Detroit4Detroit: Passionate Detroiters and Citizen Philanthropy

Since Citizen Effect announced Detroit4Detroit, the number one question people ask is, "Why Detroit? Why is a D.C.-based nonprofit setting up its second office in the Motor City?"  

The answer is simple -- it’s the people. In Detroit, you can’t walk down the street without hearing passersby talking about the work they’re doing in their community. Citizens are collaborating with larger institutions like their government and foundations, while at the same time leveraging their most valuable asset, their fellow Detroiters. This idea that the power lies directly with the people, and not just a few with deep pockets, is what made us so excited about bringing our model of Citizen Philanthropy into the equation.
Citizen Effect started when I met a woman in India walking four hours a day for water. She asked me to partner with her to build a well in her village. I didn't have the $5,000 needed for the well, but I did have a network of friends, family and other people from my community who identified with my passion to impact the lives of others. I went home, designed a holiday card retelling her story, and asked people to donate to the project. Within a matter of weeks I was able to send the funding back to India and by June the well was completed.
Since then, Citizen Effect has been working across the nation to find passionate citizens with the same desire to have a direct and tangible impact on a community. And, six months ago, we realized that Detroit had the highest number per capita of these emerging leaders, or what we call Citizen Philanthropists, we had ever come across.

Our goal in Detroit, and anywhere, is to give citizens the ability to impact their community in a more meaningful way than they could alone.  In Detroit, that means partnering with local nonprofits to find the critical community projects that are having the greatest impact addressing basic needs in the city and connecting them with citizens who are committed to leading a fundraising effort.
Detroit4Detroit’s success this year will be defined and owned by Detroit. To lead the charge, we've brought together a team of Detroiters: community leaders, nonprofit professionals, and social entrepreneurs. Eric Moss, born and raised in Detroit, has taken the helm of Detroit4Detroit and will be engaging Detroiters across the Metro Area, Michigan, and nation in bringing together their ideas, passions, and energy.

It all starts now with 150 citizens partnering with and fundraising for 150 community projects. By the end of 2012, every one of those projects will be completed, and a movement impacting Detroit through citizen philanthropy will be underway. We haven’t come to Detroit with an agenda or assumptions -- we’re here to bring more tools tools to support the incredible work already happening, work driven by the people of Detroit in the city that they love.

About the author: Dan Morrison, 38, is the founder and CEO of Citizen Effect. He lives in the Washington D.C. area.
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