Reimagine Charitable Giving Challenge

How might we reinforce a culture of generosity by creating charitable giving solutions that are more accessible, inclusive, and effective?

In Partnership With
We're looking for solutions that are:

Digital, user-centered, innovative, donor-focused, illustrate impact, feasible, and grounded in evidence. To understand more about what we mean by each of these requirements, read through the full evaluation criteria.

The opportunity
  • Up to 10 concepts will be selected as finalist concepts. Each concept will receive a share of up to $100k USD in prize funding.
  • Selected concepts will receive refinement support from IDEO designers.
  • Selected concepts will also be shared on the Better Giving Studio website and made available under Creative Commons License. Learn more about about the Better Giving Studio here.
How to participate
  • Read the Challenge Brief to familiarize yourself with the shared vision for this initiative.
  • Submissions are being reviewed and selected concepts will be announced in early 2021.
  • If you have any questions, please send us an email at
Participants were welcome to submit solutions to the Beyond the Bag Challenge through one of three submission channels. Learn more about each channel.

Challenge Vision

How might we reinforce a culture of generosity by creating charitable giving solutions that are more accessible, inclusive, and effective?

Generosity is a universal human value that spans time, geographies, and cultures. It strengthens relationships and communities. As people come together to respond to COVID-19 and the movements for racial justice, the power of generosity has never been more apparent.

This initiative focuses on everyday givers—of all races, genders, socio-economic statuses, and perspectives—who are key to supporting the essential work of nonprofit organizations. While you may hear more about the giving of wealthy philanthropists or large foundations, the everyday giver is one of the largest sources of charitable dollars that fuel the nonprofit sector. Around the world, everyday givers advance an unlimited number of causes, from climate change and hunger to public health and racial equity.

People are innately generous, but the giving process can be complex. It can be hard to find the right organizations to support, know how much to give, or understand the impact of a gift. We believe the giving landscape is ripe for innovation that will make it easier for donors to give. As the body of research around individual giving behavior grows, this program hopes to bridge the gap between research and real world innovation—by getting better products into the hands of everyday givers. Our goal is to optimize and reimagine tools and products that will help all donors give more and give better.

Alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this program challenges our global community of innovators to come together and build solutions to address the following question: How might we reinforce a culture of generosity by creating charitable giving solutions that are more accessible, inclusive, and effective? Together, we’ll explore why everyday givers play such an important role, how the state of giving is rapidly evolving alongside societal shifts, and the unprecedented opportunity to design tools that empower everyday donors to have an impact on the causes they care about.

Challenge Journey

Ideas Phase

Oct 1, 2020

Nov 8, 2020

Evaluation & Shortlisting

Nov 9, 2020

Dec 1, 2020

Top Ideas Announcement

Feb 1, 2021

Feb 28, 2021

Refinement Sprint

Dec 1, 2020

Jan 31, 2021

Current Phase
Ideas Phase

During the Ideas Phase, we invite you to submit your idea, concept, startup or organization at any stage of development. Make sure to click “Publish” on your idea so it will be live and able to move into Evaluation Phase.

We welcome you to submit your idea and use the platform to connect and find partners as well as share inspiration and feedback with others.


Teams from around the world are developing their ideas and sharing them in the Challenge. Teams are also connecting and sharing inspiration, feedback and building partnerships.


The Ideas Phase will move into Evaluation Phase on November 8, 2020 at 11:00pm PST.

Evaluation & Shortlisting

During the Evaluation Phase, ideas submitted by the deadline will be considered by a panel of Judges.


Submitted Ideas are being evaluated for consideration as Top Ideas.


The Evaluation Phase will close on November 16, 2020. Top Ideas will be announced by early December, 2020.

Top Ideas Announcement

During this Phase, stay tuned for an announcement of Top Ideas and opportunities offered to support those teams.


Top Ideas will be announced, supported and celebrated.


Stay tuned for dates and more information.

Refinement Sprint

During the Refinement Sprint, we’ll ask contributors to test ideas in their communities and apply feedback to their concept with IDEO design support, before posting concepts on the Better Giving Studio website.

The Challenge

How might we reinforce a culture of generosity by creating charitable giving solutions that are more accessible, inclusive, and effective?

