Archive for the 'fundraising' Category

Generation Generosity



Check out the latest trendreport by Amsterdam based

According to Generation Generosity,  being generous will be one of the most important attributes for the coming year – both for society as a whole as well as for businesses. 

Giving is the new taking, and sharing is the new giving 

With the economic downturn getting worse every day, an increasig number of consumers are even more suspcious of corporations than before-  only 13% of Americans in a recent poll trusted large companies and three-quarters expect them to lie in their advertisments.

These same people experience daily that a very different approach to goods and knowledge is possible: On the internet people are constantly sharing, giving and co-creating, mostly for free. In this sphere people feel valued and trusted and experience that even small contributions can have a huge impact – just witness the so called Obama-Effekt.

And this culture is not a momentary fad, but as Kevin Kelly said already a few years ago: „online culture is the culture“.

Learning from Online

Now, the trendreport has zillions of examples of how corporations can join this culture of generosity. The most relevant for us here at is the first: 


Many corporations such as  Whole Foods (who donate for every customer bringing his/her own bag to the store, to a local charity or the German Pfandtastisch Helfen (customers can opt to donate the money they get back for returning bottles) have invited their consumers to donate and do good together with them. 

Tripadvisers More than Footprints campaign pledged 1 Mio. US$ and let site visitors decide to which pre-selected charities the money shoudl go. TOMS Shoes sells fair-traded slippers, handing one extra pair to a child in need for every pair bought, thus following the famous model set by One Laptop per Child.

To follow Generation G is not only “nice to have”, but – according to the authors of this entertaining report – a necessity: 

if you want to stay relevant in societies that value generosity, sharing and collaboration. Joining obviously entails more than adding a social responsibility or sustainability department; it means adopting a generous mind- set that permeates every interaction with your community, with your employees, with your customers, with, wait for it, your ‘stakeholders’. Nothing more or less than a holistic approach to generosity and business.

Just do it

This is exactly where betterplace can come in: Besides our co-branded sites, where corporations present their social engagemnets in a transparent and activating way, we offer many tools for easy co-donation, for example by employees agreeing to a so-called round-up to their monthly wage check: Who really cares if they earn 2290,56 or 2296,-? By themselves, 56 Cent are not going to make much of a difference. But just imagine, what can be achieved, if you have many employees of a large corporations joining the effort, together supporting a common cause?


Gaming for Rice


This morning I came (via Fast Company) across Free Rice a great online game:  

that allows you become a little bit smarter while also doing the world some good. Created in October 2007 by computer programmer John Breen, who wanted to help his son study for the SAT, Free Rice was initially just a vocabulary game. Now, it has expanded to include math, science, geography and other subject areas and is even used as a learning tool in classrooms — apart from being an effective procrastination device at work.  

It works like this: users are given one question and four different answer choices. For every correct answer, sponsors (who advertise at the bottom of every page) donate 20 grains of rice to feed the world’s hungry through the World Food Program. With very little promotion on the part of the WFP, the game has gone viral – it has about 40,000 users a day and so far can be credited with purchasing enough rice to feed 2.5 million people for a day – in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Uganda, Cambodia, Bhutan and Nepal.  

While my maths skills predictably didn’t yield many grains, my history of art know-how did: between waking up and having breakfast, I collected 1000 grains of rice! Try it yourself. It really is fun.

birthday parties with betterplace


I would like to present to you Noah, so far the youngest betterplace team organiser. Yesterday, Noah celebrated his 9th birthday. And instead of handing his friends yet another partybag, he decided to donate the money otherwise spent on sweets and cheap, not very exciting, presents, to a project on betterplace, a nursery school in Togo

Take a look at Noahs Team and feel inspired to start your own!

P.S. A big Thanks to Maritta Koch-Weser for coming up with the original idea. Let’s spread it in Germany and Great Britain.

Fundraising wisdom

Take in a Saturday matinee or put in a shift at the soup kitchen? Buy a louder sound system or donate a bigger chunk to charity? Inhale a box of Fruity Pebbles or fletcherize a bowl of bran? The ancient struggle between what we want to do and what we should do besets our species at every turn. And in the clinch, virtue often loses to desire.

The fall issue of the Standford Social Innovation review has a nice piece of research, useful to fundraisers (but unfortunately only available to subscribers):

Don’t make them act now, but later

Researchers Todd Rogers and Max H. Bazerman have discovered a way to help people choose their shoulds and not their wants. Its actually quite simple: don’t make them act now, but later. 

When you give people the opportunity to make binding choices that will go into effect in the future … they are much more likeley to do what they think they should do, rather than what they want to do. 

We all know from our own experience, that thinking about the future is different from thinking about the present. Tomorrow morning, I’ll go jogging. Next week, I’ll drink less. Well, but do you???

When considering the future “people think about high level goals: What is this action good for?, explains Rogers, who conducted the research at Harvard Business School. “But in the present, they think about concrete outcomes: what are the immediate consequences of this action for me?”

The researchers explored a range of scenarios with over 900 participants, from plans that would make automatic retirement account contributions (a should), while reducing take-home pay (an undesirable) to policies that would reduce overfishing (a should), while increasing the prize of fish (an undesirable).

Ask for future donations

Rogers points out that non-profits can easily apply this principle to fundraising. When appealing to donors one should emphazise that their contributions will be implemented in the future. This recommendation is confirmed by another research which found out that donors to a Danish non-profit upped their regular donations when asked to do so in the future, rather than in the present. 

People struggle to make the choices they know they should make and, at a profound level, wish that they did make, says Rogers. By designing appeals and policies that emphasize the future rather than the present, non-profits … can help the should beat out the wants.

The Art of Raising Money

Recently the New York Times brought an article about new research concerning the economics of philanthropy. John List and Dean Karlan, both economics professors at the University of Chicago and Yale respectively, conduct real-world experiments in order to find out what works in philanthropy and what doesn’t.

One of the experiments concerned matching gifts, the idea that a donor agrees to match any gift, dollar for dollar or dollar for 2 dollars etc. The idea seems to work and is common practice in many fundraisers, but nobody really knows if matching gifts really are effective.

In order to find out, Karlan and List drew up different solicitation letters for a fundraising group. The letters were similar except for the part that mentioned (or didn’t mention) a match. In one letter they announced a dollar for dollar match, in another the match was increased to two to one, in a third one it was three to one. A control group received letters in which no match was offered.

What did they find out? The existence of a matching gift did matter very much, Thus 2.2 % of people who recieved the match offer made a donation, compared with only 1.8% of the control group, resulting in a 20% gap between the two responses. But surprisingly, the size of the match didn’t have any effect on giving. “Donors who recieved the offer of a one-to-one match gave just as often, and just as much, as those responding to the three-to-one offer.”

In another experiment, List set out to see whether donors cared about so-called seed money. In a letter to potential donors, they varied the amount of money that supposedly had already been raised for a cause. The results were striking: The more upfront money the charity claimed to have on hand, the more additional money it raised. When paired with the matching-gift research, the study suggests that seed money is a better investments for charities than generous matches.

Interesting stuff, no?