No matter how small the donation, what most of us care about is its impact.
We’re reminded of this whenever someone on the street asks for as little as 50 cents. It’s never a big request. Why can’t we seem to shake the question…where’s that money going?
The answer is simple. Donating money is much easier when we know and agree with where it’s going. Understandable, of course, but is it fair that our selective ignorance keeps us from making meaningful donations?
At Double, we decided to make an impact by donating 1% of our yearly revenue to a charity. After a lot of soul-searching and research, we’re proud to make a difference in our own, unique way. To help you do the same, and save you valuable time in the process, here are some practical tips to help you navigate the world of charity donations more easily.
We chose to tell the whole world about our donation. Hopefully, doing so will facilitate many more future donations. Here’s what we wish we had known before starting:
- Finding the highest-impact charities isn’t hard
Know where to look and you will find them. A good place to start looking for effective charities is GiveWell — a non-profit charity that finds out where your donation will save or improve the most lives.
Check out GiveWell’s list of cost-effective, evidence-based charities.
- How you donate matters
At first, we were tempted to spread out donations over several causes. Maybe even donate to a different charity every month. It turns out that the highest impact donations are ones done in one large amount to a single, most-effective charity.
- Beware of your own biases
Sometimes, even with numbers to prove a charity’s impact, we remain unconvinced. This is because many of us have grown distrustful of the ‘non-profit’ label altogether. It reminds us of terrible operational inefficiencies and poorly-allocated funds. But we’re probably just biased.
Things we read
- Doing Good Better — William MacAskill
- The Most Good You Can Do — Peter Singer
- Lean Impact — Ann Mei Chang
A donation to save lives
When it came to finding a charity, we decided to start with what we knew best — growth marketing. From storytelling to data-driven experimentation, our eyes began scanning the room for charities that spent money effectively and ran experiments before scaling.
It is when we came across Development Media International (DMI) that we knew we had found the one. By working with local actors, DMI produces radio broadcasts in regional dialects to educate audiences on basic disease-prevention techniques.
We learned that in the world’s poorest regions, most locals rarely receive education on things like hand-washing, giving birth, and seeking treatment when ill.
Education on these topics can save lives and DMI has the results to prove it. In one campaign, malaria consultations in Burkina Faso went up by +57%, saving over 2,500 children’s lives. Another campaign achieved a +20% relative increase in women using modern contraceptives.
Our future plans
Learning about the positive impact just 1% of our revenue could generate, had us wanting to do more. In fact, our team has already begun brainstorming about new, creative ways to give back. For one, we’re thinking of nudging our clients to donate a percentage of their total payments to charity. This challenge is particularly fun, as it involves learning from behavioural economics and playing on heuristics. A second initiative involves ‘doing less’. We’re working on internal guidelines to help us choose the types of companies we’ll avoid working with in the future. From sustainability to social considerations, we endeavour to keep one question in the forefront of our minds; ‘Which companies do we really want to help grow?’ Lastly, there are plenty of ways marketing skills can be strategically used to help charities. As a team, we are looking at ways to donate some of our time to worthy causes. Whether it’s building higher-converting websites or writing compelling copy that fuels fundraising, we know our powers will be used for good.
Written by Louise