What is a Giving Game?

In a Giving Game, participants learn about a few pre-selected charities, think about and discuss their relative merits, and choose which charity will get a real donation (which is typically sponsored by an outside party). Thus, they are forced to grapple with a donation decision structured to raise critical issues about what it means give well, knowing their choices will have real world consequences. This model makes it easy to learn about effective charitable giving.

Why Philanthropy Education is Needed


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.