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
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.