Tuesday I partook in a workshop/brainstorm session for a new mobile platform to make it easier for young people to donate to ‘good causes’, appropriately named GIVERS. Research shows that 80% of young people are more than willing to give money (Dutch link), but very few actually do. This, because young people base their decision to give on factors other than the ones addressed in most campaigns. Ease, transparency, sense of ownership and a positive message are more important than tear-jerking photos of starving kids.
A surprisingly unique group of people showed up at the workshop. All had great ideas, good hearts and broad experience. Also – refreshingly! – there were people from the social sectors, culture and the corporate world to create a dynamic mix of ideas. And, all people were young, if not in age, than at heart.
Most of the details of the GIVERS platform are still debatable, but the basis is an easily available mobile app/website. Monthly, a curated set of projects in different categories (development, healthcare, etc.) will be presented with short videos. People can make easy donations and after donating to a project, will receive regular updates about how their money is spent, etc. 100% of all donations goes to the projects; companies who adopt a project pay for overhead.
GIVERS looks like popular crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and the Dutch Voor De Kunst, but with a focus on more profound and sustainable relationships between organisations, companies and (young) donators, through tangible projects.
The group I was part of in the discussion about different aspects of the GIVERS platform focused on the overall concept. After talking for a while about the relation between young people and the platform, retention of members and the preconditions for making it sharable, we discovered something changed my way of thinking about donations:
Giving money to a good cause is not about giving money.
If 80% of young Dutch people are willing to donate, the trick is not to get them to give money – four out of five are okay with that – but to get them to care in the first place. Money’s not the issue; it’s attention and effort and enough time to build a relationship that we’re after.
Okay, so it’s an obvious realisation. Articles on successful crowdfunding projects stress the importance of tapping into an existing user base, personal network or community. In other words: places where relationships have been built and attention is cheap.
The realisation, however, has quite some implications. More than enticing people to make a donation, communication should be focused on encouraging people to start a relation. Enthusiasm, having them ‘join the club’, making it happen, together! We thought of non-monetary challenges to get people involved. For instance: collect 100,000 old teddy bears in a month for charity, all together.
I think that GIVERS can be a huge hit if it manages to build an engaged fan base first, and trust that giving money will follow afterwards, once the relationships are established. (And, let’s hope this goes like that other mobile app I wrote about before they went on CNN: Layar. That’d be good for our world!)
Illustrations by Vandejong, Amsterdam.