ibis (plural: ibis):
- 1. (noun) A large wading bird with a long, downcurved bill, long neck, and long legs.
- 2. (noun) A small wading nonprofit with a long, upcurved idea, long ambitions, and single-item agenda to change everything.
Token Ibis is an aspiring Albuquerque startup nonprofit with a single mission to reimagine the economics of philanthropy. So naturally, the first question we get is: why Ibis? Most new nonprofits choose to go with a more descriptive name. But we’re trying things a little differently. In a world where “Google,” “Uber,” and “Apple” dominate the headlines, people can be sure of two things:
- Two-syllable words with ambiguous relevance are sexy.
- Sometimes, nothing is more on point than a blank slate.
We live in divisive times, one in which new ideas always seem to find even newer ways to tear people apart. Every word, every phrase demands political coloring. Nothing is free from the omnipresent taint of tribal convictions.
Nothing that is, except for bird names! According to a seminal study from the Institute of Studies on Avian Sentiment, no animal has polled more neutrally among both political parties and across all demographics than the great Threskiornis aethiopicus. And so, under the sigil of the majestic African sacred ibis, we are here to now to push a universal message, a single, simple idea poised to bring all of us back together.
What We Believe
The most potent unifying force in the world is the human desire to build a better society than the one given to us. As corporations chase profits and governments pander to the opinions of the majority, people look to the social profit sector to enact real change at the frontlines of human progress.
Here at home, thousands of local charities serve the most vulnerable within our communities from children to those struggling with homelessness and mental illness. Abroad, NGOs tackle intractable problems like climate change, disease, and extreme poverty. A $400 billion industry in the U.S., social profit is a living, breathing, and infinitely complex institution, the only one that can claim to exist solely by the remarkable capacity of human generosity. But it can do even better.
The institutions created by philanthropy, from education to public media and welfare, affect every person in society. Today, we propose that all of us should have at least some say in the way that they operate. We believe that charitable giving should not be an afterthought in the journey of civic duty, but a vote, a collective voice from every individual professing a shared vision of the world that we can someday build.
Universal Basic Philanthropy
Imagine a day when single mothers, collectively, have more say in the education of their child than one billionaire in Palo Alto. Imagine that even penniless activists, pooling together their resources, could catalyze real change on issues far ahead of their time. Imagine that you too could take part in this.
Every month, you receive a dividend to the tune of say, 150 dollars, which you can use to support whatever social cause you value the most. Do you have one in mind? Fantastic. If not, you can even give some portion of this money to somebody else that you know and trust. When the dust settles, your $150 and the $150 of everybody around you will eventually benefit some social cause, droplets of change which, placed in the hands of the people, becomes a $400 billion ocean of real democratic progress.
This vision is the basis of Universal Basic Philanthropy, or UBP for short. More specifically, here is how it works:
- The government collects taxes from the regular economy as governments do.
- It distributes the money in equal amounts to all adult individuals in the form of a special charity dividend.
- Individuals may transfer any portion of the dividend to any other individual if desired.
- Eventually, everybody donates their accumulated dividend to a registered nonprofit.
- The nonprofit organization uses that money to spend on real goods and services to fulfill its mission.
That’s it! This scheme is the solution to modern social inequality, declining rates of community participation, and hey, maybe even world hunger.
Let’s take a second to think about this. Perhaps your initial reaction is skepticism; you are worried about taxes, how we classify nonprofits, or the decisions that people will make with their money. If so, ask yourself whether these concerns stem from reason or complacency with the status quo. I hope that over the coming months, you’ll agree that these challenges are not only solvable but well worth the effort to overcome.
These are our central reasons for advocating UBP. However, what’s waiting on the other side is far, far more radical than anything we can even dream about now. But we see hints of it. We can picture the enormous impact that will come when charitable giving taps into the relentless engine of the free market. We can imagine altruistic money — the first form of scalable currency in the 10,000-year history of humankind that will be unburdened by greed. In an era of unfeeling systems and institutions, at least this one will bear the values of human decency.
A Path Forward
And so we stand now: a handful of volunteers, a few thousand dollars, and a disturbingly large stash of motivational quotes. If there are betters ways to kick off seminal movements, then we would love to know.
What matters more is that one way or another, Universal Basic Philanthropy – or something quite like it – will arrive. Our mission is to do everything in our power to help make it happen in the right way and for the right reasons. Along the way, we will be spreading awareness about related ideas and work from some of the greatest minds in nonprofit research. Soon, we will offer our small contribution: the first ever real-world experiment for Universal Basic Philanthropy. So follow us on social media, visit the app, and send us your favorite bird pictures. The movement starts right here in the 505, and it begins today.