Skoll Foundation Challenge Is Perhaps the Most Innovative Fundraising Competition Ever

Known for its support of innovation and social entrepreneurship, the Skoll Foundation has long been a leader in forward-thinking philanthropy. And now, with its latest partnership, which includes the Huffington Post and Edward Norton's Crowdrise, it is applying those same principles to fundraising. The aim is to help the organizations chosen as recipients of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship create what hopefully turn into long-lasting fundraising networks.

With two weeks to go, the more than 50 organizations participating in the Challenge have already received more than $1 million in total donations, unlocking $500,000 of the $750,000 in matching funds the Skoll Foundation has pledged to distribute between them. Matching donations aren't what make this fundraiser unique, though. The charities aren't being encouraged to raise as much money as they can simply for the Skoll Foundation to match it; they're also competing against each other in a series of fundraising challenges, for which the foundation has set aside $250,000 in prize money.

The biggest challenge for the organizations is to raise the most money by the end of the competition. The top five organizations will receive prizes totaling $150,000, with first place receiving $50,000, second place receiving $40,000, and so on. There are three organizations that have already exceeded $100,000 and seven that seem to be in the hunt for those top five spots. But while there is a sizable gap between seventh and eighth, there are a number of charities with name recognition that could still make a late comeback.

Where it gets really interesting, though, is with the remaining $100,000. This money is being used for daily and weekly challenges, which may involve such events as matching the first organization to raise a certain amount over a given time period or entering any organization that raises more than a certain amount that day or week in a drawing for an additional prize. Right now, the weekly challenge is a $5,000 award for whichever charity receives the most individual donations before noon on November 12. So if you're ready to help your favorite Skoll Award Charity win this week's challenge, you could really help them out by making 20 $1 donations instead of one $20 donation.

As if there weren't enough incentives already, there are also the partnerships with the Huffington Post and Crowdrise. In addition to the charities' own networks, and that of the Skoll Foundation, they also gain access to the Crowdrise and HuffPo communities. While Crowdrise is simply offering its platform, the prizes offered by HuffPo are perhaps the most intriguing; essentially, the more an organization raises, the more the site will promote it over the next year. The implications of this feature go well beyond this particular fundraising competition. The kind of exposure that HuffPo is offering through Twitter, Facebook, and its own website has the potential to create thousands of new and loyal supporters for these organizations, helping them to develop a sustainable fundraising network that will help support their work for years to come.

Learn more about the organizations participating in the Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Challenge here, and support your favorites. The challenge runs through November 22, and even the smallest contribution could end up helping these organizations receive hundreds or even thousands of dollars in additional funding.