A 21st Century Philanthropic Model For Philanthropy
Can you conceive of a world without age-related disease, disability and suffering? What about a world in which it’s possible for the average person to live 120 healthy years? While it may sound like a utopian dream, such a world is the exact goal of some of society’s most brilliant scientists and visionary leaders. At this very minute, groundbreaking work is underway at universities across the globe as researchers attempt to apply regenerative medicine to age-related disease through the repair of damage to tissue, cells and molecules within the body. While this research couldn’t be possible without the leadership of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists, it also relies upon the collective power of everyday people who have joined forces in their commitment to a better quality of life for all. The Methuselah Foundation’s “The 300” is a shining example of how a collective vision toward an extraordinary goal can significantly impact the future of society.
A non-profit medical charity, The Methuselah Foundation, or “MFoundation,” is committed to extending and enhancing healthy human life both through internal programs, as well as through collaborations with innovative companies, such as SENS, Silverstone Solutions, and Organovo, all leaders in the field of technology and research. MFoundation advocates refuse to accept traditional ideas about the inevitable physical and mental losses related to aging, and have instead turned their efforts toward achieving a comprehensive solution to the problem. This solution doesn’t target one specific symptom or illness, but instead is focused on reversing general losses through the application of advanced regenerative medicine. According to the MFoundation, results will not only impact future society, but may also have an imminent effect on supporters and beneficiaries in this lifetime.
Traditionally, big ticket donors have been the primary target for fundraising programs. Research has consistently shown that the bulk of donor funds come from a small percentage of the wealthiest donors: in fact, a full 75 percent of funds raised come from gifts of over $1 million. Of course, not everyone is capable of the munificent philanthropy of someone like entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who has over the years provided transformative support to a number of organizations, including both the MFoundation and the SENS Foundation, or participants in The Giving Pledge, the joint initiative of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates aimed at inspiring the world’s wealthiest people to pledge to donate the majority of their fortunes to philanthropic causes. These figures, however, shouldn’t be used to deter, but to inspire.
A new funding model, in particular, is turning this traditional fundraising tenet on its head. Instead of resigning themselves solely to the influence of the individual, non-profits are turning to the collective power of a group. The MFoundation’s “The 300 Pledge” fundraising campaign is an exciting example of this method in practice.
The 300 Pledge asks 300 funders to commit $1,000 a year for 25 years toward critical research aimed at ending age-related diseases. When broken down, this goal is manageable for many households: just $3 a day or $85 a month–less than your daily tab at Starbucks. Obviously, the model is working: to date, 291 people have taken up the challenge, with nine spots remaining. When the goal is reached, a monument will be erected in honor of these leaders. Additionally, each participant will have the phenomenal satisfaction of knowing they played a pivotal role in the accomplishment of MFoundations’s transcendent goal.
As evidenced by the magnificent philanthropy of people like Peter Thiel, Bill Gates and others like them, it’s obvious that one person can make a difference. However, fundraising challenges, like MFoundation’s “The 300,” also demonstrate the power of a dedicated group of people to foster real world change for the billions of people living in the world today as well as the generations that follow. In doing so, those who take up the challenge create a unique and world-altering legacy for themselves.