frye. He has persuaded Colliers’ offices, including the one in Grand Rapids, to take part in the effort and to convince others to do so by going to beginning Wednesday.

“The website is simply a vehicle to allow individuals, as donors, to reach charities that they’re passionate about. What’s neat is, then it encourages them to tap into their extended network of friends and families and colleagues and ask them to participate, as well,” said Derek Hunderman, vice president and managing partner of Colliers International West Michigan. “It’s giving gone viral, is the theory.”

Hunderman said the local office decided to get involved in the corporate initiative because participating in the community, in a variety of ways, has been a long-established core value for the commercial real estate firm that got its start in 1995.

“Historically, we’ve been pretty active on a number of different fronts. Our thought was how can we get this opened up and invite others to join in some of the good we’ve been able to do over the years,” he said.

Everyone Gives has some corporate clout behind it: Colliers International has 480 offices and 15,000 employees scattered across the globe.

“If we can tap into that just as the launching pad, so to speak — those are pretty big numbers, even if everyone just gave $5,” said Hunderman.

“So the thought was, let’s just take what we have and see if we can’t use our resources in a way that we don’t normally do on a regular basis.”

Colliers International created the Everyone Gives website, and Hunderman said the company doesn’t collect an administrative fee from donations, so every dollar contributed goes to the charity to which it is assigned. More than 500 charities had signed up with the site as of last week. That listing includes local ones such as this area’s Boys & Girls Club, Wedgwood Christian Services and Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.

“They’ve recognized that, locally, they could benefit from it, and there are charities across the nation and all over the world that have also signed up to be beneficiaries of this,” he said.

The point that Colliers really wants to drive home with Everyone Gives is that it takes very little effort to provide support and help those in need. The initiative doesn’t ask those who are committed to maintaining online social relationships to do much more than maintain those relationships. In fact, it gives these individuals another reason to stay in virtual contact with members of their networks.

“That’s the thought. In today’s social networking environment, it’s so easy for people to click a button to expand their network and broadcast ideas, and the thought was, can we just make giving that contagious, that easy to spread,” said Hunderman.

“What’s neat is someone will be able to log in and see what impact they’ve had with their gift and with those they’ve tapped. They’ll see their tree and they can watch it grow, which is pretty fascinating.”

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