The number one thing I get asked comes to me in two forms, but it’s the same question. ‘I haven’t heard of this before, how do I know this is real?’ and ‘How do I know this is not a Ponzi scheme?’ They are just two ways of saying, “I need assurance”.
And they are both worthy questions. After all, when we see something new and exciting we either believe it completely (because we’re 13), or we like it, but a voice whispers doubts. Our cultural mind shift shows this to be real. We love to give to something worthy. Studies are showing that 80% of people will brand jump from what they loyally purchase to a second product IF it donates to some cause. The funny thing is that it doesn’t have to be your cause it just has to be a cause.
However, we want more and more transparency. There have been too many cases of people misleading the data, or down right lying and stealing. There are the famous cases where a company donates $500k, and then spends $2M advertising it. This has burnt a lot of fingers, but what it has NOT done is change the fundamental nature of people, and that nature is to give. We have just matured as a people. We now delete the email from the Nigerian prince that is going to give us $20 million, and we want transparency from both the donors and the non-profits. We want transparency in how the non-profit spends, and of what they do. It’s not bad: it’s maturity.
I was recently looking over a charity and saw they Guidestar which is a great site that helps not only list charities, but makes them more transparent. Even better they had a Transparency Seal style widget on the page. I could click on it, go directly to their Guidestar page, and see their entire footprint. It was a Miracle on 34th Street moment. You know the scene, Santa Clause is on trial, and in a court of law, and has to be proven to be the REAL, one-and-only, not just ‘one of Santa’s Helpers but the actual main man himself, Santa Clause. Well the post office sends Santa his mail, and Santa’s lawyer (one of the good guys) says that the Federal Government in the form of the US Post Office says that by giving him the mail addressed to Santa (which would be a crime if he wasn’t Santa), that he was in fact the real Santa Clause. Everyone cheers. Christmas is saved!
Well, I saw that seal. I could click on it and bask in the data that Guidestar was giving me on this non-profit. They were instantly vetted. The real deal. They were bonafide.
Incredibly, less than 1% of charities even get a Bronze seal, much less Silver, Gold, or Platinum. Why? I do not know. Of course I realized I was not in that 1%, so I spent the day updating everything I could. We Bronzed out, and within the year will be on the road to an eventual Platinum. Why? Because I give away money to worthy causes. Why would I ever allow such a simple, but normal mental road block as ‘I need assurance’ to stop a company from using us to give to their charity, or a charity from not working with us? I wouldn’t.
If come across a seemingly worthy cause, but you don’t know the group, do a little research. If you can’t find it: walk away. If you do find it, go in with an open heart and see how you can help better the world.