Token Ibis is an aspiring Albuquerque startup nonprofit with a single mission: make philanthropy accessible for everyone. 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 struggle to accommodate 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 take on imposing problems like climate change, disease, and extreme poverty. A $400 billion/yr 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, which you can use to support whatever social cause you value the most. We’ll call this money “philanthropy dollars”. So, do you have a cause in mind? Fantastic. Now imagine that you and everyone else around you got the exact same opportunity — streams of personal values which, placed in the hands of the people, become 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 a special philanthropy dollar account.
- 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. Maybe your initial reaction is skepticism; you are worried about taxes, how we register 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.
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.
Thanks for reading! If you want to support our efforts to revolutionize the non-profit sector, the best way to do it is by sharing our content with the difference-makers you know. So please hit that 👏 button, share this story on social media, and don’t forget to tag us (@tokenibis on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook).
To learn more about the Token Ibis project, visit tokenibis.org.