Do Charities Have The Solution to Joblessness?

The “JobRaising” challenge, a new competition unveiled by the Huffington Post, Skoll Foundation, and Crowdrise, seeks to reward nonprofits with ideas for how to put Americans back to work.

The contest is open to all types of nonprofits–not just job-training groups–so long as they have a plan for fighting America’s high unemployment, organizers said. Nonprofits that make it through an initial stage of vetting will have a chance to compete for donations from the public. Groups that raise the most cash will also win prize money totaling $250,000 from the Skoll Foundation.

Will it Work?

The contest is seeking a way to “change the narrative” about unemployment “from a blame game focused on deficits and problems to one focused on solutions and opportunity.”

According to the Huffington Post, NPOs are “among our country’s most underutilized resources—wellsprings for creativity, ingenuity, inspiration, and concern for the lives of others.  They are an important source of ideas and inspiration.”

The challenge will roll out in two phases. First, a committee of people from Skoll, Huffington Post, and McKinsey & Company will select first-round winners–organizers say they’re not sure how many yet—that have “proven their innovative solutions. Their track records will be compelling, the opportunity to scale their impact significant,” said Ms. Osberg. Nonprofits have until Nov. 15 to apply for the first round.

Beginning on January 21, Inauguration Day, the winners will be publicized on the Huffington Post site and will begin the competition for donations. Groups that raise the most money from individual donors will win the Skoll awards, with the first-prize winner receiving a $150,000 grant. Two other groups will receive smaller awards. McKinsey will also provide strategic advice to one of the winners regarding its work to create jobs.

I like the idea of looking to the NPO world to solve this problem. However, I wonder if pitting them against one another via a crowdsourcing competition is the right way to get answers as most of them don’t have time to participate in contests of this nature due to limited human capital.

Time will tell.

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