Read The Full Brief

Background of the Challenge
Our Focus

This moment in time is one of deep need across society. People are responding to that need with a desire to help, create change, and contribute to a more just and healthy world. Despite the immense surge of generosity we’ve seen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement for racial justice, resources and funding don’t always reach those who need it most.

Our vision of impact for this Challenge is threefold: 

  1. Empower everyday givers—of all races, genders, socio-economic statuses, and perspectives—with the tools they need to give in line with their preferences and intentions. 
  2. Catalyze innovation in the giving marketplace by translating research and evidence into products that improve the quality, quantity, and impact of everyday giving.
  3. Surface new insights and concepts to inform the development of inclusive giving products and services.

Towards Digital Solutions Together

Building upon thousands of years of tradition in giving and generosity, we are now presented with the opportunity to create digital tools—backed by behavioral science research—that will enable individual donors to give more effectively.

By focusing on the everyday giver, this Challenge seeks to disrupt and reimagine giving. Through the OpenIDEO platform, we’ll empower the social impact ecosystem towards action, helping ideas from all corners of the world rapidly reach the innovators and platforms that can implement them. Join us as we collaborate to design and reimagine a more inclusive and equitable giving experience.

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Equity Considerations

The giving field has limited data on how markers of identity impact the donor experience. The data that does exist suggests that race, gender, and socio-economic background play a role in who engages in giving, how they engage, and who receives philanthropic support. 

Organizations led by women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) receive a fraction of all charitable giving, illustrating an urgent need to transform the current system. In a new report, Bridgespan and Echoing Green assessed organizations in Echoing Green’s applicant pool, a group that includes some of the sector’s most promising early-stage organizations. They found that organizations led by Black leaders receive less grant money, and are given less unrestricted support than those with white leaders. Black women leaders in Echoing Green’s portfolio consistently received less support than either Black men or white women (Dorsey, Bradach & Kim, 2020).

When it comes to donors, research on BIPOC givers is scarce. Reports published by the Donors of Color Network provide important insights on how wealthy BIPOC give and the unique barriers they face, but more data and research is still needed to improve our understanding of this segment, and BIPOC donors at all wealth levels.

We’re invested in creating a more equitable and inclusive giving sector. Together, we will explore solutions that address equity in giving. Through this challenge, we hope to build on the existing research base and improve the donor experience for diverse identities across the spectrum of race, gender, and age. We encourage submissions that extend beyond these three markers, and include the intersectionality of these identities and others, including sexual orientation, ability, and more.

While this challenge focuses on generating ideas that address the donor experience, we ask that you consider the inequities we see on the receiving end of philanthropy outlined above, and if/how your idea addresses this issue.

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Opportunity Areas

Opportunity Areas are specific calls to action to guide submissions during the Ideas Phase. We have separated our Opportunity Areas into two categories: “bridging the evidence to practice gap” and “design as research”. 

Opportunity Areas in the first category “bridging the evidence to practice gap” draw upon a large body of research and behavioral science about the challenges donors face. This body of research is growing, but very little of it is accessible to or taken up by nonprofits, platforms, and intermediaries. When submitting concepts within this Opportunity Area, use the existing evidence-based insights included in each prompt and consider the ways in which your solution can optimize and improve the donor experience.

Opportunity Areas in the second category “design as research” represent important topics that could benefit from additional insights or new product solutions. When submitting concepts to this opportunity area, share user insights uncovered through your design research to help the entire field better understand how these donor segments experience giving. This could include but is not limited to: insights from beneficiary interviews or research sessions, community-based and/or academic research you've drawn on yourself, or findings from product testing performed to-date. Note: While the categories below center on race, gender, and age, we welcome ideas that address the intersectionality of these identities and more.

Both the Better Giving Studio and IDEO hope this Challenge can be an opportunity for alternative, additive research that may supplement pre-existing academic research in the field. Particularly for the topic areas where there is a dearth of research or product solutions, we hope the context gathered by participants (user research, beneficiary feedback) can support and bridge the gap in knowledge. 

