Private foundations, public charities, community foundations, educational organizations, trade associations – we’re committed to delivering low-cost, replicable solutions to nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. In fact, a big reason we created Skild in the first place is to enable small teams to run large, distributed awards and prizes. See, we know how challenging it is to operate online contests with multiple rounds, thousands of participants, and potentially hundreds of judges, all on a shoestring budget – we didn’t get into this business opportunistically, we started out running our own contests and learning the hard way. So Skild is built for our favorite teams-of-one, with all the efficiencies, automated features, time saving tools, and affordable options needed to make a big splash without a big expense.
Ever since the Ansari X PRIZE was awarded in 2004, there’s been much ado about philanthropic prizes and the role of incentivized competition in philanthropic giving. McKinsey & Co. authored perhaps the most in-depth research paper on the subject, and organizations such as Foundation Source are taking note and promoting philanthropic prizes as “one of the 10 things you didn’t know you could do with your foundation.” Skild has been tracking philanthropic prizes since our inception in 2002, so our people have decades of knowledge and deep expertise in this area.
Many contests and incentives could be lumped in under prize philanthropy, but here are just a few of the more commonly used formats:
- Public participation challenges – contests that seek to engage large numbers of participants and have less concern about identifying the “best” entry. It’s all about moving the entire field forward.
- Recognition programs – otherwise known as award programs, this contest format often includes nominations and is commonly used to identify and reward excellence or achievement in a specific area. See our solutions for Award Programs for more information on this type of contest.
- Problem solving contests – our own Innovation Challenge® is a good example of a problem-solving contest, where talent is mobilized (in this case, university students) to address a well-defined challenges that have no clear solutions. Many business contests and idea contests fall under the category of problem solving contests.
Why run a philanthropic prize? Well, there are several reasons to invest a percentage of your philanthropic portfolio in prizes, but here are Skild’s top five:
- Streamlined Administration – prize agencies and online contest management providers like Skild are making easier and more affordable to run online contests
- Unusual Suspects – prizes have a way of introducing new talent and radical thinking to an identified problem space.
- Visibility – a well-designed prize shines a bright, favorable light on an issue so that it captures broad media and public attention.
- Pay for Performance – most prize initiatives shift the risk from the sponsor to the contestant so that the achievement is only rewarded upon success.
- Challenge Conventional Wisdom – good prizes shift the public and political discourse to advance the sponsor’s agenda.