How did you first learn about giving to charity?
For most people, that’s a trick question. Learning about philanthropy in any sort of structured way is rare. It’s much more common for people to accumulate up bits and pieces of information, or misinformation, about giving over time. The result can be a personal “giving philosophy” which itself has never been given much thought.
This thoughtless approach carries over to the way many donors actually give, at a tremendous cost to the people whose lives could be improved by more effective giving. Only 35% of donors conduct any research before making their gifts!
Even more troubling, the minority of donors who do perform research don’t do so in a way that’s likely to help them give with more impact. Half of those people spend an hour or less , generally on the website of the charity they’re considering. The most sought after piece of information is the charity’s “overhead ratio”, despite the fact that this metric has been roundly rejected as a measure of charitable effectiveness.
Essentially, donors either don’t do research or they merely try to validate that a charity has no glaring red flags before giving. A mere 3% of donors researches the relative performance of multiple nonprofits.
In fact, few donors- just one in six- even consider maximum impact to be their primary motivation. Given this situation, nonprofits have little incentive to report, or even measure, their social impact. This is turn makes it harder on donors looking for quality information to find what they’re looking for. Philanthropy education offers the possibility of turning this negative feedback loop into a positive one.
The purpose of our Giving Games program is to help create this sort of cultural change by teaching people about charity in an environment specially tailored to promote thoughtful, impactful, and generous giving. We view this program as a scalable, effective, and extremely inexpensive form of philanthropy education. In short, we see Giving Games as a path to a world where philanthropic resources are directed to where they will do the most good.
The Life You Can Save is a movement of people fighting extreme poverty. We hold that an ethical life involves using some of our wealth and resources to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
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