1. Intention [Bridging the Evidence to Practice Gap]

Research shows that people rarely think proactively about giving. Individuals tend to give simply when asked, especially by friends or family members. This type of impulsive giving can lead to missed opportunities for donors to give to the organizations that most align to their personal values, interests, and community. Research has shown that setting giving goals is one way that helps donors be more thoughtful about their giving; evidence shows it can also increase giving amounts (Parbhoo, Reynolds, Tantia, Trewn & Welch, 2018). Other examples of intentionality and planning include knowing how much to give, identifying which causes to prioritize, making a plan alone or with friends and family, and seeing progress against those plans. How might we introduce more planning, intentionality, and alignment in the giving process, helping donors tap into both the emotional and thoughtful aspects of giving?

2. Simplification of Choice  [Bridging the Evidence to Practice Gap]

In the US alone, donors can choose from nearly 400,000 charitable organizations. The large number and complexity of giving options make it difficult to choose, compelling people to make spontaneous decisions or defer a choice altogether. Through research, we know curation—the organization and simplification of information—increases the likelihood of donating, as well as donation amounts. In a collaborative study between Ideas42 and Intentional Futures, curated lists of charities, dubbed “GiveLists,” were found to reduce choice overload for donors and increase dollars to effective organizations. Additionally, peer recommendations help simplify choice overload and are more effective than celebrity or expert endorsements (Parbhoo, Tennant, Welch & Davis, 2020). How might we simplify choice when identifying causes and organizations to support?

3. Collective Giving [Bridging the Evidence to Practice Gap]

Collective giving is the pooling of funds by a group of individuals, put towards a specific, mutually determined cause. Current and past research on collective giving in the U.S. has shown that members give more, give more strategically, and are more civically engaged when they give together (Bearman & Franklin, 2018). Micro-donations (small sums donated by many) can turn small dollars into big impact through vehicles like giving circles, crowdfunding, and more. Giving happens in many collective settings—the home, the workplace, religious institutions, or via identity-based groups or giving circles—but much of this behavior still happens offline. How might we supercharge the act of giving together by creating digital products that make collective giving easier and more accessible?

4. Black, Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC) in digital philanthropy  [Design as Research]

Charitable giving by communities of color is growing more quickly than any other demographic in America. Sixty-three percent of Latinx households make charitable donations. Nearly two-thirds of Black households donate to organizations and causes, to the tune of $11 billion each year (Lewis, 2018). Research on wealthy BIPOC givers suggests that Black, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American communities in the United States give very differently from one another, and from white donors (Vaid & Maxton, 2019). Yet, there are still significant gaps in research around how BIPOC donors across wealth levels give and what best supports their giving journey. How might solutions specifically empower BIPOC donors, inspiring racial equity across the giving ecosystem?

5. Women in Digital Philanthropy [Design as Research]

Women represent 51% of total wealth in the U.S.— a grand total of $14 trillion. Research by Indiana University’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute has found that women often give differently than men. For example, women are more likely to give, and to give more than their male counterparts. They are more likely to give online, to give collectively through giving circles, to spread their giving across more organizations, and to support women and girls’ causes (Mesch, Ottoni-Wilhelm & Osili, 2020). Though gender differences in giving are well-researched, most digital solutions are not designed with women’s preferences and giving styles in mind. How might solutions specifically empower female-identifying donors, inspiring gender equity across the giving ecosystem?

6. The Next Generation: Young Donors [Design as Research]

Our world is changing, and the culture of giving is shifting radically along with it. Who will lead the next generation of giving, and how might we best support those users? A study by the Blackbaud institute indicates that people in Generation Z (also known as “post-Millennials,” born in the late 1990s to early 2010s) represent only two percent of the giving pie, but are increasing in influence. For this rising generation, giving is characterized by additional trends: online and mobile engagement, social media use, and non-monetary contributions such as volunteering, activism, and spreading the word (Blackbaud, 2018). This Opportunity Area focuses on young donors and future norms in giving that we can’t yet imagine and welcomes submissions that address not only giving of money, but also of time, talent and voice. How might solutions support young donors to radically engage in and reimagine the next generation of giving?

7. What are we missing?

Want to suggest solutions outside of the above framing? Tell us how other ideas might achieve the impact we’re discussing, and how your approach works.

Cited Sources:

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Submission Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria

Submissions are welcome from individuals, registered nonprofits, civil society, community-based, and for-profit organizations working anywhere in the world.


Prizes shall be awarded solely based on Challenge recipients’ submitted ideas and expertise, with no requirement to take further action or perform services. 

