A priority for all organizations just now is to help people to help others - and backfill holes in the provision of public and private services, not simply earn a Fast-track ticket to Heaven.
Around the world, governments are encouraging people to give their time and skill, not just cash to others - in the UK, the recent Giving Green Paper presented four devices for doing this: the National Citizen Service, Community First, Community Organizers and Volunteering Infrastructure Programme.
And technology is helping to extend the repertoire of giving from donations of cash to the collection and distribution of a broader basket of currencies - be it services like Twitter that give people the opportunity to share knowledge, Kickstarter that links philanthropists to projects and causes, or Ecomodo, a website that enables people to swap and share objects and skills.
What's emerging is a more distributed Gift Economy, one that is reliant less upon the billion pound drop of a Mark Zuckerberg or Warren Buffett and more on the creation of a local social network and market.
We are helping clients design and deliver several projects just now that seek to facilitate this kind of altruism, or microphilanthropy.
The projects are often business solutions to a social problem. Their personality and proftability is linked to the 'collective-creative drive' of cities and their communities. And often, they seek to trigger an up-tick in the development and performance of the local economy.
Here are some of the principles we are working to just now, mindful of a time of rationed debt and the need for advanced economies to push at developing community capitalism:
1. Give donors something back
Members of The People's Supermarket - a new social venture in London founded by entrepreneurs Arthur Potts-Dawson, Kate Wickes-Bull and David Barrie (that's me!) - earn savings at the checkout and a right to direct the venture in return for their donation of a membership fee (£25/€28/$40) and four hours labor each month.
Participants in the Shiregreen Neighbourhood Challenge - a new initiative supported by NESTA and designed by us with Sanctuary Group to support the development of a large housing estate in Shiregreen, City of Sheffield - will be able to earn reward points for participating in civic life and convert them in to goods or services, via a new 'community bank'. Depending on how generous they feel, people will be able to choose to donate their reward to a local cause.
Currently, we are advising somewhereto_, one of four national programmes of the Cultural Olympiad and a legacy initiative of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games that seeks to help young people find the spaces thay need to do the things that they love.
In effect, somewhereto_ is a service that seeks to encourage owner/managers of empty offices, industrial workshops, parks, gardens, community centres and other kinds of real estate to donate their assets for occupancy on an interim basis to young people with enterprise and ambition.
Benefits to the donor include eligibility for tax breaks and an increase in the rentable/rateable value of their asset.
For two years, we have been supporting the start-up of a new media enterprise in Cardiff, Wales called Digital Butetown - part of a larger role creating and managing a programme of community involvement and investment on behalf of real estate investors igloo Regeneration.
Digital Butetown is a new social business led by local arts organization Community Helps Itself which will train local people in digital media production and computer programming.
For igloo, to support the start-up of Digital Butetown is in part to invest in local media culture and the supply of services to prospective tenants of Porth Teigr, a new creative industries neighbourhood that igloo is developing in joint venture with the Welsh Assembly Government.
In an age of disposable time not money, we need to invent ways in which people can not just help others but also win a hard return on their investment.
It makes sense to recruit momentum at the grassroots, since it's hard to see how the generosity of the new immigrant rich from Russia, India and the Arab world - as (bizarrely) described in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper - will reach down in to neighborhoods.
And helping people to help each other is less about relying upon Good Samaritans and more about creating virtuous circles of supply and demand.
It suggests that corporations and states who want to trigger altruism need to foster progressive local economies - not just enlist armies of people to rattle tins - and this will require new ways and means to capture public attention: a new 'storyworld' for a new Gift Economy.