Last week Stanford Social Innovation Review's writer Erin Morgan Gore published the blog post "Nonprofits Should Lead the Sharing Economy". Gore says that current sharing models "tend to exclude or otherwise penalize undeserved and/or vulnerable groups". She claims that there is a great opportunity for the sharing economy to benefit the lower class and nonprofits need to start taking notice.
The sharing economy’s “triple bottom line” (financial, environmental, and social) aligns well with the social sector, and there are a handful of nonprofit success stories. These sharing economy nonprofits create new online marketplaces that extend networks, and connect people and resources. Simple transactions and new currencies empower parties on both sides of the exchange. An Afghani woman can start her own business using a loan from a young consultant in New York City via Kiva. A janitor can exchange an hour of repair work for tax advice from an accountant through TimeBanks. A seasoned teacher in Boston can share lesson plans with a first time teacher in Texas through Khan Academy.
Gore goes on to say that the nonprofit business sector has yet to tap into the full potential of the sharing economy and lists a few ways how they can begin; such as using the sharing economy to operate and grow more efficiently. Nonprofits commonly struggle with a general lack of resources for growth but the sharing economy is flush with creative ways to locate, access and trade resources. Gore also notes that nonprofits can utilize the sharing economy to better reach beneficiaries by adapting sharing platforms for low-income families who don't have access to smart phones and credit cards.
Imagine partnering with a service such as Sidecar to establish special prices/routes during off-hours, a car-sharing service that subsidizes low-income riders with full-priced riders, or time banks for volunteers to connect with riders and share their good deeds on social media.
Gore also talks about how nonprofits could help beneficiaries by helping them become sharing economy micropreneurs. "This means not only directing them to websites like HomeJoy’s house cleaning marketplace where they can sign-up for hourly work, but actually helping them acquire marketable skills and access available supports."
Gore concludes the article by stating that we should pay attention to the belief that the success of sharing economy companies means an end to income inequality when in reality those in need the most don't even have access to it.
Check out Gore's full article here and start a discussion below. Are there any established sharing economy companies expanding into the nonprofit sector? Are there any that should?