Before submitting, please refer to our platform terms and conditions here, and the details highlighted below. In addition, all concepts submitted to the challenge agree to be featured on the Better Giving Studio website, should their concept be shortlisted or selected. is an open source platform, governed by Creative Commons (for more information, please see We are proud to create a collaborative environment for open innovation. This also means that: by posting an idea submission onto the OpenIDEO platform, you agree that others can adapt or share the concept - which includes replication, redistribution, or building upon the material within the Challenge community, or by any others visiting our Challenge platform. Given this, we ask that if you are patent pending, you do not disclose any trade secrets or share information of how your product works. If your idea submission contains intellectual property, instead share it directly with the OpenIDEO team so that it can be included in your submission materials without being shared on our open, public platform. 

If your concept is selected in this OpenIDEO Challenge, it will be included on the Better Giving Studio website, where product ideas are presented to be adopted, remixed, or used as inspiration for continued innovation efforts. Each selected concept listed on the site will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Specific attribution information will then be made available on individual product idea pages.

Our Submission Guidelines:

All submitted concepts should:

  • [Digital] Be a digital product, or be translatable to a digital product. 
  • [Relevance] Clearly articulate an answer to the Challenge question.
  • [Relevance] Address a problem that is pressing and real by articulating the gap this idea is filling.
  • [Evidence] Be based on evidence from the current philanthropic and social landscape. The submission form will prompt you explicitly to share evidence that supports your innovation. Evidence might include academic research, A/B user testing, design research your team is previously or currently doing that relates to the opportunity area, or other beneficiary feedback.

A winning idea must be:

  • [Innovative] Take a new approach or use an existing approach in a new way.
  • [Donor focused] Demonstrate a deep understanding of the donor journey and map to a key moment.
  • [Impactful] Build on, disrupt, or adapt existing giving systems and tools.
  • [Feasible] The idea solution is rooted in existing functionality, or you can prove that it would be functional upon implementation.

Please note that IDEO and the Challenge Sponsor, in their sole discretion, can: (1) amend or cancel the challenge, in whole or in part, at any time; (2) extend the deadline for submitting responses; (3) determine whether a response does or does not substantially comply with the requirements of the challenge; (4) waive any minor irregularity, informality or nonconformance with the provisions or procedures of the challenge.

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We’re thrilled to create an ecosystem of collaboration and feedback for all participants submitting to the Reimagine Giving Challenge. Up to 10 Selected Concepts will receive a share of up to $100k USD in prize funding, as well as refinement support from IDEO designers.

Prizes shall be awarded solely based on Challenge recipients’ submission, with no requirement to take further action or perform services.

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The OpenIDEO Challenge Process

During the Ideas Phase, we'll call on our global community to share ideas that empower the everyday giver, creating charitable giving solutions that are sustainable, equity-centered, and work for everyone. The ideas do not need to be perfect or fully polished—in fact, we encourage early entry in the six-week Ideas phase so that community engagement and feedback can support you to iterate and improve your idea.

With help from our Challenge supporter, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a panel of expert evaluators, we’ll select and announce a cohort of up to 10 Selected Concepts that will move into a Refinement Sprint. During the Refinement Sprint, we’ll ask contributors to test and incorporate design feedback into their ideas, with the possibility of being showcased on the Better Giving Studio website. The Challenge and Refinement Sprint are part of the broader Better Giving Studio program, and both initiatives will inform continued exploration around improving and reimagining the giving sector through innovation and collaboration.

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Better Giving Studio

Better Giving Studio is brought to you by Giving By All, an initiative of the Philanthropic Partnerships team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Better Giving Studio’s purpose is to accelerate digital product innovation that enables and supports everyday givers.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Launched in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a private foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Across the globe, it aims to inspire and enable more informed and intentional giving by all.

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View Ideas
View Ideas
Challenge Resources:

Please refer to this list of additional resources for more background information around the topic of charitable giving, instructions on submitting an idea, and tools for ideation and prototyping.

Challenge Team:

Alex Nana-Sinkam

Global Equity Portfolio Lead

Alisa Ahmadian

Senior Program Lead

Isaac Jumba

Community Fellow

Robyn Park

Content Marketing Manager

Brett Watson

Performance Marketing Specialist

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