Hey, you've already seen our support for DonorsChoose.org, where you can help kids in school by supporting their teachers' projects. The deal is that teachers often have to fund projects or even buy supplies from their way-too-low salaries. You can help out with small contributions. They have a new matching effort, here's what they say. Click here: DonorsChoose.org/realsimple to pick your passion from thousands of classroom projects, and give back this holiday season. Use the match code REALSIMPLE to double your donation. People can donate to any project(s) on DonorsChoose.org and use the code REALSIMPLE at checkout to be matched up to $500. DonorsChoose.org has $25,000 backing the campaign, which runs until the funds are exhausted, or December 30, whichever comes first.
Hey folks, I recently headed over to the national headquarters for the American Red Cross to chat with Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross. We had a chance to talk about the #perfectgift fundraiser I'm doing to help raise money for the organization. The comfort kits for the Veterans are just one of the gifts from the Red Cross' Holiday Gift Guide, along with Gail's personal favorite: the Red Cross blankets. These #perfectgifts aren't just important during the holiday season, but throughout the year. What is your #perfectgift? Leave a comment below, tweet me on Twitter or post it on my FB wall using the hashtag #perfectgift and I will donate $1 to the American Red Cross up to $10K in December.
Posted on December 12th, 2011 by Dr. Robert Penna and Ken Berger
Ruth McCambridge’s December 5tharticle on the Nonprofit Quarterly’s Nonprofit Newswire page, “Donors Give LESS When More Analytic Say Researchers,” is certainly provocative; but it misses a serious point and could give donors, both large and small, the wrong impression.
Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator
Reviewing a recent Boston Globe article, McCambridge reports that certain research supports the notion that “the more individual contributors think about their donation the less they are likely to give.” This, McCambridge concedes, “of course, flies in the face of logic for those who encourage individuals to give more ‘wisely,’ recommending research about an organization’s financial ratios and outcomes.” The article ends with the conclusion that “encouraging donors to give to the most efficient, best organizations might mean that less money actually gets donated.”
That such should be the case does not sound all that unusual: it has long been a staple of home economics that cutting down on impulse buying is one sure way to stay within a budget. For example, in the case of going to the grocery store, it is estimated that an average family could save about $2500 a year simply by sticking to a thoughtfully created shopping list that for the most part focuses on the essentials.
That impulse giving should not be dramatically different from impulse buying is no real surprise, as both have their roots in emotion and psychological gratification. But just as impulse buying often squanders resources, so does impulse giving. Tossing $10, or even $1 into the convenient receptacle looking for “charitable donations” on the counter of a local store, giving simply because someone we know asked us to, or impulsively responding with a check to a heart-tugging photograph of a needy child as part of a mailing we receive are all common examples of how many of us give on impulse. So, we agree that if people thought more about such contributions –and where the money was actually going- they might be less likely (particularly at this time of year) to simply hand over their money.
Dr. Robert Penna, Author of the Nonprofit Outcomes Toolbox
That said, we must take strong exception to the underlying implication of the McCambridge article overall: that thinking is inimical to generosity. To the contrary, research indicates that as much as 15% of current giving, could be based upon research (see Hope Consulting’s Money for Good research); and we believe that that proportion can and should rise. Why hasn’t it done so already? Perhaps the most seminal reason is that for a vast number of charities out there seeking support, data on performance is simply not available. Therefore, it is tough to argue that people should be research-based and informed in their giving, to use their heads at least as much as they do their hearts, when the essential information that would allow them to do so is usually missing. By moving to CN 2.0 and, within a few years, to CN 3.0, we are trying to do our part to help fill this void; and we believe that as more charities come to see the value of transparency and accountability, they will increasingly make necessary information available to the public themselves.
In the meanwhile, we have long advocated that donors do at least some research into organizations asking for their support. Far too much of this money is simply wasted on organizations that are inefficient, ineffective, or downright fraudulent. The evidence regarding just how much money is wasted this way is saddening, alarming, and disheartening (for example, see the recent book by Gary Snyder – Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector) . Perhaps most regrettable is that these resources could be far better used by organizations that are managed in an accountable fashion (financially and organizationally) and that can demonstrate meaningful, sustainable, and verifiable outcomes.
We are not suggesting that Ms. McCambridge’s article was deliberately written in such a way as to suggest that thought and consideration should not go into individuals’ giving decision. However, we are afraid that it could be taken that way.
There are any number of reasons to explain the overall findings cited by McCambridge. But we are hard pressed to imagine any justification for the implication that thought and consideration should not be part of everyone’s donating process. People will always give based, at least in part, upon emotion and impulse. We understand that. But we would argue that far from being a depressing influence on charity, thought, consideration, and at least some research will ultimately result in far more effective giving overall, and far fewer precious resources wasted.
We’re getting to that time of the year when people start thinking about new year's resolutions and plans for the future. I’m making plans for the next steps for craigconnects and how I want to connect people for good in 2012. How do you aspire to change the world in 2012? Folks in the community have all kinds of great ideas to change the world that they are putting into gear in the new year and we can learn from everyone’s thinking.
If this works, I’ll make it a regular Social Good Blog Series with a new topic each time to showcase nonprofit leaders and the best of the submitted content. The new series will also recognize contributors' own websites and blogs.
Here’s the deal
Write a blog post explaining how you will change the World in 2012
We’ll sort through submissions and share the best ideas in a Social Good for 2012 list. We’ll also cross-post a few of our favorites as a guest blog posts on the craigconnects site.
I wanted to do my small part in changing the world in 2011. I began craigconnects this past year to use technology to give the voiceless a real voice and the powerless real power. My goal in changing the world in this small way is to leverage the power of the Internet and social media to identify, connect and empower effective and sustainable nonprofits. What are your goals for changing the world in 2012?
I'm looking forward to hearing what your plans are for the upcoming year!
Folks, yesterday was my 59th birthday, and I decided to celebrate by asking for a unique kind of gift – a tweet on Twitter about what someone considers the perfect gift this holiday season. Each time someone responds and tweets using the hashtag #perfectgift, I am giving a $1 contribution to the American Red Cross, up to $10,000 to purchase military comfort kits for our troops. It's amazing because 91% of every gift goes to people in need.
Even though the nation is facing an economic downturn for a third straight holiday season, a new Red Cross poll shows that the majority of Americans still plan to maintain strong charitable giving this year. Nearly three in five people plan to donate to charity this holiday season. And the report showed that Americans feel even more strongly that the prolonged economic downturn means they should support their neighbors.
The use of Twitter will help get the word out quickly to the nearly 45,000 followers that I have on @craignewmark and their followers, as well as the followers of the @RedCross. The hashtag #perfectgift will help me to track the results so I can determine how much to donate. I am also promoting the campaign on Facebook and here at craigconnects, but the actual donations have to happen via Twitter so that they can be tracked. The campaign will run through the end of December.
The more people like you who participate, the more we can help our troops. Please also check out the American Red Cross’s 2011 Holiday Giving Catalog, which has 25 symbolic gifts representing all Red Cross services that can be purchased in the name of a loved one during the holiday season. Donations can provide food and shelter to a victim of a disaster, purchase phone cards and personal items for a member of the armed forces, or help supply basic necessities to families in desperate need in countries across the world.
For my birthday, and this holiday season, I hope folks will help tell me what they think the perfect gift is, for themselves or to give someone else by tweeting the hashtag #perfectgift.